If you’ve read my About page, you should already know I grew up in Milan, Italy. Whenever I’m back here I find myself weirdly craving Chinese food from a spot that has become a staple among my friends and I. Is it weird I don’t really crave Italian food? Anyways… Although the restaurant has different locations, the one I usually go to is the one in Chinatown. Despite it not being the original location, it’s the one closest to the neighborhood I used to live in, thus being the go-to choice whenever I’m craving a more authentic Chinese food experience.
Let me start by saying that Chinese food in Italy is way different from what you can get in the USA: no General Tso’s chicken, no beef & broccoli… nope, it’s a whole other realm over there. Sure, they still have egg rolls, fried rice, kung pao chicken… but most spots are extremely Italianized (is that even a word?) and authentic food is a rarity.
This is the main reason why Wang Jiao (also known as Mong Kok) is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Chinatown – but definitely not the only one. For starters, on the menu (in Italian, sorry) you’ll see things like intestines, thousand year old eggs, pig’s feet – one of my go to dishes -, but you’ll also notice that some of the items on the menu aren’t even translated. To me that’s a clear sign that the restaurant is not only targeted to Italians but is highly appreciated by “locals” (and by locals I mean native Chinese people).
There’s many dishes I would definitely recommend ordering if you ever find yourself in Milan, but today I’ll tell you more about a few that I end up ordering every single time. The first one is, as I said before, pig’s feet. Wait, what? You’re weirded out? Ha. Trust me, don’t be. They’re so delicious. Wait, let me show you a picture, maybe it will change your mind…
There you go. Feel better now? Looks tempting, I know. First and foremost: the sauce. It’s a spicy sauce, with sesame seeds and a couple veggies (not always, sometimes it’s just plain spicy sauce) and it makes everything so scrumptious. The meat is so flavorful and the texture is a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Ok, maybe you need to get used to it cause you kinda have to work your way around the bones to actually get the meat. But trust me, it’s really amazing. Slightly numbing, as I’m pretty sure they add some Szechuan pepper in it, it’s definitely something you wanna try at least once. The only thing that might throw you off a little is the texture, as feet have a lot of cartilage…
But hey, if you’re a squeamish about textures, don’t worry, there’s plenty more to choose from. Another dish I absolutely recommend is the spicy calamari (pentola di fuoco con calamari) served in a hot pan and still on a tiny camping stove.
You can order the non spicy version if you prefer, but the spicy one is far superior. Packed with calamari, green peppers, soybean sprouts, green onions and Szechuan pepper, it’s crunchy, salty, numbingly spicy and absolutely delicious.
Last, but not least, are the various options that come in a tiny little barrel, on top of hot stones to keep your food warm. There’s a lot of options for this as well, but the ones I can vouch for are the stuffed eggplants (melanzane ripieno di carne in botte) and the chicken (pollo saltato in botte). I wish I had taken a picture of the eggplants, but last time I went my friends and I were super hungry and forgot to take one. But hey, I do have one of the chicken and if I’m ever there again I’ll definitely take one and add it to this post, I promise.
As you can see the chicken is served in an actual tiny barrel and has green onions, ginger and plenty of oyster sauce. The concept is the same for all the “botti” (barrels) and most people end up getting one of those when they’re here. Between the eggplant and the chicken tho I’d definitely go for the first.
Some of the other dishes that are really good are the Mapo tofu, the shrimp dumplings, the Szechuan spicy crab, and the hand made noodles with roasted duck. I’m sure there’s a lot more that you might like, as they have a huge variety, so next time you’re in Milan, head on over to Mong Kok and spoil your tastebuds!
Wang Jiao (Mong Kok) – Lomazzo
Via P. Lomazzo 16, Milano