It's listed innocently on the specials card opposite the $28 five-course Beijing Duck special at Sun Wah Bar-B-Que. Right under the stir-fried crown daisies, it says "pumpkin squash $10."
$10 for squash?
In fact, the Cheng family went to great lengths and risked many perils to locate the secret garden where this rare mutant squash grows--instead of seeds it's filled with chunks of fatty pork belly braised in a five-spice sauce. It's the greatest genetic union of plant and animal since Pee-wee's hot dog tree, and perhaps the ultimate solution to the enduring problems of environmental pollution and animal cruelty in the production of cheap meat.
"They wanted something healthy," says Laura Cheng, in all seriousness, speaking of her dad and his partners. "And I said, 'Why don't we put pork belly in it?' Because pork belly goes with everything." It does go great with that squash, which to my surprise I liked better than the belly.
A recent Kendall College grad, Cheng is behind some of the changes that keep popping up in her family's venerable Argyle Street Chinese restaurant--like that Beijing Duck special (Peking duck to you, old-timer), in which the traditional pancake, soup, and fried rice courses are bracketed by raspberry sorbet and a salad of romaine, pickled daikon, and tofu noodles.
And the $10 price tag on that squash is very cheap (as is the duck's). Unless you have a large group to share it with, it's even a bit grotesque, as the squash holds a monstrous amount of pork belly. My table of nine didn't come close to finishing it. (Well, we also ate three ducks.)
By the way, if you're going for that duck special, the restaurant needs some advance notice--give them eight hours or so.
Sun Wah Bar-B-Que, 1134 W. Argyle, 773-769-1254