The Kowloon in Saugus, Massachusetts: America's Largest Asian
Dedham Community Movie Theater, Dedham, Massachusetts.
by Eric Hurwitz. Updated 12/18/16.
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The Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus, MA, has gained legendary
status in the Greater Boston area through the years, given its
larger-than-life, almost cartoon-like atmosphere and a menu that
features Szechuan, Cantonese, Sushi, Thai and Polynesian Cuisines.
Known as America's largest Asian dining complex, the Kowloon
stands out on Route 1 just on looks alone -- noteworthy, given the
amazing signage and structures like the giant cactus at the Hilltop
Steak House, the humongous sausage at Karl's Sausage Kitchen and the
50-ft. tall orange dinosaur at Route 1 mini-golf. The Wong family
opened the Kowloon in its humble, smaller origins in 1950 and greatly
expanded the site as locals loved the mounds of excellent Chinese food,
great prices and a caring staff. Those concepts surely remain today.
The Wong family, in fact, is on site, running a tight ship and treating
its customers like the most important people in the world. The Wongs
can frequently be seen sincerely interacting with customers and wanting
to know their experiences.
The look of the Kowloon is certainly not shy and demure. The exterior
features a large A-frame entrance on a building that looks like the
size of some community shopping malls. The Kowloon sign above the
A-frame must be a million pixel font size!
Once inside, the Kowloon looks like the Chinese restaurant version of
Vegas or Atlantic City --or perhaps even Disneyworld -- with an
expansive, stunning diversity of lights, decor and furnishings.
Specifically, across the several rooms that can seat 1,200 people on
two floors, you'll see, depending upon location, giant backlit murals,
a huge boat in the middle of a dining room, water fountains, gold
wallpaper, bamboo chairs, koi ponds, tiki torches, multi-colored
lights, huge flames rising above an open kitchen and food being served
to you on fire. It's kitschy Polynesian decor at its finest! The names
of the rooms have colorful names like
Tiki Lagoon, Volcano Bay, Mandarin and Cliff. It's the stuff that our
vivid childhood dreams were made of, no doubt, carrying on into
adulthood. Mention the Kowloon and the first thought, for many, is "I
have to get back there!" (that might also include a scorpion bowl, Mai
Tai, or other exotic drink for the adults at the bar or in one of the
The Kowloon food selections for lunch and dinner are dependable and
consistently good, often achieving excellence. The menu is extensive,
taking me nearly 15 minutes to read -- and wishing for a Cliff Notes
version. You won't find a better Pu-Pu Platter or pork-fried rice and
dishes like the Pad Thai, chicken with yellow curry, the Special
Kowloon Treasure (chicken, lobster, shrimp, beef and roast pork sauteed
with Chinese vegetable and oyster sauce and topped with crispy wonton)
and the Eddie Andelman Lo Mein (shrimp, chicken, onion and pea pods
over a bed of pan fried noodles with black bean sauce) are phenomenal.
For those of you that don't know Eddie Andelman, he is a legendary
local sports talk show host known for his hilarious "Sports Huddle"
radio that gained prominence starting in 1970 and ending in 2010.
Andelman is also famous for the "Hot Dog Safari" fundraiser that
features the best hot dogs in the area. He also was well-known
for sports talk radio shows on WEEI and WWZN. Eddie has always loved
the Kowloon with frequent mentions on his radio shows and hilarious
commercials from the Sports Huddle Days. His sons, David, Dan and Mike
who run the food-related Phantom Gourmet television and radio shows in
Boston, carry on the Andelman love for the Kowloon! But it's not all
about the Andelmans when it comes to the Kowloon. They simply reflect
the feeling of a large number of Bostonians that love the Kowloon,
Pad Thai from the Kowloon.
Call the Kowloon old-school, but the reality is that the owners are up
on the times. Here, you'll find a Sushi Bar (not personally a Sushi
eater, but have heard this particular cuisine here is solid), a section
of the restaurant called the "Thai Grille," and Kowloon Komedy
featuring some nationally-known musical and comedy acts ranging from
the O'Jays to Paul D'Angelo.
The Kowloon complex is also kind of a community meeting place (sorry,
cute, overpriced coffee houses don't hold the monopoly on this
concept). On our last visit all walks of life seemed to be here with
colorful conversation and community goodwill. As examples, I saw a
group of middle-aged ladies gossiping with vengeful glee, a couple
(both looking like Woody Allen) complaining about everything, a young
couple gazing into each other's eyes in between texting, and a group of
Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies in the lobby area.
The wait staff has always been amazing, in our many visits here.
Personable, often quick-witted and fast with service, this is a relief
from the sometimes surly waiters we have found at other good and
not-so-good Chinese restaurants in the Boston area. Last time at a
large birthday celebration, the floor host for that particular dining
room knew we all had senses of humor, so he periodically came over tell
to some understated but hilarious G-rated jokes to those ages nine to
80. He had a great comedic touch, slowly walking away from us the
second after the punchline.
What more can be said about the Kowloon? Just that if you haven't been,
give it a try -- the overall experience is one-of-a-kind with the
over-the-top atmosphere and a menu where fans of Asian food will surely
find something tasty to order.
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