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Hong's Kitchen RIP

The Hot Dish was surprised recently when we noticed that Hong's Kitchen, a tiny South Nicollet Ave. Chinese takeout restaurant, was closed. In its space? Another gyro/wings establishment called American Grill that also offers some Hong favorites.

Hong's was an incredibly cost-effective eatery. A "small" order of any entree was usually enough for two people, and almost all cost less than $7. In certain circles, Hong's Tiger Pork dish was considered a one-of-a-kind treat.

We wanted to eulogize Hong's Kitchen by telling this story, which happened only a couple months ago:

One night, I walked to Hong's Kitchen with a couple of friends who had placed a to-go order by phone. We arrived just a few minutes before the posted closing time. We sat in the (absolutely microscopic) front pickup area while the sounds of sizzling sesame oil and spatula-on-wok emanated from the kitchen.

After a few minutes, an older man whom we presume was the owner, came out with a tidily bundled package containing our wontons, etc. He handed over the bag, thanked us, and bid us a good night.

We started walking back to the house, down a dark alleyway. We were half a block away when we noticed someone running after us and shouting something indecipherable. Unable to make out the figure in the dark, a moment of "fight or flight" response kicked in as we pondered whether we were about to be attacked or merely solicited for some bus fare.

As the person drew closer, we realized it was the same man who had just given us the food. When he got close enough for us to make out what he was saying, we heard:

"I forgot to give you the duck sauce!"

He handed over two little plastic containers bearing the sweet nectar, and the young lady in our group felt that the man's sense of pride and service deserved a hug.

It is places like Hong's Kitchen--run by people who take pride in their work and are willing to chase after customers down dark alleyways just to give them a half-cup of duck sauce--whose demise diners everywhere should mourn.


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