Sometimes you just need a good bowl of chicken soup. Whatever the reason — a long day at work, a cold or the flu — a bowl of chicken soup, particularly matzo ball soup, can cure a lot of ills. There is a particular kind of comfort found in Adam Perry Lang’s iteration of this classic dish, which first made it onto the menu at his Hollywood steakhouse APL in July, as part of the chef’s small “Jewish specialties” menu.
Perry Lang grew up in Long Island in a Jewish family. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and cooked for Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy. Which means that finding an excellent bowl of matzo ball soup on APL’s menu shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Neither should the classical technique that goes into that soup.
The long-simmered chicken stock is made with a catalog of chicken parts: cracked wings, thighs, backs, necks, skin and feet, as well as lots of peeled whole vegetables. There is one formidable and impossibly tender sphere of matzo in the center of the bowl; the broth is loaded with more vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, turnips, parsnips), hunks of chicken and a surfeit of fresh dill; and there is plenty of schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, permeating the entire dish.
“This is a rich healing soup, truly the Jewish penicillin version,” says Perry Lang, with stock that has “a deep richness that strives to be almost a ramen tonkotsu broth but not that rich.” In addition to being on the “Jewish specialties” menu, the soup is available at the Hole in the Wall take-out window that’s open during the day.
If your experience of APL has so far been limited to Perry Lang’s massive tomahawk chops, 40-day dry-aged rib-eyes with bone marrow sauce and “felony knives” — made by Perry Lang himself and so-called because stealing the $950.01 knives is a felony — then consider the Hole in the Wall as an approachable alternative. (In California, the charge is grand theft if the property stolen is worth more than $950.)
You can get a handful of items: a smoked beef sandwich, two kinds of chili dogs and a $50 “serious barbecue sandwich.” (Next week a new Hole in the Wall menu will feature a pulled pork sandwich, a sandwich of “burnt ends,” and the APL short rib.) And now, a bowl of soup — one that will also soon be available for delivery. Your bad day just got a whole lot better.