830 Somerset St. W. Ottawa, Ontario – (613) 237-8887
Date of Visit: August 20, 2011
I collect take-out menus from restaurants and I have, in my collection, one from the ‘Jo Moon Ting’ restaurant that I picked up on a previous visit to Ottawa with the intention of checking the place out sometime. In August, I finally got a chance but when I arrived at the location I found the ‘Three Kings’ restaurant instead. As of this writing, ‘Urbanspoon’ and a host of other review sites still list Jo Moon Ting at the same Somerset street address so I can only presume that the former restaurant is only recently defunct.
The name ‘Three Kings’ is rather intriguing, having something of a biblical flavor to it, as in the Christmas carol ‘We three kings of orient are’. Indeed, the three kings, or wise men, of the nativity were said to come from the somewhere in the east, as I recall. I suspect, however, that these particular three kings refer to the三皇五帝, or three-sovereigns and five-emperors (Sānhuáng wǔdì) of Chinese mythology. The three sovereigns, or kings, were supposed to be demi-gods who helped in the creation of man and the transmission of skills and knowledge, although it is possible that they are based on actual historical figures. It is interesting to speculate whether the Chinese myths are somehow linked with the new-testament story in some way.
Ambience and Service
The restaurant is quite small, holding only 40 people or so. Although apparently under new management, it is quite shabby and doesn’t look like much has been done to improve the place. The liquor license had still not been approved and no take-out menus are available yet. I arrived at about 12:30pm and there were only a coupe of seats available. There was only one waitress on duty at the time but, though harried, she managed quite well and I didn’t have to wait long at all to get served.
*** Update: March 22, 2012: Menu now available Here
Kung Paw Chicken
Despite the idiosyncratic spelling this was clearly the dish generally called ‘Kung Pao’ chicken on most menus and, indeed, was also listed, in Chinese characters, as 宫保鸡丁. The knife-work on the chicken was a little haphazard; it was cut partly in cubes (丁), but there were also a lot of ragged strips as well. Cashews replaced peanuts, as happens quite frequently, and there were no whole chillies visible. I did see a few flecks of ground chilli in the sauce and the dish was fairly hot but it lacked the traditional scorched chilli taste. There was no sweetness at all but I find this preferable to being overly sweet, which is how it is often served in restaurants that cater mostly to non-Chinese. There were a lot of vegetables added for bulk, far too many, in fact. There were chunks of celery, carrot, and onion, baby corncob pieces and canned water chestnut slices. There is also green and red pepper added along with sliced button mushrooms. I don’t recall ever seeing mushrooms used in this dish before but I thought that they actually complemented it very nicely. It was not bad overall, but not great, by any means and I gave it a Kung Pao rating of three stars.
Adequate service but not much to rave about otherwise. I didn’t feel any special temptation to return but it may be worth a second look after it has been open a little longer.