South China Garden was my favorite restaurant in Chinatown, which you can read about it here. It was one of the only places in Chinatown that you could get consistently good Cantonese food.
Needless to say I was quite dismayed when they were forced to shut down after they lost their lease. However, I recently received wonderful news when the owner’s son emailed me to tell me they’ve re-opened as Café Hong Kong. Also, the owner is still the head chef along with his brother, which means the food is being cooked by the same people.
The new restaurant is smaller, modern and much cleaner looking. Some of the staff is still the same from SCG. The menu is smaller and now includes a fairly substantial section Hong Kong café style foods (baked pork chop rice, spaghetti etc). However, it still has most of the staple Cantonese dishes, which I previously ordered at SCG.
Salt Baked Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu):
This is exactly the same as before which means that they make the best version in Chinatown. The salty non-greasy batter and tenderness of the squid makes this a solid rendition of this dish. 8/10
Lobster in XO Sauce (XO Jiang Chao Long Xia):
This is again the exact same quality as SCG. In fact I thought the quality of the lobster was actually better than SCG (although I’ve only tried it once). The XO sauce tasted great and this was a winner. 8/10
Stir Fried String Beans:
This was slightly different than SCG as there weren’t any preserved vegetables in it, but other than that it was the same. It’s the classic stir fried string beans with minced pork and dried chilis. They still get good wok hay meaning the flavor you get from effectively smoking the food in a wok at a very high temperature. This is a definite winner. 8/10
Fried Garlic Chicken (Suan Xiang Cui Pi Ji):
Another SCG classic and it again tastes exactly the same although the dish is a little smaller. The meat is very tender and the skin is perfectly crispy and the garlic compliments it perfectly. This is still one of their strongest dishes. 8.25/10
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce Casserole (Yu Xiang Qie Zi Bao):
I ordered this randomly because I saw it on another table. While it was cooked nicely, making the eggplant nicely tender, I found the sauce to be a bit on the bland sauce. I like the sauce to be slightly sweet and spicy and it just didn’t have enough of that. 7/10
Peking Pork Chops (Jing Du Pai Gu):
This is the Cantonese version of sweet and sour pork chops. The pork chops are perfectly fried; the meat is tender, the outside is crispy and it’s not greasy or oily at all. The sauce is slightly different than SCG in that they added more pineapple to it and while it was still good it wasn’t quite as good as SCG because I prefer less pineapple flavor. 7.75/10
Steamed Buffalo Carp (Qing Zheng Yu):
This is the typical Cantonese style where you steam the fish and then pour hot oil and soy sauce over the fish. The fish was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The sauce was excellent as well being both salty and very slightly sweet. While I am not surprised their technique was good, the quality was the fish was surprising. Carp typically has this muddy flavor that I really do not like and while this had a very little bit of that it was not that noticeable and really made this an enjoyable dish. While I still prefer an ocean fish, this was quite good. 8/10
Normally, I wait to go a few times to report on a place, but I thought that I should report on this as soon as possible. I definitely recommend trying Café Hong Kong out.
51 Bayard St (between Bowery & Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013