This week Jonathan Gold heads to the Westfield Santa Anita mall to review Side Chick, the Hainan chicken and rice specialist by chef Johnny Lee. The Goldster invents a new term for the type of cooking, dubbed “Side Hustle Cuisine — the recipes that chefs make for their friends on Sunday afternoons, retooled for a wider public. Side Hustle Cuisine couldn’t be more of the times.”
Lee’s “Side Hustle Cuisine,” poached chicken and schmalzy rice, is pretty darn tasty:
So does Lee make the best Hainan chicken rice in Los Angeles? He probably does, which is to say that it’s done well enough to make the question one of personal preference rather than of quality of ingredients or consistency in preparation.
The chicken (organic) is poached in that time-consuming Chinese way that leaves the flesh a bit slack, although cooked all the way through, well salted though not briny, and with a hint of unmelted fat still clinging to the underside of the skin. The sauces include dense, sweet soy; a very creditable ginger puree lightened with minced green onion; and a vinegared hot sauce that somehow tastes more American than Chinese. [LAT]
The Times critic also praises the rice which folds “in a bit of schmaltz to give richness and fragrance as you might fold a quail-egg yolk into a serving of steak tartare.” Ultimately, J. Gold concludes, “Lee’s version is pretty first-rate.”