Review: QQ Kitchen offers spicy, authentic Asian cuisineWritten by Dustin Hostetler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a huge fan of funky Asian cuisine. I’ve had some of the best meals of my life in Chinatown in New York City. I’ve eaten things that no one should have eaten, and it’s given me a real taste for things way too spicy and way too fishy. One time I ate a pot of clams that were so off, my tongue felt like I had licked a battery for days.
Toledo has some terrific Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants. We now have a contender for best “Asian” food in Toledo. Long story short, they don’t serve just Chinese.
Our friend Michelle came over last week and brought some takeout from QQ Kitchen. I tried the sizzling rice soup, which was light and flavorful with a nice shrimpy finish, as well as the black bean noodles and pork bulgogi. Both dishes were very assertive in flavor, and much more deeply seasoned than is typical in Toledo.
The next day, I picked up some take-out which is clearly going to be QQ’s focus and specialty. The dining room is small, and the kitchen way too fast and efficient to be concerned with just the small amount of diners eating in.
We ordered several things, all of which were delightful. When I got home, I took note of how well they packaged and bagged up everything. I ordered the spicy seafood noodle soup (minus the noodles) and the plastic container it was in was wrapped in a sealed bag and then placed in another double bag.
It was filled with a surprising variety of seafood and veggies, along with equal parts deeply red and spicy broth. Absolutely gorgeous.
We had crab rangoon (classic) and an egg roll, which my wife described as “a nice little pocket of satisfying yum.”
We tried the Mapo tofu, which I loved. As soon as I got home with the to-go, I grabbed a spoon and took a scalding hot bite. I felt it slowly burn the entire way down my esophagus. It burnt not only with the scalding, freshly cooked heat, but also with the delicious twang of Sichwan spices that are mixed in with the silky soft tofu cubes and ground beef. This place is not messing around. The dish is very spicy, and I yelled in delight as it burnt its way down to my stomach. I did not grab a glass of water. I let it burn all the way down. This is a dish I am going to order again and again.
Then … for me … the piece de résistance was the salt and black pepper shrimp. The portion was huge, with nine or 10 — head and legs on — giant shrimp. They were very lightly breaded (so light, you could still see the eyeballs) and deep fried.
These beautiful bad boys are not for the faint of heart. I suspect many people would be prone to rip the head and tail off and just eat the body. But not me. I ate the whole thing. All nine or 10 of them. Bite off the head and enjoy the flavor. Then I poured a little soy into the body and gobbled that up. Seriously a joyful seafood experience.
I stopped by a couple more times during the course of a week, as I could not get enough. The hot and sour soup is complex, with a rich variety of textures and flavors. I also tried the Gan Pan Chicken, which is deep fried with the bone in. It’s stir-fried in a Chinese garlic sauce. It’s an adventurous dish, as the chicken is chopped up in such a way that you aren’t immediately sure which part of the bird you’re eating. The flavors and textures in this dish are addictive.
During my four visits to QQ during the course of only a week, I bumped into and recognized many familiar faces. The word is out, and Toledo is excited. This two-generation-deep, family-owned restaurant has only been open since July, and it has been so busy that it hasn’t had time to throw itself a proper opening celebration.
It’s rare for a brand-new restaurant to find its sea legs so quickly, but this place knows what it’s doing. I can’t wait to eat QQ’s food again and again and again. After finding out they deliver to the Old West End, it’s clear I’m eating QQ every week for the rest of my life. Five stars out of five all the way.