Taiwanese fried pork chop with rice and pickled vegetables: $4
There is a new Taiwanese pork chop house in town, and it is both delicious and cheap. Wah Ji Pork Chop Fast Food is closet-sized, spotless and busy but orderly; the hiss of fat pork chops hitting hot oil is constant. (To give credit where it’s due, I first read about Wah Ji on Chowhound.)
The feast pictured above is their basic plate, pork chop over rice ($4). Although you can get fried pork chops for a tiny bit less elsewhere in Chinatown, what sets Wah Ji apart is that their pork chop is not gobby with fat or as tough as jerky, but is meaty, tender and ringed with a judicious band of crispy fat.
Plus, the heaping helping of white rice is fresh and hot, and the side of preserved vegetables is totally delicious. If you want to skip the vegetables and the rice, you can get a lone fried pork chop for only $1.95.
As soon as you open the to-go container, you notice that the fragrance of cinnamon, cloves and star anise–the meat is marinated in five-spice powder before frying. I ended up picking it up and gnawing it down to the bone. (The fatty bits around the bone are always the best.) The generous mound of stew-like preserved vegetable–in this case, pickled cabbage and greens, mixed with ground pork–is vinegary, sweet and pungent.
You can also get your fried pork chop in a black pepper marinade ($4), or you can get a fried chicken leg ($4) with your rice and veg instead of pork. There’s also spicy fried popcorn chicken ($2) and scallion pancakes ($1.50).
Hua Ji Pork Chop Fast Food
7 Allen Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 20, 2008