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Sang Kee

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excellent

Last visited: #of visits: cost Where? What to Get What to Skip
probably yesterday too many to count...really inexpensive 238 N. 9th St.
215-925-7532
Peking Duck, Noodle Soups, General Tso's Chicken standard chinese cliches

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Peking DuckWhile perhaps not for everyone, this really is the one of the best places to eat in Chinatown. The clientele is mixed, but largely Asian, and the food is served in a casual Chinese style, which is to say, whenever it's ready, with no particular attention paid to typical american concepts of "courses".

This is not an elegant restaurant, although an expansion a few years ago has resulted in a more stylish first floor. Upstairs, the decor is more basic. The service is polite, but brusque, and sticklers for sterility might be put-off by the overall feel of the place, but the food makes it all worth it.

This is not healthy new-age delicate Chinese cuisine; all the best stuff will kill you, but it is intensely flavorful and addictive. If you have been doomed to eat suburban Chinese food, or those same-old, same-old places in Chinatown, get those thoughts of Kung Pau Chicken and Moo Shu Pork out of your head. Sure, you can get those here, and they are fine, but that's not what you come to Sang Kee to eat. Sang Kee specializes in Roast Duck, Roast Pork, and lots of other cholesterol-bomb guilty pleasures.
Peking Duck The Peking Duck is fabulous, served in two courses: the first is the crispy skin with pancakes, scallions and hoisin sauce. Sure, you end up with duck fat dripping off your elbows, and you can feel your arteries closing up as you eat it, but there are few tastes as sublime. The second course is the remaining duck meat, stir-fried with whatever veggies are around that day in a rich brown sauce.

Roast Pork noodle soup (with or without wontons) is the richest broth imaginable, with a huge tangle of thin egg noodles, and thick slices of their excellent Roast Pork. You can get this soup with duck, or spare ribs or fish balls, and these are good too, but nothing quite compares to the roast pork. These soups are huge, big enough for a complete lunch for one, or for two or more diners to start a meal. Pork Noodle Soup

The Roast Pork, or Duck, or Spare Ribs can be ordered alone, or on a platter with rice and boiled greens. In these dishes, the flavors are even more intense, undiluted by the soup. The spare ribs might have even more flavor than the pork, and are chopped into small pieces, which make them easy to eat, but occasionally a little dangerous, because of sharp bones. (the same can be said for the roast duck: delicious, but a bit scary due to the fact that the birds are simply hacked apart with a cleaver and served, needle-sharp bones and all.)
Dumplings Dumplings are excellent either steamed or fried. The steamed come with a thick, sweet and salty oyster sauce, the fried with a thin vinegar-based sauce.

General Tso's chicken is the best-ever example of this popular dish. Whole boneless chicken breasts are breaded in an extremely light batter, almost like a tempura. The chicken is then sliced, giving a much higher chicken to breading ratio than most. And the sauce...there are no words to describe this sauce. Let's just say that it is much more intense than anything you have had on General Tso's before.

Orange beef undergoes a similar preparation, with a more citrus-y sauce, and it's almost as good.

General Tso

Chicken with pineapple, peppers and black bean sauce features a strong contrast between the sweet pineapple and the salty black beans, and features a pile of vegetables too (the ones you want to eat, not filler like bamboo shoots.)

Noodle dishes are very good, chow fun and pan-fried noodles in particular.

Pea GreensA recent special of stir-fried snap peas with spicy chicken was really good, and made us feel slightly virtuous for eating some green vegetables among the other richer offerings. Lately we've been getting the stir-fried snow pea greens with garlic (pictured) and especially when they're in season, these are amazing: sweet, salty, garlicky...

There is a good-sized menu featuring many of the usual suspects for the timid or rut-bound.

Sang Kee is often jammed, a condition they have tried to rectify by expanding their size by almost triple since I first tried this place in 1981. Even so, waits can still be expected, especially on weekend nights. There is no good waiting area, but turnover is fairly quick, and it is worth standing out on the cold sidewalk for a while.

Two people can eat an irresponsible amount of food for about $30. Do it. just don't tell your cardiologist.



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