Sky Full of Bacon

Now, now, no snark. It’s inevitable that Sun Wah’s Peking duck would get attention from others besides myself… right as the Beijing Olympics start. Good for Sun Wah.

(I didn’t even think of the Olympics thing, initially— I just wanted an ethnic restaurant where they spoke English well enough to make good interview subjects, and Kelly had already demonstrated that at an LTHForum lunch. And I didn’t explicitly reference the Olympics because that kind of timely tie-in seems like exactly the sort of thing a TV station would do. My show’s about food, I don’t need a timely tie-in to give me a reason to cover something.)

Anyway, it’s interesting to me to see how they shot the exact same stuff. (I’m not sure where that big blue burner is, though; I wonder if that’s simply one of the grills without a wok pan sitting on it, in which case it has nothing to do with the Peking duck.)

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There’s a report on LTHForum this morning that stores in the same block as Sun Wah BBQ, subject of my current podcast, have burned.  Sun Wah seems to be fine, however.

One of the things that really struck me after getting involved with LTHForum is how common restaurant fires are.  Khan BBQ, Sabri Nehari, Chuck’s, Hot Doug’s, City Noor, Sabatino’s— all popular places which closed at some point due to a fire.  Fortunately all but City Noor bounced back sooner or later, usually expanding, but it’s an unavoidable fact that the restaurants we love are ephemeral.  Go to one today; it might not be there tomorrow!

In other news, the TribStew is the next media outlet to check out my find, P&P BBQ Soul Food. They liked it!

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“It’s a great story and the shots of all those crispy golden-brown ducks are so mouthwatering you’ll be tempted to call Sun Wah and place an order to go.” —Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune/The Stew

Go inside a Chinese restaurant to learn not only how Peking duck is made but how traditions are passed from immigrant father to Americanized daughter in the new Sky Full of Bacon podcast.

Sky Full of Bacon 02: Duck School from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

Sun Wah BBQ has been serving Chinese barbecue— chicken heads and all— for 22 years. I talk to Eric Cheng about how he settled in the Vietnamese “New Chinatown” on Argyle Street on Chicago’s north side, and to his daughter Kelly, who with two of her siblings is training to take over the restaurant— introducing new ideas of her own along the way. It runs just over 15 minutes and I think you’ll find it an interesting look at the generational changes lurking behind the smiling facade of a Chinese restaurant— and to all the work and thought that goes into a seemingly straightforward dish like barbecued duck.

Oh, and if you thought the tone of Sky Full of Bacon was set by all the pretty vegetables in the first one, be prepared for a very meaty look at the delectable duck, pork and other dishes coming out of Sun Wah’s kitchen. You’ll want the address after watching this:

Sun Wah BBQ
1132-4 W. Argyle St.

There are too many LTHForum threads to link, but these Ronnie Suburban pics (including Kelly directing her father and brother in roasting a pig) are particularly good.

About Sky Full of Bacon
Sky Full of Bacon #1: How Local Can You Go?

Please feel free to comment here or to email me here.

P.S. Big bloggy thanks to Joe Germuska for his help in making this iTunes/WordPress/RSS stuff work the way I want it to. If it does this time, thank him.

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