Home Food + Drink Keming: A Sichuan Restaurant in Uptown Hoboken 

Keming: A Sichuan Restaurant in Uptown Hoboken 

by Yiwei Gu
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Succulent beef and crunchy vegetables, drizzled with a crimson sauce made of chili oil and Sichuan peppercorn, are stirred, churned, and tossed over intense heat. When ready, the dish is rushed to the table, and diners impatiently dig into the casserole. The taste is sensational to say the least, and the spiciness is intense (so be sure to have a glass of water handy). Tongue burning, but somehow you keep eating, because that’s just how we do. This spicy mala casserole, also called dry pot in some places, is a modern Sichuan dish hugely popular in China’s trendy neighborhoods and college towns. And now, you can find it in Keming (1006 Washington Street) in Hoboken. Keep reading to find out all about Keming, a Sichuan restaurant right in the heart of uptown Hoboken.

keming hoboken

About Sichuan 

Sichuan food is having a moment. Its bold flavors, especially the fiery spiciness, fits well with the hectic modern life in China and has become the go-to dining option in big cities. The recipes are flexkaible and open to modern adaptations. And the dining experience is always communal with some DIY elements (think of a hot pot, another Sichuan dish, that allows diners to swish their own ingredients in a simmering broth). In recent years, young expats have brought the zeal abroad and there are now Sichuan restaurants popping up in neighborhoods in big U.S. cities.

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How Keming Came to Be 

Before opening up his own restaurant, Mr. Cui, the owner of Keming, had been working in the culinary business since he and his family came to America less than ten years ago. 

keming hoboken outside

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When the family came to Hoboken, they immediately realized there was a gap in the market. Yes, there are a few Chinese takeout or Asian fusion restaurants, as well as bubble tea shops selling Taiwanese street food, but the town still didn’t have a place where people can sit down with friends and enjoy a conversation while sharing some authentic Sichuan food. The young professionals living here, many with adventurous palates, are eager to try ethnic cuisines. Plus, a small but growing number of Chinese students come to Stevens Institute of Technology every year, and they surely miss their hometown flavors.

“We have a lot of regular customers, both American and Chinese,” Keming said proudly. “Many come every week. In fact, the Chinese student association at Stevens sometimes hold small events here. We joke that it has almost become their school cafeteria.”

Zap Fitness

keming cartoon

Before opening up, the family spent two months renovating the space, adding a few simple but personal touches, including a wall-sized Chinese-ink-style cartoon showing ancient folks sipping liquor and eating hot pot. After graduating from college with an engineering degree, Keming returned to help the family business. He feels attached to this neighborhood. When the restaurant is not busy, he sometimes sits down with a small group of Stevens students for a casual conversation. 

It’s no easy task running a business, but he has learned a lot from the daily routine of filling orders, connecting with customers, and overseeing the finances. When asked what his biggest takeaway is, he said it’s dedication. “It’s the only way to be better at your trade, and enjoy it.”

The Menu 

keming soup dumplings

keming dan dan noodles

For appetizers, less adventurous eaters will be happy to find soup dumplings (called juicy pork bun on the menu). For more Sichuan flavors, get the dan dan noodles, a popular Sichuan street food made of wheat noodle tossed in a chile-infused sauce, topped with meat and vegetables. Or opt for the wonton in spicy sauce, another Sichuan comfort food.

keming sichuan dish

Diners can fill up on the appetizers alone. But for a more substantial main dish, go for the “three-cup” chicken (called chicken with basil on the menu), braised in a boldly-flavored condiment made of molasses-like soy sauce, piquant rice liquor, and aromatic sesame oil. Otherwise, order the lamb with cumin, which is pleasantly earthy and nutty in flavor. If you love spicy food, try the “homestyle” chicken/shrimp/offal, which is essentially wok-fried meat with dried chile pepper. 

keming sichuan dish 1

^ The grilled fish!
keming meat dish

^ The mala casserole! 

As for the real main event, the stars of the menu are the Sichuan specialties. If you have a big group of hungry people, or simply want to try something other than a casserole, get the grilled fish. The meaty, whole fish is smeared with cayenne powder, covered with a generous load of Sichuan peppercorn, and garnished with dried chile pepper. The fish is then drizzled with chile oil, and cooked until well done. The skin is crispy and spicy while the meat is sweet and tender. Note: it will set your palate on fire, but it’s also pleasant and addictive.  

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For a different type of style, get the boiled dishes. Slices of beef or fish, marinated in corn starch for extra tenderness are poached in a soup base made of chili oil and an assortment of spices. It’s a must-order for Sichuan family-style banquets.

“We were lucky to find a chef with years of experience making Sichuan food. So if the customer is willing to try spicy food, we would definitely recommend the Sichuan specialties,” Keming said. 

“We know the secret sauce,” his young son, Keming (the restaurant’s namesake), told Hoboken Girl

Safe to say, we’re happy they’ve arrived in Hoboken.

Have you visited Keming yet? Let us know in the comments! 

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