Tag Archives: family friendly

Review: Full Kee Chinese Restaurant

Hi, Foodies! This post has been updated to let you know we had a few tickets open up for our Chef’s Table at Full Kee, which was rescheduled to April 29 at 7:00.  Get tickets here. 

Honestly, the reason the event got moved up is that Full Kee may be going through an onwership change…they wanted to honor the commitment to our dinner. This could be a swan song for Full Kee, which will make me very sad. The link for tickets explains it all.

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. 

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). They’re actually going to the Chef’s Table. They will not be denied. 

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We were fortunate enough to step back into Full Kee after the ownership change to see what’s new and enjoyed our visit with Sue while we sampled some plates.

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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In addition to improving on some of their popular dishes, Sue says she’s lowered the prices while increasing portion sizes. 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.”

Sue say that after the slow-go of it, Sue says she loves getting feedback from her customers. “My customers make me feel like we have potential. Every time I see a great review or hear one, it’s just so encouraging and gives me a lot of hope.”

Full Kee will be the featured restaurant with A Chef’s Table on Wednesday, June 19th. Tickets can be reserved at https://chefstablefullkee.eventbrite.com

Recipe: Most Requested Sweet & Spicy Meatloaf

Hello, friends!

A few weeks back I was inspired to host “Family Meal” at my home and this week we finally got around to opening the door to do just that. Family Meal is simply a time to gather around the table for food and fellowship. Nothing fancy, keep it approachable. We invited our neighbors over and several of these lovely people were able to join us and bring along sides to go with  what I made…what I consider the ultimate old-school family dish, “Meatloaf.” And my meatloaf is delicious and even my kids, who don’t eat anything much, absolutely love it. This meatloaf is adapted from writer and cook, Mary Beth Albright. There are a number of variations of this recipe all over the internet, but this is my pretty-close-to-hers, slightly modified version. It’s called sweet and spicy, but it’s not spicy hot just spicy spice. It has buttermilk and panko and I swear the secret is that mixture plus the fact that I use a meatloaf mix with beef, veal and pork.  Easily found at most grocers. I get requests for it a lot, so I’m making it officially official by locking it in. Right here.  PS…don’t let the somewhat lengthy list turn you off. It’s a snap to whip up except for the extra step of sweating the onions and garlic and you won’t mind that because it smell so darn good!  Also the photo shown is of my attempt to cook it in cast iron and it turned out amazing but it’s great on a lined cookie sheet and easier to clean up. 

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eh..kinda looks like a brain 😀

Sweet & Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
(adapted from Mary Beth Albright) | Serves 6

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s but anything rich and smoky will do)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • splash of red wine vinegar (optional)

Heat these ingredients through completely, careful not to scorch.  You’ll use some to glaze the meatloaf at the beginning and you’ll have plenty on hand for the meal and leftovers.

  • 2 lbs meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork or 1 lb beef, 1 lb ground pork if you can’t find the mix)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1-2 tbsp oil or fat of choice (bacon grease is good!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instruction:

Mix the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs together and let it thicken for about 5 minutes. The panko will soak up the buttermilk.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft but not brown. Add tomato paste and herbs and heat through.  Set aside to cool.

Add buttermilk mixture and tomato paste mixture to the meatloaf mix in a large bowl. Mix with hands to incorporate the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper and parmesan. 

Turn the mix onto a lined sheet pan and shape into a loaf.  Spread the glaze on top and sides of your loaf.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.  Rest for 5 minutes.

***Variations…you can use sour cream instead of buttermilk and regular breadcrumbs or almond meal. The texture may change ever so slightly.  Fresh herbs are key and I’ve only used freshly grated parm so I’m not sure what happens with the stuff in the can. I’ve probably used it before but I rarely use it anymore. 

Do you have a meatloaf recipe that you and your family love?

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
–Julia Child

Join us for triadfoodies Chef’s Table at Taaza Bistro this Wednesday!

Good golly it’s been a while since I posted. I will try to change that.

With homeschooling (OMG) and writing each week for YES! Weekly and the general responsibilities of life, I find it hard to stop and make myself post something. But I def wanted to let you know that we have a few more seats available at our monthly Chef’s Table coming up Wednesday in Greensboro at Taaza Fresh Indian Bistro.

What is Chef’s Table? It’s basically our way of getting you into a restaurant and in front of a chef for a VERY affordable price for a taste of what’s on the menu. It’s a way of letting the chef surprise us and it’s SUPER fun. We started in May 2016 and we’ve gone strong since then, some with sell-out crowds. There’s limited seating available and as I write this we have 5 seats remaining.

Here’s how it works. You click this link and it sends you to the Eventbrite site and there you purchase your tickets. You’ll enjoy a multi-course global meal… but I never know what’s going to be served. We’re all surprised. No menu…just delicious surprises…all from the creative noggin of the chef/culinary team or maybe something they are wanting to highlight from the menu. And sometimes it requires you to think out of the box, get out of your comfort zone. Most of the dishes are served family style, so if you don’t like chevre or kale or venison, then you can nibble and let the rest of your comrades enjoy.

About Taaza Fresh Indian Bistro….you can read the review I wrote about them in YES! Weekly.img_0485 It was amazing and the BEST Indian food I’ve ever had with excellent service.

I think you’ll love it. Join us by clicking the ticket link above!

I also have some exciting news to share but you’ll have to wait until the next post.

See ya later foodies!

Crafted the Art of the Taco is HERE. Let’s Win Something!

Foodies!

Crafted-The Art of the Taco opened today (Wednesday) in Winston-Salem.

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Let me just say that I have waited FOREVS for this day. Well it seems like forevs ..it’s actually been four years. For some of us anyway. The folks in WS have only had to wait about 6 months.

Keep reading because I’m giving you the scoop and if you visit Crafted in Winston-Salem this Thursday through Saturday you have a chance to win a $25 gift card for a future visit to Crafted.

Boom!

The restaurant that’s a taco joint, not a Mexican restaurant has been the most anticipated new arrival in downtown Winston in quite a while. We were there on Saturday to check things out and again when they officially opened at lunch today. I have been talking to Chef Kris Fuller and her business partner and mom, Rhonda, for a couple of years about bringing themselves to Winston. I sent photos, contacts…I’d scope out a place for lease and text her the info. And it finally happened on Liberty Street in the Arts District. I just love it. It’s cozy, modern, chic, girlie and industrial all in one. And the food is an experience in and of itself.

On the menu…tacos of course. But true to owner, Chef Kris Fuller’s nature, she added a few new things to this location as well because as she says, she likes each new restaurant to feel like it’s own thing. “We added three new burgers so now we have a pretty solid burger menu and because spaces allows for it, you can also make any taco a burger or a rice bowl.” Fuller says because of the lack of space in Greensboro, there have been things she’s been wanting to do that she simply can’t there.

There are a dozen tacos that you can mix and match for a tantalizing duo. I especially love The Fixie, with beef brisket, grilled pineapple, spicy sweet chili sauce and coconut aioli. Mmm..my fave. Also don’t miss the Baja Style, which comes with your choice of protein like grilled or battered fish, seared tuna, chorizo, braised chicken, pulled pork, braised beef, and a half dozen vegetarian options too like sweet potato, tofu and falafel. We went with the tuna and I highly recommend it. Seafood lovers would also love the Bowtie which features beer battered fish, roasted corn and poblano salsa, sweet chipotle aioli and honey mustard. There’s certainly a taco and a burger to make you happy. As for appetizers, try the stuffed avocado with chorizo, queso and pico de gallo served with fried flour tortilla chips that are flaky and scrumptious. The taquitos are really great too. You also can’t go wrong with a mason of bacon…heck it’s got Mexican chocolate drizzled on it and it actually perfect for dessert. There are salads on the menu and a few kid items as well.

Fuller, who opened up the first Crafted in Greensboro four years ago and Crafted-The Art of Street Food last year, says this day feels really good. “In Greensboro we were really busy right out of the gate and they showed us a lot of support, but with Winston knowing who we were and coming to the area, I can’t tell you the amount of love and support I see daily.” She says, “Even when we we’d go out to other restaurants around here, we’d get that excitement. It’s been quite amazing.” We knew it would be like that because Winston is a community…there’s just no other way to say it.

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Fuller comes from a fine dining background (remember The Bistro at Adams Farm?) and says she hopes to use the Winston-Salem location as her creative outlet for future pop-ups and wine dinners. I think that would be super fun and the Winston-Salem location will be a great location for it. But for now, Fuller says her full concentration is getting Winston’s Crafted settled. “We do have a five year plan and we have a couple of other cities in mind.” I’m thinking Durham but I did not ask because I like to be surprised, foodies. 

But for now, Chef says it’s just one restaurant at a time and that means getting cozy with Winston-Salem. And you know it’s already happening because Winston-Salem isn’t just the city of Arts and Innovation. It’s also a city of foodie love and we think she is the perfect fit!

Welcome Fullers and the entire Crafted Team!  I love these ladies. Support this great restaurant and team, foodies. 

Now!! Want to win a prize???

Visit Crafted between now and Saturday at 11pm, check in or tag @triadfoodies on Facebook with a photo of what you are eating or you and your friends. Remember to tag @triadfoodies.  If you don’t like us on Facebook, well my feelings are hurt. Anyway…Go over and like us on Facebook (you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram too). Tag @triadfoodies and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $25 gift card for a future visit.

Happy eating!

Review: Chef Dion Sprenkle

A Sprenkle of Deliciousness: “Let The Chef Surprise Us” 4.0

You can see this story in YES! Weekly

This is the continuing story of how we allow the chef to surprise us. We’re kind of changing it up recently. We now get a group of foodie friends/followers together and hit up a local restaurant. This time, Chef Dion Sprenkle…way out in Lexington (actually, a mere half hour from many cities in the Triad). I had visited Chef Dion’s restaurant a few weeks back after he attended a previous foodie gathering at 1703 Restaurant and then he volunteered himself for a similar event the next month. At the end of this post you’ll see where we’re headed next! 

Just as much as a focus on the food, this gathering was an opportunity to meet the chef and get to know him better. Chef Dion Sprenkle is a classically-trained chef, graduating in 1992 from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  Before making his way South, Sprenkle was the chef de cuisine at the New York Palace Hotel, executive chef at The Water Club and at Spazzia Restaurant and chef de cuisine at Spartina Restaurant. He says he also gained valuable experience in the kitchens of Gotham Bar & Grill and The River Cafe. Previously in the Triad, Sprenkle was Executive Chef at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem.

Last year, Chef Sprenkle placed runner-up in the local Competition Dining series, getting edged out by Graze’s Chef Richard Miller in the final battle. Many people took notice of this incredibly talented chef, tucked away in Davidson County. We wanted to know…what on earth brought him to Lexington, where alcohol sales in restaurants are not permitted? “After an extensive search for restaurant locations in Winston, Greensboro and Salisbury areas, none of which suited what I was looking for, this space was available and we quickly realized the need for an upscale restaurant in the area,” Sprenkle told us. “Many people live in Davidson County and work in Forsyth, but come home to no restaurants and then have to travel back to Winston to get something to eat besides BBQ.”

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Sprenkle also features Wacky Wednesday, which offers a selection of chef-inspired burgers in addition to the fine dining menu. It’s a bustling night. The burgers change quite a bit, but the night that we checked out the burgers, I enjoyed a House-Smoked Pastrami Burger. It was a sizable, perfectly cooked burger topped with, I kid you not…a good inch of smoked pastrami. And it was delicious. The pastrami was so smoky and flavorful. It was almost a fork meal. Well, I turned it into a fork meal, anyway.

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Mr. foodie ordered a chicken dish from the menu and I forget what it was but it was really tasty.

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And he sent out dessert…strawberry  bread pudding

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We were then looking forward to what surprises he had in store for us when we got our group together.

At our gathering, course after course came and it went a little something like this:

Course 1

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Watermelon Gazpacho shot with cucumber, rosemary goat cheese, citron sea salt and Fair Share Farms pea leaves

Course 2

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Sweet Corn Puree with Blackened Alligator and ramp oil

Course 3

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Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with oloroso sherry natural sauce

Course 4

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Spanish Lobster and Chorizo sausage Torte with eggs, potato, chili relish, cilantro, lobster tamale, lobster roe, cilantro

Course 5

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Vadouvon Spiced roasted cauliflower with onion, pancetta, basil and Argentinean Extra virgin sunflower oil

Course 6

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Hill Top farms ostrich and havarati cheese quesadilla, spicy chili relish aioli

Course 7

Tasting of Orange scented crème brulee and Ricotta cheese panna cotta with strawberry balsamic glaze, basil syrup and lemon confit.

As you can see, this is a great sampling of some of the menu items and a few “surprises,” just the way we like it. Chef Sprenkle’s cuisine is distinctly Mediterranean and he says he tries to source as much locally as possible as long as it’s of the highest quality. “I will always buy locally when I can, but to me the importance is quality.” 

Keep in mind that Chef Dion Sprenkle is a BYO alcoholic beverages and as customary for such restaurants, they do charge a corkage fee ($10/bottle of wine and $1/bottle of beer. Sprenkle tod me if you bring in a Davidson County Wine (Childress, Weathervane, Junius Lyndsey, Native Vines, or purchased from Tastings Wine and Beer Store) they only charge $5 per bottle.

The chef also says he’s not resting on his laurels and is looking at expanding to other areas in the Triad. He’s also consulting on another project that’s due to open in Winston-Salem in mid-July. While working on those efforts, Sprenkle says he doesn’t mind being “tucked away” as we call it. “Our clientele is diverse and see us as a destination restaurant, but the locals of Lexington sometimes dine with us at least three times a week and see us as their home dining room. Our location allows people in Winston, Clemmons, High point or Salisbury to arrive within 15 minutes. We also get quite a few people from Greensboro or Charlotte. They may stay in town for the weekend to visit the wineries and then come have dinner with us.” He adds, “We’ve survived now for 5 years in a location that is off the beaten path and without alcohol sales. Like I always said when I lived in NYC, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, and we have!”

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Wanna go? Chef Dion Sprenkle is located just inside Lexington at 5479 Old US Hwy 52.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 5-9pm. The restaurant is also open for special holidays and brunches and is available for private events and catering. chefdion.com

If you’d like to participate in a future “Surprise Gathering,” follow triadfoodies on social media for all the details. Hint: Next stop is Tuesday, July 26 at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar as Triad’s Best Chef (as voted by YES! Weekly readers) to get to know Chef Tim Grandinetti and let him surprise us. Just message me at Kristi@triadfoodies dot com to reserved your spot. We usually max out at 12-14 people to keep it intimate and it’s about $25 per person.