Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One Bite: Chicken "wangs" at MAK

Posted By on 08.06.13 at 09:41 AM

The good (right) and the bad (left)
MAK Modern Asian Kitchen has a clean, spare look—polished wood, gleaming metal, and neutral paint—that's oddly reminiscent of a Chipotle. It's set up sort of like Chipotle, too, with counter service and a menu designed around a few proteins, all of which are hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free. A half dozen "bowls" (consisting of a protein, rice, and usually some kind of sauce) are joined by a few wraps and a handful of soups, salads, and sides.

There's not much in the way of appetizers, but the chicken "wangs"—probably the only thing on the menu that would fall into that category—are also the best reason to visit the restaurant. Frenched and glazed with a sweet, spicy gluten-free sauce that involves chili powder, garlic, onion, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar, these fried chicken lollipops are crisp and beautifully seasoned. They're not searingly spicy at first, but the heat builds quickly. I've never had the much-lauded Korean-style wings at Great Sea, so I can't compare the two, but I wouldn't be surprised if MAK becomes another destination for aficionados.

Unfortunately, there's not much else on the menu that makes the restaurant worth visiting. General MAK chicken is described as "lightly fried chicken breast tossed with a tangy glaze, similar to General Tso's, but better." In reality, it's bland, soggy chunks of chicken in a sickly sweet glaze; I couldn't detect any seasoning in the "seasoned broccoli" we ordered with it either. A wrap with pork, mushrooms, onions, and rice was marginally better—it still didn't have much flavor, but was generally inoffensive.

If you do decide to order something besides wings, though, you can try out a chork. A cross between chopsticks and a fork, they're more fun to look at than to use: the fork end works fine, the chopsticks not so well.

MAK Restaurant, 1924 W. Division, 773-772-6251

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