One evening I was in prowling Convoy looking for a place to eat, when I noticed a new business in the former Luong Hai Ky location, something called Phat Restaurant...... Phat Restaurant? Along with the written Chinese "Fat", it was kinda quaint.
I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for something new this evening, but was sold when I saw the little "Chicken Delight" sign. Now, I was pretty sure that whatever came out of the kitchen here would not resemble Chicken Delight in any way. But I just couldn't get the "don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight" ditty out of my head. Back when Chicken Delight had shops opened in Honolulu, it was considered very expensive for us, so I only had it maybe twice in my entire life. The taste memory has long faded, but that catchy slogan had been retained in my cabeza forever! BTW, did you know that KFC's Extra Crispy was created to combat Chicken Delight? But I digress......
I entered the restaurant, and the interior looks basically the same, and I'm sure folks like Cathy will be glad to know that the fish tank is still in place, and the denizens of the tanks haven't suffered a flush faith possibly worse than death.
The menu was interesting, as all dishes featured chicken, from the variations of chicken soup, appetizers, and rice dishes. There was the now ubiquitous "Mission Statement" spiel of the restaurants disappointment in processed food, and declaring a dedication to organic, free-range, chicken with no Hormones, he-mones, and she-mones, or whatever. One nice thing is the ability to select the type of noodle you'd like for your soup from the six offered. I also noticed that all the dishes were over six bucks, fairly pricey for this type of soup and noodle joints.
I ordered the Chicken soup with dumplings and egg noodles ($6.50). Well, actually I ordered Hu Tieu as my noodle, but I guess something got lost in the translation or perhaps the very nice Server decided to over-rule my decision.
First thing I noticed was the portion size wasn't very "phat", in fact it was quite small. The chicken made to look like Char Siu was very mild, but serviceable. The egg noodles were super hard, and I needed to let them steep in the soup a bit. The soup however, was "fairly phat"(?), full of flavor, with a nice, mild, almost cinnamon/onion, along with a good amount of white pepper taste. The broth had just the tiniest sheen of oil. It was also full of umami, so savory as to be almost sweet, a flavor that almost never occurs naturally. But because I didn't suffer from thirst, nor edema in my fingers or feet, I'll give the broth benefit of the doubt, and just say "man that was (kinda) phat!"
Replacing pork with ground chicken is very difficult, but this was a decent job. The minced water chestnuts added a nice crunch, but the shredded carrots didn't do it for me. The filling was moist and tender, instead of the normal rock hard meatball. Four dumplings total. At $6.50 a bit over-priced in my opinion.
A few nights later, I returned. I had seen something that interested me on the menu; Salt and Pepper Chicken wings ($6.25). Being a certified Salt and Pepper Chicken Wing fanatic, I was curious to see what these would be like.
When the plate hit the table, I cracked up. On one side of the plate were two regular sized wings, on the other side of the plate were 5 little drummettes and wings that looked like they belonged on a phat fat quail perhaps? The wings had been fried without batter, than stir fried with garlic and chilies, in fact these should be called garlic-chili wings. The wings were pretty greasy(so much about the whole healthy mission statement), and the garlic burnt to literally the "bitter end".
Not settling for just appetizers, I asked for a recommendation, and was told to order the Lemongrass Chicken, with a warning that it was "very spicy".
This was pretty much a ho-hum dish, the chicken was undoubtedly free-range as it had a chew to it, something that I don't find unpleasant. It wasn't very spicy, and the flavoring nothing special. The rice, which was "Com Tam" (broken rice) wasn't fragrant at all, and there were a couple of hard bits.
I guess the question to be answered would be "chicken phat?" I'm not quite convinced though I'd say to stick with the soups here. The menu is fairly small, and I'm kinda interested in the "curry broth". I'm pretty sure I'll return when things cool down a bit.
4633 Convoy St Ste 107
San Diego, CA 92111