Restaurant Review: Kyi Kyi Restaurant; Lisbon, IA

Usually when Asian restaurants pop up in small towns you don’t expect too much in the quality of the food that is going to be served. So when my 5-year-old said he was hungry for “Kung-Fu Noodles” and I didn’t feel like driving to Iowa City or Cedar Rapids to get Chinese our only other option was Kyi Kyi restaurant in Lisbon, IA. Lisbon has your typical small town eateries, a pizza place, bars, and of course a Caseys. Getting to know that this is a family run restaurant specializes in dishes from their culture made me feel a little better about picking this place and our first experience was very pleasant. While waiting in line at Kyi Kyi I noticed 15-20 college students from local Cornell College in Mount Vernon lined up asking if they had Pho still available. Looking closer into this I saw that Pho was a type of soup with super thin slices of beef cooked in a scalding hot broth topped with bean spouts, cilantro, rice noodles, fresh jalapeno, and a lime wedge. I took note to order this the next time and today was the day to do so.
My wife and son shared an order of Lo Mein, which was good. We always get crab rangoons at any asian restaurant we go to and sometimes they can be very disappointing, too mushy, too little cream cheese, something like that; these were perfect, fried perfectly with the correct amount of filling; excellent!! Onto the Pho, we got it to go and my broth mixture had the beef already in it, you could tell it was freshly made as the beef had a gray look to it; not necessarily appetizing to look at but it gets better. I added the rice noodles first and then the sprouts, cilantro, fresh jalapeno, and a squeeze of lime wedge. Mixed it around and was blown away by how fresh and satisfying this dish was. This is the dish that I needed, that I had been missing after watching so many Anthony Bourdain “No Reservation” episodes where he goes off on how fantastic the cuisine in Asia is or Andrew Zimmern scarfing down bowl after bowl of this stuff on “Bizzare Foods”. This was it!! You think sometimes these guys over react with some of the foods they eat but I was absolutely blown away by this soup. Knowing I am supporting a local family, within a bike ride distance of a fantastic Asian restaurant in an otherwise lackluster culinary local (Lincoln Cafe not included in that of course). If you happen to find yourself in Lisbon, Iowa and need a meal option, please make it Kyi Kyi, get the Pho, and eat and slurp every bite.

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