I’m a habit eater, and by that I mean once I find a favorite dish at a restaurant, I order it 99.9% of the time. I associate that restaurant with my favorite dish there, so when and if I do stray from my habit, I inevitably have to return soon to satisfy that unfulfilled craving.
Blue Koi Noodles and Dumplings has been one of my favorite eateries for quite a few years, but it wreaks havoc with my single-favorite-dish OCD. There simply are too many delectable things to choose from. The dumplings, in all their varieties, always are spot-on delicious. The mix-and-match entrees (select a protein, select a sauce, select a starch) are wonderful in any combination. What’s a rigid person like me to do? The answer is to go back often and eat pretty much everything on the menu.
That said, I have narrowed down my favorite options at Blue Koi to two appetizers and two entrees. To solve my appetizer dilemma, I try to dine with enough people to warrant ordering two appetizers to share. (So don’t be fooled by what appears to be my generosity in ordering two appetizers; I’m merely satisfying my own food lust.) During my first few years of dining at Blue Koi, I didn’t have this problem, as my life was perfectly content with the crispy tofu appetizer. Then came a certain girls’ night out with my friend G, who introduced me to the scallion biscuit. Who would think a plain-looking disk of an appetizer could send your foodie world reeling? Don’t be fooled by its simple, brown-food appearance. A slice of a scallion biscuit, drizzled in its accompanying dip of soy sauce and scallions and topped with a little chili oil is a heady thing–a perfect mix of crunchy texture and savory flavors.
If the scallion biscuit has a humble appearance, the crispy tofu served with Awesome sauce (yes, that’s its name) has a brighter, more exotic appearance. The cheerful, bite-sized cubes of crispy, fried tofu are tossed onto a plate with sunny sugar snap peas. The bowl of Awesome sauce is just waiting for you to dip cubes of tofu. The server dare not assume we’re done just because one cube of tofu remains on the plate. Try to clear that plate from the table, and I’ll stab you with my chopsticks. This appetizer is too delicious to waste. There’s always room for one more piece of crispy tofu swimming in Awesome sauce and chili oil.
Just in case you still have room for an entrée after two delicious appetizers, my go-to dish at Blue Koi is the braised tofu with shitake mushrooms. With this entrée, like many at Blue Koi, you have a choice of white rice, brown rice or noodles. The noodles at Blue Koi are wonderful (albeit a bit unwieldy for chopsticks), and when combined with the tofu, mushrooms and crunchy cucumbers in this dish, are soul-satisfying.
On those rare occasions when I’m in the mood for something just a little different, Choice Number 2 is tofu with black bean sauce, served with brown rice. I’ve always been a pushover for black bean sauce, and the flavors of this dish at Blue Koi are far superior. The spicy, brown sauce warms your heart as much as your palate.
One of the many things I appreciate about Blue Koi is that there is something on the menu for everyone–carnivore, vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. If you want a slight twist on a dish, such as trading veggies for mushrooms, they are happy to accommodate your preference. Scott and Mindy Chang will do whatever it takes to satisfy your cravings at any given moment. Their warm, inviting presence in the restaurant is a sign of their pride and enthusiasm for their family recipes from Taiwan and China.
Blue Koi Noodles and Dumplings opened its first location in midtown Kansas City, Missouri, in January 2007 and followed with the second location at Mission Farms in Overland Park, Kansas, a few years later. The Mission Farms location is conveniently close to work and home for me, so I’ve dined there many times with coworkers, friends and family. I have to dine there often to satisfy my dilemma of too many favorites.
© Sherry Burns and sushipoet.wordpress.com, 2012.