Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Kam Po

111003There are many international restaurants along Leesburg Pike. While the taste buds can earn passport stamps at these varied eateries, few combine the cuisines of different cultures for a very unique, cross-cultural exploration in dining. Enter Kam Po.

111002There are many international restaurants along Leesburg Pike. While the taste buds can earn passport stamps at these varied eateries, few combine the cuisines of different cultures for a very unique, cross-cultural exploration in dining. Enter Kam Po.

The restaurant bills itself as a spot for seafood and chifa, which is Peruvian food cooked in the Chinese style. From Chinese take-out staples like sweet and sour chicken, to hearty beef and potato dishes more reminiscent of Peruvian cuisine, the menu at Kam Po pulls dishes from both culinary traditions. And instead of marking which items on the menu are spicy, this restaurant writes “dulce” alongside dishes that are sweet, so diners looking for a meal with a little kick won’t be disappointed.

The duality of the menu is echoed in the restaurant’s dining room. Upon entering the large, warehouse-like building, diners are greeted by a large dining room set in gold and red, where Asian-inspired art hangs on the walls. A second, offset dining room is decidedly more rustic, with walls decorated in art depicting colonial South American life.

As the restaurant tries to feature favorite Chinese and Peruvian dishes, the menu is extensive. More than 50 soups, appetizers, sides and main courses tempt diners with overwhelming possibilities. The house specials menu – a mere 15 dishes between $9 and $15 – provides needed focus.

A third of the dishes are various meats cooked in lo mein noodles, served up at Kam Po with large pieces of meat to accompany the vegetable-and-sprout-laden noodles. While a curious smokiness in the noodles and the sheer size of the barbecue pork pieces distinguished the dish from similar lo mein creations at other restaurants, the effect was minimal.

Also on the special menu are a handful of dishes featuring duck in various treatments. The garlic duck is a savory approach that plates duck pieces alongside huge chunks of onion, all coated in a delicious garlic sauce. The duck, with a wonderfully cripsy skin covering slightly overcooked bits of meat, is acceptable.111003

When Kam Po turns its attention to seafood, however, the results are much better. The steamed fish and black bean sauce is a must-order. In the dish, a very healthy portion of fish is served covered in lemongrass and black bean sauce. While black bean dishes are notoriously heavy, the treatment in this dish is surprisingly light. The sauce combines with the lemongrass-flavored fish to create a slightly tangy, very satisfying taste.

But no visit to any Chinese restaurant is complete without ordering the egg roll, and the Kam Po egg roll doesn’t disappoint. The crispy fried wonton wrapped in this Chinese food staple is made moist and chewy by loads of cabbage and pieces of pork, making for a super crunchy, super tasty treat.

Diners hoping to try this blended-culture cuisine should be prepared to sit a while and enjoy the restaurant’s ambiance, as the carry out menu offers exclusively Chinese dishes, like hunan chicken and kung pao shrimp. But simply for the sake of trying this out-of-the-ordinary, yet so familiar, cuisine, Kam Po is worth taking time out to sit down and enjoy the meal.

Kam Po is located at 5884 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. For more information, call 703-578-4271. Restaurant hours are Saturday – Sunday: Noon – 10 p.m. and Monday – Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.