468 W Cheltenham Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19126
$12/small order, $20/large order
In the middle of the Olney section of Philly, on a quiet, random street, you will stumble upon a very bubbly, bright and extremely odd Korean-Japanese fusion spot called Café Soho.
Upon your entrance, you are greeted by a giant red monk statue (weird) in a room covered in red leather booths and walls (weird). One of the first things you notice as you enter is the giant HDTV – playing Kpop (modern South Korean pop) and Korean Hip Hop videos. When seated, you can summon your waiter via a calling button (weird). After you get over the sensory overload, focus your full attention on why you are even there – the dang Korean Fried Chicken!
Soho has been the leader of the Korean fried chicken movement in Philly, and we totally understand why. These plump, succulent wings are perfectly double-fried to ensure that each wing is crispy and holding all of the moisture inside. Each wing is then hand brush with one of their signature sauces allowing for each wing to have a balanced and evenly distributed amount of sauce.
You can choose from soy-garlic glazed, or spicy sauce. We went simple and went for the spicy wing. Holy crap. Biting into a perfectly cooked, juicy, beautifully crispy wing is amazing, but when it has an equally amazing sauce, it’s a win. Take note though – this sauce is not for wimps. It has a spicy finish and intensifies over time. It’s spicy enough to make you two-step to that Korean pop song playing in the background. Phew!
Keeping wings crispy and juicy all at once is something many places can’t seem to get right. You know it’s hard out here for a wing, but Soho makes it look so easy. For that, we give them 5 BigBite Bites = “Mind BloWing” in the 12th and final day of 12 DAYS OF WING KING!
941 Spruce St.
BigBite has been a fan of duck confit since our resident judge Drew Lazor brought his fancy-pants cassoulet to our potluck bean swap a couple years ago. So when we heard of Varga Bar’s Duck Confit Wings, we were there immediately!
The texture of these wings was soft and tender – like the looks of those pinup girls on their walls – with that FOB (falling off the bone) factor that we like. Not much tearing of the meat was necessary as soon as you put a wing in your mouth. The meat removes itself and all that is left is a clean chicken bone. With its juicy, FOB succulence, you could tell that Varga slow cooks these bad
boys girls for hours –unless they simply use magic.
The pomegranate molasses-bourbon-chili sauce had a sweet yet subtle vinegary taste, and complemented well with the house-made bleu cheese dip. We, however, wish that the sauce was a tad thicker – like the pinup girls on their walls – to adhere itself to the super tender meat.
We gave these wings 4 BigBite Bites = “Simply Wing-tastic” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.
after all the meat fell off the bone
1401 Moyamessing Ave.
Tso on the 7th day of Wing King, we ended up at The Industry – a fairly new South Philly bar that caters to the servers, cooks, and libation makers that keep us all happy. I was first introduced to the sweet, slightly spicy, deep-fried General Tso’s chicken in college by my roommate who used to pronounce the “T” in his favorite take-out dish (I’m a beef and broccoli dude.) Named after Zuo Zongtang, or Tso Tsung-t’ang – China’s silkworm farmer turned military strategist – General Tso’s chicken has been a staple in American street corners, strip malls and college campuses. It however, is not as common to find at a bar. Hats off to the Industry for not only serving this sticky sweet sauce as part of their menu, but serving it over nice plump, and crispy chicken wings!
They created their own version of this complex sauce but it was more cap gun than cannon. The wings were fried to a nice “crispicity” and the meat almost had a FOTB (falling off the bone) factor. The chicken was cooked well and was on point, however, I was looking for that bullet-proof glass, corner Chinese store POW!! This dish needed more ammo and ended up shooting blanks. For this we give the Industry’s General’s Wing 3 BigBites = “It just needs a little more something, something” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.
*Bonus: Skip the wings and try the crispy pig ear wraps, tartar and the buffalo sweetbreads!
East Girard Gastropub (aka E.G.G.)
200 E. Girard Ave.
In the historic town of fish – fabled to be where the largest shad fish had been caught in the world – and now known as Fishtown, on a small corner street of the newly rejuvenated East Girard Avenue, lays a small and very quaint pub that holds a neighborhood secret – good wings.
The East Girard Gastropub or simply known as the “E.G.G.”, has consistently crafted a tasty Hot & Honey wing since its doors opened in 2011. Beyond the plump, nicely crisped and sauced wings, a highlight for us is that they come double-jointed, and not cut. If you are a true chicken wing eater, you know the value of keeping the full three-piece wing in-tack. The more bone, the more flavor, and the more skeleton to suck on. E.G.G. allows you to appreciate that value. It’s a beautiful thing.
These juicy wings are well balanced with the right amount of spice and a touch of sweetness in its sauce; it’s tender in the inside, but crispy on the outside; and pair nicely when dipped into their cheesy bleu cheese sauce. For this we give the E.G.G.’s Hot & Honey wing 4 BigBites = “Simply Wing-tastic” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.
7170 Germantown Avenue
Everyone knows a lot of great things come from Mount Airy, but who would have thought hot wings would be one of them. Hailed as the “Cheers” of Mount Airy, McMenamin’s Tavern precisely double fries their wings keeping the wings crispy (but not tough), on the outside even after being tossed in their house-made hot (or extra spicy) sauce. These are the wings that get you high fives at the super bowl parties. These are the wings that make people who don’t like football get excited about super bowl parties. There is no chunky, separated, and excessively salty sauce on these wings like many of the competition – these wings are simple and delicious. The texture of these medium-sized hot wings (which also come in a BBQ sauce), the consistency of each batch and the perfectly balanced house-made sauce are spot on. We gave them 4 BigBite Bites = “Simply Wing-tastic” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.
King of Wings( nice name bro…)
2233 South Woodstock Street
$7.40/10 (not jumbo)
I won’t even beat around the bush, these are just hot wings. Don’t be deceived by the name (although Wing King had to see about the King of Wings). These are not some “let’s go get some wings!” wings. These are wings that you eat about a hundred of, while watching a game, all the while not really remarking about the wings – but wanting (needing) a little more of that buttery spicy flavor in your mouth. There are no bells and whistles; the service was not even good. At best, they are a very clear testament to the value of fried salty food with sauce on it. They might hit the spot (on the late-night food/drink binge) but there are many other places with comparable wing options (mostly at around-the-way pizza shops).
Though we were content after throwing them into our bellies, we had to give these wings 2 BigBite Bites = “Only when I’m drunk” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.
Dienners Bar-B-Q Chicken
51 North 12 St.
(215) 925 – 8755
Dienners Bar-B-Q Chicken quite frankly redefines rotisserie chicken. No slight to supermarket rotisserie, it has to happen sometimes, but this is no Pathmark hot light situation. Deinners is a precisely seasoned, crispy on the outside, flavor to the bone brand of chicken excellence that often gets overlooked with so many other options in the Reading Terminal Market. Known primarily for their classic rotisserie and their hickory barbecue wings, Dienners offers whole chickens and sandwiches as well. In all of the above, the seasoned/ marinated flavor is so deeply and evenly distributed that sauce is less of a focal point and simply not required. That said, there is a range of “special” BBQ sauces, all homemade to compliment the chicken. You can also buy any quantity of wings. Try one or try twenty. You will thank us later.
We gave Dienner’s 4 BigBite Bites = “Simply Wing-tastic” for our 12 Days of Wing King Series.They are clearly excellent and are very consistent but lacked the pizzazz – the cherry on top that would get them to rank at “Mind bloWing“.