Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Can it be that it was oh so simple........(Shiao Lan Kung)
In our current culinary scene in Philadelphia we have some genius, some goofs, and some gems. There are great chefs who change and heighten our expectations as diners. There are restaurants open that make you wonder how and why they are in business. But the best dining in any city are the gems. The off the beaten path places that are whispered about and become legend. In the modern world whispers become talk, talk becomes tweets, retweets and sometimes blog material. I have never been a huge fan of Facebook and Twitter. I still have reservations, but when I use them it is always on my terms. I will thank social media for two things, food info and football news. While most of us will never be as entertaining as Kanye or as senile as 50 cent, we can share great food experiences. And for one new bit of food info I thank Drew Lazor and the folks at Meal Ticket.
As I found myself near the end of my fried chicken journey, I was hoping for one more experience that I had not yet heard of. Then I found this. It was just the sort of beacon of new flavor hope I had been longing for. It was everything promised and ended up being so much more. Shiao Lan Kung is in one of the most underappreciated neighborhoods in Philadelphia. To the epicurian culture and droves of drunken restaurant workers looking for a late night bite, Chinatown is Shangri la. But to most of our city it seems just a place to buy items to line our mantles and bookshelves. I have spent many of my hard earned dollars eating salt baked shrimp at Mai Lai Wah. I have enjoyed the company of friends over snails at Tai Lake. I have now remembered the most important part of a chefs arsenal at Shiao Lan Kung, simplicity.
At Shiao Lan Kung there is no sous vide, no seasoned flour, or special sauce for the house fried chicken. The beautiful tones of the skin are just the skin itself. The only other accompaniments are lemon slices and a side dish of salt. Simple and special at the same time. It is sometimes more important to remember what we are eating than to obsess over the techniques and ingredients that elevate it. I am now craving the simplicity pf a Jersey tomato, a Georgia peach or a cold beer, but first I must finish this duck noodle soup.
The Skinny Fat Kid
Shiao Lan Kung
930 Race Street Philadelphia, PA