Kim Long is where my great Vietnamese adventure began almost 27 years ago. Neighbor, teacher and friend for many years, Lyle Bonge, took me there in 1992 and I was mesmerized from the first visit. How cool was it that this small coastal town I just moved to would have a thriving Vietnamese community, along with grocery stores, temples and restaurants?
Don’t ask me why, but I haven’t been to Kim Long in months, but decided to stop by for takeout the other day. The menu had been tightened up, and the restaurant had a new, bright feel to it and I was wowed all over again. I have been back twice since, and have promised myself to be a regular, again.
This is where I had pho for the first time, the national dish of Vietnam. I can never mention pho, try it, or talk about it without quoiting the much missed super chef and world traveler, Anthony Bourdain, in calling it “a steaming bowl of goodness.” If you never tried anything else, a visit to Kim Long would be worth it just to be introduced to this magical dish.
There is a lot that makes Kim Long special, but nothing is more important than Chef Chau Oanh. She has cooked here for years and is perhaps the most well-known Vietnamese chef on the Coast. She is petite, but always has a huge smile on her face, and when she is in the kitchen, expect magic to happen.
Kim Long’s menu is hefty, but it is broken down into manageable parts, by category, so it is easy to peruse: lunch specials, Thai selections, house specials, pork, chicken, seafood, rice, noodles and so on. It can be a bit confusing, but take your time and give it a good look-over before you order. You cannot go wrong with the pho, just make sure to pick the one that sounds best to you. I love the rare beef, meatball and brisket. Remember that pho comes with a basket of herbs, peppers, lime and bean sprouts, and there are several condiments on the table you might want to try but go lightly at first.
I also highly recommend the clay pot pork. It’s a bit pricey ($18 and $20), but braised pork in a sweet sticky sauce, along with white rice is simply delicious. In fact, any of the pork dishes are great selections, like spareribs, or any of the combinations or pork chop and rice or noodles. A few of my other recommendations are lemongrass chicken, beef and broccoli, and all the curries. Vietnamese-style beef stew is another life-changer, and all of the appetizers are good.
It’s always a good idea to come with friends and eat family style, that way you get to taste an assortment of good things. Sunday is the big day for Vietnamese families to go out for an early brunch, so expect a crowd.
Where: 832 Division St., Biloxi
Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday