One of the best meals I ate in 2014 was at Iron Horse, a family-owned Chinese restaurant in a strip mall off of Interstate 35 in Olathe.
Iron Horse owner Peter Wang is known for his hand-pulled noodles, but he also makes some of the best roast chicken you’ll find in the Kansas City area. Wang’s time-intensive Beggar’s Chicken costs $28.95 and must be ordered 24 hours in advance. To make it, Wang seasons a whole chicken with a secret blend of spices and wraps the bird with lotus leaves and foil. Then, he smothers the foil with a layer of soft clay. After three to four hours in the oven, the clay hardens into a shell that locks in the chicken’s juices.
When I went to Iron Horse to pick up my first Beggar’s Chicken last month, Peter’s wife Helen Wang emerged from the kitchen pushing a metal cart. On top of the cart was a tray piled high with what looked like baked mud. Using a bright green baton, Helen broke open the cracked clay shell to reveal gleaming foil underneath.
Helen peeled back the foil and the soft, steamy lotus leaf to free a golden bird that smelled as good as Thanksgiving. Using two big spoons, she shredded the tender chicken and then smothered it with steamed vegetables and long white Enoki mushrooms thinner than matchsticks. Here’s a video I took that captures the elaborate presentation:
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Read more about Iron Horse and Beggar’s Chicken in my 913 dining column, which appears in The Star’s Johnson County magazine every first and third week of the month.
What’s the best thing you ate in 2014? Email Sarah Gish at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sarah_gish.