Best Bet: Southern fried rice

Kirby Carter, owner of KC's Southern Style  Rice, and his combination fried rice. Michael DonahueThe Commercial Appeal

Kirby Carter, owner of KC's Southern Style Rice, and his combination fried rice. Michael DonahueThe Commercial Appeal

Ever heard of Southern fried rice? If you have, then you're one of the lucky people who already know about KC's Southern Style Rice in South Memphis. The carryout only restaurant is housed in a red trailer set back from Third near Ford in the Triple S Flea Market.

You can order beef fried rice, chicken fried rice, ham fried rice, rib tip fried rice, hamburger fried rice or bologna fried rice, but the most popular is the combination fried rice, which includes all of the above. It's delicious.

They don't use shrimp in their fried rice dishes. "It's just so hard to keep I don't deal with it," said Kirby Carter, KC's owner.

Carter learned how to cook Chinese food when he worked at Hong Kong Express from the time he was 15 to 21 years old. "They taught me skills and I did it my way."

His way was to add a smoky flavor to his fried rice. It took a lot of experimenting or "blood, sweat and tears" at little cookouts at his home to get his Southern style rice to come out just right. The smokiness comes from the smoked meat.

He recalled the first time he cooked his rice for his friends. "I had an 'appreciation hat' out and I got one dollar."

Carter decided, "From now on, you got to pay for it."

Some of his friends were a little dubious when he opened KC's and began serving his Southern fried rice. They'd say, "That ain't right. You're a black guy doing Chinese cooking."

Carter would shoot back: "You got a brother in the kitchen everywhere you go, no matter what restaurant it is."

He then would give them a sample of his smoked rice and they were hooked.

Tony Pree was standing in line to buy some of the combination fried rice. Pree, who owns nearby Blendmasters Beauty and Barber Salon, said he orders the "combination" a couple of times a week. "I eat half and take half home," he said.

Kande Kebe, whose booth, Bama's Africa, is conveniently located right across from KC's, said he gets something to eat there every weekend.

Carter's trailer includes a flat top grill, deep fryer, refrigerator and freezer. He now uses an industrial wok, but when he first started out, he made a wok stand out of one of those walkers elderly people use and a gas burner and bolted his wok to the top.

Carter opened his first trailer in 1996 at Winchester and Elvis Presley Blvd. Six years later he moved to his current location.

His trailer isn't air conditioned; they use fans. "That makes us work faster, man."

KC's also sells fish plates, rib dinners and sandwiches, including hamburgers and cheeseburgers. Various food items are painted in yellow on the side of the red trailer.

Carter also was wearing red and yellow. His son gave him the yellow wrist watch he had on his wrist. "He gave me a red one, too."

Why is his trailer red? "It stands out."

Just like his rice.

KC's Southern Style Rice is at 4444 South Third in the Triple S Flea Market; (901) 859-3400.

Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; donahue@commercialappeal.com

© 2011 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 2

perry057#632490 writes:

Thanks CA for doing a story on one of my favorite cooks.In the hood we call his dinners a two day dinner.It takes two days to eat it all.His ribs are good too.Fall off the bone action.KC partner good luck in all you do,and I hope alot of people get the chance to eat your great cooking.I'm going to get me a couple of his rice dinners,just because of this great article.God Bless KC.

southern_belle writes:

That looks delicious!

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