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Dec 3, 2002 04:17 PM

ISO War Siu Gai - Almond Boneless Chicken

  • m

I have heard this is a Detroit dish - we certainly ate it in every Cantonese restaurant there - it does not seem to exist in Chicago. They used to have it at Hi Howe on Cicero Ave. near Peterson. Alas, the family closed the place and it's a law office now . . .

This dish is chicken breast, breaded in that fluffy batter and deep fried. It is then sliced on an angle and served over a bed of shredded lettuce with the ubiquitous brown Chinese "gravy" and has crushed almonds and minced green onion sprinkled over the top.

Dishes we have found by that name turn out to be chunks of breaded and fried chicken mixed with lots of vegetables in a heavy sauce. That's not what I'm after (that's the way they serve it at Kow Kow).

The man needs his War Siu Gai and he needs it now! Can anyone help?

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  1. r
    Ron Rosenbaum

    Not really, but if you see any pressed duck along the way, let us know where.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ron Rosenbaum

      I've had my eye out for really old school looking Chinese places since Ron's pressed duck post, and surely one of the oldest-looking, so old I expect to walk in and find Montgomery Clift in a Hawaiian shirt hitting on Donna Reed, is Shanghai Inn on Damen north of Montrose. It could be the place...

      1. re: Mike G

        people I used to work with near there ordered in and liked the food, but that is not a recommendation I wouldn't trust their taste.

        But it's your nickel.

      2. re: Ron Rosenbaum

        okay so this post is 12 years old but hey, you may still be hungry. I just found a menu from Moy Lee (on Milwaukee Ave. near Bryn Mawr) that lists pressed duck twice on the monu. Once under specialties & calledd Sai Woo Duck & again in the poultry section & called War Sue Duck. We called to see if they also had War Sue Gai but the dish they described was exactly the same description as the pressed duck. Good Luck!

      3. Let me know if you find it. It was one of my favorite old school "Chinese" dishes as a kid growing up. I have looked for it with no success, either. Just last week, i was back in North carolina for a few days and sought out the dish there. Much to my chagrin, most of the sixties and seventies style Cantonese places there have given way to Thai and take out Chinese places run mostly by Vietnamese immigrants who don't seem familiar with the dish at all.

        When Ron posted his memory of pressed duck a few weeks ago, I headed out to Lin's Garden (near the intersection of Elston and Milwaukee) where they prepared the "pressed duck with almonds" in the style that you described with a brown sauce (more like brown gravy). Frankly, it was an awful undercooked mess of a meal of which I took three bites, paid my bill and headed home not even considering feeding that slop to Fido.

        On my way out, I asked if they could prepare Boneless Chicken (of course actually meaning cooked through) that way and they said "no" as if a fresh chicken had not seen the place in twenty years.

        Oh, well. The search continues.

        1. We ordered from Silver Seafood last night (very fast delivery, BTW). I took note of the many chicken dishes, including a whole bonless affair that I might have ordered if I'd been more gluttonous. I'm not sure if the prep. is exactly the same as you've described. As long as I'm writing, I'll note that the salty/spicy cuttlefish and squid was deep-fried seafood crack, as always; the black pepper sauce beef short ribs were quite good, although the marinade/cornstarch/MSG treatment gives the beef an authentic old-bathrobe texture that puts some off, especially those who relish the chewy, beefy texture that comes with Thai, Korean, etc. treatments; and the Singapore noodles with ham, salted shrimp and sweet pickled bok choi (I think) is the single finest version I have tasted. They also have the city's best mango bubble shake, according to my 3-year-old. For all of this, the boneless yardbird included, you need the "big" or "secret" menu sans Schaumburg Chinese, the one that includes sections for frog and squab and has Chinese, Vietnamese, and English descriptions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JeffB

            Still searching Jeff. The Golden Boneless Chicken on the menu at Silver is a whole deboned chicken stuffed with Chinese ham and mushrooms. It sounds terrific. But, I seemed a bit extravagant for one person for takeout tonight.

            Thanks for the lead anyway.

          2. I have no idea if this will fit your craving, but Lulu's in Evanston does a salad with "duck tenders" that seem to be boneless almond-crusted duck.

            They've just moved down the block, slightly West of Sherman, and are not open yet (they don't have gas service, and Sherman is completely torn up trying to fix it!) but hope to be by Thursday

            1. m
              Missing Detroit... Bad.

              Hey man, I'm a Detroiter in the same boat, even though all these posts are 4 years old. I didn't know this was a Detroit thing until I moved to Chicago and people at Chinese Restaurants looked at me weird when I asked about it. To be honest, the Chinese food in Chicago sucks compared to the stuff I ate in Detroit and that includes the stuff in China Town. No offense to my Chitown brothers, but just the way I feel.

              Oh well, as long as I can chill in Chicago drinking a Vernor's, eating a Buddy's Pizza, and finish it off with a Sander's Hot Fudge Sunday, I'll be okay. Oh, and I'm sure Chicago has Labatt Blue on draft at every bar and proper left turns that involve driving 100 yards beyond the intersection, doing a U-turn, and then turning right. So I'll be OK, right???