163 1st Ave (10th st)
New York, NY 10003
I’ve been wanting to come to Fuku since I first heard that David Chang was creating a restaurant solely dedicated to fried chicken sandwiches. I… love… chicken sandwiches. And I’ll let you in on a secret. Every time I go home to Beijing, I have a list of restaurants I always have to hit up, ranging from my favorite peking duck to THE GREATEST spicy fried chicken sandwich ever from KFC. Yup, KFC. Those of you from Beijing will understand. KFC does not have it on its US menu. They call it the Zinger burger. The sandwich consists of a big, thick piece of dark chicken thigh meat fried to perfection, a smear of mayo, and a light sesame bun. It’s amazing. Just take my word for it.
Anyway, that was for context. In my mind, Fuku was benchmarked against my glorious Beijing fried chicken sandwich.
LAW and I came around 1:30pm this past weekend. Fuku is only open from 11-4 Wednesdays through Sundays. The place was packed with Asians. Maybe everyone else is benchmarking against Beijing KFC too?
I ordered everything on the menu sans alcohol: 1 spicy chicken sandwich + 1 Koreana (Fuku’s newer off-menu spicy chicken sandwich with daikon radish) + 1 fuku salad + 1 french fries + 1 seltzer water.
God I was excited. H.W. had visited a few days earlier and said it was the BEST THING he’s had in NYC. People waited HOURS in line when the place first launched mid June. Continue reading Fuku: David Chang’s take on the spicy chicken sandwich
104 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th streets)
New York, NY 10003
Before Hot Kitchen opened, the only Sichuan food I ate was from my own kitchen and the occasional trip to a random Gourmet Sichuan-esque restaurant. Most of these restaurants had the basic necessities: the double cooked pork, the mapo tofu, the GBSJD (we actually call it that – the 干煸四季豆, or dry sautéed string beans), the fish fragrant eggplant (check out my recipe here!). All these basics were too sweet, too greasy, and not spicy enough, and not nearly numbing enough. Hot Kitchen does all the basics a bit better, and has dishes beyond the basic Sichuan ones that I love. As a result, I go at least once or twice a month. The restaurant is always packed with sounds of home: loud chattering in Chinese and Qing Dao beers clinking.
I always get the 川北凉粉 or Mung Bean Noodle with Spicy and Peppery Sauce ($6.50). This is a Shi’s family favorite. The sauce is a classic Sichuan sauce. It’s spicy, sweet, numbing, and crunch from all the crushed peanuts. The noodles are served cold (goes great with the spice) and are thick but light. You know you’ve got some good noodles when they are elastic and don’t break on contact. Too many Sichuan restaurants in NYC use day(s) old noodles that are refrigerated, which causes the noodles to break. Hot Kitchen doesn’t!
麻婆豆腐 or Mapo Tofu ($13), always a must. Mapo Tofu sauce should NOT be brown. If you order this dish and get brown goopy sauce, you know your chef isn’t Sichuan. It should be bright red and way less viscous than goopiness. The tofu isn’t silken, but also isn’t that hard stuff you find at salad bars. It has enough density that it holds its own shape and doesn’t break. Hot Kitchen’s Mapo Tofu tastes pretty different from how my family makes it (we have more numbingness), but it’s still great. Super flavorful. Could just have this with a bowl of rice and be the happiest person ever. Continue reading Hot Kitchen: Home Away From Home
Man, Chinese New Year came and went so quickly. CNY is one of my favorite holidays because it brings together all my close friends and forces us to stuff our faces. It’s like Thanksgiving where the only purpose is to eat (and be thankful) but with better food (sorry).
So, on Chinese New Year, you pretty much HAVE to have a whole fish because of the Chinese saying “年年有余” or “every year you will have a surplus”. The word for “surplus” sounds like the word “fish” so… we eat fish to ensure that we’ll have more than enough to eat for the rest of the year (the culture really does revolve around food). You also can’t finish the fish (to show that there is, in fact, a surplus).
On the morning of my Chinese New Year party, I went to HK Supermarket in Chinatown and picked up a Live Striped Bass. The fish monger helped me gut and scale the fish so I didn’t have to attempt the mess at home. Continue reading Shi’s Kitchen: Braised Chili Fish (Dou Ban Yu)
I’d like to start by giving myself a pat on the back for keeping my kitchen intact. A.W., L.C., and R.Y. got me an amazing pressure cooker for my birthday and until this meal, I had yet to really use it for anything other speed-cooking rice. This is because pressure cookers are scary and if handled incorrectly, can turn into bombs and explode (don’t google “pressure cooker” with “bomb”, just don’t do it).
I had a set of chicken thighs and legs in my freezer that I had to use and was so tired of my honey-soy glazed version that I make so often now so decided to experiment with something totally new. I was also feeling lazy and wanted something fast and easy. The internet told me that fast, easy, juicy and flavorful chicken is inseparable from the pressure cooker. Feeling extra brave, I decided to just go for it. I found this Thai Chicken recipe here and modified the recipe so I didn’t have to buy any new ingredients. Continue reading Homemade Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken… made speedily with a pressure cooker.
Mad for Chicken
314 5th Ave
(between 31st St & 32nd St)
New York, NY 10001
Checked out Mad for Chicken with M.B. and Y.N. this week. I was told by a number of people that Mad for Chicken is better than BonChon. BonChon is my favorite wing but loyalty to food is not a trait I find in myself. It’s a meritocracy here. The best wins in my book. We started with a corn on cob with parmesan and lime. Corn was naturally sweet, which tasted great with the saltiness from the cheese. Though, Mad for Chicken isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here.
We then just ordered the Mad Combo of 5 drums and 10 wings ($21.95). We did half soy garlic and half spicy. Very similar to BonChon’s offerings. Continue reading Mad for Chicken is healthier – but do you want healthier when you’re looking for fried wings?
Henan Flavor (now Spicy Village)
68B Forsyth St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10002
In the mood for some cheap somewhat-legit Chinese food? Henan Flavor is a good place to check out… only if you order the best. Their menu consists of a variety of hand-pulled wide noodle dishes, dumplings, and the renown Big Tray of Chicken (pictured above). They have some other chicken dishes but I have never seen anyone… anyone order them. I’ve been here a couple of times and have now tried many of their dishes. I would suggest not to order the noodles, even though Yelp reviewers say otherwise. The noodles are decently chewy and clearly homemade but the soups and the sauces lack depth and flavor. Yes, one big bowl of noodles can range from only $4-$6, but I can guarantee you a better meal if you order these things instead:
1. Pork Pancake or 肉夹馍 (meat between steamed buns).This “pancake” is $2 each (one pancake pictured) and beats Xi’an Famous Foods and Prosperity Dumplings pancakes by far. The steamed bread (it really isn’t cakey; not too sure why people insist on calling it a pancake) is soft and chewy. The exterior seems to have a very thin film of crispiness. The pork inside is like an Asian carnitas: semi-fatty, lots of juice (as you can see from the semi-soaked bread), and bursting with flavor. It also has the perfect 1:1 bread:meat ratio. I happen to love cilantro so this was of course a welcomed addition. But if you are like LAW and despise these fragrant little green things, the lovely woman who makes the pancakes is happy to exclude them from your order.
2. Big Tray o’ Chicken or 大盘鸡 + NOODLES
Remember how I told you NOT to get any noodles dishes? This is because you have to order the Big Tray of Chicken and ask for noodles on the side. The Big Tray of Chicken (first photo) is a fairly large tray of chicken and potatoes seeped in a spicy chili oil sauce… for only $12. This is by FAR the most expensive item on the menu and for good reason. This large tray fed 3 hungry eaters, two of whom are boys who normally eat for two, for TWO meals (they are great as leftovers). The chicken is super tender and rich with flavor. They also use Sichuan peppercorns, which gives the dish a slightly numbing taste … extremely addicting. The potatoes are very soft and a nice carby addition to the chicken, especially since the chicken will have you hissing like a snake after a few bites due to the spice and numbing effects. The NOODLES on the side are just plain hand-pulled noodles that come on a plate. The reason I like ordering this over any other noodle dish is because you can pull off a single noodle and dip it in the chili oil sauce as you wish, keeping all the noodles al dente, rather than soaking in a soup or sauce that makes them soggy and blah. Continue reading When you know what to get, Henan Flavor can be great.