by Ian Froeb
The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
But when I learned that co-owner Joel Crespo was planning to introduce Filipino fried chicken to the menu, I started checking the truck's Twitter feed religiously.
When could I get my hands on that?
This week is the answer. Listed on the menu as "Iron Manok" -- a play on the Tagalog word for chicken and Iron Man 3 -- the fried chicken is unlike any other you've eaten.
The chicken is marinated in a blend of fish sauce, vinegar, garlic and calamansi, giving its natural flavor an incredible depth and, thanks to the fish sauce, a wonderful (but not at all overpowering!) funk. The meat is sous vided and then fried to order, resulting in a tender, but not greasy, texture. The batter is crisp, but light -- think tempura, but more flavorful.
A thick, spicy sauce and a garnish of avocado, green onion and cilantro top the chicken. The sauce's heat is moderate; its flavor, thanks to a shrimp-paste base, is complex. The two pieces of chicken sit atop a sort of slaw of cabbage, sweet and tart, exactly the right notes to accent the fried meat.
You still have three days this week to try the chicken. If you must drive a bit to find the truck, you can take comfort knowing that the dish itself, at $7, is a steal.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!
The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far)
- Spice-n-Grill's Beef Nihari - Kim Cheese's "Kim Cheese Burger" - The Shack Pubgrub's "Shack-Which" - Sameem Afghan Restaurant's Muntoo - Local Harvest Cafe & Catering's "Organic Banh Mi" - Sugarfire Smoke House's Beef Brisket - Mad Tomato's Cavatelli with Spring Lamb Ragù - A Good Man Is Hard to Find's "Pork-n-Beans" - The Kitchen Sink's Corn Fritters - Chop Shop's "El Camino" Roll
- Quincy Street Bistro's BLT - Home Wine Kitchen's Fried Chicken - Riverbend Restaurant & Bar's Red Beans and Rice - Fork & Stix's Sai Oua with Naam Prik Nuum - Gobble Stop Smokehouse's Turkey Tips - Seoul Taco's Burrito - Five Star Burger's Green Chile Cheeseburger - Olio's Octopus Salad - Dressel's Porchetta "Louie" - Cleveland- Heath's Seared Beef Tongue
- Cleveland-Heath's Cauliflower Soup - Pastaria's Italian Ramen - Pi Pizzeria's "Grove" Pizza - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi