At her recently opened Granite Run outpost, favorite Asian dishes mingle with creative takes.
At a time when most business owners might decide to take a step back, Margaret Kuo is doing just the opposite—COVID-19 be damned. The venerable doyenne of dim sum is already behind three highly regarded dining operations in Malvern, Media and Wayne, plus a countertop outpost inside Lancaster County Farmers Market. For her latest act, she’s reinventing the past.
“I didn’t know how to deal with the fear and unknown facts at first,” says Kuo about the COVID-19 crisis. “But I’ve gradually and unknowingly become stronger—and I’m ready to introduce the new restaurant to my diners.”
Tucked inside the sprawling new Promenade at Granite Run, Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen is adjacent to where the pioneering restaurateur’s journey began. Opening Peking at the Granite Run Mall in 1974, Kuo introduced unschooled suburbanites to a bevy of Mandarin, Szechuan and Taiwanese flavors, including her acclaimed duck. More than 40 years later, she was forced to close when the mall was overhauled. Now, she’s back.
Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen has a dramatically designed yet tranquil interior. The 80-seat dining room features an eye-catching series of overhead circular lamps in varying sizes. There’s also a tastefully appointed bar and lounge, and a serene private space that accommodates as many as 40 guests. In warmer months, a vast outdoor patio affords patrons a dramatic perch overlooking the Promenade’s steel, glass and neon mall scape.
The menu embraces Japanese cuisine through an assortment of deftly prepared sushi, teriyaki and tempura dishes. Among the highlights are the nigiri, sashimi, broiled eel and hand rolls (especially the spicy salmon). Master chef Su Lin—a Kuo staple for 30 years—creates superb soups and a commendable dim sum. The dumpling starters could easily comprise an entire meal on their own, and the aromatic Shanghai pork soup versions are a must.
Asian standards like Kung Pao Chicken, crispy beef in orange sauce and General Tso’s Chicken also make an appearance on the menu. Kuo insists that she introduced the latter to this region some years ago. For the bolder palette, the refined list of “Favorites” includes Hunan-style crispy whole black bass, manipulated into a propped position amid a pool of sweet and spicy sauce. Two Kuo headliners—rack of lamb encrusted in black pepper and the lacquered Royal Peking Duck (served with homemade spring cakes and trimmings)—are expertly prepared and plated. For a memorable dessert, the creamy crème brûlée is torched tableside.
The restaurant offers premium sakes, a thoughtful assortment of specialty cocktails and an array of red and white wines. Try a bottle of the Dr. Loosen Riesling to temper some of the hotter dishes on the menu.
1109 W. Baltimore Pike, Media, (610) 891-8880,