Hang Your Head for the Fallen (In Memoriam) OR The Importance of Having a Regular Chinese Food Spot

I just got off the phone with a party that shall remain nameless. Asked a great question, “What was the name of that spot with the good chinese that we used to go to off the St. Charles Streetcar Line.”

I had to be the person to inform the parties that be that “It was Kung’s Dynasty. And, it is long gone.”

I did a quick google, and there is nothing….apparently it is now some designer boutique (or at least it was in 2010).

It got me thinking. I have a soft spot in my heart for a regular Chinese restaurant. Its a staple of at least my life. I center a lot around a great meal of Chinese food. Whether its my long standing tradition of Chinese Food Fridays (video games, Chinese food, stupidity, and liquor) or having a chance to relax with friends. It means the world to me.

I’ll give you two examples of what I’m talking about. It’s time to pour one out and give an In Memoriam for places that were important to me.

Kung’s Dynasty

This is the only photo I could find (its relatively current). No photos exist of the fallen glory.

My grandmother always liked things that were vaguely upscale. Not TOO upscale. The concept of the Michelin star was foreign where I grew up, but when we were making a trip to New Orleans, she liked to make a big deal out of it (to her scale of what that means).

Enter Kung’s Dynasty. St. Charles Street has a ton of these little oddities. Things that you shouldn’t think should be there among the stately houses of the landed New Orleans aristocracy, but they do. Shops, boutiques, art galleries, and the occasional restaurant.

And this one was doubly weird. In that it was built into an old, stately home. The dining room extended from the parlor, through a knocked out wall and into what must have been a living room and a sun room. The whole experience went along with it. It wasn’t dim sum, but it did have the giant rotating disc for serving. My grandmother would order a ton of dishes, and we would go around tasting everything.

The food itself was a step above decent. Louisiana has NEVER had EXCELLENT chinese food (save for one place below that I will go into next), but compared to the usual fare from my home town or even other places in New Orleans, it easily held water.

Plus, I think it was more of the atmosphere. I never went into that place when it was packed (probably why it ain’t there no more), but this was a good thing. Didnt have to scream to hear each other talk. Truthfully, it felt home-y. You had a chance to like actually sit and talk about stuff without any foolishness. Like no cousin was going to stumble in drunk or something

I cant remember why we stopped going. Maybe cause we found other places in the city. Maybe cause it closed sooner than 2010, and there just isn’t a record of it. Maybe because sometimes you slip away from a place.

Regardless of why, time caused it to slip away, and it couldn’t fight time.

But pour one out for Kung’s Dynasty. They gave us some great meals and company, and that’s really all you can ask for any restaurant.

Red Flower

May it live forever on the highways of Valhalla

I have written about this in brief before, but this place deserves more respect.

As I was saying, Louisiana has never been known for its quality Chinese. I can say this with even the knowledge I have now, having spent substantial time on both the west and east coast, experiencing some excellent Chinese fare, our results were sub par.

At the point in my life that Red Flower entered, I was already loudly declaring that New Orleans had the best Chinese food in the state, having 3-4 places (including Kung’s Dynasty) that I went to regularly for my enjoyment.

However, as my time in college progressed and my Baton Rouge friends got to know their town even more, a fucking astute pimp in the know introduced us to Red Flower.

You can tell from the picture, not in the best area. You go south of LSU on highland, and things get strong. I remember distinctly my first time pulling up being like “Wtf is this shack.”

But, oh dear congregation, the second you tasted their food… Husband and wife duo ran that joint, so if you were going to order it was going to take time to get it. I think I only physically ate in the restaurant once, but it was always a hang waiting for the food.

The food… Even thinking about it now I get verklempt. Been to a lot of places and eaten at a number of Chinese food joints…

I would go the Pepsi challenge with this places food over anywhere else I would eat at. And that is not an exaggeration. Holy shit.

It wasn’t like adventurous gastronomy. They did the standards, and they always fucking CRUSHED them.

This now became the ONLY fucking place in Baton Rouge I was interesting in going when I was in town. Whether it was the semester in exile or just there to kick ass with my rock and roll friends, Red Flower was a MUST HAVE. Don’t give a fuck what was going on. I made it straight inconvenient from time to time. I didn’t care. It was happening.

I wasn’t alone in my fandom. They definitely had some strong converts to preach its bona fides.

I will never forget the day we found out it was closed for good. I talked to people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Just to pour one out for the legend. That was many years ago now, but man……it is still sad.

I have had other Chinese joints that were fantastic that went away (looking at you New Jeanny’s in Chicago), and I mourn them all.

To me, you aren’t a real person if you don’t have a regular Chinese joint that is like fucking Cheers when you walk in. Everyone has to know your name, and you know theirs.

At the very least, the absolute minimum, I was there to experience it.

So, my suggestion to everyone in the congregation this week. Get some fucking Chinese from your local joint. Celebrate what they bring to you and your community. Enjoy them while you got them. Cause it is always possible they fade to just a memory.

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