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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Things you didn't know you wanted to eat pt. 1 - Duck Tongues

We've learned to trust Ken at Ken's Seafood, and often don't even bother with a menu there, we just tell him the kind of thing we're in the mood for, and ask for suggestions.

Recently, we told him we were in the mood for something batter-dipped and deep-fried, and I have to admit that we were all surprised when he said "Duck Tongue." I'd seen them on the cold appetizer cart at Chung King Garden, but hadn't gotten around to trying them, nor had ever heard of them prepared this way, so this was going to be a new experience.

As it turns out, we liked them a lot. There's not a whole lot of meat on a duck tongue, and what there is has a slightly fatty, gelatinous texture, but when it's encased in perfectly-fried batter, the combo is very pleasing. To be fair, I think our table was evenly split about how good they were, but two of us really loved them. Someone likened them to the very tip of a chicken wing, where there's just a little bit of meat, more fat and skin and crunchy coating. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a matter of perspective.

There is a weird thing about duck tongues: they have a piece of cartilage going right down the middle that's inedible, so the crunchy treat needs to be eaten with a little care, and that little boney spine needs to be gingerly extracted from one's mouth, so this might not be a great food on the occasions that pulling bones from one's mouth wouldn't be considered polite.

On our previous visit, the same request resulted in a plate of frog. We were remembering the amazing Geoduck Clam bellies that he recommended a while back, and how good they were, especially how great the batter was. But we didn't feel like going big and getting the Geoduck sashimi this time, so we asked for something else. The frog is actually quite tasty, but each little nugget is filled with a bunch of tiny bones, making it a little tedious to eat. I'm sure one can get used to it, but we couldn't help feeling that the payoff just wasn't worth all that effort. And I couldn't get the Monty Python skit out of my mind - sure, they were talking about chocolates, but the line "Well, if we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, would it?" kept echoing in my head. So although it was in fact pretty good, we might not be revisiting the deep-fried frog for a while... at least not the chopped-up bodies. Legs?, we'll eat frog legs any day.

Any disappointment in the frog was quickly overshadowed by the vegetable we ordered. Back when Ken worked at Xiao Guan he'd recommended a dish of Chinese Broccoli with Sausage, and we decided we needed that again. This version was even more decadently pork-filled, seemingly half its volume was sweet, salty Chinese sausage. There's a great interplay between the bitter greens and the sweet fattiness of the sausage, it's a perfect combination. And, oh, OK, we're suckers for anything with Chinese Sausage...

The fresh seafood is just outstanding here at Ken's, we love the whole steamed fish, the eel in XO sauce, the fresh scallops with garlic, or XO, or black bean sauce. My dining companions go pretty crazy for the live shrimp, salt-baked is apparently the way to go when they're small. But it's funny, at this seafood-centric restaurant, we end up ordering plenty of things from the land, and are rarely disappointed.

(read earlier review>>)

Ken's Seafood Restaurant
1004 Race St
Philadelphia, PA


  1. interesting post. thanks for sharing the pics. I love eating frog legs. i usually have them deep fried and they remind me of chicken, but with a salty seafood-ish quality.

    As for the duck tongues. Wow, interesting....i'm going to have to go to this restaurant to try it out.

    thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks for the comments FAL.

    And I'm with you, I really quite like frog legs, but the little nuggets of chopped-up other parts of the frog, with lots of tiny bones, end up requiring a little more vigilance than I want to expend when eating crunchy treats. They DO taste good though...

    If you go, try some live seafood, either a whole fish steamed with ginger, or some live shrimp, or an eel with XO sauce, or a scallop with garlic... they have lots of good stuff here, but the fresh fish is a highlight.

    And let us know how you liked it!

  3. Oh, and just to clarify the "live seafood" recommendation: the fish are live in tanks at the front of the restaurant, and are still alive as they head into the kitchen, but not on the way out! There won't be anything still wriggling on your plate...