Kwan's has become an important landmark in Salem. It's located on one of Salem's main thoroughfares, and since 1982, has earned a reputation for serving great Chinese food.
I don't eat at Kwan's often, but when I do, it's always a fun experience.
What I like best about Kwan's is the atmosphere. The entrance of the restaurant leads directly into the gift shop. Art, figurines, and pottery fill the display cases, while a 14-foot statue of Buddha stands by the door. The dining room is decorated in red and gold with Chinese art on the walls and light fixtures.
My dining partner and I arrived just after 5 PM on a weeknight. The hostess greeted us and took us to a booth in the middle of the dining room.
Kwan's has a fairly large menu with sections for appetizers, combinations, meats, seafood, noodles, vegetarian, and more. They even serve ostrich and venison! We browsed the menu for about ten minutes before deciding. Meanwhile, the server brought ice-water and hot tea to the table.
To start, we ordered two cups of Egg Flower Soup ($1.95) and an appetizer of Fried Wontons ($5.59). For dinner we ordered combination "J" ($9.25) with a side of Pan Fried Noodles ($3.25).
The soup was delicious. Noodles, egg, sliced carrots, and scallions were cooked in a rich chicken broth, making the soup deeply flavorful.
The Wontons arrived with a small dish of sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. Deep fried to a golden brown, these Wontons were stuffed with a fine mixture of chicken, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. The stuffing was soft and chewy, while the wrapping was delightfully crisp. The dipping sauce was equally good- a thick, orange glaze with a nice balance of acid and sweetness.
Combination "J" was next to appear. This entree featured Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pork Fried Rice, and Fried Shrimp. The tender chicken was encased by a crunchy fried shell with a tangy sauce on top. Quite good. The fried rice was prepared in the standard fashion- savory rice fried with pork and a few finely-chopped veggies. The shrimp was a little disappointing. The fried shell was bland, with no sauce to accompany it.
The server forgot to order our Pan Fried Noodles (a forgivable mistake), but was able to get them to our table in just a few minutes, before we finished combination "J".
We finished the meal with fortune cookies and warm steamed cloths. Our bill came to just $20.40.
We left Kwan's satisfied with the whole experience. The food was good, the service was prompt, and the atmosphere was pleasant. Maybe that's why Kwan's has been successful in Salem for three decades!
Kwan's Original Cuisine
835 Commercial St. SE Salem, OR