So. Much. Food.

KP International Market food court

KP International Market food court

10971 Olson Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

(916) 853-8000

If put to a vote, the KP International Market food court could probably win most diverse menu in the Sacramento area. Adjacent to the KP International Market grocery store in Rancho Cordova, this food court serves Mexican, Korean, Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese food, plus a few that my dining companions and I didn’t have time to sample: Japanese (various sushi rolls) and Mediterranean (which includes items claiming to be of both Greek and Persian origin).

In other words, it’s basically an international smorgasbord.

It’s set up like a mall food court, but instead of the typical circular arrangement, there’s a single long, straight counter with dozens of premade food options, and made-to-order foods come from the kitchen behind the counter. Customers pay at one of a handful of registers, and receive a tray to take food to a seat. Unlike most mall food courts, however, the big difference here is the sheer variety of food offered.

On my first visit, we sampled a carnitas burrito, a Russian dish called Chicken in a Basket and a Korean bibimbap. The carnitas burrito made for a fairly good choice. The pork was tender, and the guacamole and sour cream added a nice gooey texture. However, even with a few spoonfuls of added hot salsa, there was a distinct lack of flavor.

Though “chicken in a basket” suggests something KFC might serve, this was actually a unique creation: a chicken wing—bone protruding upward an inch past the rest of the dish—with seasoned mashed potatoes, all wrapped in a pastry shell. Though served at the Russian section of the food-court counter, it tasted much like a British pastie, or even an Eastern European knish.

Lastly, the bibimbap (with beef added for a few extra dollars) was of a quality one might find at the Korean restaurants not far down the street on Folsom Boulevard: an overeasy egg, spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, pickles, mushrooms and beef atop a pile of soft rice. It was accompanied by kimchee, a sweet-and-spicy sauce to stir into the bibimbap, and a small bowl of seafood broth.

The Chinese food here is all over the place in terms of quality. The vegetarian chow mein and fried rice that come free with two- and three-item combo plates were pretty much void of any flavor—they didn’t even have garlic, ginger or soy sauce—ingredients common in Chinese stir-fries. On one two-item combo plate, the five-spice salmon was very dry and overcooked, but a peppered-steak dish came with tender cubes of meat. Another two-item combo—this one with Sichuan beef and kung pao chicken—didn’t live up to the dishes’ advertised names: Both dishes were supposed to have spices from China’s Sichuan province (namely Sichuan peppercorns) but neither did.

Finally, since we saw many other people order it—even in 100-degree heat—we felt compelled to sample the pho, the only Vietnamese dish on the menu. This was the best dish ordered from KP International: rich, clean beef broth; tender sliced steak and meatballs; and a generous helping of lime, bean sprouts and Vietnamese herbs.

In the end, we still came well short of sampling half of the food-court menu—a task that seems near impossible.

While KP International Market is possibly my favorite place to shop in the Sacramento area, its food court doesn’t serve the best food in town. Still, when you can combine grocery shopping and dining into one trip—both at a bargain prices—it makes for a highly rewarding experience.