Tucked into a strip mall in the sprawl of Kenwood, I've probably driven past Moy's Pacific Rim 100 times without stopping. A lot of other people have probably driven past it, too. It's a difficult restaurant to notice. Outside, Kenwood Road is bustling with traffic from the mall, which clogs the roads in all directions like atherosclerotic blood vessels.
Tonight, my dining companion and I enter and seat ourselves in the small, dark but otherwise empty dining room. Despite its Pacific Rim appellation, the menu is almost exclusively Chinese-oriented, with the exception of the recently added sushi options. The only attempts to match the decor to the menu are a black lacquer Asian screen near the front door and a rather sad-looking red Chinese lantern hanging lopsided near the kitchen.
Our server is attentive and helpful, and her friendliness helps to make up for what she doesn't know about serving. Something about Moy's, from the décor to the service and the food, just seems a little unfinished.
When we order an entree, our server tells us there are no carrots left. I'm certain there are plenty of carrots at Trader Joe's, which sits across the street.
When my companion asks for a glass of Fume Blanc, our server asks which one we want: Do we want the Fume (which she pronounces so that it rhymes with room) or do we want the Blanc? "Erm, I'd like the Fume?" my companion responds with uncertainty, which leads to a discussion between the server and the sushi chef on whether the bar is stocked with bottles of the Fume or the Blanc.
We order Crab Rangoon for appetizers ($.95/four). From the sushi menu, we order a Yellowtail Roll ($8.95), a Spider Roll ($12.95) and Quail Eggs ($2.75). The crab Rangoon is not good at all -- I'm capable of making better in my own kitchen. The wonton is hard and chewy and not completely cooked, and there is so little filling inside a few of them that I have trouble finding it.
While one can find better sushi in town, the recently added sushi chef at Moy's has made noticeable efforts to place his own stamp on the sushi he serves, and it is flavorful and fresh. He tells us he learned to prepare sushi from an old Korean woman at Charlie's Crab in Montgomery some years ago.
He garnishes the spider roll with green sprigs of fresh, sharp-tasting radish root. He serves the quail eggs by carefully breaking two eggs into a little vessel made of seaweed and sprinkled with sesame seeds on the top. The quail egg tastes wonderful and is filled with complex layers of flavor. The rolls are good, too.
We order Kung Pao Shrimp ($10.50) for an entree, along with Thai Fried Rice ($7.95) and an order of Moy's Barbeque Chicken ($10.50). The chicken is a bland and tasteless mixture with green beans and oyster sauce, and it goes unfinished.
The Kung Pao shrimp is served in a rich brown sauce that's packed with a robust and spicy flavor. The shrimp are large, and there are plenty of them. The dish is wonderful, and I'm a little sad I didn't order two of them instead.
The Thai fried rice is also very good, filled with a generous amount of Chinese-style barbequed pork, tasty chunks of onion and scallion, bright red flecks of crushed red pepper and fresh bean sprouts that give a satisfying crunch as one bites into them. We finish our food, reluctantly pick up our leftovers and leave.
A few days later, I return to Moy's at around 11:15 a.m. to find out if the restaurant was just having a bad day the first time I visited. Surprisingly, the restaurant doesn't open until 11:30 a.m. on weekdays, which seems a little late for a lunch crowd.
I've had plenty of time to study the menu in the window, so when Moy's finally opens I already know what I want. Unfortunately, there is no one there to cook it for me. In fact, the sushi chef is making a phone call to the chef, quietly telling her that a customer wants to order lunch. This seems unusual.
Fifteen minutes later the chef walks in, looking flustered, and cooks me perhaps the worst Sesame Chicken ($6.50) I've ever eaten. I asked the sushi chef to make it spicy when I ordered it, but it has no flavor or heat to it.
The Chicken Fried Rice ($5.95) that accompanies it has been cooked so quickly that half if it is balled up in clumps of white boiled rice.
Over two visits, some of the food I had at Moy's Pacific Rim was wonderful, but between the service and some of the other food items I tasted Moy's has some issues. And I don't like to gamble on my dinner. ©
Moy's Pacific Rim
Go: 7340 Kenwood Road, Kenwood
Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday; Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 5-9 Sunday from October to March
Payment: All major credit cards, and cash
Red Meat Alternatives: Some vegetarian options
Accessibility: Fully accessible