Welcome to the Weekly's list of our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2011! Tune in every day until we get to número uno! Now, on to the latest entry. . . .
Xoi ga is sticky rice with chicken, a Vietnamese street dish that, if I wanted to oversimplify, closely mirrors Hainan chicken--boiled or steamed hen presented usually shredded or cut-up into pieces over steamed sticky sweet rice.
But what Quan Hy serves as xoi ga ($9.50) is not this. The chicken isn't so much "shredded" as it is compressed and fried. Fried to be one of the most delectable, succulent pieces of poultry I've had this year.
In its uniform flatness is a shape as sleek as an iPhone where an entire, intact chicken thigh is squeezed into a compact frame. The flavor is seeped through and through from an aromatic marinade that tastes similar to what's used on traditional Vietnamese fried chicken called ga chien.
The meat is well-cooked, crisped to dark brown on the edges exposed to oil, and moist everywhere else. The rendered skin crackles, slit like gills at strategic locations on the patty so that it stays attached during cooking.
Then there's the sweet rice, a reinterpretation that has the sticky starch formed into rectangular spears and deep-fried. The eyes expect either a tater tot or a French toast stick; but the mouth experiences something even better: an oily, Rice Krispy-like crunch leading to a soft, rice-pudding-like center. You dip it in the accompanying sweetened soy dipping sauce, which it absorbs like a sponge.
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Quan Hy Restaurant, 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 775-7179
The list so far:
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