Sweet and Sour Pork from Happy Wok (158 Delancey Street, 212-388-9800)
Sweet and sour pork, perhaps the most Americanized-seeming takeout staple, is actually an example of authentic Cantonese cuisine — the recipe as known today likely came from a 19th-century approach to a Jiangsu dish featuring a sugar and vinegar sauce. (Credit: the internet, kthx).
So Year of the Takeout decided to stroll on over to Happy Wok, which bills itself as “THE BEST CHINESE FOOD” (the restaurant’s caps), and try the dish.
A $5.50 pint boasts a sizable portion of deep-fried pork puffs. The golden-brown pouches pop with heartiness, though the breading keeps the hot, oily meat from being overbearingly rich. Each orb has the vibe of a porcine McNugget. The sauce, served in a plastic trough, does taste a lot like the hot pink, sweet-and-sour goo that you would get at a fast-food restaurant. All things considered, though, the plate works in a very simple kind of way, satisfying hunger with unpretentious greasiness.