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.
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.)
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.
A 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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