Kong Restaurant Northern Liberties

Philadelphia has long been deprived of exciting options for Chinese food. This spring, Michael O’Halloran, chef-owner of Old City jewel Bistro 7, will open Kong restaurant — with a liquor license — at 702 North Second Street in Northern Liberties (formerly Sovalo). O’Halloran says the new spot was inspired by his regular trips to Hong Kong to visit his wife’s family. (In other words, this will be a big departure from his New American BYO.)

While in China, O’Halloran eats at the dai pai dong, open-air food markets where affordable, home-style dishes are served by the people who make them. “These places are like the bistros and osterias of China,” says the chef. At Kong, you won’t see any of the usual things we normally associate with Chinese food: no egg rolls, no gloppy sauces — the menu will feature rustic dishes like spicy slow cooked meats and handmade noodles, along with a selection of both Chinese and craft American beers.

Craving some specifics? The menu isn’t complete yet, but O’Holleran tempted our tastebuds with three “filled buns” offerings (orange- and honey-glazed pork belly with watercress, Chinese barbequed pork with pickled cucumber, and Peking roast duck with leeks and hoisin); noodle bowls with crab, asparagus and coconut curry; and five-spice braised lamb and long beans. O’Halloran expects to open Kong in May.