Since Wangs opened about a month ago, the tiny take-out joint has been serving up an Asian spin on Southern chicken at 671 Union Street near 4th Avenue to a lot of enthusiastic customers — so many people have been stopping by to try it out, in fact, that they’ve sold out before closing a couple times, and just this week they decided to start closing on Mondays to give themselves a breather. And now that we’ve finally had a taste for ourselves, we can understand why the chicken at Wangs has become so popular.
We decided to try a few items off the small menu, which includes a few versions of chicken plus a bunch of sides. Co-owner Sara tells us that they’ve adjusted a few things since opening, some thanks to customer comments — in particular, they’ve lightened up the amount of sauce on the wings (3 for $6, 6 for $10). And now, it would seem, they’re just perfect. There’s just enough sticky, sweet sauce with a bit of a spicy kick (you can get them spicy or not) to make them addictive, but to keep the wings crunchy.
One thing to know, though, as we and some other people we talked to mentioned, is that these are the whole wing cuts. So unlike some places where you get an order of wings and they’re divided into the mid-section of the wing and drummettes, each of these is the entire wing — so three pieces may be the equivalent of about six someplace else, and so you may want to err on the side of fewer, depending on how hungry you are.
If you’re really hungry, you might want to go for the fried chicken banh mi ($11), which is an enormous sandwich on delicious Runner & Stone sesame seed bread. The fried chicken is moist and plentiful, there are crisp pickled vegetables to give it a bit of crunch and acid, and the coriander lime aioli gives it the differential twist on any other banh mi available in the neighborhood. And the pate brings the whole thing together — the rich, earthy layer adds a somewhat aggressive complexity that keeps this from just being a simple fried chicken sandwich.
You could easily fill up on chicken alone, but if you want to add some vegetables you’re in luck, since they’re not just an afterthought. This must be what it’s like if you’ve got an awesome Korean grandma packing you a picnic — collard greens with chunks of Chinese sausage, potato salad dotted with black sesame seeds, cole slaw with daikon, lightly pickled Persian cucumbers packed with chilies. All the sides were good on their own, but if we were ordering again, we’d go for more of the cole slaw and the pickles, which were a nice, light foil to all the fried chicken.
Wangs is serving up just the kind of food you’ll want to eat on a warm summer night alongside a case of beer. And you don’t have to go too far to set up your own little picnic, of sorts. We enjoyed our order just a block and a half away at Mission Dolores, where all the other happy hour drinkers, and certainly all the dogs, were curious about our meal — the smell alone is an intoxicating draw.
Wangs is located at 671 Union Street near 4th Avenue, 718-636-6390. They’re open Tuesday-Sunday from about noon-11pm, though they do occasionally sell out early; closed Mondays. Cash only. They’re hoping to add delivery soon.