Sorry, we have no pictures, but we did go to two places within the past several months that I thought was worth mentioning... Vincenzo's
11525 Chester Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45246 Phone
: (513) 771-0022 Hours
: Lunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Enquirer review
We've never been to the previous location, so I have no basis for comparison. Apparently, this place has been around for a while as a well-kept secret, but we don't get to Cincinnati for dinner all that often. Atmosphere is nice, looks better on the inside than it does on the outside, so don't be alarmed.
The menu is smaller and not your typical Italian-American restaurant menu, so you can't really expect the typical chicken parmesan/lasagna/spaghetti stuff. Instead, the focus is on seafood, which they did surprisingly well. There are daily specials for fish, prepared several different ways. I had a pasta with mussels and large shrimp, which was delicious. Mussels weren't overcooked or skunky like so many places (unfortunately) serve them, shrimp was succulent and perfectly cooked. Husband had veal marsala or something like that, which was also good, but not that remarkable. It was good in a upscale-stew, comfort food sort of way. I can't for the life of me remember what we had as an appetizer, unfortunately.
It was a nice change of pace from the usual Italian restaurant fare that's generally drowning in garlicky tomato sauce. Not that I don't enjoy that, but Vincenzo's had lighter options and a lot of nice looking seafood dishes that are definitely worth a try. Service was also prompt and friendly, and the server we had took extra care to let us know what the daily specials were. King Wok
203 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights Hours:
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-10:30 p.m. Sunday Phone:
(Parking lot is around the corner, behind the restaurant) Reviews
: http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/dining/reviews/091704_kingwok_yum.html http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/dining/reviews/110102_king_wok.html
Near the campus of U of Cincinnati, the outside appearance of this place wasn't immediately inspiring. There's a menu outside with pictures of some of the specialties, but they don't really do it justice. It looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurant, but there's hand-written specials in Chinese (some English translation) and fish tanks in back with live black cod, tilapia, lobster, crabs and clams--very good signs. The owners are from Singapore, where some of the best street food in the world comes from.
They give you a large menu, which has more ordinary Chinese restaurant dishes on it, so anyone who's not into seafood or more exotic choices still have plenty of options. The smaller menu is predominantly seafood and a few more unusual dishes that are more authentic. This is closer to what you'd get in a hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown.
Complimentary starters were fried won ton strips with that neon red sweet sauce for dipping, and some pickled vegetables. The cantonese style noodles were good, but not what they're supposed to be, according to my father. It's supposed
to be a crispy almost pancake-like disc of fried noodles, with the meat/veggies in a sauce poured over it. What we got was more a typical noodle-stir fry with slightly crispy noodles, chinese bbq pork and bean sprouts. Still very tasty, so I have no complaints.
Clams in black bean sauce were also very good, the salt and pepper squid was a tiny bit on the chewy side, but flavorful. For a pretty darn close taste of SE Asia, try the water spinach, prepared Malaysian-style. This isn't for the faint of heart, as it involves fermented shrimp paste and has a pretty strong odor, but it's delicious. We wanted to try the lamb brisket and bean curd hot pot, but they were out of lamb...we had it with beef tendon instead, which was nice. The slow-cooking and five-spice like flavor of the hot pot goes well with tendon, since it needs long braising to soften up and almost "melt". I'm still interested in trying the lamb, however.
Highlight of the meal for me was the steamed tilapia with ginger and scallions. It's fresh--right from the tank, and they asked us right off if we wanted fish, since it takes time to prepare. You have the option of getting it deboned at the tableside, but I wouldn't bother, it takes too long. Flesh was wonderfully tender and moist, excellent flavor. This is a classic preparation, but this is one of the best versions I've had of it anywhere. I never thought I'd say that Ohio, that's for sure.
Other unusual things we didn't order from the menu were boneless duck feet and whelks/periwinkles (don't often see that on any restaurant menu in the States, IME). They also do ginger-scallion lobster and crabs, fried oysters, and tempting specials on the wall were fried fish with Thai sauce and soft shell crab. Prices were surprisingly reasonable, too. We'll definitely be going back, even though it's a bit of a drive for us.