is a yearlong project to canvas Chinatown, block by block, discovering
the good, the bad, and the hopelessly mediocre. Maximum entrée price:
Yan, the receptionist at my dentist's office who grew up in Chinatown, has been telling me to try New Golden Daisy's chicken drummettes for a year now. "They're so goooooood!" she always says. "And they're so cheap you can a bunch for a buck." When she learned about Rice Plate Journal she redoubled her efforts. And so my survey finally reached the intersection of Jackson and Stockton, and I finally stopped in for Yan's favorite fried chicken wings.
The first time, I actually backed out of the place, not sure if the name I'd typed into my phone was correct. With grit between the tiles and chaos on the shelves, the butcher shop isn't anywhere near the cleanest one in Chinatown. Two-foot-long curls of pork cracklings dangle from hooks tacked up along
the left wall, opposite the customary steam table with a handful of
prepared meats and fried rice.
But my notes did indeed read "New Golden Daisy," and the SF Health Department reports that the restaurant's inspection scores, while not impressive, aren't damning. When I returned, I noticed that the steam table was cleaned properly, the lacquered pork hanging in the window looked juicy enough, and there was indeed a warmed container heaped high with crisp-looking chicken drummettes (the interior segment of the wing, FYI), priced at $3.32.
Two dollars bought me a pint box. And I had to agree with Yan: They're goooood. In fact, I've bought them twice, just to make sure. (Total amount spent: $4.28).
Marinated with aromatics and salt, then dredged in rice flour and deep-fried, the wings come out crackly -- the crispness fades fast after they stick them in a pink plastic bag, so don't wait long before eating them. If there's oil in the drummette, it's mostly chicken fat, melted in the fryer, and the glistening meat easily comes off the bone. While the spicing is far from strong, several minutes after eating the last bite, the taste of ginger trails behind. Drummettes, hey -- I'd love to see New Golden Daisy fry a whole bird up this way.