Friday, September 25, 2009
The idea behind Kong is Chinese street food. I don't know if it really lives up to that ..the offerings were a little bit "safe" compared to what I might expect on the street in Hong Kong, or even Philly's Chinatown. But this is coming from someone who actually wants to eat blackened fermented chicken gizzards and durian shakes, so take it with a grain of salt..
Anyhow any issues I had with the concept were gone as soon as I ate the food. Went with a large group and I think we went through half the menu. Everything looked great..The crab & rice omelette with chinese sausage and splattered with sriracha was gone in 2 minutes. Simple and awesome... the kind of thing I would make at home with leftover rice. Sauteed longbeans were also nice & simple. Softshell crab was kind of lost in a big salad, I dont think I got any crab but I just might have been the last person to get to the bowl. Lamb / pine nut / eggplant dumplings were also delicious.
We also tried the short rib buns, really good, there was a kind of "slider" thing going on with the presentation, and we passed around various noodle and rice bowls, I think I had about 5 different styles of pork belly and chinese bacon- crispy, star anise braised, etc etc.. - that were all terrific. Oh and the pork ribs were great. And the tofu / edamame dumplings, surprisingly good for vegetarian stuff, nice texture, etc. Velvet corn soup - really wanted to try it but it was kind of warm out still... next time.
So even though I wasn't exactly transported to a busy market in China - you can't seem to go wrong with anything on the menu, I believe the noodles are all made on site, the prices are reasonable and the beer is cold, good service... good deal.
702-704 North 2nd Street
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I don't think I ever posted about this amazing gift from Andre at Artisan Boulangerie, but it was unexpected and of course I had to heat the entire thing up in the oven and consume it in one nite. It was salmon with creme fraiche wrapped in pastry dough shaped like a fish with coffee bean eyes. It was amazing.
Drawingforfood did a short interview with Drew Lazor over at Meal Ticket, the Philadelphia Citypaper's food blog. Part of their new Good Word column highlighting local food type people. Instead of answering the questions with words we did drawings. Except I had to throw in some rambling nonsense, mostly because I couldn't decide on "most beautiful thing I've ever eaten".
Some of the best Dogs I've had, in probably the coolest Hot Dog Joint I've ever seen. Charlie's is hidden in western New Jersey, across the river from Easton PA and a few miles south in the town of Alpha. Hard to find it but it's so worth it.
The Fencz brothers who run the place are terrific hosts and you'll learn the history of the place while you wait for your delicious hot dogs. Check out the hand lettered signs, read some chick tracts and play some pinball. The pool table no longer seems to be in operation as people come mostly for the dogs these days.
Read my full review on Serious Eats.
Charlie's Pool Room
1122 East Boulevard, Alpha NJ 08865
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Who knew that some of the best BBQ in the Philadelphia Area is in a strip mall in Jenkintown? I've read about Abner's a few times but couldn't believe that it could be that great. Figured people in the burbs just like it because there's nothing better.
And Philly's just not a big BBQ town. Mediocre chains and a few old joints that are hit or miss. Apparently the good stuff is all in trucks and makeshift roadside smokers in North Philly. Although I haven't been to Bebe's in the italian market. Hopefully things I will eat soon.
To my surprise walking into Abners I was hit with the smell of real smoke. The chatter of BBQ dudes in dirty aprons shootin' the breeze and hacking up huge slabs of meat. A big condiment island with pickles, different homemade sauces, and lots of napkins.
Since first going to Abner's a few months ago I went back last weekend for more (and pictures). All the meats are ultra-slow smoked with a mix of oak, hickory and sugar maple. Dry rub on the ribs and probably the brisket but maybe not on the chicken.
Authentically served "dry" you can add sauce yourself if you choose. The brisket is so moist is doesn't really need it. Pulled pork and smoked sausage, equally amazing. Ribs and 1/2 chicken, delicious, fallingoff the bone & all that. The sauces are really good though, great vinegar mustard sauce and two different tomato based sauces, one spicy & one sweet.
Sides are decent but definitely not the star. The baked beans and cornbread were really good though. Plus they have awesome classic southern desserts that change (weekly?) like pineapple upside down cake and banana cream pie. Good thing my folks (who live in Jenkintown) like it too, because I plan to stop at Abner's every time I visit. (Note the table setting and Pepper Cabbage are my mom's, not Abner's.)
Abner's Authentic BBQ
505 Old York Road (Jenkintown Square)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Shank's and Evelyn's Roast Beef has been on 10th street in South Philly since 1962. I tried to go a few times after everyone told me it was the best, but they always seemed to be closed. Not open on my day off (monday) and breakfast & lunch only. It's sad to have never made it to the original location... which recently closed for good when they opened up Shank's Original on 15th & Sansom.
Still primarily a lunch operation, the new Shank's has that great "chrome and signed picture of Bob Saget" atmosphere that we know and love here in Philadelphia. I'm told it doesn't hold a candle to the "old italian guy in the back room smoking a cigar and playing penuckle" authenticity of the old location, but hey I bet they're paying the bills these days.
At first a bit dissapointed that my Roast Pork came on a kaiser roll. I was thinking the "regular size = italian hoagie roll / large size = 2 foot long loaf of bread" system that many delis operate with. But after tasting it - who cares. I've had a lot of mediocre roast pork sandwiches at some pretty famous places lately, and Shank's blew them all away. Big pile of meat, nice and moist, good flavor, love the longhots that weren't overcooked into mush.
The italian hoagie was suprisingly good. Super premium meats, prosciutto and I think mortadella, sopresseta... and this isn't a "specialty" hoagie, just the standard italian. Pretty much the best sandwiches in center city.
I'm a big fan of south philly institutions moving to center city, i think the Chestnut Dibruno's is the best thing to happen here in years. On one hand it's unfortunate to lose the italian market atmosphere, but it's also amazing to be able to grab some fresh mozz and a real hoagie on the walk home from the post office.
120 South 15th Street