Kum Koon's tables are covered with layers of plastic but there are touches of elegance in the lovely Chinese paintings and golden bas reliefs of dragons on the walls. This veteran Chinatown institution is a popular site for banquets and special events, and if you drop in for dim sum any Sunday morning you may have to wait in line for one of its 600-plus seats.

But turn up for a mid-week dinner and odds are you'll find an almost empty cavern of a place. At least that's how it was on two recent visits when even the smaller front room was half empty.

It probably isn't because of the food, most of which is delicious. Possibly the prices have something to do with it, since they are higher than the usual Chinese price range, with most entrees from $14.25 to $19, more for certain specialties. On the other hand, the portions are copious and the selection is larger than most, with 253 items on the main menu, and 34 more on the Chef's Specialties list, an embarrassment of riches that always leaves me dithering about what to choose.

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