Malaysian Jerky.

No question that Manhattan is a dense place with layers under layers under layers, but no neighborhood is as seemingly bottomless to me as Chinatown. I’ve been wandering around it for years and can still stumble into hidden places and things there that are completely new to me. Case in point: Malaysian jerky. Until recently, I myself was a Malaysian jerky virgin. In truth, I was unaware such a foodstuff even existed. But it exists, it is real, and there’s an unassuming shop called Ling Kee Beef Jerky dedicated to selling it and its various flavor incarnations right on Canal Street.JerkyThe first order of jerky business is picking your protein: beef, pork, chicken or shrimp. Sanguine in color and cut in exact squares; piles of this stuff sit stacked stickily behind the glass counter. I went with the pork jerky because, well, duh. And it’s not at all what you expect, kids. Like the author here, it’s tender, not tough. I guess that has to do with it being freshly made? The flavor is very rich and surprisingly sweet, smoky, and tangy. It’s friggin’ tasty, is what it is. Despite the shopkeeper advising me it was not sufficient, I tentatively ordered one piece (slice? square?) and walked out to the sidewalk to eat.PorkShe was right. A minute later I was holding another two squares in their wax paper and munching happily on my way to the East Broadway subway. I bet this stuff would be great sliced up over a bowl of white sticky rice. Or maybe as an unexpected addition to a crunchy bahn mi sandwich. Or perhaps as an exotic side for your Sunday flapjacks. Anyway, you get the picture. Malaysian jerky! Who knew? Only in Manhattan. And Malaysia, presumably.

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