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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? KUNG PAO, INDEED

teak-kung-pao-021115-500x375-2941119A dish of kung pao chicken at Teak in Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lunch at Teak in Red Bank on a recent frigid afternoon offered a double dose of satisfying warmth.

PieHole grabbed a table bathed in nearly blinding sunlight in the solarium-like front room overlooking Monmouth Street. That took the chill off the old bones, pronto.

Finishing the job from the inside out, though was a heaping dish of kung pao chicken, with flavor and substance by the megawatt.

Built on a foundation of thick chow fun noodles, the colorful dish featured generous strips of grilled chicken, onions, cashews, red chili peppers, scallions and a sauce that laid like a comforting blanket over the enticing whole.

PieHole‘s piehole was entertained by the fireworks on the tongue, and the stomach was sated without any sense of post-meal torpor.

George Lyristis, executive chef and co-owner of Teak with his brothers Charlie and Taso – they also own the Bistro on Broad Street and Zoe in Little Silver – says the key to the dish is the noodles, which arrive still-warm from Chinatown daily. “It would take us all day to make those,” he says.

The defining ingredient for PieHole, though, was the sauce: viscous but not too thick, and full of delightful flavor from the peppers and onions.

The lunch version of Teak’s kung pao goes for $12 before adding chicken ($4), shrimp ($6), beef or pork belly ($5). The default version of the dish on the dinner menu includes both chicken and shrimp ($22).

In warm weather, Teak’s front room is open-air on three sides. But speaking of open air, whatever became of Teak’s plan, approved two years ago, to add a roof deck and second bar? Lyristis says all permits for construction have been filed with the borough, and he expects to complete construction later this year.

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