22 December, 2015
Man Dah Lee – Hot Braised Chicken, A Brief History
Man Dah Lee – Hot Braised Chicken has been known for 30 years at my work by the name “Lipps”. Lipps are a favorite menu item of the restaurant Man Dah Lee located at 6939 Howdershell Rd, Hazelwood, Missouri.
Lipps are hot-braised boneless chicken suspended in a special sauce. The sauce or “gwavy” as we call it, is the defining taste of this dish. Never have I had hot braised chicken in a sauce so delicious. Lipps are served with plain fried rice and traditionally with an egg roll. (Rumor has it you can substitute Crab Rangoon but it’s never been confirmed.)
The original Lipps were bone-in chicken wings that were difficult and messy to eat. After several messy meals they were ordered as sweet & sour chicken in hot-braised sauce. The restaurant, Man Dah Lee, then changed their menu to include the boneless sweet-and-sour chicken in the hot-braised chicken sauce.
No one really knows for sure how the name Lipps came about, but rumor has it may have come from a Far Side comic where Catholic Popes come from cardinals (birds) and the non-existent Methodist Popes come from chickens (birds) who don’t have lips, but can nonetheless can blow raspberries. The saying “Do chickens have lips?” was somehow part of it – a humorous reference to the meat itself not being made with actual chickens. (See comic reference below).
30 years ago, the original Lipps founders would retrieve many orders of Lipps from Man Dah Lee Chinese restaurant. The Lipps Acquisition Administrator (L.A.A.) would take the orders and carefully drive the many orders back from the restaurant to the hungry workers. The Lipps Acquisition Administrator was always instructed to “not spill the gwavy!” by the female owner of the restaurant. Since that time the “gwavy” has never been spilled as this warning is woefully heeded by every subsequent Lipps Acquisition Administrator.
“Do chickens have Lips?”
“When Lipps are too spicy they are called ‘Apocalipps’”