I can't wait to hear what you thought of dinner and how many readers came by. We saw a couple groups with someone wearing a hat and felt very James Bondish.......My husband and I met several members of our family there tonight (10 total), a couple who had been before and several who had not. Everyone enjoyed their choices and said they would be back. I took photos of two combination plates, sorry I don't remember the numbers. Hopefully there will be enough interest in a monthly dinner night out, we really enjoyed it.
It can be scary trying a new restaurant in this town, especially one along a dark street on the outskirts of downtown. The exterior of Tong King Garden is worn, evidenced by the fading sign and crumbling stucco walls. But, locals know better than to judge a book by it's cover. Tong King serves fresh Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine Monday through Saturday. The dining room is modest and clean, a comfortable atmosphere for casual dining. My white glove test for restaurants is to inspect silverware and condiments as well as condition of the menu. The menu looked to be new, the utensils didn't even have hard water marks and the condiments were full. All of this is a good sign.
They were inspected by Marion County on Feb 26, 2008 and scored an 82. Most of the deductions were for soiled handles in the kitchen and worn out floors. The food here is why locals have kept this place in business for 24 years. There's 146 items on the menu with lunch specials between $4.50 and $5.50. In fact you can even get a hamburger with fries for $3.75. This night we started with a bowl of Won Ton Soup. This classic Chinese soup was filled with fresh vegetables and tasty broth. For dinner we ordered Kung Pao Chicken, $7.95, Vegetables Deluxe, $6.78, and the Tong King Special Fried Noodles with chicken, $7.50. Again, the vegetables were notably fresh and cooked nicely leaving them crisp to the bite, the broccoli especially. I was more than satisfied with the quality of the other two items as well. Both seemed fresh with large portions of chicken. I wish that I had ordered the Kung Pao spicy but it was flavorful none the less. Nice meal and prompt service. The owner waited on our table and had no trouble getting our order quickly. I would say that the food here is as good as or better than Panda Express and the prices are very reasonable. I'm comparing it to PE only because it's a chain that seems to be sprouting up all over Salem. If you want to support local businesses give Tong King a try.
This was the second Eat Salem night, the first one in town. I picked this place because I thought it might be fun to venture outside the box of typical Salem dining. It has always gotten good reviews on this blog and others despite it's outside appearance. As a gesture to show that you read the Eat Salem blog we asked that someone at your table wear a hat. Including our table, I counted four tables with hats. One of those tables had ten customers. Not bad, I'm glad to see that there are some people out there willing to take a chance. If Tong King isn't your cup of tea, there will be more Eat Salem nights in the future. I'll take suggestions via email.
989 12th St Se, Salem