On my final journey to the Bay Space, I landed at SFO and went proper to La Guerrera’s Kitchen in Oakland, their well-known tamales on my mind. However by the point I arrived, simply after midday on a Sunday, that they had bought out. Fortunate for me, chef Ofelia Barajas and her daughter Reyna Maldonado had been each working behind the counter of the ethereal, open kitchen, and so they really useful I attempt the hen mole as a substitute. It was simply cool sufficient on the patio that by the point I settled right into a picnic desk with my paper plate of hen, draped in a velvety pink sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds, I used to be grateful for the accompanying stack of recent tortillas, made with fresh-ground masa. One swipe of the mole sauce, smoky and warming, shook off my jet lag. Later, Barajas shared that the mole was her grandmother Jovita Vargas’ recipe from her restaurant in Guerrero, Mexico. Vargas, fiercely protecting of her mole, by no means wrote the recipe down, making it solely from style and reminiscence. Barajas spent years cooking by her grandmother’s facet and mastered the dish the identical approach. With Maldonado’s assist translating, Barajas shared the recipe for the primary time, together with some recommendation: As you fry the person substances, odor and style them, together with the chiles, to create a reference to every—and to learn to construct the layered, complicated flavors that make an amazing mole. —Mary-Frances Heck

AT NARI IN SAN FRANCISCO, most of chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s menu is delicately introduced, inviting a well mannered method. After which there’s the gaeng rawaeng, an entire Cornish recreation hen submerged in a deeply savory golden curry redolent with spices. When the chook arrives, flanked by impossibly flaky roti for sopping, you have to be all in, tearing the juicy meat from the bone and swiping the bread by the wealthy and spicy sauce, desk manners be damned. Techamuanvivit advised me that Thai meals must be fiery however not burn you, and this dish demonstrates what she means: A mixture of inexperienced Thai chiles, serranos, and jalapeños yields simply the proper steadiness of warmth. It’s so scrumptious that when you make it at dwelling to share, be warned: You will be preventing for that final drop of curry sauce. —Andrea Nguyen

LAST JUNE, after spending three months quarantining with household in Chicago, I returned to New York to pack up my condo. Earlier than doing anything, I ditched my suitcase in my studio and walked over to Vic’s, an Italian restaurant in NoHo, to select up a post-plane lunch. I had been craving chef Hillary Sterling’s roast hen because the final time I had eaten it, in February 2020; I ended up having it twice through the two days I used to be in NYC. A part of what makes Sterling’s hen so good is that it comes on a mattress of what I affectionately name “goop:” a mixture of charred broccoli, onions, and fingerling potatoes, fiery from the chiles and recent from the basil, with a bitter kick of pink wine vinegar. The hen itself is juicy and spicy, a mix Sterling achieves by brining the chook after which making use of a marinade of sharp mustard and roasted garlic. As I ate the hen alone in my boxed-up condo, I used to be flooded with reminiscences of nights spent with pals at my go-to spot, the place I would celebrated birthdays and lamented over breakups, at all times with a roast hen in the midst of the desk. —Nina Buddy

MY GO-TO TAKEOUT FOOD is the kung pao hen from Birds of a Feather in Brooklyn. It is a well-rounded dish, with a heavy dose of spice that is balanced with a little bit of sweetness. There are tons of peanuts concerned, and so they play particularly nicely with the colourful Szechuan peppercorns and crunchy bits of garlic. I normally have leftovers as a result of Birds of a Feather’s parts are fairly beneficiant, however that is solely fantastic by me as a result of this hen is a complete chameleon; it really works simply as nicely on high of egg noodles because it does stuffed inside a crispy tortilla with a little bit of rice and chile crisp. Something I’ve within the fridge, likelihood is, this hen works with it. Lastly, the sauce is not too overpowering and would not really feel sticky or syrupy, which actually simply clinches my entire love affair with this dish. Birds of a Feather’s chef, Ziqiang Lu, likes pouring any leftover sauce over steamed white rice and consuming it identical to that. In the case of making the sauce at dwelling, Lu recommends browning the dried chile peppers till nicely toasted. This helps tease out their aroma and leaves you with a warming mouthfeel that lingers. —Oset Babür

I DON’T OFTEN REPEAT RESTAURANTS—it is a hazard of my job as a restaurant editor. I’ve a restricted period of time and a restricted quantity of abdomen area. However Hardena in Philadelphia is one in every of my few exceptions. I cease in each time I am on the town if I can. It is a charming family-run spot belonging to 2 sisters, Diana and Maylia Widjojo, and all of their meals appears like a blanket for the soul. It makes you’re feeling good, and it is at all times what you need. I’m notably keen on the soto ayam, a soup made with shredded hen, turmeric, vermicelli noodles, cabbage, and a hard-boiled egg. It is the right one-bowl meal. I like Indonesian meals as a result of it is on the crossroads of so many cuisines I like: Indian, Chinese language, and Malaysian. I discover the flavors on this dish to be nostalgic and comforting. Hen in soups will be dry and over- cooked, however the hen on this soto ayam is so tender. The hard-boiled egg is a pleasant contact, too—it at all times makes me snicker when there is a hen and an egg collectively in a dish. —Khushbu Shah


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