Blue Koi Noodles & Dumplings dishes up the kind of crave-worthy food you want to eat every week.
Satisfying homemade noodles and delicious dumplings are menu stars, but there’s much more to explore. Intriguing starters like the China Moon, a Chinese version of a quesadilla stuffed with marinated minced shrimp paired with Mom’s Sweet Plum Sauce ($10) had me at hello when I first crunched into it at Blue Koi’s original midtown location in 2002.
Fast forward to 2016, at Blue Koi’s Mission Farms location in Leawood, and I still gravitate to the crispy flatbread sandwich and its memorable tangy sauce.
Although many restaurants change menus seasonally, Blue Koi Noodles & Dumplings doesn’t overhaul a menu that remains true to its culinary mission — cuisine exemplifying Chinese comfort food infused with a modern twist.
Owners and siblings Scott and Jane Chang grew up in a family immersed in food. Their parents, Fong and Luan Shu, were trained by some of China’s best chefs and met during Fong’s tenure in Chiang Kai-shek’s navy. As Communism took a stronghold over China, the couple retreated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where Scott was born. From there the family moved to Washington D.C., relocating to Kansas City in 1981.
“My parents wanted a safe place to raise their children and to open a small restaurant,” he said. “Everyone except me worked in different Kansas City restaurants to become familiar with the market.”
Scott Chang worked alongside his father, who opened the former Genghis Khan in 1985 in Lenexa. Scott and his sister, Ling Chang, opened the Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue a decade later, near 39th Street in Kansas City, and Blue Koi continued the family’s culinary winning streak.
The eatery’s second location opened in Mission Farms in 2007—long before the development became a destination hub for locally owned restaurants—and suburbanites rejoiced that the Chang’s transported their concept across the state line.
Blue Koi Mission Farms has aged nicely, brandishing a patina and menu appealing to diners of all ages. Although the Missouri and Kansas restaurants share a menu, they often feature different daily specials.
My dinner partner one evening at Blue Koi was 12-year-old Noah Belcher of Prairie Village, an aspiring young chef with an adventurous palate. Snagging a corner table offering a full view of the bustling dining room and bar, Noah and I order three appetizers: China Moon (of course); Crispy Tofu with Spicy Awesome Sauce ($6); and boiled pork dumplings ($8).
Let’s talk sauce.
Blue Koi is known for its addictive dipping sauces that accompany several signature appetizers, such as the plum sauce with the China Moon, a simple reduction of plums and spices developed by Luan Shu, There’s the spicy awesome sauce and Eggplant Pockets ($7.50) with her piquant raw garlic sauce. The Chang’s make it easy for customers who can’t get enough—both the plum and awesome sauces are available a la carte for $1.50 each.
As the table becomes crowded with a collection of small plates that Noah and I share, we decide on entrees. He chose Ginger Basil Chicken ($13.50) and I, a creature of habit, order my favorite: Almond Shrimp Asparagus ($15), an irresistible combination of fresh asparagus, sundried tomatoes, toasted sliced almonds and shrimp marinated in garlic and mayonnaise and then sautéed.
“I usually get Ants on a Tree,” Noah professed his affection for one of Blue Koi’s most popular dishes, “but this sounds good.”
Our server delivers Noah a mango bubble ($4.25); diners 21 and over can add a shot of liquor to amp up the cold beverage) as he tucks into the generously portioned entrée of chicken thighs, signaling a thumbs-up approval. A Taiwanese drink characterized with large, chewy tapioca balls that float at the bottom. Noah obligingly demonstrates the art of drinking a bubble tea, sucking up the bobbing tapioca through an oversized straw.
Blue Koi keeps dessert simple: Sesame Balls ($3.50) with a bowl of plum sauce and Asian ice cream (assorted flavors, $4). We opt for both and, scooping bites of refreshing green tea ice cream from a frosted glass, agree that the plum sauce complements the sesame balls’ nuttiness.
As Noah posts pictures on social media, we concur: Blue Koi is a regular on our dining dance card for good reason.
Blue Koi Noodles & Dumplings
Location: 10581 Mission Rd, Mission Farms, Leawood
Hours: Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Sunday
Don’t miss: The Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s faves when he visited Blue Koi’s 39th St. location in 2013 (also served in Mission Farms): Spicy Chili Pepper Wontons ($9); Fire Bird ($15)
Vegetarian: Lettuce Wraps ($7); Dumplings ($8); Vegan Delights ($14); Vegetarian Noodle Soup ($13,50)
Al fresco dining: Blue Koi has an expansive patio