You can get a plate of fried squid just about anywhere. But in Benley's rendition ($7.95), simply called fried cuttlefish (though I believe it's really squid), the dish transcends the typical. Like everywhere else fried squid is served, it's still listed as an appetizer, and it's certainly appetizing; but there is no lemon wedge and not a trace of dipping sauce to be found.
All the flavor you need has already been introduced and married into the battered rings. There's salt and a flurry of pepper and something else you can't place. Suspect an addictive substance, because once you had your first morsel, you can't bring yourself to stop.
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Bits of wilted cilantro are tossed into the finishing stir-fry, as is the juice of something citric; but the crisp and crunch of the pebbled batter relents. In spots, it's as noisy as GrapeNuts. The squid is, itself, the natural foil, tender, soft and lovely. Any other fried-calamari appetizer would have to swim pretty far and hard to catch up.
Click here for our 100 faves from 2010! The list so far this time around:
No. 75: Roti at Bangok Taste
No. 76: Wet Burrito at 301 Cafe
No. 77: Pork Curry at Miyabi-Tei
No. 78: Bánh Tieu at Bánh Mì So 1
No. 79: Any Sandwich at the Crosby
No. 80: Fish Pho at Pho Vinh Ky II
No. 81: Quesadilla Chilanga at Alebrije's Grill
No. 82: Lobster Roll at Lobsta Truck
No. 83: Nem Nuong Cuon at Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
No. 84: Wild Boar Balinese Sausage at Valhalla Table
No. 85: Comida Corrida at Taquería La Raza
No. 86: Breakfast Burrito at Troy's Drive-In
No. 87: Mandoo at L&M Liquor and Deli
No. 88: Chicago Dog at Chicago Harv's
No. 89: Sweet Potato Tater Tots at Pee Wee's Famous
No. 90: Kaya-Stuffed French Toast at Chomp Chomp
No. 91: Egg Breakfast at Rick's Atomic Kitchen
No. 92: Sticky Rice With Chicken at Quan Hy
No. 93: Beef Koobideh at Hen House Grill
No. 94: $5 Fish Bento at Bentoss
No. 95: Milanesa Sandwich at Piaggio's Gourmet on Wheels
No. 96: Samurai Burrito at Wafu of Japan
No. 97: Carnitas Gordita at Bodega R Ranch Market
No. 98: Spam Musubi at k'ya Street Fare
No. 99: Tortilla Andorra at Anepalco's
No. 100: Lemongrass Chicken, Extra Spicy at Vietnam's Pearl