Northern Kentucky has restaurants that serve up cuisine from all over the world, but one Covington spot is special.
Kung Food Amerasia stands out as a Pan-Asian restaurant serving Chinese, Taiwanese, and other Asian cuisines.
Rich Chu, and his son, Johnny Chu, own and operate the popular dining location. They established the restaurant on Aug. 8, 2008. Rich is the master chef of the restaurant and Johnny is the artist who designed it.
They have resided in NKY for the past 15 years. Johnny lives with his wife, two children, and father in Crestview Hills.
The Chu family history involves three countries. Rich immigrated from China to Taiwan at the age of five in 1952. His father was on the losing side of the Civil War in China and chose to bring his family to Taiwan for a better life. Rich met his wife in Taiwan, where their son, Johnny, was born. The family moved to Cincinnati in 1991 when Johnny was 11. They chose Cincinnati because they had relatives in the city.
Rich worked at some of the busiest American-style Chinese restaurants in Cincinnati. He worked long hours and improved his culinary skills.
“To say that the man had the gumption and grit to work in kitchens was an understatement. He worked tirelessly for years, paying the price for his passion by missing many of the big moments in his children’s lives,” Johnny Chu said.
After years of working for other people, Rich decided to establish a restaurant in Covington with his son.
Johnny studied at Ohio State University and worked a few jobs doing design and promotional work before dedicating himself to the restaurant. He has spent a lot of time developing branding, advertising, and designing the interior of the restaurant space.
Kung Food Amerasia looks like an ordinary restaurant from the outside, except for the mural to its side. BLDG in Covington designed and created it.
The restaurant’s interior is very bright and filled with art. There are several murals on the wall. The most salient mural depicts “The Fung Fu Girl” – which is a lady with a sword.
Kung Food Amerasia features neon art produced by Neonworks of Cincinnati and woodworks made by Matt Meyung, owner of Artifact in Cold Spring. The restaurant features posters of Kung Fu movies from the 1970s through the 1990s, which were ironically produced in Ghana by various freelance artists. Many of the posters depict Jackie Chan movies. There are other posters, too, such as “Rambo,” “Sailor Moon,” and “Beverly Hills Ninja.” The restaurant also boasts LED lights, graffiti art, and décor, such as Chinese butcher knives.
The space offers a dining room, bar, and takeout store. The bar has two televisions that often display Kung Fu movies, very often, Jackie Chan films. “Jackie Chan is my number one inspiration. Bruce Lee is my number two inspiration,” Johnny Chu stated.
Patrons pick up their takeout food in the takeout area and can purchase alcoholic beverages and Asian foods to take home. The inventory includes Asian potato chips, Choco Pie, Choco Rolls, Custard Mochi, Japanese Kit Kat, Pocky, and ramen.
Kung Food Amerasia’s menu offers appetizers including Big Bertha Egg Rolls (vegetarian), cold beef salad, crab Rangoon, Dragons Breath Wontons, Good Pot Stickers, pork eggrolls, spicy dynamite eggrolls, steamed dumplings, and veggie spring rolls. The most popular is steamed dumplings – handmade dumpling dough stuffed with pork and a Chinese herb mixture, and that comes with a side of soy, garlic, and ginger sauce.
Their soup options include egg drop, hot and sour, veggie, wonton egg drop and wonton. With the hot and sour soup – a thickened, spicy broth with soft tofu, egg, wood ear mushroom, bamboo shoots, and white mushroom topped with green onion – coming in first place as the most popular brothy concoction.
There are a large number of beef, chicken, vegetarian, and noodle dishes. Options include Brocco-Lee, fly lomein, fly rice, General’s chicken, Kung pow, mapo tofu, Mongolian beef, orange chicken, sesame street chicken sweet and sour chicken. Specialty dishes run the gamut from Big Birds Nest to Buddha Delight to Zonxon noodles.
When it comes to chicken, General Chu’s is the most popular – marinated and breaded dark meat chicken flash stir-fried with cucumbers and tossed in a citrus, soy, and garlic sauce.
Imperial Beef Stew is their most ordered beef dish – a traditional Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup featuring a beef and tomato broth with beef chunks slow-simmered in Chinese herbs, garnished with green onion and cilantro.
On the vegetarian front, Kung Food’s most popular dish is How Fun noodles with fried tofu – thick, flat, and chewy rice noodles with carrots, bean sprouts, green onion, and ginger wok-fried in a light soy-based sauce.
There are a few seafood options including deep-fried flounder – crispy fried flounder chunks that are wok-fried and come with a side of a hoisin-based dipping sauce.
The menu’s “sides” include brown sauce, fried rice, general sauce, habanero, hot oil, house duck sauce, house mustard sauce, lomein, potsticker sauce, side steamed vegetables, steamed rice, sweet-sour sauce, and white sauce.
People with gluten sensitivity can order from the “gluten-free options” section of the menu. It offers Brocco-lee gluten-free, Buddha Delight gluten-free, chow mei fun, mixed vegetables gluten-free, pad Thai gluten-free, and Singapore gluten-free.
Kung Food Amerasia serves alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, sake, soju, and whiskey. With beer flying off the shelf the fastest on the alcohol front, Rhinegeist Truth and whatever local lager or pilsner they have on their rotating drafts tend to be the most ordered.
They also offer up non-alcoholic drinks with the most well-liked being the Hey Song Sarsaparilla, which has a root beer flavor, and Apple Sidra, which is an apple soda. Both are soft drinks produced in Taiwan that are available at every local restaurant in Taipei.
In 2023, they are gearing up to do another “Local Celebrity All-You-Can-Eat Dumpling” competition for charity.
The Chu family says they enjoy living and working in NKY. “We opened the restaurant when there weren’t many other food or entertainment options on Madison Avenue. Because of the support of the city, the local media, fellow business owners, and some very loyal neighbors, we have achieved a level of success we never thought was possible,” Johnny said. “It has been a privilege to see the neighborhood grow with us, and we hope to serve Covington for years to come.”
Kung Food Amerasia
521 Madison Avenue, Covington
They are open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.