Monthly Archives: July 2019

Review: Full Kee Chinese Restaurant

UPDATE:

Several weeks after this blog post, Full Key closed for business and Sue Chen retired. Since then, former owner George Yu came OUT of retirement and bought his restaurant back. It’s now called Tasty 100 and the menu and same great taste is back!  I hope to visit there soon and hopefully even have a Chef’s Table again. Until then, stay tuned and please visit Tasty 100 and show George some love!

You probably know by now (if you’ve been opening your email and clicking on the blog) that I’m am HERE for Full Kee Chinese Restaurant, a local eatery that calls itself “gourmet Chinese.”  We went back for a taste because I wanted to “research” it for a possible future Chef’s Table. And it did not disappoint. So here’s the review when I brought Sister Foodie with me on our foodie exploration.

You can read the full article for YES! Weekly here.

Full Kee has been located at 3793 Samet Drive since 2005.  It was owned and operated by George Yu, who had a very popular restaurant in Washington D.C. before he and his family moved to the Triad. What started as a takeout restaurant, Full Kee expanded into a cozy restaurant with beautiful Chinese art, dim lighting, and a full bar.  In May of last year, George retired and moved to Florida.  Sue Chen had been a partner with George in the early days but had since moved on. Now there was a very brief period of time between George selling and Sue buying the space that the restaurant was not itself.  For one, the restaurant was operated by someone else. Full Kee’s Chef, Carlos Lopez, who had worked under George’s tutelage for nearly a decade, had left to pursue another opportunity while that owner was in charge. The restaurant experienced some not so great reviews for a few weeks. Sue ultimately purchased the restaurant in November and the space its in and brought Carlos back. And now Full Kee has risen to its former glory. Some say it’s better than ever. Update: Carlos has moved on and Sue has a new chef in the kitchen, but all the recipes are the same.  UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Sue retired and George Yu bought the place back and is in the kitchen. 

Back before my food writing days, Full Kee became a favorite. You can read that initial view here. I found it so interesting that there was actually a Chinese restaurant that claimed to be “gourmet”.  It just wasn’t the norm. Chinese was and is almost entirely takeout and often quite low-key (no pun intended). Full Kee invites your casually dressed self into an ambiance that feels like fine dining, but is very comfortable and inviting. The dim lighting is soft and elegant. And what was more thrilling, amazing, astonishing, is that my children ate their food. At a restaurant. It was then and there that my children discovered they love Asian food, specifically dumplings, stir fry rice and “sweet chicken” (as my son calls it). To this day, General chicken is is favorite food (besides brownies). 

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Egg Drop Soup: If you’re an egg drop soup fan, you’ll love this light broth with the ribbon of yolks. It doesn’t have that off-putting corn starch-like consistency. My sister, who was dining with me the evening we visited, it’s the best egg drop soup she’s ever had and that she ever feels a cold coming on, she knows where she’s headed.

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Lettuce Wraps: A perennial favorite with romaine lettuce and finely minced chicken with  vegetables. They are always a crowed pleaser for the table. The chicken was mild and seasoned wonderfully and the cool, crisp lettuce acts in contrast to the tiny hint of heat.

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Dumplings: Carlos makes all the dumpling wrappers from scratch. The result is a delicate dumpling exterior, tender on top, crispy on the bottom, while it lets the filling shine through. It comes with the typical sweet and savory dipping sauce. It is the perfect appetizer. 

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Spring Rolls: You just can’t not get some spring rolls when you eat Asian food amirite? They were super hot, super crispy, came with two dipping sauces and fab.

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General Tao Chicken: According to Sue, it is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes (as it is in just about any Chinese restaurant). Full Kee’s General chicken, with its secret ingredient in the sauce, is light and crispy and not full of breading like you might find with ordinary takeout. “We wanted it ti be a bigger piece of chicken, but not heavy with flour and not cooked too long. It’s crispy outside and tender inside,” Sue told me.  It’s wonderful. And what often comes off as an afterthought, the broccoli is al dente and actually flavorful. Sue says, “It used to be just very plain, but I asked Carlos to add more seasoning.” The result is broccoli with a hint of garlic and it’s perfectly cooked.

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Walnut Shrimp: These firm, juicy jumbo shrimp are lightly crisped in the same manner as the General Tao’s, but the sauce is a bit more robust and amber in color with crunchy walnuts in the mixture.  I highly recommend this dish as well as the Philomela Shrimp, which has a creamier sauce. Or you can get the Full Kee Shrimp, which is a combo of the two. Both come with the same tasty garlic.

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Mongolian Beef: Customers will notice a change to this dish as the protein portion has been increased and the onions have decreased. It’s very savory and peppery and hearty.

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The menu includes a wide variety of traditional Chinese noodle and rice dishes, including Stir-Fry Rice, Stir Fry Sea Bass, Boneless Duck and Curry. Sue has also recruited a wine connoisseur to help patrons with the perfect wine selection.  We agree with Sue that everyone in your dining party should order something different from one another.  “We want everyone to be able to try a little bit of everything.  It’s the best way to enjoy Chinese.”

Full Kee has retained its loyal following of customers, some of whom have a place at the table every Friday night. Andrew Priddy, who lives outside Winston-Salem, says they’ve been loyal since 2010. “We travel a lot. And this by far is our favorite restaurant. Great food, great service. They’re like family. We just love it.”

Tasty 100 Asian Restaurant
3793 Samet Dr, Ste 140
High Point, NC

Foodies…Check out Butcher & Bull

The Butcher is In. (a previous version of this story can be found here at YES! Weekly.)

I have to say, we were warned.

A few weeks back when Chef Richard Miller hinted at what was to come at the Chef’s Table at Butcher & Bull, he said to be prepared to see creative slants on some of their favorite dishes that were fun and surprising in an effort to get us out of our comfort zones. He said he and Chef Tim Gallione had been planning for weeks to dazzle us with one of the most creative menus we’ve seen.

Before we get into the food at the event, we need to talk about the complete overhaul that Butcher & Bull, located inside the Marriott in downtown Winston-Salem, underwent earlier this year. The eatery, formerly known as Graze, was transformed into a sleek space rich in blues and neutral tones, leather and light. There might be a few animal skulls present…just to be sure you don’t forget where you are.

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“We knew we wanted a fresh, vibrant, contemporary restaurant to stand out in what is happening in Downtown Winston-Salem and we decided on the idea of a steakhouse, which we don’t really have down here,” Miller told me during my podcast.

Gone are the booths with television screens and anything suggesting hotel.  Miller says the desire was to create a welcoming environment for gathering and fellowship, “We wanted a 100% brand new product and leave no evidence of the past, so that people will want to come here for dinner, enjoy the company of friends and family, have a good cocktail or a glass of wine and have a really phenomenal steak or anything else on the menu.”

In addition to abundant steak offerings with various cuts, like a Strip and a 48 ounce Tomahawk, there is tuna, salmon, and crab cakes and a cauliflower steak. Now, Butcher & Bull is getting accolades for its inventive small plates and shareable like the Bison Carpaccio with Quail Egg and a showstopper of a Shrimp Cocktail, complete with a presentation under a cold, smoky, glass dome. 

Miller, who grew up in Winston-Salem, has spent the better part of a decade going up the ranks at Butcher & Bull. He helped develop the former iteration, Graze, and made a name for himself locally and regionally as a chef there, winning the local Competition Dining Series. After a brief departure, he returned to Graze as Executive Chef and guided the culinary team through the transformation to Butcher & Bull.

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The Butcher’s Room is available for private events

The Chef’s Table that was presented on June 20 was everything Miller promised and more. As we gathered in the “Butcher’s Room,” we were presented with six beautifully-plated courses that were playful and adventurous with bright colors and interesting textures. And each and every dish was as delicious as it was visually appealing. If at first you eat with your eyes, well we got an eyeful for sure of.…

Local ingredients.

And raw meat.

And organs.

And an eight-limbed mollusc.

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Course 1

General Tso’s Harmony Ridge Farms duck heart, greens, citrus, peanuts, togarasu

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A kick off to the evening with an unexpected Asian flare. We had some skeptical folks at the table when the menu mentioned “duck heart.” But the heart was perfectly and lightly breaded on the outside and tender enough to cut with a fork. The drizzle of sauce had just enough heat and made the perfect bite when accompanied with the crushed peanuts.

Course 2

Beef Tartare, deviled egg crema, pecorino

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As if heart wasn’t enough to surprise you, imagine your next course being raw beef? But Butcher & Bull’s tartare is so well executed, with proper seasoning. The deviled egg crema landed a southern slant to the dish and the pecorino was baked into a crisp, which could be used like a savory little cracker.

Course 3

Charred octopus, Southern cucumber salad, Fair Share Farm Micro Greens, Lemon, EVOO, onions, fennel

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Another ambitious dish by Chef Richard and his team. This two-toned dish of lightly charred octopus on bright quick pickled cukes was a wonderful middle course. The pickles (a riff on Miller’s mother’s recipe) allowed for some palate cleansing with an intrepid star of the plate.

Course 4

Joyce Farms bone marrow, bread-and-butter cauliflower, fermented mustard, charred bread, Old Nick Carolina bourbon

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And now we get a marrow bone. Beautifully and rustically plated, the bones had a light schmear of marrow topped with house-made mustard. But this dish required Chef Richard to visit the room and instruct us that. after scooping out the marrow and enjoying with the “toast”, we were to then use that hollow bone as a sloo or a “shoot” in which to take back the shot of bourbon. Some of our diners succeeded at this fun challenge. I failed epically. 

Course 5

Certified Angus Beef ® brand , Demi glaze, pommes purée potato chips, sweet potato, mushrooms

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As our 5th course arrived, we knew that the culinary team really wanted to show off what Butcher & Bull wants to be known for—steak and with pizzazz as the service team came around the other side and drizzled the steak with the demi.

Course 6

Carolina Gold Rice Pudding, Johnson Farms Peaches, Fair Share Farm​ marigold flowers

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There’s something about the flavor of Carolina Gold rice. Hailing from the southeastern reaches of the Carolinas, it has a beautiful golden hue and a deep, toasty flavor, almost reminiscent of popcorn. And when Richard turned it into rice pudding, the toasty flavor came through along with the sweetness of the cream and then it was topped with wonderfully succulent grilled yellow and white peaches, with edible flowers.

At the end of the evening, the room erupted in applause, with many guests saying it was the best event they’d attended.  As for Miller, he says he and Chef Tim Gallione wanted to give the guests a taste of what inspires them and he promises that this is only the beginning.

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I am absolutely sure you’ll find something you are looking for at Butcher & Bull and I highly recommend you give them a try.

Butcher & Bull is located at 425 North Cherry Street, in the downtown Marriott in Winston-Salem. Parking is available around the property but valet is also complimentary with a validated receipt. butcherandbull.com

 

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The wine cellar is available for private events

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