You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Simplicity and Authenticity ALWAYS Win. Lee How Fook-- Philadelphia, PA

Recently, after my mother saw a positive reference to a first review of it by Philly Inquirer food critic Craig Laban, my family traveled to a restaurant called Lee How Fook in Philadelphia's Chinatown. Naturally, we had to try the spot out.

Lee How Fook is the definition of modest. The storefront (above) is meager, with an unassuming sign out front.  The restaurant can't hold more than 30 or so, and the kitchen appears to occupy at least half of the total area of the store. Nevertheless, this modesty carries to the food. The food appears simple and unassuming. Just WAIT 'till you try it.

The simply presented food packs a flavor punch that's indescribable. The pork buns, below, absolutely blew my mind. The components of the dish were laid out simply in front of me. Pork, a simple celery looking vegetable I can't say I could identify for sure, green onion, a  soft mustard sauce, the perfectly put together pork, and the "buns." The plate looked plain, almost too plain. Then, I assembled a bun. The bun itself seemed undercooked--but it wasn't. It was a strange, puffy dough I had never seen before. But it made my mouth absolutely tingle. It's emptiness let the pork shine through, the sauce tickling my tongue and the meat itself melting in my mouth. The plate was one I will never forget.
Along with the buns, I tasted the vegetable dumplings (below) and the wonton soup (also below). The dumplings were good, but I can't say any different from many others I've had. The wonton soup was pretty much perfect, one of the best bowls I've seen. The wontons were crafted so particularly, packed tightly in a paper thin wrapper. 

The main courses rolled out of the kitchen and at this point I was nearly satisfied. The restaurant had begun to prove itself and all I needed was the nail in the coffin. I'd love to say the main courses did that--but they didn't quite. Across the board they were good, but not amazing. My father ordered a sort of tofu dish that he claimed to be quite good. My mother, conservatively, ordered the chicken lettuce wraps. These were good, but no better than at any other restaurant. Probably not the best thing to order if you were interested in finding out how skilled a chef is. Finally, I ordered the lemon duck, which was pretty delicious, if a little over-fried. As you can see, all the plates are fairly simple, coinciding with the style of the restaurant. All dishes are below: the duck, the tofu, and the chicken, in that order, from top to bottom.

Nevertheless, the restaurant blew me away. The straightforward and ordinary appearance of the place and the food initially tricked me into thinking it would just be a normal meal--but I couldn't have been more wrong. I highly recommend Lee How Fook for a great, honest meal next time you're in Philadelphia in search of some good Chinese food. 

For more information, visit the website by clicking here

1 comment:

  1. Lee How Fook has great food, and one of the joys of Chinese food is that dishes are meant to be shared rather than ordered and eaten individually. Care is usually taken to order a balanced variety of dishes (meats, seafood, vegetables) that everyone can enjoy.