Dinner for one

Photo By David Robert

As luck would have it, I found myself dateless for this week’s review. After a few tries, I found that several of my usual dinner companions were otherwise engaged. Then it occurred to me that I was about to do something that few women are comfortable doing: eat dinner out alone. As it turned out, I chose the perfect place for it.

Kim Son is located between a pawnshop and a liquor store; it’s not exactly what one would call prime real estate, but it turned out to be a rather elegant setting to get some decent Chinese and Vietnamese food. Calm, cool lighting set off the tasteful wall hangings and painted screens. The dining room was relaxed and ever so slightly formal. I was escorted to a table by the window that faces Second Street, giving me an ample view of one side of Harrah’s Reno, as well as the sparse mid-week crowds.

One other thing I noticed as I perused the menu was that I was not alone in being alone. There were at least four other singles at tables scattered around the room. I was fascinated at how content these people looked, enjoying their meal with a newspaper or a book. I had neither, but I found ample amusement in the ritual of pouring myself a cup of hot, floral tea and ordering whatever the heck I wanted. The table groaned under the amount and variety of condiments. I liked it. There was hot chili sauce, pickled peppers, little puddle dishes for sauce, napkins, chopsticks, salt and pepper and several bottles of mysterious sauces.

Of course, I still wanted to try a variety of dishes, so I had to order several things knowing full well I would have tons of leftovers. But hey, half the fun of an Asian dinner is the cute little boxes lined up in the fridge later. My server was gracious about it, not even making a face at how much I was planning to pig out.

I started with an order of pot stickers ($4.95). The fat, little pork dumplings were crisp on the outside and bursting with scorching hot filling. They were really tasty, but lacked the usual browned bottoms that denote an expertly cooked pot sticker.

Moving on, I tried a traditional Vietnamese charbroiled beef with lemongrass ($5.50), or Bun Bo Nuong Xa. This was the best part of the whole meal. The subtly flavored meat was cut into thin, wide strips and charbroiled. It was tender and lean, with a simple, clean taste that was deeply satisfying without being cloying or heavily sauced.

The next dish I tried—the golden chicken pan-fried noodles ($7.50)—was less impressive. Next to the straightforward intensity of the other dish, this one fell a bit flat on taste. The gold, crispy noodles were like a crunchy bird’s nest under some very nice and fresh veggies, baby corn and straw mushrooms. The chicken was tender but bland.

The service was quite good and very responsive. A lone diner at the next table ordered something that sounded rather customized, and he was accommodated without so much as a hiccup. While the menu does not boast many vegetarian dishes, many things could be made without meat. Just ask about fish sauce, because it may be present in the dish unless you ask to have it omitted.

This is no lonely-hearts club, but it is a good place to relax with or without a date. I felt a little strange walking out with my huge bag of goodies, but it gave me something great to snack on while I wrote this.