Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Veg Out: Kong Me

Away with the mountain sun of late summer in Eastern Europe, I arrive in a different Philadelphia. A mad new Philadelphia that arches in shades of Northwest U.S., fogged out skylines and tingling air.

Kong opens in Northern Liberties, pitches Chinese belly-warming food. It all does, if it never did, make sense now.

Vegetarians can eat well here, get a spice punch in the mouth or two, and still not spend much money, even if they want to. My only regret is that there was no veggie bun option. Maybe that will change, if enough of us bug the kitchen with the shameless request.

Deep-fried asparagus with hoisin sauce:

Crispy, greasy, it's the Northern Liberties french fry. A more respectable name for it? Tempura. Back to the hoisin, which should replace BBQ sauce from now on for all occasions. It makes the simple snack even better. (Try the fried green beans if asparagus is not your type).

Hot and sour soup with tofu:

Hot and sour. I called someone that once. We made super sure that this dish was with vegetarian stock. The best case for mushrooms that we've heard since the surplus of chanterelles we ate the whole time in Germany. An island of soft tofu hangs out in the center -- tangy liquid respite surrounding. I know what I'm making my concierge leave outside the door when I pick up flu this fall.

Edamame dumplings with tofu and scallion:

Dumplings are almost never bad, in memory. I have nothing scathing to say about these, because my mouth is still full from enjoying them. Each dumpling was a sizeable more-than-one-bite. I absolutely loved the pureed filling. What could have been bland was not. A little hoisin and a bit of crunchy nut goes far.

Rice bowl with chili tofu and bok choy:

Given an election, I'd aim for the noodle, but the rice bowl was the vegetarian option last night. More bare-baby-bottom-soft tofu, with a chili glaze, over some abnormally special rice. Don't bat at the price for the noodle and rice bowls, they're plenty generous enough for two.

For drinks, we recommend the Kong Rice Ale, on tap for $5.

702 N 2nd St.

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