When going through what makes a good chicken wing, we can look at a few things: how much meat is on the piece, how juicy and tender the meat is, how crisp the exterior is, how well flavors complement the chicken and what the condiments are like.
We visited Sabaidee Lao and Thai Street Food at the recommendation of someone on social media (keep those coming, btw). This spot I've loved for years has one type of wing that goes by the name of the Lemmon Avenue restaurant ($7.99).
There’s no description on the menu, but when you get them, you’ll find they’re pretty simple, topped with garlic and served with a sweet sauce.
Food at Sabaidee — which does have pretty fantastic curry — arrives in to-go containers, whether you’re eating at the small counter or not. I can’t endorse that, and especially can’t endorse the use of Styrofoam, but the latter is what six wings will arrive in.
Unwrapping the foil inside, we were encouraged by wings that look crispy, but once we bit into it, we found a drier meat — plenty of it, but with a meat that was leaning away from white and getting closer to gray. It seems these might’ve been par-fried (not completely cooked) then finished to order; that’s an acceptable way to do things if it doesn’t harm the integrity of the dish, and it might here, if that's their method. They'd be helped if they were brined, too. We don't expect brining in Lao/Thai cooking, but maybe a certain quick marinade would do.
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Flavor-wise, these are simple: An appropriate amount of salt brings out the flavor of the meat, while crisp garlic tops nearly every one. The garlic’s not overpowering; it’s almost just there for decoration. That's where the sauce comes in: A thin, sweet sauce is your condiment here. A few delicate dips in the plastic cup, and you’ll find the best flavor is achieved if you really douse your wing in there, or pour it all over your wing. Otherwise, you’re eating a plain piece of drier chicken, and that’s not fun.
On their own, the crispness is appreciated, the meat could be juicier and all the sauce is needed to walk away having some real flavor. That said, if you’re getting a bowl of stellar Thai curry or a serving of the funky Lao papaya salad, maybe crisp and plain is a nicer complement anyway.
Sabaidee Lao and Thai Street Food, 5200 Lemmon Ave., Suite 100 (Dallas). Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.