Chef Craig Wilson has had quite the international culinary education, having studied in Asia and Europe as well as the United States. After nearly 25 years of traveling, this foodie nomad is finally putting down roots in his hometown of Philadelphia and he and fiancee, Jacqueline Au are expecting their first child. A new restaurant in Manayunk, Gigi, is on the menu as well and opens this week. Wilson gives us the lowdown on “the best thing to ever hit a table” and where to get the best crab cakes in town.
Best late night meal?
My fiancee and partner, Jaqi, makes the best late night meal: fried egg over steamed rice. She is from Hong Kong and it’s our go-to dish. She turned me on to it.
Best meal under $10?
I love the Pho at Cafe Viet Huong (1110 Washington Ave.). It’s warm, chewy, hearty, fresh and spicy all in one. Vietnamese soup is maybe the best thing to ever hit a table.
Best hidden foodie gem?
The Roast Duck from Siu Kee Duck House at 10th and Arch. The second best thing you can put on a plate!
Best place to dine alone?
I don’t like to dine alone. But, when I do, it’s usually at my other restaurant, Maya.J — also in Manayunk (4371 Main St.). I grab a seat at the bar, have a beer and order Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese. We make it with orecchiette pasta, a four cheese cream and truffle oil. It’s the ultimate comfort food. And eating it alone is best because it’s too good to share!
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
We like to take our out-of-town guests for a ride to the Jersey Shore. Smitty’s Clam Bar (910 Bay Ave.) in Somers Point is a cool joint. We bring our own beer and eat fresh shuck clams all night long.
Go-to date spot?
A good date spot would be Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar (4365 Main St.) in Manayunk. It’s in our neighborhood and has a nice vibe. Great wine selection and solid food, too. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes have been their signature dish for decades.
Best place to catch up with friends?
I like to go to Sang Kee Peking Duck House (238 N. Ninth St.) after work with friends. It’s open late night. My favorite dish is Beef Congee with Preserved Egg.
Most Instagrammable restaurant?
I’ve gotta say Double Knot (120 S 13th St). I love their Beef Short Ribs.