Battle of the Dishes

Heads (of Lettuce) Will Roll: Ling & Louie's vs. Fez

Page 2 of 2

A clever name and 100% "Like It" ratings on Urbanspoon drew us to the Wild Horse Pass branch of hybrid American-Asian restaurant Ling & Louie's. The decor is Asian Modern; screens, lacquered wood tables, drum lights, stalks of bamboo and a red color scheme that's scientifically guaranteed to make you hungry. We breathed deep meditative breaths walking into this calming oasis (then again, maybe it was just sighs of relief after passing through the cloud of stale, choking smoke in the casino).

As one Yelper pointed out, it's "more Louie than Ling." Entrees range from surf & turf and meatloaf to sweet n' sour chicken and sushi. Wait, isn't sushi Japanese? Shh, don't tell. Just read the funny story of Louie and his exchange student wife Ling that's on the menu.  

For the best comparison, we settled on the standard chicken lettuce wraps rather than the ahi version. Our wraps arrived in record time, served piping hot and bathed in a deep brown hoisin-based sauce. A wedge of crisp iceberg leaves accompanied the dish.

My dining partner and I heaped a few tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto our first leaves and bit in. Diced white meat chicken bites were juicy and flavorful, imbued with sweetness from the hoisin and a briny soy undertone. Thin shreds of Thai basil gave the meat mix a peppery finish. The lettuce leaves were more than just a holder for the filling, helping to mitigate the intense flavors so that the sweet BBQ sauce didn't become overwhelming.  

"It's amazing how sweet the water chestnuts are," voiced my companion between nibbles. "I usually find them very bitter." To most diners, this aquatic veggie is just filler. Water chestnuts can range from bland to very bitter depending on growth conditions and freshness. Here, they absorbed some of the sweet liquid and added a delightful crisp texture and sweet crunch to the dish. 

The accompanying Asian dip wasn't necessary with such a sauce-heavy dish, but the vinegar-based condiment did balance the sweetness with a zesty acidity. Overall, a pleasant dish, even if its Chinese ancestry is questionable.     

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden