They’re plump, juicy, shellacked in a delicious sticky sauce and only three bucks on Wednesdays.
They’re chicken wings you should put on your regular Wing Wednesday rotation.
(If you don’t have a Wing Wednesday rotation, I have no words for you other than you need to get one.)
Find two styles of wings at i5 Pho, which opened Dec. 31 in a funky strip mall in a South Tacoma neighborhood saturated with similar hole-in-the-wall eateries and chain restaurants.
As the restaurant’s name suggests, it’s right off the freeway on Hosmer.
Three brothers are behind the business. Phu Dang works in the kitchen and brothers Phong and Nam Dang help out.
They call their mother, Thuy Nguyen, their culinary guru. The recipes are based on hers: pho, spring rolls, those fabulous wings and the bahn mi dip.
That’s right. This is a Vietnamese restaurant that pays homage to traditional flavors and ingredients of Southeast Asia but plays around a little with the packaging. The brisket bahn mi sandwich with house-made pate and caramelized onions on a crusty roll comes with pho broth for dipping.
Familiar but just a slightly different presentation.
Same goes for the wings. They expanded on their mom’s traditional fish-sauce wing recipe and then created a second version with a trendy flavor duo — honey and sriracha.
Both wings are already well priced at $6 for a half dozen on the everyday menu, but on Wednesday they go half price all day.
The secret to Dang’s crispy wing is a double fry.
The wings are seasoned with a salt-and-pepper batter and fried. Then, they’re cooled and refrigerated until service.
“When somebody orders, we deep fry it then,” said Phu Dang.
He credits shallots as the flavor punch in the fish-sauce wings.
“Shallots. It’s such a strong aroma. We love using shallots in all our food,” he said.
The sauce is made to order after the wings are fried.
“... we make the pan sauce with oil, shallots, then we add in our fish sauce and sugar and then mix it up and stir it really good,” said Dang. He also adds a dash of an imported spice mix from Vietnam that adds aroma and mild spice.
The result is a crunchy exterior, steamy hot interior. The thick-and-sticky sauce clung beautifully to the fried wings. Its flavor intersected a little salty, a little sweet, very light on the fish sauce and a whole lot of shallot flavor, just as Dang described.
Orders come with a mix of wingettes and drumettes and six to an order.
The honey-Sriracha wings were double fried the same as the fish-sauce wings, but that sauce tasted much spicier, with a big garlic backbone, spicy chile heat and sticky sweetness from honey.
“The recipe is from my buddy, but my mom added a bit of her flavor to it,” said Dang. “It’s more spicy and with more garlic than sweet.”
The rest of the menu at i5 Pho includes eight styles of pho in three sizes: Regular ($7.50), large ($9) and extra large ($11). Five vermicelli bowls ($11) and six styles of rice plates ($12). The restaurant offers six kinds of banh mi sandwiches, including the tasty dip ($4.50 to $7), plus egg rolls ($4.50), four kinds of spring rolls ($4.50) and shrimp skewers ($6). Drinks include bubble tea, Vietnamese coffee and sodas.
Also worthy of your Wing Wednesday rotation: The Loose Wheel Bar and Grill in Puyallup and Tacoma has 50-cent Wing Wednesdays and Crown Bar has 39-cent Wing Wednesdays.
Where: 8611 S. Hosmer St., Tacoma
Info: 253-778-6148, i5pho.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays