Pho Real Club

Asian food club in the city of brotherly love

Shiao Lan Kung July 31, 2010

Filed under: BYOB,Chinatown,Chinese — phorealclub @ 10:12 pm
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A very famous Philadelphian once said, “Beer is living proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.”  I would like to amend that statement: “[The Salt-Baked Squid at Shiao Lan Kung] is living proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.”

After a recent visit, the members of Pho Real Club have agreed that Shiao Lan Kung serves up some of the best food in Chinatown.  We ordered about 13 dishes, and I think I said squealed “mmmmmm,” after each bite.  The food is fresh and expertly seasoned.  Plus, they have lazy susans, so you can spin entrees among friends.

Jellyfish

The jellyfish appetizer was a sleeper hit, with G.L. nominating it for “surprise dish of the year.”  Gelatinous texture? Natch.  But cool and refreshing on a humid evening, and doused in quality sesame oil. 

M.C. felt “at least triple-ly happy” about her Double Happiness, and A.P. thought the Shrimp Szechuan Style would “make a great lunch special…if they were open for lunch.” (wellllll, technically they open at 3 pm).

Double Happiness

Shrimp Szechuan Style

The veggie sides, Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce and Spicy Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, added great color to the table and were devoured instantly. What is it with me and Chinese eggplant? I just can’t get enough.

Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce

Spicy Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

However, the reigning champions of the evening were the Salt-Baked Squid and the Salt-Baked Softshell Crab.  Imagine tempura batter, but lighter and less greasy, with the perfect amount of salt stirred in.  The squids were like popcorn – I’d definitely bring a bucket of them to the movies.   How can they possibly be SO delicious?  I need to know.  Until that day arrives, I will be content to gorge myself on the salt-baked offersing at SLK. 

Salt-Baked Crab

Salt-Baked Squid (or heaven, as I like to call it).

‘Tis also worth noting that this place is a steal – A 13+ dish feast + 9 people = $25 per person, including tip – and it’s BYOB! 

Shiao Lan Kung
930 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 928-0282

Tue-Thu: 3pm-2am
Fri-Sat: 3pm-3am
Sun: 2:30pm-1am

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Han Dynasty June 4, 2010

Filed under: BYOB,Chinese,Spicy — phorealclub @ 3:52 am

I have visited “the Dynasty” twice now – once for a tasting menu extravaganza with my Asian food club, and again for a quiet dinner for two.  To (dim) sum up these experiences succinctly?  MIND.BLOWN.

First,  Han is awesome.  He’s young, blunt and obsessive about his recipes.  Put yourself in his hands, and he’ll love you forever with special creations from the kitchen that you won’t find on the menu.

For the food club dinner, about twelve of us were serenaded with appetizers and entrees specifically chosed by Han for the discerning palate.  He was excited, we were excited…it was great big foodie love fest (although he did ask me if we could seat all the vegetarians in the bathroom . . . hahaha, it’s a JOKE, don’t get all huffy).

For appetizers, we had:
-beef & tripe in chili oil (aka husband & wife sliced lung);
-Taiwanese sausage with garlic;
-cold sesame noodles;
-cucumbers with chili oil; and
-pork dumplings.

Everything was outstanding, but MAN I love the combination of cold & spice in the cucumbers and sesame noodles.  Those two dishes stood out above the rest.  During the appetizer course, we all felt our mouths start to tingle and go numb as the infamous Szechuan peppercorns began to kick in.

Cold Sesame Noodles

Entrees there were a-plenty, and they were all delicious as well, inclduing double cooked pork belly, rabbit with anise & mushrooms, sea bass, and pea shoot leaves.  The stand-out, however, was the beef & scallions.  It was beautifully flavored, melt-in-your-mouth divine, and one of the most popular dishes of the evening.  As I left the restaurant, belly full and mouth a-tingle, I saw the Ben Franklin bridge in the distance…and I felt grateful to live in Philly amidst such a thriving restaurant scene.

I returned to the restaurant for the second time last week.  Han remembered me, and cooked up some special Szechuan soft shell crabs.  I’m still having dreams about them.

Han Dynasty

108 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-1888

 

Kavei May 2, 2010

Filed under: BYOB,Camobdian,South Philly — phorealclub @ 6:30 pm

I really wanted to *love* this place.  I imagined it becoming the new hidden gem in my rotation of Asian restaurants…unfortunately, the food was just so-so.

Took a trip to Kavei with my Asian food club this past Sunday night.  I love venturing out of center city, especially for Asian food!  I was stoked because the menu had Cambodian and Laotian options.

The descriptions on the menu were tantalizing…red curry, lemongrass, dried chilis…unfortunately they didn’t translate on the plate.

The clear winner of the night was certainly # L03. Sai Krong – laos sausage, char grilled pork sausage stuffed with lemon grass, garlic, kaffir lime, shallot & rice.  They were savory, flavorful, and had just the right amount of crunch to the skin.

Other than that, I was underwhelmed…the ingredients just failed to gel with each other.    With # K27 -Somlor Machu Yoan sweet & sour soup Khmer style – the tilapia fillet tasted bland…and just…wrong.  And while # K34 – Sach Ko Spey Jrok (sweet & sour beef with pineapple) – looked dazzling on the plate, it failed to dazzle the palate. One group member ordered #  L11 – Aom Laos – Beef lao curry mixed with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallot, & chili, in a light broth – I asked her “Do you like it?” and she merely shook her head no 😦

I WOULD go back and give this place a second chance…they are new, and need to work out a few kinks.  However, I’ll be sticking to the delicious Sai Krong, and perhaps a few noodle dishes as well.

Kavei
320 W Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 952-6688

 

Qie Zi February 14, 2010

Filed under: BYOB,Chinese — phorealclub @ 7:52 pm

One reason that I started Pho’ Real. 

Due to the frigid weather, myself, M & N nipped around the corner last night for some local fare at Green Garden.  By the by, they make a fierce kung pao tofu – it’s not on the menu but kung pao chicken is, so the switch is NBD. Tip: I always substitute water chestnuts for carrots (mmmm…water chestnuts).

ANYWAY, I had to laugh when I opened my fortune cookie.  Sitting atop my lucky numbers was a little message: “Learn Chinese- Eggplant  (qie zi).”  My obsession with Chinese eggplant was one of the impetuses for starting Pho’ Real.  Coincidence ?  Or a sign from Confucius?  You decide.

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Green Garden
237 South 10th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 351-1114