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Kow Kow: David Lynch's inspiration for Dune

Kow Kow: David Lynch's inspiration for Dune
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  • Kow Kow: David Lynch's inspiration for Dune

    Post #1 - September 21st, 2006, 5:16 pm
    Post #1 - September 21st, 2006, 5:16 pm Post #1 - September 21st, 2006, 5:16 pm
    It is well known that the filmmaker David Lynch is a longtime fan of the famous Bob's Big Boy in Los Angeles, even using it in a pivotal scene in his Mulholland Drive.

    Less appreciated is the role played by one of Chicago's venerable restaurants in his earlier film Dune. From its clientele of elderly, Bene Gessarit and Baron Harkonnen-like patrons to its dimly baroque interior, Kow Kow, a Chinese restaurant at Pratt and Cicero, is unmistakably the inspiration for his adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel.

    Image

    The Kow Kow egg roll was the obvious design inspiration for the blobbish Spacing Guild creatures. Especially in the Lynchian way G Wiv eats them, splitting them open and filling them with entrail-like chow mein noodles:

    Image

    Like the baby in Eraserhead, not a sight one soon forgets.

    While a plate of General Tso's Chicken inevitably invokes imagery of the great worms burrowing through the terrain of the planet Arrakis:

    Image

    One could not help humming the theme by Toto at this point.

    Well, enough of that. Kow Kow is elderly Jewish Chinese, and exactly what you would expect at Pratt and Cicero, but I have to say two things stood out: the egg roll is terrific, crispy, peanut butter-tinged, and filled with chunks of meat big enough that you can actually tell what meat they are-- possibly a first in my egg roll dining history. And the hot and sour soup was admirable, which is to say, it tasted just like what I had growing up in Wichita. (I realize that will not be a recommendation for most people, but it is, most hot and sour soup here is either not sour enough, or it's vinegary with no other real flavor.)

    As for the General Tso's chicken... with enough soy sauce and hot mustard, it came very close to being flavorful. (Given the clientele, I suspect the General Tso's pastrami may be a better bet.)

    Kow Kow
    6755 N Cicero Ave
    Lincolnwood, IL
    (847) 677-7717
    Last edited by Mike G on September 21st, 2006, 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #2 - September 21st, 2006, 5:22 pm
    Post #2 - September 21st, 2006, 5:22 pm Post #2 - September 21st, 2006, 5:22 pm
    as per the guild navigation "eggroll" highliner cylinder:

    insert "folding space" joke, here
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #3 - September 21st, 2006, 5:27 pm
    Post #3 - September 21st, 2006, 5:27 pm Post #3 - September 21st, 2006, 5:27 pm
    Those photos reminded me of David Lynch's 1980 release "The Elephant Man." Staring at the photo of the egg roll, I had an auditory hallucination of its plaintive, lachrymose cry, "I am not an appetizer."

    Now I'll return to something less sorrowful: reading Dickens exquisite depiction of the death of Little Nell.
  • Post #4 - September 21st, 2006, 5:53 pm
    Post #4 - September 21st, 2006, 5:53 pm Post #4 - September 21st, 2006, 5:53 pm
    Mike,

    Very funny post.

    I always thought the egg roll looked a bit like a deep-fried twinkie, but tastes 100xs better.

    My pic of the egg roll is a lot less...evil

    Image

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 11:05 pm
    Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 11:05 pm Post #5 - January 24th, 2007, 11:05 pm
    eatchicago wrote:Image

    Michael,

    Not only does Kow Kow have a deliciously crisp, plump, hint of peanut butter egg roll, they have a terrific review, with accompanying picture, on the wall. Your EatChicago Best Egg Roll in Chicago blog entry has a place of prominence, not two feet from a picture of Steven Seagal.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 11:27 pm
    Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 11:27 pm Post #6 - January 24th, 2007, 11:27 pm
    If given a choice, I'd choose this ekgroll over the Gom Jabbar, but I'd make quick work of it with my crysknife.

    -ramon
  • Post #7 - February 21st, 2007, 11:30 pm
    Post #7 - February 21st, 2007, 11:30 pm Post #7 - February 21st, 2007, 11:30 pm
    Mike G wrote: Kow Kow is elderly Jewish Chinese, and exactly what you would expect at Pratt and Cicero


    Heard today at Kow Kow, 2:45 PM

    Elderly Jewish Lady #1: "Did you get your eggplant?"
    Elderly Jewish Lady #2: "Eggplant, what eggplant?"
    EJL1: "You know, eggplant!"
    EJL2: "This is egg fu young!"
    EJL1: "Yah, like I said, eggplant"
    EJL2: "That's not eggplant, it's egg fu young! Why are you calling it eggplant?!"
    EJL1: "That's what I call it. Eggplant."
    EJL2: "Eggplant is a vegetable. It's nothing like egg fu young"
    EJL1: [after pause] "This has vegetables in it too"
    EJL2: "I just can't believe you call this eggplant"
    EJL1: "I've always called it eggplant. I can't believe you care so much about what I call it"
    EJL2: "I could care less about what you call it. It's just weird!"
    EJL1: "Well you must, because you keep talking about it"

    End Scene
  • Post #8 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:31 pm
    Post #8 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:31 pm Post #8 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:31 pm
    Okay, this cat looks like both an eggroll and a Dune worm, so here you go. (I didn't create this image, I found it on the internets).

    Image
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #9 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:48 pm
    Post #9 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:48 pm Post #9 - February 22nd, 2007, 4:48 pm
    The peanut butter egg roll, is this an innovation native to Chicago? I'd never heard of such a thing when I lived in California, but now it seems like a perfectly natural combination.

    Oh, and when I was growing up chop suey was a punchline, not a food - something only the ignorant would eat. And then off I go to Chicago, only to find that it really exists, and is beloved.
  • Post #10 - February 22nd, 2007, 5:03 pm
    Post #10 - February 22nd, 2007, 5:03 pm Post #10 - February 22nd, 2007, 5:03 pm
    MikeG,

    I was wondering if you happened to know what inspired John Waters to make Pink Flamingos?
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #11 - May 28th, 2007, 10:03 am
    Post #11 - May 28th, 2007, 10:03 am Post #11 - May 28th, 2007, 10:03 am
    LTH,

    It's been a decade or three since I've had Hong Kong steak, so when my wife and niece suggested steak house and I was in the mood for Chinese (what else is new ;) ), I suggested Kow Kow for HK steak, the closer being Michael M, who my wife knows and likes, gives it a solid recommendation.

    There are two Hong Kong steak offerings at Kow Kow, HKS and Special HKS, feeling saucy we opted for the Special HKS. Our additional $2 got us a surprisingly good quality med-rare T-Bone resting on a bed of vegetables, dotted with oyster sauce.

    Special Hong Kong Steak
    Image

    In addition to Kow Kow's top notch egg roll, discussed upthread, I'm a fan of the Wonton soup.

    Wonton soup
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - November 26th, 2007, 7:29 pm
    Post #12 - November 26th, 2007, 7:29 pm Post #12 - November 26th, 2007, 7:29 pm
    LTH,

    Not quite on the order of Spring World's $3.95 value/to flavor/to interestingness ratio- Kow Kow's $5 chicken subgum w/soup and almond cookie puts it firmly in the tasty, yet inexpensive lunch category.

    Wonton Soup
    Image

    Chicken Subgum
    Image

    Steve Z, just back from his '07 Thanksgiving trip to Puerto Vallarta was feeling flush and sprung for the $5.20 General Tso's Chicken w/vegetable soup.

    General Tso's Chicken
    Image

    Kow Kow is not Kow Kow without an eggroll, 2 for $3.70 bringing out individual totals up another $1.85, well worth it for the best egg roll in the city.

    Kow Kow Egg Roll
    Image

    As we were leaving a plate of hollowed out egg rolls caught my eye. When I asked the fellow if I could snap a picture he looked at me as if I was completely insane. (maybe I am)

    Egg Roll Husks
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Kow Kow
    6755 N Cicero
    Lincolnwood, IL 60646
    847-677-7717
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - November 26th, 2007, 7:59 pm
    Post #13 - November 26th, 2007, 7:59 pm Post #13 - November 26th, 2007, 7:59 pm
    ugh, that last photograph is just a shame...
  • Post #14 - November 26th, 2007, 8:09 pm
    Post #14 - November 26th, 2007, 8:09 pm Post #14 - November 26th, 2007, 8:09 pm
    G Wiv wrote: When I asked the fellow if I could snap a picture he looked at me as if I was completely insane. (maybe I am)


    Gary, you are too modest. As I recall, the look was also quite tinged with wide-eyed terror. :shock:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - November 27th, 2007, 11:56 am
    Post #15 - November 27th, 2007, 11:56 am Post #15 - November 27th, 2007, 11:56 am
    Hmm, I wonder what TonyC's take on Kow Kow is... :roll:
  • Post #16 - November 27th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    Post #16 - November 27th, 2007, 1:54 pm Post #16 - November 27th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    I wonder if I could just order the husks? Mmmm, cardiolicious.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #17 - November 27th, 2007, 2:07 pm
    Post #17 - November 27th, 2007, 2:07 pm Post #17 - November 27th, 2007, 2:07 pm
    i understand the idea, but not the act. you don't discard kow kow egg roll husks because of it, mcdonalds double cheeseburger buns is a different story. this reminds of some guy that wasn't eating breads and he wouldn't touch the crust of a phenomenal salmon pizza... i mean, he ate the topping and discarded the crust, which was thin and just perfect... i've done the diet thing, but i also respected good food enough to know when to apply it... of course the guy could have just ordered husks and i could be all wrong :D
  • Post #18 - November 27th, 2007, 2:40 pm
    Post #18 - November 27th, 2007, 2:40 pm Post #18 - November 27th, 2007, 2:40 pm
    LOVE the picture of the kitty, and the chinese food YUM
    makes me hungry even tho I just had lunch
  • Post #19 - November 27th, 2007, 8:47 pm
    Post #19 - November 27th, 2007, 8:47 pm Post #19 - November 27th, 2007, 8:47 pm
    I could justify this act of treason only for dental reasons. Otherwise, hang 'em.
  • Post #20 - December 28th, 2007, 6:06 pm
    Post #20 - December 28th, 2007, 6:06 pm Post #20 - December 28th, 2007, 6:06 pm
    Stopped by Kow Kow this afternoon with the wife for a quick bite. She'd never been there and it had been almost 10 years since my last visit. The thought of textbook egg rolls sounded good even though, I warned her, we'd probably have to go somewhere else after the egg rolls to actually eat lunch. We both ordered a ~$5 lunch special and an egg roll for each of us . . .

    Image
    Lunch includes a relatively bland cup of wonton soup


    Image
    The main attraction; delicious, crispy egg roll


    Image
    Egg roll's interior, which contained pork and mini shrimps, was very tasty and just crunchy enough


    Image
    General Tso's Chicken was somewhat lacking in flavor and had already become soggy by the time it hit the table


    Image
    Pork Fried Rice wasn't even as good as what I normally make at home

    I can't really say I was disappointed because the egg rolls were great and I pretty much knew how the rest of the food would be (and after lunches earlier this week at Katy's and Lao Sze Chuan, it would have been hard for anything to stack up). I know there are some non-egg roll items at Kow Kow that are more highly recommended here but I couldn't get LTHForum.com to load on my phone while we were in the restaurant, so we had to wing it. In any case, I'm glad my wife finally got to experience the egg rolls at Kow Kow and it was nice to stop in again after 10 years of driving by the place without doing so. Man, time flies . . .

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #21 - December 28th, 2007, 6:28 pm
    Post #21 - December 28th, 2007, 6:28 pm Post #21 - December 28th, 2007, 6:28 pm
    My go to $5 lunch at Kow Kow is an item they call Chinese style shrimp (or pork) and egg. It's basically an omelet made with peapods, water chestnuts and some other Chinese veggies along with your choice of pork or shrimp. It comes sauceless and is actually very good. I also opt for the always excellent vegetable soup instead of the won ton, which I eat with a generous sprinkle of the supplied white pepper.

    Kow Kow Vegetable Soup
    Image

    Of course, an egg roll always accompanies.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #22 - December 28th, 2007, 8:15 pm
    Post #22 - December 28th, 2007, 8:15 pm Post #22 - December 28th, 2007, 8:15 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Lunch includes a relatively bland cup of wonton soup

    Ron,

    10-years without a Kow Kow egg roll, yikes!

    I agree the included with lunch cup of wonton soup is boring, though I amp it up with hot mustard and crisp chow mien noodle. The bowl of wonton soup, which I sometimes order for lunch with egg rolls, benefits greatly from roast pork and a quarter of a hard boiled egg.

    Bowl of Wonton Soup
    Image

    I sometimes order shrimp or chicken sub gum with very light corn starch gravy, not 'Little' Three Happiness, but it's less than 10-minutes from my house and without the masking goopy gravy the fresh ingredients come through.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - December 29th, 2007, 12:05 am
    Post #23 - December 29th, 2007, 12:05 am Post #23 - December 29th, 2007, 12:05 am
    Steve, Gary, thanks for the tips and additional information. Both your soups look way better than what I ended up with. I'll be much better informed about how to order next time around.

    When I checked my records, I was surprised by how long it had been since my last stop at Kow Kow, which was in February of 1998. It hardly seemed like more than a couple of years ago. Yikes, indeed! I don't know when I'll return but I'll do my best to make it before 2018. :wink:

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #24 - December 29th, 2007, 12:08 am
    Post #24 - December 29th, 2007, 12:08 am Post #24 - December 29th, 2007, 12:08 am
    How to eat at Kow Kow
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #25 - January 5th, 2008, 9:39 pm
    Post #25 - January 5th, 2008, 9:39 pm Post #25 - January 5th, 2008, 9:39 pm
    G Wiv wrote:10-years without a Kow Kow egg roll, yikes!

    I agree the included with lunch cup of wonton soup is boring



    I don't do the wonton at lunch. My less than 5 buck lunch standby at Kow Kow is the only soup on the lunch menu. Not having the menu in front of me...it's a wonton soup with thin noodles added and sliced pork. The bowl seems to be about 700ml.

    I ask for the chili paste and also toss alot of the chinese white pepper in.
  • Post #26 - February 7th, 2008, 2:06 pm
    Post #26 - February 7th, 2008, 2:06 pm Post #26 - February 7th, 2008, 2:06 pm
    G Wiv wrote:There are two Hong Kong steak offerings at Kow Kow, HKS and Special HKS, feeling saucy we opted for the Special HKS. Our additional $2 got us a surprisingly good quality med-rare T-Bone resting on a bed of vegetables, dotted with oyster sauce.

    Included in our Kow Kow pick up order last evening was Hong Kong Steak, the $2 upcharge T-Bone. They hit med rare on the nose and the T-bone is surprisingly good quality and includes an assortment of veg.

    There is a picture of Kow Kow Special Hong Kong steak upthread.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - February 10th, 2008, 10:34 pm
    Post #27 - February 10th, 2008, 10:34 pm Post #27 - February 10th, 2008, 10:34 pm
    I had lunch at Kow Kow today with my family. We've been dining there for about 25 years now, but our meals there get less and less frequent as my extended family has slowly migrated away from the Skokie area.

    The last time I dined at Kow Kow was more than likely a year ago, and I swear they are doing something different with the Won Ton soup. I read upthread that some people are calling it "bland" and this has never been my experience until today. It seemed to lack all seasoning.

    However, hot tea, Won Ton soup, and an egg roll with an obscene amount of hot mustard did help ameliorate the cold I've been fighting for a week!

    Kim
  • Post #28 - March 22nd, 2008, 7:50 pm
    Post #28 - March 22nd, 2008, 7:50 pm Post #28 - March 22nd, 2008, 7:50 pm
    Kim3 wrote:I read upthread that some people are calling it "bland" and this has never been my experience until today. It seemed to lack all seasoning.


    Timely comment, Kim3...here's my $0.02:

    I had passed Kow Kow on my commute for years and had always been drawn by its seemingly "old-school Chinese" facade. I had also noted the always-packed parking lot full of Lincoln Town Cars and Cadillacs. Drawing an unabashed stereotype, I assumed "Elderly clientele = fair prices & good food." My wife and I were out shopping today and decided to finally try it out for an early dinner.

    We were promptly greeted by a friendly older host and entered the large main dining room where the expected hordes of seniors were seated. We were seated in a diner-style vinyl/laminate booth. The middle school gymnasium-sized room kind of killed the atmosphere potential for me. Another older gentleman quickly greeted us with hot tea and some great old-school yellowed menus.

    We have always been fans of House of Wah Sun in Northcenter/Lincoln Square so we started with the pot stickers just to draw an initial comparison. They were obviously homemade and, while just a little too doughy, they hit the spot. For entrees we had the Mongolian Beef (requested "less spicy" for my wife...first mistake) and the BBQ Pork Loo Mein (closest thing I could find to my favorite 'Singapore Noodles' at Wah Sun). Both arrived piping hot but swimming in oil and sauce. The only flavor I could discern from the Mongolian beef was the "similar to those On-Cor Salisbury Steak dinners I used to love when I was a kid" taste. Maybe that was the tenderizer or something. The BBQ Pork Loo Mein was attractive with all the crisp peapods, water chestnuts, bean sprouts and celery mixed in with the noodles, BBQ pork strips and mushrooms. But there was almost no flavor outside of the fresh vegetables.

    We noticed several people around us eating their plump and beautiful egg rolls and I regret not knowing about them in advance. I'm sure we could've made a meal out of the appetizers (as Will Truman's father would say) and left happy and full. Instead, we have a couple of large take-out containers sitting in the fridge as I contemplate what a wok, my spice rack and limited "Iron Chef" skills can do to make this a passable lunch tomorrow.

    I'll stop back at Kow Kow for a 6-pack of egg rolls next time I drive by, but I don't think I'll order any more entrees. I'm sure the spice-averse regulars will keep Kow Kow busy for years to come. It's still good to see an old-timey place like that doing well and staying alive.
    Native Chicagolander Since 2003
  • Post #29 - August 19th, 2010, 9:40 pm
    Post #29 - August 19th, 2010, 9:40 pm Post #29 - August 19th, 2010, 9:40 pm
    LTH,

    Picked up Kow Kow last week, for the first time in 10-years of ordering pick up they forgot the egg rolls. I called, they said sorry, let us know next time. I called tonight for egg roll only, not only were the egg rolls, possibly the best in Chicagoland, free they gave me three when an order is only two. That's customer service.

    Kow Kow egg rolls, count me a fan.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #30 - August 19th, 2010, 11:30 pm
    Post #30 - August 19th, 2010, 11:30 pm Post #30 - August 19th, 2010, 11:30 pm
    G Wiv wrote:for the first time in 10-years of ordering pick up they forgot the egg rolls. I called, they said sorry, let us know next time.


    Next time? I'm shocked that your didn't hop back in the car to go get them right then and there. A meal from Kow Kow without eggrolls is like skipping a meal.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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