If you were going to choose one single plate of food to build a restaurant around, it probably wouldn’t be Hainanese chicken rice. I might. I’m pretty far along on the food-nerd spectrum, and many of us are obsessed with super-simple dishes rich with tradition. Besides, I grew up on a relative of this chicken, a dish passed down from grandma to mom: chicken pan-fried then stewed with garlic and dipped in soy sauce, served with steamed rice and spinach sautéed in coconut milk. Happy to make it for you sometime.
This Hainan chicken ($8.99), the Flock & Fowl version, is even more simple than mom’s. The chicken is poached and served warm, no bones but skin still on, along with rice cooked in the chicken’s fat and a cup of the broth. As the menu says, “Eat it any way you desire, but some people like to dip.” The chicken (Mary’s organic) is unbelievably tender and tastes only of chicken, even though you can smell plenty of garlic inside this tiny, six-table restaurant a few steps west of Las Vegas Boulevard. The rice also tastes like chicken.
Dipping should be mandatory, and certainly not just in the subtly savory broth. Three signature sauces all made fresh are individually fantastic—scorching, bright orange sambal, sharp ginger-scallion and brisk sesame-soy. Also on the plate: pickled cucumbers and mustard greens. You’ll wish for more of both. Add a fried egg or a Chinese sausage to this plate for a couple dollars more, pair it with iced chrysanthemum, green or oolong tea ($3-$4), all brewed fresh daily, and you’ve had the Flock & Fowl lunch experience. Congratulations, food nerd.
There’s other stuff on the menu at this mini-eatery run by Fat Choy and former Great Bao operators Sheridan Su and Jenny Wong. Fried chicken wings ($5-$8) are finished spicy Szechuan-style or Thai-style (fish sauce, garlic and lemon), and fried chicken tenders come with rice and those three sublime sauces. Get a half Cornish game hen plus an organic vegetable salad with grapes, cranberries and sunflower seeds in sesame vinaigrette ($9.99), or have your hen with rice, of course. Fresh-brewed Vietnamese coffee could go with anything. Fried chicken bao buns ($4) have popped up on the menu, too.
Flock & Fowl is clearly a labor of love, and a charming one at that. Su is a local chef who has held fast to his style and food, even when it had him cooking in a food truck or a hair salon. At Fat Choy, his beloved Chinese-American diner at Eureka Casino a few blocks away, he gets to show off all his favorites. At Flock & Fowl, all he needs is one.
Flock & Fowl 380 W. Sahara Ave., 626-616-6632. Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.