September 4, 2012
生记 – Sang Kee Noodle House, Philadelphia PA
酱爆肉片 (Sauteed Slice Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce)
啫啫鸡煲 (Sizzling Chicken in Casserole)
宫保鸡 (Kung Pao Chicken w. Peanut)
香蒜豆苗 (Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves with Roasted Garlic)
干炒牛河 (Beef Chow Fun)
酸辣鸡汤 (Chicken Hot and Sour Soup)
We invited Jessica, who is now at Princeton, and her family out for dinner when they came to visit. Since it was raining on and off, we decided on Sang Kee Noodle House again, despite being there just the previous night. This gave us the opportunity to try a few other dishes, although we found the average portion to be quite small for the prices.
First was the 酱爆肉片 (Sauteed Slice Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce) from the September special menu. The pork slices were extremely tender and soaked up the savoury and spicy flavours wonderfully. They were so succulent and a good mix of fat and lean meat. In fact, they were so soft they were almost not pork-like. The celery was crunchy and provided a nice contrasting texture. It was a decently spicy dish and the flavour was quite bold.
The 啫啫鸡煲 (Sizzling Chicken in Casserole), also from the special menu, is even spicier. The chicken was also extremely tender and succulent. The spicy chili kick was really strong, especially from the chili oil, giving the chicken great flavour. I really enjoyed the napa cabbage at the bottom of the sizzling pot as well, and the onions, as they both soaked up the spicy flavour while remaining crisp.
The 宫保鸡 (Kung Pao Chicken w. Peanut) was quite disappointing. It had chili peppers but was barely spicy. Instead, the dish was made with a regular, soy-sauce and salt-based sauce, without any authentic kung pao flavours whatsoever. The peanuts were at least crunchy, as were the carrots, celery, and other vegetables. The chicken was tender enough but did not soak up much flavour. I certainly expect my kung pao dishes to be decent since it is such a generic, popular dish, so naturally, I was quite displeased with this dish and would not get it again.
I needed some more vegetables and since they ran out of shiitake mushrooms for the night, we settled on 香蒜豆苗 (Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves with Roasted Garlic). There were barely any garlicky taste to the dish and it was on the greasier side for a plain vegetable stir fry. The pea shoots were okay, though, and not too tough to bite as they can often get. I wish this came out to be a lighter dish since there is literally nothing else besides the vegetables and garlic. More garlic was definitely needed and the layer of oil was not the most pleasant of textures. Still, I enjoyed the simple dish.
The 干炒牛河 (Beef Chow Fun) remained one of Sang Kee Noodle House’s best dishes in my opinion. The wide rice noodles were cooked to perfection, chewy, soft, and yet still al dente. They were coated in the soy sauce base and were a little sticky. The beef slices were tender and flavourful with the portions decent. The bean sprouts added a nice, crunchy texture. What I love most is that unlike many places, it is not overly oily and still has decent flavour. I also love that open fire wok taste, slightly burnt-like.
We got the 酸辣鸡汤 (Chicken Hot and Sour Soup) half way through the meal and it was brought out so quickly it clearly was not made-to-order. That was kind of disappointing and explained the not-too-hot temperature. The soup was quite sour and not spicy enough. It was also on the saltier side. The bamboo, golden needle vegetable or yellow flower vegetable, tofu, chicken, and perhaps some other ingredients, were just mediocre and nothing special. The soup had a decent thickness but lacked authentic, well-seasoned flavour.
For parties over five, Sang Kee automatically adds a 20% gratuity, which is totally outrageous. The number of people – five – is not even high and the automatic gratuity is just ridiculous for a Chinese restaurant that does not do much service-wise. The portions were not that big so while I will be frequenting this place for take-out dinner, I would not suggest to bring large groups.