Of the many ethnic foods readily available in Las Vegas, Philippine cuisine is the one I have experienced least. Perhaps its many influences—Asian and Indian, Latin and American—confound my simple, hungry brain. So it makes sense to start with something simple, recommended by a brother who has married into this exotic food culture: fried chicken.
- Seafood City, 3890 S. Maryland Parkway, 588-7740.
- Daily, 7 a.m.-midnight.
More specifically, we’re talking fast food fried chicken, from the largest Chinese food chain in the Philippines. Upon entering Seafood City, likely the most popular local Filipino supermarket, you are immediately greeted by a food court. Don’t be sucked into the cartoon-y vortex of Jollibee, with its happy-faced characters selling burgers, waffle fries, and … spaghetti? The better chicken is to the left, at Chowking.
It’s not glamorous: For about $6 you get a Styrofoam tray loaded with white rice, pancit noodles and two pieces of crunchy, juicy bird. This isn’t your typical Southern soul food, and it certainly isn’t a trendy, elevated version of classic American grub like you’ll find at a place like Blue Ribbon on the Strip. It’s not even the best thing to order at Chowking; that’d have to be halo-halo, shaved ice with fruit syrup and condensed milk. But it is simple, convenient satisfaction, every bite reminding you what a great idea fried chicken was in the first place. The skin has perfect crunch without the heavy coating most American fast food joints apply, and a familiar savory taste with a low spice factor. My brother would say you have to get the gravy on the side, to add some kick and cover your rice, but I’ll take it as is. I’m ready for my next lesson.