12041 124th Ave. NE
Kirkland WA 98034
Mr. Chan Plays up to an Era Fast Fading Away
By: Steve G
"You're my number one son!"
If you've never watched or read about Charlie Chan then you've probably never heard that line. Loosely inspired by the character's mystery movies from the 30's and 40's, Chan's Place seems to have taken inspiration from the movies' style, which can be seen on their menu. Aside from the name it's pretty much westernized Chinese food. Much of what you see on the menu would blow apart an American Ethnic Studies major (*cough*) as Charlie Chan isn't held in the highest regards in those circles.
Chan's Place is odd restaurant of sorts to be inspired by popular detective movies and games. Family meals named Mr. Plum, Colonel White, Professor Peacock and Doctor Green all pay homage to the mystery board game Clue, though their titles are interchanged with those in the original game to keep from getting sued. If you're dining alone, order up one of meals named after Charlie Chan's sons: No.1 through 3 and a baby (child) plate. Of course those familiar with the Chan series will know that only four of his fourteen sons ever made it to the big screen.
From the outside, Chan's place isn't much too look at, which is a sharp contrast to what we were treated to on the inside. Akin to the style of an Atlantic City casino, the place is impeccably clean. Lots of pastel colors with high backed booths with gold trim and chandeliers cover the entire area. The scent of the place is also very odd, almost to the point of being completely sterile like a hospital. We've heard stories of bad service here, but luckily for us we had one of the nicest servers handle our table. Friendly and extremely courteous, she checked up on our status multiple times and constantly filled our water glasses.
The Seafood Delight in Bird's Nest that we ordered is an exotic dish that is typically not served at many restaurants. Consisting of shrimp, scallops and vegetables in a thick oyster sauce, the pieces of seafood lay in a big basket of dried potato shreds that looked very similar to a bird's nest, hence the name. Most of the time, the nest is made fresh, which requires a lot of skill. Sadly, while the seafood tasted pretty decent, Chan's incarnation of the Bird's Nest was suspciously made with a pre-made nest which tasted a little stale and was a bit of a disappointment.
Crunchy and very crispy, the Emerald Prawns were a nice addition to the meal. Topped with roasted garlic and pepper, the shrimp was delightful with that strong hint of garlic and subtle punch of pepper. Accompanied by a big portion of rather dry broccoli, it would have helped to add some sauce to the dish, as it just had a overwhelming dry taste that had me always clutching for the water glass.
Less like Charlie Chan and more like Uncle Ben, the rice was a big disappointment. Loose, fluffy and dry looking, it had all of the characteristics of Uncle Ben's rice. We would have preferred something more along the lines of medium grain rice. You might want to ration out your rice too, since an extra order will cost you $2.00
Overall, we had a decent experience at Chan's place but between the references to a strange stereotype and sub par Chinese food, don't make this place a must-see on your list. To quote from Charlie Chan, "Me no likeee drinkee now - perhaps later."