In Philly, Southeast Asian flavors are the gift that keeps on giving. In Point Breeze, South Philly and Chinatown, along Washington Avenue and even out in the ’burbs, there are enclaves whose composition and abstract representation of geopolitical borders are constantly shifting and changing. This means Thai and Laotian food on traditionally Vietnamese-heavy blocks, and awe-inspiring Malaysian food in Chinatown. It also means a deepening and broadening of available flavors, so if you’re looking to explore the subtle differences between Malaysian and Indonesian food, Vietnamese that goes beyond a bowl of pho, or Thai more complicated (and delicious) than a simple plate of pad Thai, there are many options.
Craig Laban dives in for stinky beans and fish rice at the two-year-old Sky Cafe in South Philly, and comes up with a rollicking two bell review about culinary adventurism, the joys of fish funk and eating tongue.
“You’re not going to like that,” says Edy Yu when I ask about a special called “satay Padang” taped to the wall at Sky Cafe, a cheery little Indonesian restaurant on Ritner Street.
Well, what about the salted fish fried rice?
“Not going to like that, either.”
OK, what are “sator” beans?
“We call them stinky beans, and you are definitely not going to like those,” says Yu. “I don’t even like them. They stay in your body for three days . . . . ”
Yu’s expression lightens suddenly, though, as it dawns on him what’s about to happen: “Wait a second. The more I tell you not to get something, the more you want it, right?”
Two Bells–Very Good
Midtown Lunch eyes up lunch atÂ Los Taquitos de Puebla even if they skip the eyeball tacos. [Midtown Lunch]
All the good things you’ve heard about Koo Zee Doo, Mac & Cheese is here to tell you they’re true.Â [Mac & Cheese]
The best thing theÂ Beer Lass ate last week was the smoked hot dog atÂ Johnny Brenda’s. Sounds tough to beat.Â [Beer Lass]
Lunch at Square 1682 is free and loaded with oil. [Living on the Vedge]
Drawing for Food follows up Adam Erace’s review and checks out Sky Cafe. [Drawing for Food]
Yelp on Catahoula
Local bloggers haven’t weighed in yet on this Cajun spot on Front Street but Yelp has.
A $5 Boilermaker of Jim Beam and the just-launched-in-PA Narragansett beer immediately won over Elite yelperÂ Jon D. He does soak up some of that alcohol assault with “the hands-down best po-boys around, killer hush puppies and a menu I can’t wait to continue eating my way through.” [Yelp Philly]
“Sometimes a girl likes to be told what she likes,” confesses EliteÂ Tina N. An “on-point” server who was quick to recommend duck jambalaya, crawfish bisque and banana fosters bread pudding had her “ready to call him daddy.” Ye-ow. [Yelp Philly]
“Butter is what binds this place together,” writesÂ Emily M, who scored the first Yelp review of Catahoula on August 4. Barbecued shrimp, griddled cornbread and peach cobbler all drip with that sunny substance; hushpuppies studded with fresh corn get a dip in truffled tartar sauce for an equally heart-stopping riff on the Southern snack. [Yelp Philly]
Catahoula – based on 7 reviews
Adam Erace finds an Indonesian gem in Sky Cafe at 16th and Ritner.
On another visit, I began with whole chicken wings, marinated in soy and garlic, floured and fried to order. Squirting them with zigzags of sriracha and kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) didn’t diminish their audible crunchiness; you could hear me tearing in over the ’80s soundtrack of A-ha and the Bangles. Fried wontons filled with ground chili- and garlic-spiced chicken (rather than pork, to accommodate the halal-observant) delivered the same crunch â€” even after half an hour in a steamy Styrofoam clamshell. The takeout travel didn’t topple their pope-hat peaks, didn’t dampen their crackly shells. They’re some of the best fried dumplings I’ve had.