If I could pick my last meal on earth, it would be fried chicken. And this fried chicken fiend is happy to share that I recently had some best fried chicken ever at the Pecking House SF pop-up! The chili fried chicken was not only delicious, but also a distinctive new style that I didn’t know I was missing from my life. Chef Eric Huang describes it as a mix of Taiwanese popcorn chicken and Nashville hot chicken. While I see the inspiration from both, this chili fried chicken needs to be a thing in and of itself.
The Tianjin chili topping is reminiscent of chili crisp, but with a more substantial, satisfying chew. The heat is not overpowering, and the Sichuan peppercorn provides that pleasant numbing feel. I especially loved the thicker breading, which was very crunchy, yet stayed on nicely. The meat was juicy, and the five-spice seasoning added that nice umami kick.
And the sides! The buttery mashed sweet yams with plenty of bacon were decadent in the best way – balanced by the cilantro pesto and texture from the crushed almonds. The dirty fried rice looked deceptively simple but had wonderful depth from the wok-fried chicken liver.
If you have a sweet tooth, save some space for the peanut butter pudding with chocolate ganache! This was a lovely ending with the crunchy, salty-sweet cocoa nib topping.
I can’t recommend this meal enough. The intersection of fine dining applied to Chinese-American cuisine and familiar comfort food especially speaks to me, and I’m very glad to see more Taiwanese chefs in the spotlight!
The Pecking House SF pop-up is still happening now at Turntable by Lord Stanley through the end of March 2022.