As American as apple pie, nah not necessarily but for New Yorkers on the late night prowl for cheap eats. Chicken wings reign supreme. In New York Chinese restaurants, not unlike bodegas are just as popular as shitty coffee. However when it comes to curing those hunger pangs, if it ain’t beef and broccoli then its chicken wings and French fries (fried rice if you’re feeling squirrelly). Its one of those foodie things that can’t quite be explained, because quite frankly it shouldn’t work.
It shouldn’t taste good, but it does. You shouldn’t want to go back to it, but you do. Lets start by how it usually starts out previously frozen, previously seasoned and previously floured in a processing facility in Chinatown somewhere. Do you see where I’m going with this i.e. not fresh daily. We move on to the “old” oil, which at its youngest, has been inhabiting the deep fryer all week. Lets just call that, more seasoning. And if it needs to be expanded upon, more than chicken gets fried in that oil. At this point it seems that not such a good case is being compiled to make you even remotely curious about this deep fried delight. But oh, you’d be sadly mistaken. I chalk it up to MSG. Oooo I said a bad word. But yes, it has to be msg or crack…
How bout them wangz?!
An order consists of four whole pieces. The French fries are usually a crinkle cut. For first timers, I suggest getting it “hood”. To me, that means BBQ and hot sauce on the chicken finished with hot sauce and ketchup on the French fries. $2.00usd chicken $4.50usd w/ fries
The chicken arrives golden brown with a tinge of yellow. Add a bit of saffron like red to mar the skin and you’ve got a classic looking piece of fried chicken. The meat is tender and seasoned well. The magic is in the crust and perfectly cooked meat. The crust is salty, flaky, and every bit of the wing, invites you to devour the skin. The fat is melted thoroughly, inducing a sticky must-lick-fingers irresistible urge. It must be noted. In the world of hood chicken & Chinese food restaurants, this order doesn’t have a drumstick option. You only get wings.
House sauces include Hot Sauce, BBQ, duck sauce, and soy sauce. However there are some places that serve their wings with a coating of sweet chili sauce or even General Tso style. The most popular choice of compilation is a BBQ/hot sauce mix squirted over the entire order from a large clear plastic bottle that reminds you of the hotdog cart guy.
Now you have to understand, this is lowbrow chicken. This is seedy neighborhood, back laneway, hand to hand exchange chicken. If chicken could wear a pleather zipper jacket and set off firecrackes, while smoking a cigarette, honing around footscray…..it would be this chicken. Unfiltered mystery hot sauce with no name and full of Marvel adjectives to describe its flavor, like tang, zip, and pop. Drenching the chicken pieces like a veil of secrecy “cock-blocking” your sense of “I shouldn’t be eating this…and in this quantity”. Sometimes I take a shower right after this type of meal because I feel dirty. I feel taken advantage of. But I keep going back for more. This chicken is a cheap thrill that delivers unquestionable amounts of satisfaction. With each piece being lightly floured, you’re not overwhelmed by crust. The chicken is moist and cooked thoroughly, and pieces are a good size to be considered an appetizer if eaten alone. Yet, satisfying when paired with the fries or other sides.
So, to sum things up, Chinese HOOD chicken gets 3 clucks