Kai’s Delight

I wouldn’t say my current neighbourhood, the Portsmouth Village/St. Lawrence area, is where you would expect a local foodie to reside. Sure, you can get great sushi and Japanese fare at Jina’s, but with chains like Subway and Tim Horton’s as the only other choices, I wouldn’t exactly call it a culinary Mecca when compared with other Kingston areas teeming with restaurants…perhaps this is a good thing for my wallet! So a few months ago, when I saw that a new Asian restaurant, Kai’s Delight, was opening in the former location of Stuff’d Urban Eats on King St., I was keen to try it.

Kai’s website says that it specialises in authentic Chinese cuisine. However, I found their menu to be similar to other Canadian-pan-Asian restaurants I’ve been to. The menu is very large with over 180 dishes available from Chinese favourites such as fried rice and sweet and sour pork to a selection of curries, Szechuan dishes and “Canadian Food” (although I don’t know anyone who actually orders burgers and fries at a Pan-Asian restaurant). After work on the Tuesday after the May long-weekend, I called and ordered the “dinner for three” for pick up, which includes three egg rolls, chicken fried rice, almond beef ding, chicken chop suey and sweet and sour chicken balls for 27.95 (minus 10% off on pick up orders). My food was ready within 15 minutes of ordering and the service was especially friendly.

Kai's Delight, eggroll, chicken fried riceUpon returning home, we piled our plates with a few spoonfuls of each dish and an eggroll. The eggrolls were filled with what tasted like a blend of carrot, cabbage, bits of chicken and spices. These did not wow me and tasted similar to frozen eggrolls I have prepared at home. I much prefer the homemade rolls you can find at Cambodian and Thai places in Kingston. I wouldn’t opt for eggrolls next time.

I also found the chicken fried rice a bit lackluster. While the flavour was alright (not too salty), there were only a few bits of chicken and egg and only a few pieces of green onion throughout the entire dish— it was almost entirely rice and soya sauce. The dish also contained large clumps of rice stuck together, which made me question its freshness.

Kai's Delight, eggroll, chicken ballsHowever, I think the biggest disappointment of the meal for me was the chicken balls. I was disappointed when I opened the contained to see that the chicken balls were already in the sweet and sour sauce, rather than it being packed on the side. This meant that by the time we got home, the balls were no longer crispy, but a tad mushy in texture and not conducive for leftovers. I found myself removing the soggy batter and eating the pieces of chicken breast alone. Make sure you specify your preference when ordering. On a positive note, the chicken pieces were of a decent size.

Kai's Delight, eggroll, chicken chop sueyTwo dishes from Kai’s that I enjoyed were the chicken chop suey and the almond beef ding. Chop suey is a simple dish but light and fresh tasting, consisting mostly of vegetables like bean sprouts and celery. If it is cooked too long, the vegetables become limp and mushy, but Kai’s was still crunchy and tasty.

Kai's Delight, eggroll, almond beef dingThe almond beef ding contained an impressive array of vegetables, including red and green pepper, carrot, onion, mushroom, water chestnuts, celery, broccoli, and baby corn, all in a slightly-sweet garlic sauce and topped with tender beef and blanched almonds. Without a doubt, this was the best dish we ordered.

Overall the experience was quite mixed as we enjoyed a few of the dishes, but the others were not at all memorable. Perhaps, it was not a good idea to go on the day after the long weekend. However, I was impressed with the quick and friendly service, and I would be willing to give it another try because I am happy to support a local business, especially one in my own neighbourhood. Next time, I would order from the Chef`s specialities section or ask what they recommend.

Melinda Knox

Melinda Knox has retired as a contributor to Kingstonist. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, whose regular Food & Drink column for Kingstonist explored the local culinary scene. From food trucks to fine dining, her mouth watering reviews were served with a generous side of honesty.

4 thoughts on “Kai’s Delight

  • Kai's Delight is housed in a period limestone building adjacent to Jina's, a successful oriental restaurant specialising in Korean and Japanese dishes. The questions to ask is: how will this newcomer survive on a basis of an ordinary Chinese-Canadian menu? Summer approaches, one of the natural clientèle, the St. Lawrence student has returned home. What summer business can be expected? What passer-by even notices the building is home to a restaurant? To a tiny sign has been added a second slightly larger sign on one side, but the other side of the building remains bare.

    I had a chat with the owner a few weeks ago, and suggested putting up a larger sign on the post outside Jina's but perhaps the convenience store and Jina's won't cooperate. Pity, a grouping of restaurants and services helps bring customers.

    Perhaps the owner might experiment by adding speciality dishes by marketing very short "new additions to the menu" list on each table, and assessing the takers.

    A new restaurant in a classic heritage building ought to do more than offer ordinary Chinese-Canadian fare.

  • I have not dined in at Kai's Delight, but have ordered pick-up and delivery on two occasions, and could not be more pleased with either experience. I am vegetarian, and was delighted with the varied veggie options. Without exception the veggies were fresh and perfectly cooked. The owner and other employees are unimaginably friendly, courteous, and thankful.

  • I have eaten in their restaurant several times and each time I am very satisfied with my meal and with their outstanding service ! Friendly owner and employees make dining here such a pleasure. Nice calm atmosphere is so welcoming. I never hesitate to recommend ‘Kai’s Delight’ to anyone. My only complaint is that they don’t deliver to Millhaven.

    • We absolutely love Kai’s — friendly staff and owners and really good food.

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