Chiang's Gourmet on Lake City Way is badass, like a 70- year- old Chinese woman carrying four bags of groceries across the interstate in the rain. They're so hardcore they've got not one but TWO menus: one menu is for Chinese people; the other is for their doughy, overfed American customers.
This is Zhong Kui, AKA "Chinese Santa," the God Who Catches Ghosts and decapitates naughty children.
The waiters at Chiang's aren't racists: They'll let any of you weak American Spongebobs order from the stern, fearless Chinese menu. But if you do they will laugh at you and challenge your manhood and hold your hand down on the table and play "five finger fillet." If you survive with your dignity and fingers intact, THEN they'll bring your food.
I like to think of myself as a badass, so I usually order from the Chinese menu when I go to Chiang's. The Home Made Pan Fried Noodle Shanghai Style ($8), which boasts as much flavor as its title has adjectives, is delicious. Thick doughy ropes of pasta were doused in a sweet glossy sauce, twined through with sautéed greens and miniscule strips of chicken. It's a great deal: For the eight bucks you have to shell out, you get a huge fucking platter that could feed Oprah.For a mere $2 you get two Shepherd's Purse Buns. The Shepherd's Purse Bun is a spongy white nimbus of dough, so soft a child's tears could melt it, and filled with steamed greens that taste and smell like freshly cut grass. These are so fucking pastoral, it's like someone filled a pastry with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony.
The Drunk Chicken, on the other hand, isn't worth it. At $8, it costs the same amount of money as the Home Made Et Cetera Noodles, but it sucks. For that price we got a plate of chopped-up chicken wings, with pallid flesh and rubbery skin, served ice cold. The "drunk" part comes from the fact that the chicken comes to the table doused in some kind of cooking wine which they DO NOT COOK OFF. So when you bite into it, you get this sickly sweet, thin burn of cheap liquor. DO NOT order this if you're hungover. Trust me. Actually, don't order it at all.
The best thing about Chiang's, though, is this weird wall art they've got hanging in there which depicts a bearded dude in a hat and red robes: Chinese Santa! But unlike our weak- willed capitalist pig American St. Nick, Chinese Santa wields a sword. He punishes naughty kids with BEHEADINGS, but rewards nice kids by merely wounding them.
The Chinese people have an iron will and, based on menu items like "Fried Tofu of Strong Odor," they obviously also have iron stomachs. They eat chicken dipped in Mad Dog 20/20, and their version of Santa Claus decapitates children. And if there was ever a restaurant that perfectly captures that strange juxtaposition of superb artistry and admantine madness which characterizes the Chinese people, it's Chiang's Gourmet.
Rating: 7 Santas out of 10
Chiang's Gourmet is located at 7845 Lake City Way NE
For reservations call 206-537-8888