Harold and Kumar go to Semoran Blvd.
My little cousin smokes a lot of pot. The first thing I did after eating at Kai Asian Street Fare was let her know that she has a new, nearby option for quieting her cannabis-induced cravings. Kai is stripped down strip mall dining done reasonably well. The kitchen churns out a small menu of elevated Asian-influenced munchie food that doesn’t push any limits quality or concept-wise and that’s OK. It’s what fast food would be if fast food menus were planned by semi-food-savvy stoners.
Located on 436 (a.k.a. sim-ore-rahn boulevard) just north of Aloma in an area known for its ho-hum, big box, every town homogeneity, it came as little surprise that Kai has zero ambience. It’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall. On the Friday evening we ate there, we arrived a little late and were the only three diners, lending our meal a last-guy-at-the-local-sports-bar type of vibe.
Atmosphere aside, the Kai folks are super-friendly and our focus was on the menu not our surroundings. Kai is counter order and we quickly counter-ordered a number of plates; a special of chicken wings in a dry Sichuan rub, garlic crab noodles, fish tacos, steamed wontons, kimchi, and some type of fried cheesecake thing.
Adding to the faintly Harold and Kumar vibe, you’re forced to order dishes with names like “On-Fleek” Wontons or “Dude, Where’s My Ca” Tacos. It’s worth the temporary humiliation (and who doesn’t love a good fish pun?). Handmade wonton bundles stuffed with shrimp and pork were taken from good to very good with the addition of chili and soy. Were they on fleek? Sure, why not.
Photos of Kai’s self-appointed Legendary Noodles seem to make their way into a lot of insta feeds and online reviews. We found the noodles themselves far from legendary, but in combo with a heady dose of garlic and abundance of crab, I would definitely move them into the ‘understandably well known’ category.
Fish tacos were fun and tasty in an eat-a-whole-bag-of-Doritos-while-watching-GoT kind of way. Fried strips of fish are topped with Rice Krispies and drizzled with a ‘house special sauce.’ Everything is piled atop what tasted like store-bought flour tortillas, but if this gives Kai the time to keep making their handmade wontons, I say keep going to the tortilla store.
The wings were the only thing we would categorize as decidedly different; powered by a numbing heat from a sichuan peppercorn dry rub and featuring an unusual double-fried texture that gave way to exceptionally moist meat. It was like chicken wings wrapped in chicharrones smothered in burn, and this, amigo, is a very fine thing.
A dessert of fried cheesecake dusted with matcha looked pretty on the plate, but fell flat on the palate. Not something we would try again. Basically a big ole’ semi-sweet fried burrito.
For alcoholics that like to plan, Kai is beer only. There’s no liquor or wine, but also no complaints at our table after a cold Singha or three. Munch suffered through a vino-free evening by diving into an Angry Orchard Rosé Cider, which made her – well – angry for more.
When judging fellow diners’ impressions of dishes, I always ask “would you order that again?” It’s the fastest path to a real opinion. Same thing applies with restaurants. Would I go back to Kai? Maybe. It’s far from destination dining, but if my destination is the nearby Wal-Mart to buy a vape pen, then it’s a winning option for no-fuss grub. It would also give me the opportunity to try a few of their specials – like Vietnamese style ribeye or Ho Fun noodles or a Shrimp Burger or…shit I’m hungry. Pass and puff, man. Pass and puff.