Last November, I got to revisit probably, probably, my favourite chicken wings in Toronto from a place called Pho Hung. This might seem like an odd spot for good wings, but by Crom they are good.
Pho Hung was the first restaurant I went to when I first moved to Toronto in 1999 ~ albeit their location that was on Bloor Street (now demolished and turned into a condo). It was frosh week in university and my newly met friends took me to my first Vietnamese restaurant. It's also the first place I had and fell in love with Sriracha.
Most everyone had the Pho (obviously, it's what they are known for), but soup and noodles aren't really my thing. I think I had the Vietnamese Fried Rice. I did not see chicken wings on the menu. In fact, it wasn't until maybe 5 years ago that someone told me to try the wings at Pho Hung. I was skeptical, but am I thankful I followed up on that tip!
Pho Hung is located in the heart of Chinatown. I don't think the place has changed since it opened. It's outdated and old looking, but its always busy. The walls have photos and stuffed fish the owner has caught, each table has sriracha and chopsticks on it, and there are servers everywhere delivering steaming bowls of pho.
When you order, you are given an Order Menu - you go through the menu and find what you want, write down the number, the quantity and the price. You hand it to the server and shortly you have your meal.
Going through the menu the first time, it was no wonder I didn't see chicken wings. The menu is like 20 pages long, and the wings are in the Special Dishes near the very back of the menu (where you will also find my other favourite, the Special Deep Fried Spring Rolls). The name of the dish is Canh Ga Chien Bo (Cay), which roughly translates as Butter Fried Chicken Wings (Spicy).
I love ordering this dish and watching people's reactions to it from other tables. Everyone is usually ordering the pho, and when they see this pile of golden wings come out their eye's open wide and people stare - they didn't know you could order wings here that look so good.
Wings come in Small and Large orders. The large order ($12) is approx 10 wings and the small ($9) is ... well I'm not sure, because I usually get the large.
Pho Hung's wings are not big. They aren't small. They are a medium; medium length, medium meatiness. I am not upset by this because each wing is cooked perfectly. Never tough. They are wok fried in oil and are very crispy. They even leave on the wing nub on the wingette. This also holds up to the sauce they put on it, ensuring the wings don't get soggy.
The texture of the wings is very good, but the sauce is where its at. I love this sauce. It's like crack. I would drink it. Its buttery, its spicy, its syrupy. The first time I had it I was shocked because it tastes almost like Buffalo wing sauce, but not quite. It is made with butter, which gives it that rich Buffalo like taste, with spices and love. It's got spice to it, but it would tingle the lips of a heat amateur.
Once, the owner was watching over the restaurant and checked on me and asked how the wings were. I told him they were amazing and he was so happy. He said he makes the sauce himself and people tell him he should bottle and sell it, but that it's too costly for him. He invited me to come watch them make it (they make it in the spring) but I never was able to come by and watch. I would buy the sauce for sure if they bottled it.
I gush over these wings. Crispy, saucy, and addictive. They aren't big, they aren't meaty, and they aren't cheap; this is why they didn't score higher in my analysis. But the flavour is soo good. Trust me, get these wings. Or don't, I kind of like keeping them the best wing secret in the city. 9.5/12
350 Spadina Avenue, Toronto ON