Irvington's Shandong has been serving its own subdued, better-than-most ode to its titular province for a while. But with Nob Hill's Kung Pow, San Francisco-raised Henry Liu has made an amped-up celebration of the old-school American Chinese family restaurant—oil and heat and spice brought into a concert that's way more Van Halen than Mozart. Arrive ready to drink, from a smartly organized menu. The tender, delectable fish balls ($8.50) should become a hallmark here, especially the ginger-garlic version in sweet spicy sauce, as should the lamb bao bing appetizer ($9)—a loud, amiable take on the too-often dull mu shu wrap. And the lemon chicken is lemon chicken. Maybe it's screwy 1950s food, but it's great screwy 1950s food. The wheel has not been reinvented, merely greased for speed.
About Matthew Korfhage
Matthew Korfhage has lived in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux, but comes from Portland, where he makes guides to the city and writes about food, booze and books. He likes the Oxford comma but can't use it in the newspaper.