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Chinese Street Food comes to Philadelphia

Submitted by on May 28, 2009 – 2:21 pmOne Comment

kongpa1In July 2009, Chef Michael O’Halloran of Old City’s acclaimed Bistro 7 will introduce his second restaurant, Kong (702 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia.) Kong will serve Chinese street food, inspired by the dai pai dong food stalls that he and his wife and partner Sophia Lee visited during trips to see her family in Hong Kong. The restaurant will offer a casual atmosphere and a delectable menu, with all items priced under $20.

Kong’s menu will be broken down into categories such as: Small Plates; Dumplings; Buns; Big Plates; Noodle Bowls; and Vegetables. Menu items will include: Scallion- and Ginger-Roasted Shrimp; Crab, Asparagus and Sausage Broken Custard; Roasted Shittake and Scallion Buns with garlic chives; Soy- and Star Anise-Simmered Pork Belly; Butter Lettuces with oyster sauce and crispy shallots; and Ping’s Pork Spare Ribs.

Guests may also create their own Noodle Bowl, filling it with their choice of homemade noodle, such as cat’s ear, knife cut, suomen, fat egg or skinny egg; protein, such as shrimp and crab, pork belly, duck breast, chicken or tofu; and broth, such as coconut curry, tomato lemongrass or ginger miso.

In addition to a list of red and white wines, Kong will offer a variety of beers from China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and Japan such as: Tsingtao; Yanjin; Zhu Jiang; Export 33; Tiger; Sapporo; Hitachino White; and OB. A signature house rice ale from Great Divide is also planned.

The space that houses Kong was designed by Dominic Episcopo, a fine art photographer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry. He brings an innovative aesthetic to the design, incorporating raw wood tables, exposed brick walls, and vibrant shades of red. A working fish tank, bare light bulbs in hanging clusters of bird cages and antique Chinese lanterns throughout the restaurant add whimsy and dimension, transporting diners to the bustling markets of Hong Kong. An intimate community table will offer space for private parties, partitioned off from the rest of the dining room with curtains of beads for privacy and a sexy, lounge-y vibe.

Dai pai dongs sprouted up across Hong Kong following World War II, when the Chinese government issued special business licenses to war widows, allowing them to operate open-air kitchens as a means of supporting their families. Today, only 28 dai pai dongs still exist in Hong Kong, but they remain a critical part of their cultural memory and culinary identity. Kong is Lee and O’Halloran’s tribute to this vanishing but critical piece of Hong Kong’s history.

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