Trading Kung Pao for Kung Fu

If you are wondering why all Chinese restaurants in Oregon don’t serve an eclectic menu ranging from eggplant to frog, it’s because there’s only one Tony Luo. Kung Fu Bistro’s chef sticks to his roots and stays away from Americanized fare. 

Americans are used to a certain type of Chinese food, Luo says, but Kung Fu Bistro introduces you to the real thing. That means a menu of 100 entrees featuring frog, eggplant and fish, as well as staples like chicken, pork, beef and shrimp. And as the frog dish indicates, some of the meals are far from ordinary Americanized Chinese. 

Co-owners Luo and Candy Duan, his wife, both graduated from the Sichuan Institute of High Cuisine in the Longquanyi District of Chengdu, China, and moved to Los Angeles in 2005. What they found upon their arrival in the U.S. was a disappointing state of Chinese cuisine. That’s where what he learned in Sichuan comes in. “America’s twice-cooked pork, kung pao chicken, etc., is completely different from what we eat in China,” he says. “That is why I want Sichuan food spread out and let people know what real Chinese food is.” 

And real Chinese food includes a lot of chili pepper, which is an integral reason why Luo and his wife came to Eugene, of all places, after seven years in LA. “Eugene is rainy throughout the year, and Sichuan’s weather is very similar, so chili pepper can make people feel comfortable,” he says. “According to the theory of Chinese medicine, chili can fend off the cold and dampness.” 

Even if you stay away from the heat of chili peppers, no matter what you settle on you won’t go home hungry. Entrees range from $12 to $14, but one is comfortably enough for two people. You get quite the bang for your buck — in quantity, quality and authenticity. 

Kung Fu Bistro is open 11 am to 9:30 pm Monday and 11 am to 9:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday, at 2560 Willamette St.,   541-968-9258.

Pictured above (clockwise) Chef Tony Luo fires it on the wok, jack! Deep-fried fish fillet with pepper and cumin. Pork blood, pork intestine and vegetable in spicy soup. Dried pot shrimp in mini pot. Photos by Todd Cooper.

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