Being Chinese myself, I usually prefer authentic Chinese cuisine. However, I’m not opposed to fusion (just not westernized…) and I knew Fire Kirin falls into that category. Being that they are in the deep South, I never like driving that far just to go eat (ok that’s a lie… depending on what it is). However, my family told me to pick my choice of restaurant for my Birthday so I thought it was the perfect chance to give them a try.
We walked into a very modern style restaurant, and as we sat down at one of the rised booths, I thought to myself, I have been here before. There was a Japanese restaurant here before! Yes, I know because I was on a date with a really cute guy many years ago (lol)! I don’t know who the previous occupant was but I guess that doesn’t really matter. The restaurant offers their contemporary menu (the one on their website) as well as a Chinese one, and we ordered from both.
Here’s what we tried tonight:
Fried Shrimp Bits – $10
Lightly battered shrimp tossed in a spicy creamy sauce
This was a great starter! Crunchy coldwater shrimp fried and then tossed in a mayo sauce dusted with possibly cajun powder? Actually, my uncle (another chef) makes something like this – fried prawns coated in thousand island dressing. This dish definitely reminds me of my uncle’s.
Soft Shell Crab Spring Roll – $8
Served with wasabi cream sauce
The spring roll is stuffed with deep fried soft shell crab and green + red bell peppers. I did find this dish a tad greasy but it is tasty. The soft shell crab was crispy and fried very well. The cream sauce had only very small hints of wasabi – enough to give you a small kick but not too much to have it shoot up your nose.
Luc Lac Beef – $14
Succulent beef tenderloin cubes wok-fried in butter and garlic served over lotus root chips
Luc Lac Beef, aka Vietnamese shaking beef, refers to the shaking or tossing of the beef in the wok after it’s seared. This one is sauceless unlike the one I had at Phnom Penh and I can’t tell you which one is the authentic version, although there are many variations anyway. The one here is great – the beef chunks were very tender and cooked to about a medium. The garlic is the dominant flavor in this dish so that’s very welcoming to me (since I like garlic). Instead of serving it over lotus root chips as the menu described, it was on potato chips instead.
Vietnamese Beef Stew – $12.95
This dish was on the Chinese menu. Since I’ve never had it before I asked K what it should taste like. She said it’s not spicy, with hints of coconut and quite dominant in tomato flavors. Well, this dish fits that description and it was a big hit at the table. The beef brisket was braised to a tender state and you have to eat it with rice. There were way more vegetables (carrots, onions, red and green peppers) than the meat itself so we only got about three pieces each (divided among five people).
Steamed pork belly with mui choy (preserved mustard cabbage) – $14
This dish is also on the Chinese menu. Yes we love our pork bellies :) The pork belly was steamed to an absolute state of softness and it just disintegrated into our mouths. Hmmmmm. Yet the dish was not greasy at all. We like the fact that the mui choy was the sweet variety so the braising liquid, or sauce, was thin and sweet. This was so good. Reminds me that it’s time to make my Kakuni again.
String beans with minced pork – $10.95
This is from the Chinese menu although there is one just like it on the Western one, except that one is vegetarian. The beans were cooked to a bit too soft for my liking, but the spicy bean sauce and minced meat mixture was very flavorful, although a tad oily. This is my hubby’s favorite vegetable dish in general and he thought this was good.
Wasabi Pepper Chicken – $14
Tender grilled chicken served over onions and bell peppers in a savory wasabi pepper sauce
Grilled chicken breast resting on more vegetables, coated in a very peppery sauce. I couldn’t taste much wasabi to it and I don’t know if that’s intentional. The chicken was juicy and tender but the portion was very small. Once again the entire dish was rather oily.
Imperial Pastry – $6
Delicate pastry filled with red bean, served with homemade green tea ice cream
We got two desserts to share just to end the meal on a sweet note. Buttery, flaky layers of pastry wrapping around a small filling of red bean paste, we liked how it wasn’t overly sweet and it paired perfectly with the green tea ice cream. The ice cream itself had intense matcha flavors and I wouldn’t mind ordering another scoop. This dessert was unexpectedly good as it didn’t look like much on the picture, but again – any hot desserts served with ice cream usually gets my vote!
Deep Fried Banana – $6
Served with homemade coconut ice cream
The bananas were lightly battered and fried. The coconut ice cream was delightful to eat, semi-sweet with a touch of coconut flavors – Fire Kirin makes excellent ice cream! And yes, you can order the ice cream on its own.
Service was pretty good and we enjoyed the food, although I would ask them to go easy on the oil next time. Portions, especially the meat, are definitely on the smaller side but the taste is there and the five of us were stuffed with a less than a $100 bill. If I am in the area I would definitely come back again – there are items on their lunch menu that I would like to try!