Monday, October 24, 2011

Food porn from Chinatown's Lao Hunan

Posted By on 10.24.11 at 11:00 AM

Famous Hunan Chili in Black Bean Sauce

Last week I reviewed Tony Hu's Lao Hunan, the city's only restaurant specializing in the "dry hot," frequently pickled, often smoky cuisine of the southern Chinese province. I don't mean to keep rhapsodizing but it's one of the more interesting and delicious restaurants to open so far this year.

But while I was brooding over its creepy aura of Maostalgia (see below), I failed to mention how inexpensive it is: each time I visited among groups of a half dozen or so, the bill never topped more than $120. Here are few shots of particularly worthy dishes, some taken by the esteemed Dr. Peter Engler, and a few by some joker with an iPhone.

The Famous Hunan Chili in Black Bean Sauce pictured above will easily make my top 100 list this year. It's Exhibit A in the case for the addictive, narcotic properties of capsaicin. I've ordered this dish three times, and on the single occasion there were leftovers, I was told they were incorporated into corned beef hash and consumed the following morning at breakfast.

Ground Pork with Sour Pickle

Ground pork with sour pickle is something that needs to be jarred and applied to your next Italian beef/Polish combo.

Jade tofu

Jade tofu, dense slabs of bean curd highly absorbent of the chile oil bath, is among the handful of cold appetizers.

Spicy Crispy Pork Intestine

The slightly funky spicy crispy pork intestine, like the jerkylike Hunan pork liver, is a good example of what people mean when they say Hunanese food has a dry heat. Absent stagnant pools of oil or gloppy cornstarch, the strips, tossed with dried red chiles, are simultaneously crunchy and chewy. Something you could sneak into a movie theater.

Mao? Wow.

Mao: the new Che.

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