Tag Archives: Where to Eat

12 Days of Wing King: Day 12: Cafe Soho

Cafe Soho
468 W Cheltenham Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19126
(215) 224-6800
$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!

Soho

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12 Days of Wing King: Day 8: Varga Bar

Varga Bar
941 Spruce St.
(215) 627-5200
$11.50/order

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.

varga

before

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after all the meat fell off the bone


12 Days of Wing King: Day 6: East Girard Gastropub

East Girard Gastropub (aka E.G.G.)
200 E. Girard Ave.
(267) 761-9343
$9.00/order

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.

EGG Wings


12 Days of Wing King: Day 5: McMenamin’s Tavern

McMenamin’s Tavern
7170 Germantown Avenue
(215) 247-9920
$7.95/pound

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.

mcmen


12 Days of Wing King: Day 2: Dienner’s Bar-B-Q

Dienners Bar-B-Q Chicken
51 North 12 St.
(215) 925 – 8755
$7.29/pound

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“.

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4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Angela Ranalli

Angela Ranalli
Pastry Chef, Le Virtu Restaurant

Ranalli

Pastry Chef, Angela Ranalli has been making Italian sweets since a very young age. As a child Angela helped her mother prepare traditional Italian cookies, cannoli, and breads, rolling each out and decorating each one by hand. Accompanied by her even younger siblings, she traveled weekly with her mother to the coast to sell their wares at local markets and festivals. The weekend sales eventually evolved into her mother, Linda, opening her own Italian restaurant and catering business in New Jersey, where the entire family worked side by side in the kitchen.

Raised in a household where three generations of Italians lived together under one roof, the old ways of Italy survived and were passed down to the youngest generation. Her family has a strong mystical background, given they came from the region of Abruzzo, where legends and superstitions abound, even to this day. These ancient beliefs have strong ties to food and farming, therefore the most auspicious time to seed or harvest plants, get married, have a baby, etc. were calculated according to phase of the moon and stars. This carried over naturally into cooking. Pane di Pasqua, (Easter Bread) was only made on Easter Sunday. It is said that it will not rise or bake the right way on another day out of the year. Polenta is always made at the first snowfall to welcome the spirit of winter, and so forth.

As an adult, Angela attended culinary school in Philadelphia, PA, and worked under French Pastry Chef Michel Gras, in Cape May, NJ specializing in wedding cakes. Later, returning to Philadelphia, she took over the pastry program for Water Works Restaurant. She also continued to further her studies in the ancient art of astrology and Italian folklore. She has traveled abroad extensively, and has lived in Italy off and on over the past 13 years. Now bridging the past, present, and future through her desserts as pastry chef at Abruzzese restaurant “Le Virtu” in Philadelphia, the sultry chef puts a modern spin on rustic dishes oftentimes incorporating ingredients known to be aphrodisiacs, but which are also indigenous to the region of Abruzzo. Check out this CHOCOLATE RAVIOLI she created and showed off on NBC’s In the Kitchen:

We cannot express how excited we are to have Pastry Chef Angela Ranalli on the judges’ panel! With a strong mystical background, we hope to hear her predictions on how the 4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl will go!


4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Jason Cichonski

JASON CICHONSKI
Chef and Owner, Ela Restaurant 
Cichonski

Chef Jason Cichonski is Philadelphia’s brightest rising star chefs.  His artful American restaurant,  Ela (627 South 3rd Street) is located in Queen Village, and is amazing!  Ela’s menu changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the season’s finest ingredients and Chef Cichonski’s creative, boundary-pushing presentations.  Ela has garnered praise and a “Three Bells: Excellent” review by Craig LaBan.

Jason Cichonski served as executive chef of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel when he was just 24 years old.  Lacroix was one of the city’s only “Four Bells: Superior” fine dining restaurants at the time. Jason’s cooking quickly impressed many peers and food enthusiast alike.  Before his success at Lacroix, Chef Cichonski worked in other highly praised kitchens, including the Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ and Moonlight, a progressive American restaurant in New Hope, PA.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Chef Cichonski is a graduate of University City’s The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

Today, he resides in Philadelphia & can nearly always be found in the kitchen at Ela…but not on March 9th! Chef Cichonski will be joining us for the first time on the judge’s panel as he takes on 25 types of chilis.