Chiu Hong Bakery – A Hidden Gem In Chinatown

Chiu Hong Bakery is an old school Cantonese bakery located on the cusp of Chinatown and Soho. It’s the type old school Toisan family owned bakeries that are slowly dying in Chinatown. The place is dingy with no décor whatsoever. There’s not much more to say about the place other than it’s turning out some great pastries.

Lotus Seed Pastry (Lian Rong Su)

This is a flaky pastry that is filled with lotus seed paste. The dough was nicely flaky and not too oily or dry. The lotus seed paste was fairly dense and not overly sweet. It was pretty good. 7.75/10

Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing)

This is a thin flaky disc shaped pastry filled with a winter melon filling with roasted sesame. The version here is excellent, definitely the best version I’ve had in NY and pretty close to Asia level good. In particular the filling is excellent; it’s not the paste that most places have, but rather actual strips of winter melon. This is really excellent and definitely a must order. 8.5/10

Peanut Mochi (Hua Sheng Nuo Mi Ci)

Everyone knows about Japanese mochi, but there is a Cantonese version of mochi as well. I believe they were very popular a long time ago in the 50s or 60s. Anyhow, today they are an old school pastry that you don’t see a lot of people eating anymore. Chiu Hong’s version is excellent and homemade. The dough is very soft, thicker than Japanese mochi and dried coconut has been sprinkled on the outside. The ground peanut and sugar filling is delicious. These were really good. 8.5/10

Red Bean Mochi (Dou Sha Nuo Mi Ci)

These are the same except with red bean paste in the middle. 8.5/10

Red Bean Pancake (Shao Bing)

This was a thin disc shaped pancake made out of rice dough with red bean filling that has been lightly grilled on one side. The rice dough was soft, but had a slightly crispy texture on one side and the red bean filling was nice. This was surprisingly good as I thought it might be bad because it looked like it had been sitting around for a while. 8/10

Fa Gao

Fa gao is a steamed fluffy cake made of rice flour that kind of looks like a cupcake, but is much more fluffy. You normally eat these at Chinese New Years. They are simple, but fairly easy to mess up and are dry when they are bad. Unfortunately, these were a total dud here and were quite dry. 6.5/10

Baked Roast Pork Bun (Kao Cha Shao Bao)

This was a typical roast pork bun except the filling was really ugly and not the regular red or brown filling. It tasted much better than it looked although I thought it was meat wasn’t great. The bun was quite good and it could’ve been a good roast pork bun if it had a more flavorful filling. 7/10

Steamed Roast Pork Bun (Zheng Cha Shao Bao)

Same as the baked pork bun except it was a steamed bun. 7/10

I highly suggest trying this bakery because given it’s location in Soho, I can’t imagine it will be around that much longer. Some of the pastries here are really high quality and it will be a shame when they’re gone.

161 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-7664

Tao Hong Bakery – A Solid If Unremarkable Chinatown Bakery, But Try The Mango Sticky Rice Ball

Tao Hong Bakery is a bakery I noticed because of a positive review on chowhound, which you can see here.

It’s a rather small and non-descript Cantonese bakery which would not particularly standout if you were just walking by it.  The interior is quite small with two display cases at the front and side and that’s really it.  The lady who runs the place is quite nice and can speak English pretty decently if you don’t speak Chinese.

Here’s what we got:

Pork Floss And Crème Bun

This is a baked bun that has pork floss (rou song) and a slightly savory white crème in the middle.  The bun itself was quite good; it had a slightly sweet flavor and was nicely moist.  The pork floss was good as well, but I’m just not a fan of the savory cream which sort of reminds me of room temperature butter.  This is a good version of this type of bun and probably the best one I’ve had in NY, but as a dish it’s just not my thing.  7/10

Egg Tart (Dan Ta)

The actual egg custard was pretty good; it had a decently egg-y flavor and was fresh.  The crust was standard, but not as flaky as I like it.  It was a pretty decent rendition, but I prefer Double Crispy or Ka Wah. 7.75/10

Coconut and Red Bean Pudding

This is a square of cold coconut and red bean pudding with some coconut shavings on top.  The pudding is creamy, but fairly light and not too sweet.  It’s not heavily flavored and generally tastes a bit more of coconut than red bean as the red bean flavor is faint.  It’s decent although I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but if you happen to be here might be worth trying.  7.5/10

Vanilla Cake Roll

The cake was decent although it could’ve been a bit moister.  The vanilla crème was good and it’s slightly salty which I liked as it contrasts nicely against the sweet cake.  It was decent, but nothing special. 7.25/10

Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao)

The bun itself was pretty decent, fresh and reasonably fluffy.  However, I wasn’t crazy about the sauce; it was that red sweet sauce and it was a bit gloppy and too sweet.  I much prefer Mei Li Wah’s to these.  7/10

Mango and Coconut Glutinous Rice Ball

This is the standout here.  It’s a fairly large mango flavored glutinous rice ball covered in coconut shavings with fresh mango in the middle.  The lady told me to eat it the same day.  The glutinous rice ball was very soft and tender with a slight mango flavor and was sweet although not too sweet.  The coconut shavings add a nice textural contrast and flavor.  The mango in the middle was very fresh and tasted great.  This is the one thing I’d say is worth coming here for.  8.25/10

Overall, everything at this bakery is fairly decent and it’s definitely an above average bakery in NY.  Although I didn’t feel like anything was particularly standout with the exception of the mango ball and I prefer Double Crispy and Ka Wah for Chinese pastries.

79 Chrystie St (between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 219-0981

New Kam Hing Coffee Shop – One Of The Best Sponge Cakes In Chinatown

New Kam Hing is an old school Cantonese coffee shop on Baxter Street in Chinatown.  It’s really small consisting only of a kitchen and small display counter.  It’s a true specialist only offering a handful of items and for many years it’s been known for its great sponge cakes.

It was originally run by an old Cantonese woman, but she decided to retire at one point and I heard it was going to close.  However, it appears that the Mexican worker who has worked there forever has taken over and now runs the place (he can speak some Cantonese btw), so it appears that this place will be running for a long time to come hopefully.

Sponge Cake:

There is only one thing to order here and this is it.  This is an egg-y sponge cake that will remind you of an egg-y version of angel food cake.  The version here is moist, egg-y and quite good.  The only version I’ve had in NY that is close to it is Ka Wah, which you can read about here.  While pretty-self-explanatory this is definitely quite good.  One thing to note is that they are significantly better when they are freshly baked as opposed to when they have been sitting around (I suggest warming them up in the microwave if you come when they have been sitting around for a while).  8.5/10

Overall, while not a destination spot if you’re in Chinatown during the day this is a great place to pick up a nice light snack.

119 Baxter St, Ste B (between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-0425

Mei Li Wah – A Cha Siu Bao Institution; Amazing Cha Siu Bao? No…The Best In Chinatown? Probably

Mei Li Wah is a Chinatown institution and my blog would not be complete if I didn’t cover it.  It’s a cha chaan teng / cha can ting (literally means tea restaurant), which is a type of old school Cantonese restaurant that is common in Hong Kong serving tea, coffee and various cheap foods.  In particular Mei Li Wah is known for its various buns.

Originally, Mei Li Wah was a rundown super old school Toisonese run place, but a few years ago they changed ownership, renovated the restaurant and hired a much younger staff.  Now it’s a much brighter, cleaner and new looking restaurant.  The service is still fairly quick and brisk although it’s nicer than before when the old guys had little patience if you didn’t know what you wanted right away although some people liked that as part of the character of the place.  I’m not one for nostalgia, but I do miss the old school feel of the old Mei Li Wah a bit.

Generally, I stick to their buns, which are all displayed up front as I find a lot of their other food to be pretty mediocre.

Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao / Cha Shao Bao):

This is their most famous item.  It’s a fluffy steamed white bun filled with diced cha siu (BBQ pork) in a brown sauce.  One of the major differences between MLW’s and others’ versions is that the sauce is much more savory and brown than the normal sweeter red sauce.  The sauce is the best thing about this bun as I really like that savory flavor.  The cha siu itself is decent although sometimes it can a bit too much fat in it.  The bun has a nice slight sweetness to it, but I’ve noticed over the last year or so that it’s become noticeably less fluffy than it used to be.  I still think this is the best cha siu bao in Chinatown, but because of the decline in quality of the bun I’d say it’s good, but no longer great.  7.75/10 or 8/10 on a good day (a few years ago I’d have probably given it an 8.25 rating)  

Baked Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao / Cha Shao Bao):

This is baked white bun filled with diced cha siu (BBQ pork) in a brown sauce.  Same exact filling as the steamed version.  While I normally much prefer steamed cha siu bao, MLW’s baked version is actually quite good and maybe better than its steamed version as the bread is quite good with a nice honey glaze on the outside.  8/10

Big Bun (Dai Bao / Da Bao):

This is another famous offering.  It is similar to a cha siu bao except it’s bigger and filled with chicken, Chinese sausage, half boiled egg and shitake mushrooms.  They used to make these quite well, but I’ve noticed that the bun has gotten way too dry since they switched ownership.  The filling tastes like it sounds and is reasonably tasty.  Overall, it’s decent version, but not great.  7.25/10

Cocktail Bun (Gai Mei Bao / Ji Wei Bao):

This is the sleeper for me here.  This is a baked bun with sugar on top and a minced buttery and sweet coconut filling.  The bread is nicely moist and the sugar on top adds nice textural contrast.  The filling is good and not too buttery like most places.  I’m not sure everyone will like this as much as I do because I really like gai mei bao, but they make this really well.  8.25/10

Overall, they are pretty decent cha siu bao and certainly better than the vast majority in Chinatown which are quite mediocre.  I’d recommend coming to try out the cha siu bao and the cocktail bun.

64 Bayard St (between Mott St & Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-7866

Hou Yi – Extremely Reasonable Hot Pot In Chinatown

Hou Yi is a hot pot specialist restaurant located in the northeastern Fujian section of Chinatown that borders the Lower East Side.

Hot pot is a pot of broth which you cook raw ingredients in and then dip in various sauces.  Surprisingly I’ve had a hard time finding a decent hot pot place in the city and usually go to Flushing to Baidu to get my fix, which you can see here.  It’s surprising because it must be one of the most universally popular dishes amongst all types of Chinese people.

The restaurant is a small place that quite ugly even for Chinatown with bright orange walls, dim yellow lighting and ugly wooden tables.   The service was fine and relatively efficient.  Both times I’ve been there has been a wait, so I’d either go early or late.  The price is $23 for all you can eat hot pot including drinks, so it’s very well priced.

I’ll break down the hot pot by different aspects:


We got regular and spicy broth.  Both were pretty standard, but good.  The light broth is a standard mild flavored broth and the spicy one is a Sichuan style ma la broth.   The spicy one is very spicy and spicier than the broth I’ve had at most Sichuan restaurants in NY, so if you can’t handle spicy food I’d avoid it.  7.75/10


We got the beef and lamb.  While they were frozen they seemed reasonably fresh to me.  I liked the beef better than the lamb.  My GF thought the beef wasn’t good quality, but I thought it was fine.  The lamb was alright, but was a bit gamey (my GF did not like it at all, but she doesn’t like lamb in general).  7.5/10 for the beef, 7.25/10 for the lamb

Non-Meat Sides:

They have a variety of standard non-meat sides of vegetables, dumplings, fish balls etc.  We got fried tofu skin, fried tofu cubes, corn, tofu, enoki mushrooms, daikon, cabbage, Hong Kong style fish balls, Fujian style fish balls and some other stuff which I’m forgetting.  I thought all of it was good except I thought the Hong Kong style fish balls were too processed tasting and the fried tofu cubes were mediocre as well.  7.75/10


They don’t have a lot of options for sauces, I used the sesame and sha cha sauce.  The sha cha sauce was not provided on the tables and I had to ask them for it.  Sha cha sauce is a dried shrimp sauce, which you can read more about here.  Both sauces were pretty standard tasting, but reasonably decent.  The major shortcoming of this place for me was the lack of variety of sauces.  I normally like to make my own with soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, sesame oil and cilantro.  I felt like it was missing an element without that.  7.5/10

Overall, while it’s not amazing hot pot, it’s pretty decent and extremely reasonably priced.  If you’re looking for your hot pot fix in the city without going to Flushing this is a decent place.

112 Eldridge St (between Broome St & Grand St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-8989

Café Hong Kong – The South China Garden Guys Are Back!! (And Yes They Are The Best Restaurant In Chinatown)

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
(212) 608-5359

Spicy Village (Formerly He Nan Flavor) – Delicious Henan Food In Chinatown

Spicy Village was originally a branch of Henan Fengwei from Flushing.  Around 6 months ago they were supposedly shutting down and possibly re-opening in another space on Allen.  Luckily that never happened and instead they ended up changing their name to Spicy Village, but everything else remained the same.

Spicy Village specializes in cuisine from the Henan province in China.  Henan is a landlocked province that is northwest of Shanghai.  I’d love to give you some long winded background on Henan cuisine, but I don’t actually know that much about their cuisine as I have little experience eating it as isn’t prevalent or popular in the parts of China I usually visit.  This Wikipedia article discusses it a little bit.  I believe the owners are actually from Fuzhou as I’ve heard them speaking in the Fuzhou dialect with customers.

The restaurant is typical Chinatown in that it has very little in the way of décor although it is clean.  The service is fine and the lady who runs the place is really nice.  She also happens to speak English well and the entire menu is translated into English, so you will have no issues ordering.

Here’s what we got:

Cucumbers and Smoked Tofu (Liang Ban Huang Gua Dou Gan):

This was typical cold marinated cucumbers and smoked tofu called dou gan in Chinese.  The pickles are tangy and a bit sweet as well.  The version here was alright; it had decent crunch and flavor, but they were missing the really good flavor you get in a good version.  I wasn’t really a fan of the dou gan as it was pretty plain tasting.  7.5/10 for the cucumbers; 6.75/10 for the smoked tofu

Pancake with Pork (Rou Jia Mo):

This is a shredded pork sandwich with cilantro.  The bread is sort of like pita bread and is crispy from being toasted.  The pork is actually quite light and is savory from the brown sauce they cook it in.  It will remind you of the pancakes from Xi’an Famous Foods except the bread is thinner, it’s not as heavily spiced and it’s lighter.  Overall, it’s not amazing, but it is a tasty enough pancake.  7.5/10

Pancake with Beef (Niu Rou Jia Mo):

This is the same as the prior pancake except with beef.  However, I find the meat to be a little more flavorful, so I’d give the nod to the beef version.  7.75/10

Soup Dumplings (Guan Tang Bao):

While these look like misshapen ugly Shanghainese soup dumplings they are actually quite good and different than regular soup dumplings.  The skins are a bit thicker and there is no soup inside.  However, they are delicious as the filling is very flavorful.  I actually enjoy these more than I do most Shanghainese soup dumplings in NY (I only like Nan Xiang actually).  These are one of the best dishes here.  8/10

Homemade Steamed Dumplings (Shou Gong Shui Jiao):

These are typical northern Chinese style dumplings with thicker skins and pork and chive filling.  I like their dumplings, but I don’t love them.  The skins are decent, a bit on the doughy side, but I find their filling to be a bit bland. I end up using a lot of black vinegar and chili oil to make them tasty. 7.25/10

Black Bean Sauce Huimei (Zha Jiang Hui Mian):

Hui mian is thick wheat noodles that I believe are Henan in origin.  Zha jiang mian literally means “fried sauce noodle”.  You may know this dish as it is a ubiquitous dish in Korean-Chinese restaurants where Koreans took northern Chinese dishes and fit them to Korean tastes; they call it ja jang myun.  I think it’s almost more popular with Koreans than it is with Chinese despite it being Chinese in origin.  The Chinese version is more of a meat based sauce similar to a ragu.  This can taste very different depending on who is making it.  Here the sauce is fairly light in flavor and mainly just tastes like meat.  I added some chili oil which made it a lot better.  The noodles are excellent as they are a bit al dente and have great texture.  Overall, the dish was decent, but not great. 7.5/10

Spicy Beef Brisket Huimei (Ma La Niu Nan Hui Mian):

This is a spicy beef brisket noodle soup.  The beef brisket has been simmered for a while so it was quite tender and also had a good five spice flavor.  The noodles are excellent being nicely al dente.  The broth is flavorful and a bit spicy.  While a bit different from traditional beef noodle soup, this is my current pick for the best beef noodle soup in NY.  I think it far surpasses the various Lan Zhou noodle places around Chinatown (and Flushing) as the beef and broth are far superior in quality.  This is another one of my favorite dishes here.  Also, definitely use some chili oil and black vinegar, it tastes great with it.  8.25/10

Oxtail Huimei (Niu Wei Hui Mian):

This was an oxtail broth noodle soup with the hui mian.  This was one of the duds here; I thought the broth was a bit bland, so there just wasn’t that much to it.  We had to add a lot of chili oil and black vinegar to make it more interesting.  6.75/10

Grilled Pepper Chicken with Rice (Qing Jiao Ji Fan):

This was a surprise dish as I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention it.  Its stir fried pieces of chicken in slightly spicy and sweet sauce with diced green peppers.  The chicken is tender and the sauce is really good, it’s a bit peppery, smoky, spicy and sweet.  It tastes great with rice.  This is one of my favorite dishes here.  8.25/10

Spicy Big Tray Kitchen (Da Pan Ji):

This is the dish that made them famous.  It’s large chicken casserole in big iron pot.  There are big chunks of very tender chicken on the bone and potatoes topped with cilantro. The sauce while it looks really oily isn’t actually all that heavy.  It’s also ma la in flavor, which is normally a Sichuan flavor profile.  “Ma” means the numbing sensation you get on your tongue from the Sichuan peppercorns, while “la” means spicy.  While it is ma la, it’s not nearly as ma la as what you get at most Sichuan restaurants.  It’s a bit hard to explain this dish, but it’s really good, so just hurry up and go try it. 8.5/10

Sweet Peanut Filled Rice Ball Soup (Tang Yuan):

Tang yuan has always been one of my favorite Chinese desserts, so I almost always get them when I see them on a menu. They can have various fillings, but here they serve them with peanut filling.  The peanuts are not chopped that finely, so the chunks are pretty big. The filling also had these pinks things, but I couldn’t figure out what they were and they really didn’t taste like anything. The skins were decent, but not as super tender as I prefer them. These were alright, but I think this is the way Fuzhou people prepare them because this is the way they always taste at Fuzhou restaurants in NY.  I prefer the Cantonese preparation.  7.25/10

Overall, I enjoy this place a lot and it’s somewhere that I eat at quite regularly.  It’s also one of the few bright spots in a fast dying Chinatown, so I’d highly come recommend coming here to support them.

68B Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-8299

Yunnan Kitchen – Finally Americanized Chinese Food Done Right (Part 2)

In my last post on Mission Chinese I discussed the evolving nature of “Americanized Chinese” food and how Mission Chinese is an example of Americanized Chinese evolving into something worth checking out (in my opinion).  However, I entitled it “Part 1” because there is a second example of this in New York and its Yunnan Kitchen.

Yunnan Kitchen serves food that is influenced by Yunnan food.  Yunnan is a province in China that borders Burma, Laos and Myanmar.  In China, it’s known for among other things its nice weather, large number of minorities and its variety of mushrooms.  The food is supposed to be quite different including very odd things like use of cheese which is completely unheard of in the rest of China and “Yunnan” food is somewhat of a misnomer because there are some many different minorities that I think “Yunnan” food can mean different things to different people there.  Anyhow, I’ve only had it maybe once or twice as it’s not that common in most of the cities I normally visit and I’m not even sure if I’ve even actually met anyone from Yunnan.

There is a decent amount of information about the restaurant in this NYT article, which you can see here.  Funny enough their “training” consisted of going to Shanghai and Beijing to two weeks (very far away from Yunnan) and training in some Yunnan restaurants there.  So, I think it’s fair to say that this is a very loose interpretation of Yunnan cuisine.

The restaurant is well done; it’s got a very cool and relaxed feel to it with minimalist decoration and nice exposed brick walls.  It’s a great place to have dinner with friends.  The service has always been pretty good and everyone is nice.  Also, be aware that there is usually a wait on Thursday-Saturday night.

Here’s what I’ve tried:

Pickled Green Papaya Salad:

This is shredded green papaya with warm shredded chicken, herbs and chilies.  I was hoping this would be similar to the Thai papaya salads or even the Vietnamese papaya salads.  However, I found this dish to be a bit too bland.  It didn’t have any of the spice or the tart and sweet flavors of a normal papaya salad.  This was a bit of a dud for me.  6.75/10

Mint Salad:

This was hen of the woods mushroom, frisee and mint salad.  This was the other dish that I wasn’t crazy about, it was better than the green papaya salad, but I didn’t think there was too much too it.  It was pretty similar to most other salads you get.  Mind you it wasn’t bad, but just nothing special.  7/10

Charred Eggplant:

This was charred eggplant that was served cold with sawtooth herb, crushed peanuts and chilies.  The eggplant was cooked nicely and was tender.  It had a bit of spice to it and was a little sweet and tangy as well.  I think I would’ve liked it better if it was served warm, but overall it was a decent dish.  7.5/10

Fried Potato Balls:

These were fried potato balls spiced with Yunnan spices and served with a soy-vinegar.  These were really nice; they were nicely crispy, but weren’t greasy at all.  The soy-vinegar sauce was the perfect complement to the fried potato balls.  Overall, I thought these were great.  8.25/10

Tea Smoked Duck:

This was sliced cold tea smoked duck breast served with house pickled cucumber and salted peanuts.  I actually don’t like tea smoked duck that much; it’s alright, but it’s not something I go out of my way for.   However, I enjoyed it here.  It’s much more delicate and lightly flavored than most tea smoked duck.  The duck breast meat was nicely tender and it almost tasted more like a French dish than a Chinese dish.  Overall, it was a solid dish.  8/10

Ham Rice Cakes:

This was Chinese rice cakes (nian gao) stir fried with chilies, tomato and pea shoots.  I’m generally not the biggest fan of nian gao, but I got them because a friend likes them.  These were pretty decent though.  The tomato went surprisingly well with them and the slight tart flavor from the tomato gave it a nice tangy flavor and tasted good with the ham.  It wasn’t really spicy at all and was generally a pretty simple dish, but not bad.  7.5/10

Stir Fried Mushrooms:

This was a variety of mushrooms stir fried with sawtooth herb, ham and peppers in a soy sauce.  I love mushrooms, so this was a good dish for me.  It tastes just like it sounds, but the flavor of the mushrooms pairs nicely with the saltiness from the soy sauce.  Overall, a solid dish and tastes great with some rice.  8/10

Lamb Meatballs Shao Kao:

They have a shao kao section which means BBQ in Chinese and in particular is referring to BBQ skewers.  In many places in China, particularly Northern China, skewers are a very popular dish.  I’m not sure how prevalent they are in Yunnan (or not), but given that these chefs went to Beijing and Shanghai to train, I’m not surprised they picked these to put on their menu.  These were lamb meatballs on skewers grilled and dusted with cumin and chili powder.  The meat is perfectly cooked and the cumin and chili powder give it really good flavor. These are definitely one of the “must order” type dishes here.  8.5/10

Spicy Pork Shao Kao:

This is the same as the previous except with really juicy and tender pieces of pork with the perfect amounts of tender fat.  These are really good as well and maybe the best dish here.  8.5/10

Crispy Whole Shrimp:

This is whole butterflied shrimp with salt, chili, lime and fried lime leaf.  The shrimp is really nicely cooked and is nicely tender.  The combination of salt, lime and chilli is a good one for this dish.  It’s a pretty simple dish, but it’s excellent.  Also, try eating the fried lime leaves, it sounds weird, but they’re tasty.  8.5/10

Steamed Market Fish:

I can’t remember what kind of fish it was, but it was a white fish filet served with seasonal mushrooms, Chinese chives in a Shaoxing wine sauce that I’m pretty sure had some soy sauce in it.  The sauce is similar to the sauce that the mushrooms were in.  The fish was light and clean tasting with no fishiness whatsoever.  The sauce was really nice and paired well with the fish.  Overall, this was a nice dish. 8/10

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice:

This was fried rice with Chinese sausage, seasonal mushrooms and Chinese greens.   This was pretty straight forward fried rice.  I love Chinese sausage so that was good; the rice had good flavor as well.  However, it didn’t have enough wok hay, which is the smoky flavor that you get from cooking food in a wok at a very high temperature and it also wasn’t fluffy enough.  That said overall it was a tasty dish. 7.75/10

Ma La Fried Chicken:

This is a special that is on the chalkboard.  However, they’ve offered it every time I’ve been here.  The chicken is crispy on the outside, but really nicely tender on the inside.  It’s also not greasy whatsoever.  The flavor is very ma meaning it has a lot of the numbing flavor and it is also la (spicy), but not crazy spicy.  I like this dish a lot and its definitely another “must order” type of dish.  8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this restaurant a lot and while it has its hits and misses, the hits are very good and it’s become one of my favorite restaurants in the Lower Eastside.  I highly recommend checking it out.

79 Clinton St (between Rivington & Delancey)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 253-2527

Mission Chinese – Finally Americanized Chinese Food Done Right (Part 1)

The term “Americanized Chinese” conjures up thoughts of cheap take-out food featuring gloppy sauces, unidentifiable fried meats and fun names like General Tso’s chicken and moo goo gai pan.  However, while many “foodies” may act like it’s a sacrilegious, for many it has a nostalgic quality about it and I have many friends who really like having this type of food from time to time.  That said you’d be hard pressed to find someone who really thinks of this type of food as cuisine that you would go out of your way for.  The problem is that mentality this has created this idea that this is actually what Chinese food is like (i.e. basically cheap, greasy food).  Besides the fact that saying “Chinese food” is kind of ridiculous because it’s literally like saying European food, it’s really created this stigma that people can’t get over and to a certain degree it’s created this self-perpetuating cycle because many restaurants think that’s what customers expect.

This has finally started to breakdown as people have become more educated on Chinese food via the media and as authentic Chinese food has become more readily available.  However, in terms of Americanized Chinese, I did not grow up eating Americanized Chinese food and it holds no nostalgic quality for me and most attempts to make fusion Chinese food have generally been awful in my experience.  So is it possible to make good Americanized Chinese food?  I think the answer is yes as places like Mission Chinese are making great food that is not authentic Chinese, so it truly is Americanized Chinese.

The restaurant is a tiny space on Orchard and looks like a take-out joint up front and opens up into a small room with fluorescent lights in back.  The wait times are ridiculous at 2-3 hours at peak times and so you constantly see lines out the door.  However, luckily I live close enough to get take-out from here and I just call in my order and pick it up 20-30 minutes later.  I haven’t actually eaten in the restaurant since I don’t want to wait, so it’s tough for me to comment on service.

Here’s what we got:

Thrice Cooked Bacon:

This is one of the signature dishes.  Its chunks of bacon stir fried with rice cakes, tofu skin, bitter melon, chili oil and fermented black bean.  It tastes exactly as it sounds and was surprisingly quite ma la (numbing and spicy).  I’d read that this place makes stuff quite ma la and it did live up to its reputation.  I liked the tofu skin and rice cakes as well; they provided a nice textural balance to the dish.  Also, as a word of warning this dish is quite salty although it’s salty in a good way.  Overall, this was a very good dish.  8.25/10

Kung Pao Pastrami:

This was another signature dish.  Its chunks of pastrami, which I believe they get from Katz’s, stir fried with peanuts, celery, potato and chili oil.  This was also quite ma la although more la (spicy).  It was also a bit of a salt bomb since pastrami itself is quite salty, but it tasted really good with rice.  It had decent wok hay, which is the smoky flavor you get from stir frying in a very hot wok.  Overall, this was another very good dish. 8.25/10

Stir Fried Sweet Peas:

These were individual peas, pickled ramps and chili oil.  I thought it was a really well prepared dish as I found the flavor of the sauce to be excellent and was also again nicely ma la.  However, I thought I was ordering pea pods and I don’t really like sweet peas, so while I thought it was a very good for a sweet pea dish, I don’t really sweet peas so it’s hard for me to be really constructive on this dish. If you like peas you should try this dish. 7.25/10

Fresh Tofu Poached In Soy Milk:

This was interesting, it was tofu in a bath of soy milk with spicy fermented bean paste (dou ban jiang).  The tofu was just regular tofu and the soy bean milk was quite milky in flavor probably more so than usual.  It was actually quite a light and refreshing dish, which was a nice contrast to the other dishes.  The dou ban jiang was salty and spicy and the fermented flavor went well with the dish.  Overall, I thought it was a reasonably tasty dish and a good compliment to the other dishes. 7.75/10

Mapo Tofu with Pork Shoulder:

This was the last signature dish and was probably the most normal tasting dish in that it tastes reasonably similar to an authentic version of mapo tofu.  It was quite ma la, oily and salty.  I’d say that it was probably a little more salty than normal, but not in a bad way.  The pork shoulder was different since you normally use ground pork, but I liked that a lot because the pork was pretty decent quality.  The other thing that was different is that they use a more firm tofu as opposed to a silky tofu.  I liked the tofu, but I prefer silky tofu.  Overall, this was very good and definitely worthy of being a signature dish.  8.25/10

Beijing Vinegar Peanuts:

These were roasted peanuts in the skin with smoked garlic, anise and rock sugar in black vinegar.  I was hoping these would be more similar to the ones at BaoHaus which I really like.  However, these were just so so, they just tasted like regular roast peanuts in some vinegar.  6.75/10

Stir Fried Pork Jowl and Radish:

Jowl are the cheek and are similar to pork belly or thick cut bacon.  This dish was jowl stir fried with fermented black bean, shiso and mint.  I could see where they were going with this dish, but this was one of the duds for me.  I felt like it was just a bunch of ingredients put together, but they didn’t meld well.  In particular I thought the shiso and mint were totally out of place with the black bean.  So while it was an okay dish, it wasn’t something I’d go out of my way to order.  6.75/10

Barley Rice:

This is just rice with barley in it, but for some reason I found it particularly tasty.  It was cooked very nicely, slightly al dente and the barley gave it a slight bit of flavor and it tasted great with the other food. 8/10

Overall, I enjoyed Mission Chinese a lot and I have a lot of respect for what Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint have done.

154 Orchard St (between Stanton & Rivington)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-8800

Great NY Noodletown – A True New York Chinatown Institution

Great NY Noodletown probably the most well known restaurant in Chinatown and generally is a pretty famous restaurant. It’s been around for a long time and was here far before I arrived in New York. The restaurant specializes in shao la (Cantonese BBQ), congee and various simple dishes. I’ve been meaning to write about this restaurant for a long time as I feel like my blog wouldn’t be very comprehensive if I didn’t report about this place.

The restaurant looks like most other Cantonese BBQ restaurants in NY; its run down, kind of dirty, has no décor to speak of and has BBQ meats hanging in the window. However, you will notice when you walk in that it’s noticeably more crowded than other restaurants. You often have to wait for a table on the weekends and there is usually a line of Chinese people getting BBQ meats or food to go. Another thing you will notice if you go late enough is that it’s a late night spot that lots of drunk people come to after partying.

Here’s what we got:

Pork and Thousand Year Egg Congee (Pi Dan Zhu Rou Zhou):

Congee is one thing that Manhattan’s Chinatown does very well. I actually find the congee here to be fairly similar to what you get in Hong Kong. Congee is rice porridge that you make by cooking rice with a lot of water until it turns into porridge. I was actually wondering how they came up with the name congee since it’s nothing like that Chinese word for congee (zhou in Mandarin or juk in Cantonese) and according to this Wikipedia article it’s actually derived from a Tamil word. Anyhow, the congee here is very good, it has good thick consistency and nice flavor although congee by itself is fairly plain, but I’ve heard some people may add some chicken stock or lard for flavor. I prefer to get it with pork and pi dan which is a black preserved egg, which has a creamy flavor if you’ve never had it before. Also, I prefer a decent amount of white pepper and a little chili oil in my congee for flavor as well (it’s always sitting on the table). Overall, it’s simple dish, but it’s done very well here. 8.5/10

Beef Congee (Niu Rou Zhou):

This is the same thing as the other congee except it has nicely silky tender beef in it. 8.5/10

Fried Crueller (You Tiao):

You tiao is a long fried donut that is a standard accompaniment with congee. You take it and dip it in the congee and it’s delicious. The you tiao here are decent, but they are pre-fried, so they’re not nearly as good as a freshly fried one. 7.25/10

The first picture has roast pork, soy sauce chicken and roast duck (from left to right) and the 2nd picture is roast pork. Here are reviews of each:

Soy Sauce Chicken (Jiang You Ji / See Yau Gai):

This is roast chicken covered in a dark soy sauce. This is one of my favorite shao la (Cantonese BBQ) dishes. The chicken is very tender and the skin is very flavorful and pairs really nicely with the soy sauce. The version here is quite good although it can be a little inconsistent. One thing to note is that Chinese people like their meat tender and I’ve found some Americans can find the texture of the skin to be too slippery and dislike it. Overall, they do a pretty decent job on this dish. 8/10

Roast Duck (Kao Ya):

This is roast duck that they pour a semi-sweet soy sauce marinade on it. It’s got good flavoring, but it can be inconsistent as sometimes I find it can be too dry sometimes as I like my duck to be really tender and juicy. 7/10 when it’s off, 7.75/10 when it’s on

Roast Pork (Cha Shao / Cha Siu):

Cha siu literally means “fork roast” in Chinese; the reason they call it that is because you skewer a long piece of pork and then roast it in a special cylinder shaped oven. The marinades can vary, but generally it contains honey, soy sauce, five spice powder, hoisin sauce and some people use this stuff called hong fu ru, which is a fermented bean curd. The flavors can be quite different ranging from very sweet to barely sweet at all. Also, the reason it’s red on the outside is because they use food coloring. Cha siu is literally one of my all time favorite foods when I was a kid I used to refuse to eat the other food and just wanted cha siu with rice. When done right it’s tender, juicy and has a great sweet flavor. Anyhow, the cha siu at Noodletown is extremely inconsistent. When it’s on its actually quite good, I’d say you might even consider it maybe an average type place in Hong Kong, but when it’s off its dry and not good at all. It’s totally luck of the draw as to whether it’s going to be off or on unfortunately. Also, just so you can see here’s a link to the best cha siu I’ve ever had in Hong Kong. 6.75/10 when it’s off, 8.25/10 when it’s on

Ribs (Pai Gu):

These are prepared in the same marinade they use for the cha siu, so it’s a bit sweet and salty at the same time. They are pretty good, not as tender as the cha siu, but reasonably tasty nonetheless. 7.5/10

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab (Jiao Yen Ruan Ke Xie):

This dish has become perhaps their most famous dish; I believe it was written up in the New York Times actually. It’s a soft shell crab battered and fried in a typical Cantonese style salt and pepper batter. It’s nicely crispy on the outside and the salt and pepper batter goes really well with the soft shell crab. It’s well deserving of its reputation and definitely a really tasty dish assuming you like soft shell crab. 8.5/10

Salt and Pepper Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu):

Same thing as the soft shell crab except with squid. This is a favorite Cantonese dish of mine so I almost always get it when I come here. South China Garden (RIP) had the best version, but now that they are closed I find Noodletown to have the best version in New York right now. The batter here is good, the only thing is that I find their squid isn’t quite as tender as I like, but overall still quite good. 8.25/10

Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce (Jie Lan):

This is a standard dish, which tastes exactly as it sounds and they do it well here. 8/10

Flowering Chives with Beef (Jiu Cai Hua Niu Rou):

This is another signature dish. Its flowering chives which I believe are called garlic chives in English stir fried with beef, carrots and ginger. It has decent “wok hay”, which means wok air basically and it’s the flavor you get from cooking food in a wok at a very hot temperature which effectively smokes the food. The beef is very silky and smooth and the garlic chives have a nice crunch to them and good flavor. I think this is one of the best dishes here. 8.25/10

Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup (Xia Ren Yun Tun Mian):

While wonton noodle soup sounds like it should be an easy dish to make it’s actually very difficult and I would say that it’s somewhat akin to Japanese ramen in that sense. In Hong Kong people take it pretty seriously and you have lots of restaurants that specialize in it and people are very particular about it. I think the hardest part to get right is broth and I’ve never really found anywhere in the US that can get it right unfortunately. That said within in New York, Noodletown probably is one of the better versions in NY. The noodles are pretty decent, but be aware that the noodles in wonton noodle soup are very springy and some people find them almost too springy. The wontons are decent, they’re reasonably well made although I think it’d be better if they used better quality shrimp. The broth is decent although it doesn’t have the complexity a really good version has and I also find it has a little too much alkaline flavor. It has an alkaline flavor because you need to use alkaline salts in order to make the noodles. Fyi, the best version is Shifu Chio in Flushing which you can see here and I’d also say Noodle Village does a decent version as well. 7.5/10

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (Yu Xiang Qie Zi):

I ordered this randomly once, it’s your typical eggplant in garlic sauce, but they definitely made it on the sweet side. The sauce wasn’t gloppy, but I thought it was too sweet. 6.75/10

Overall, it is an enjoyable restaurant and definitely one of the better restaurants in Chinatown although their BBQ meats are inconsistent.

28 1/2 Bowery
New York, NY 10013
(212) 349-0923

Mid-Autumn Festival – It’s Time For Mooncakes, A Taste Test of Local Mooncakes (Part 2)

Given that people thought the first post I wrote about mooncakes, which you can see here and the fact that I realized a lot more bakeries in make their own mooncakes than I originally thought, I decided to try a few other bakeries.

I’ll get right into it since I already wrote a lot about mooncakes in the first post.

Koi Palace:

Koi Palace is obviously not in New York, it’s in Daly City, California and it maybe the most of famous Chinese restaurant in the U.S. I happened to be in Napa for a wedding, so I decided to stop by for dim sum (which I’ll be writing about soon since I’ve been there twice this year) and also picked up a mooncake. They had three kinds: purple yam with birds nest, mixed nuts with smoked ham and white lotus. In hindsight, I should’ve bought all three, but I only bought the mixed nuts with smoked ham and white lotus. So this was definitely the best mooncake of the mooncakes I’ve tried in my mooncake tasting this year. The exterior was nice and not overly oily. The filling was nicely moist and the flavoring was quite good. You could really taste the smoked ham, which sounds weird since it’s a dessert, but it went quite well and the mixed nuts gave it a nice texture. Also, the egg yolk was not dry either, which was good. Overall, this was as good as any of the good brands from Asia. I’m not sure if you can get them delivered to you, but these are probably worth it. 8.25/10

 Double Crispy Bakery:

This is one of the bakeries that I frequent somewhat regularly and I’ve written about before. I tried their white lotus seed with one egg yolk. The exterior was fine, but I found the filling to be too dry and the egg yolk to be too dry as well. The flavoring was decent, but nothing special. Overall, I found it to be a bit disappointing. 6.75/10

 New Wing Wah Bakery:

This is a popular bakery in Chinatown that is much nicer than most bakeries in Chinatown. I actually haven’t really eaten much from this bakery, but I notice that it’s usually quite busy. They had a big sign advertising their mooncakes (it’s only in Chinese), so I decided stop by. These mooncakes weren’t actually made at the bakery, but I believe they were made exclusively for them by a bakery in China. These were pretty decent, they tasted very similar to Lung Moon’s, but the egg yolk was moister; the filling was nicely sweet with a good white lotus seed flavor. Overall, it was a pretty decent mooncake. 7.75/10

Overall, I don’t the bakeries in New York really stack up against the well known Asian brands, but it’s good to know that you can get at least a decent mooncake at places like Lung Moon and New Wing Wah.

Koi Palace: 365 Gellert Blvd Daly City, CA 94015; (650) 992-9000;
Double Crispy Bakery: 230 Grand St (between Elizabeth St & Bowery) New York, NY 10013; (212) 966-6929
New Wing Wah Bakery: 246 Grand St (between Bowery & Chrystie St) New York, NY 10002; (212) 941-1924

Mid-Autumn Festival – It’s Time For Mooncakes, A Taste Test of Local Mooncakes

Right now is a major Chinese holiday called Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋節); the actual date this year is September 30th, but it’s celebrated for a few weeks coming up to it. There is a long story associated with the holiday, but I’ll leave you to read this Wikipedia article to find out more about that. The reason you probably know about this holiday (assuming you’re not Chinese) is that people traditionally eat mooncakes at this time and right now if you go into any Chinese bakery or supermarket you will notice mooncakes everywhere.

Most mooncakes you will find here are imported from places such as Hong Kong, China and Malaysia, but some of the bakeries in Chinatown still make their own. I decided that it would be interesting to go try a few of the bakeries that are well known for their mooncakes, so that’s what this post is all about as I’d rather have a fresh mooncake than one that had to be imported.

Mooncakes are one of those things that you will tend to find that people either love or hate. I really like them, but I’ve had friends compare them to fruitcake in that it’s some weird traditional dessert people eat at a certain time of year, but no one likes them. Also, I’m writing about Cantonese style mooncakes, which will have a sweet filling generally made from lotus seed paste, red bean or winter melon paste. They can also contain salted duck egg yolks, melon seeds and mixed nuts and dried fruits. Other provinces in China have their own version of mooncakes, but I grew up eating Cantonese style mooncakes and that’s what’s readily available in NY, so that’s what I’m writing about. You can read this Wikipedia article about mooncakes to learn more about the various regional versions.

The three bakeries I tried were Kwong Wah, Lung Moon and New Golden Fung. I also bought one Hong Kong brand from Hong Kong Supermarket, which I thought was Wing Wah 榮華(a very famous HK brand), but it was the wrong brand. I was in a rush and saw the characters 榮華 in the name and just bought them, but I later realized that it wasn’t Wing Wah and was actually Grand Fortune. I should’ve known better since the box was so cheap at $15 for 4 mooncakes. Oh well, next time I’ll get the right brand. If you want to read more about Wing Wah, here’s a Wikipedia article.

For all the mooncake I tried, I got white lotus seed with one egg yolk.

Kwong Wah:

The filling was extremely smooth, which was weird because while it’s supposed to be smooth this was just too smooth; it was also quite heavy, oily, not that sweet and tasted strongly of the lotus seed. The egg yolk was a little dry and didn’t have great flavor. The crust was fairly thin and a bit on the oily side. Overall, I thought it was fairly mediocre and not worth the calories. 6/10

Lung Moon:

The filling’s texture was exactly how it should be; it was smooth, but still had some texture. The flavoring was quite good; a nice lotus seed flavor that was much better than Kwong Wah and also sweeter than Kwong Wah, but I’d say that it was “normal” sweetness for a mooncake. The egg yolk was a bit on dry side, but nicely salty which I really like against the sweetness of the mooncake. The crust was nice and not too oily or thick. Overall, I thought this was a surprisingly pretty respectable mooncake and worth trying. 7.75/10

New Golden Fung:

The filling had a similar consistency as Lung Moon, which was good. It was sweeter than Kwong Wah, but not as sweet as Lung Moon and the lotus seed flavor was by far the least pronounced of the three to the point where it was almost undetectable. The egg yolk was very salty and too dry. The crust was quite crusty, which while not normal I kind of liked. Overall, it was a decent mooncake, but unremarkable mooncake that I found to be a little too plain as the lotus seed flavor was non-existent. 7/10

Grand Fortune:

The filling was a quite dry with an odd chemical-y flavor that overpowered the lotus seed flavor. The egg yolk was very small and not salty enough. The crust was a little dry and rather thick. Overall, these were terrible, one of the worst brands I’ve ever tried, definitely do not buy these. 4/10

Overall, Lung Moon was definitely the best and the only one I would recommend trying. However, I still would default back to the Foh San brand of pandan flavored mooncakes that I’ve been buying for the last two years, which you can find at most Malaysian restaurants in NY.

Also, if you happen to have any recommendations I’d love to hear about them!

Kwong Wah: 210 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013; (212) 431-9575
Lung Moon: 81 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013; (212) 349-4945
Golden Fung Wong Bakery: 41 Mott St (between Pell St & Bayard St) , New York, NY 10013; (212) 267-4037
Hong Kong Supermarket: 157 Hester St, New York, NY 10013; (212) 966-4943

Danny Ng’s Place – In Search of a Replacement For South China Garden (Part 3)


I’ve tried two other places trying to find a good Manhattan-based replacement for South China Garden, which you can see here and here.  Although I liked both, I didn’t think either of them were replacements.  However, I found a decent replacement in Danny Ng’s.

Danny Ng is a somewhat well known Chinatown Cantonese chef / restaurant owner that used to run Danny Ng’s on Pell Street, which closed and then later re-opened at its current location on Bowery just south of Canal.  Amazing 66 and Sing Kee have some affiliation as well although I’m not sure if it’s actual ownership or the chefs just used to work at Danny Ng’s.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor in a weird space below the now defunct Golden Bridge, which was located above it on the 2nd floor.  It’s set back between two staircases and the restaurant has no windows, so keep your eyes peeled as it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking.  It’s typical Chinatown décor in that there isn’t much although it seems relatively clean.  The clientele was almost strictly Cantonese Chinatown local type families.   The servers were reasonably nice and seemed to speak Chinese and English, so I don’t think communication should be much of a problem.

Here’s what we got:

Pork Bone Soup:

This was given as complementary soup.  It was a simple soup made from boiling pork bones with seasonings, but it was executed nicely as you could tell they didn’t cut corners and the soup was boiled properly so that you could taste the pork flavor.  It was clean, light and not too salty.  7.75/10

Roast Chicken with Preserved Cabbage:

This was typical Cantonese style chicken although I believe it is fried and not roasted as the English name says.   The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was tender and juicy.  They topped it with minced preserved cabbage (mei cai 梅菜), which was very good, giving the chicken a nice salty and pickled flavor.  It all went together very well and I thought they did a really good job on this dish.  8.5/10

Sauteed String Bean with Minced Pork:

This was a standard version with string beans sautéed in oil with minced ground pork, but it ended up being the only weak dish of the night.  I prefer this dish with black bean in it, I also like my string beans a little more tender and thought it wasn’t dry enough and therefore didn’t get the good wok hay that you get when you make this dish well.  Wok hay is the somewhat smoky flavor you get from cooking in a wok at a very high temperature, which good Chinese chefs get. 6.75/10

Baked Lobster with Cheese:

This is a house specialty that sounds kind of weird, but I heard that it’s good from some friends and the waiter also recommended it.  Its fried pieces of lobster in a light cheese batter.  The result looks sort of ugly actually, but tastes pretty good.  The cheese is mild tasting and goes pretty well with the lobster which was nicely fresh.  It’s little hard to explain, but everyone thought it came out pretty decent.  8/10

Pan Fried Chilean Sea Bass:

I asked the waiter for a fish recommendation and he recommended this.  It’s a filet of Chilean sea bass that was breaded, fried and then topped with a thicker sweet soy sauce.  The outside was very crispy, but the meat was very tender.  The sauce on top was almost like a teriyaki sauce, but not quite as sweet or thick.  It was different than I was expecting, but everyone at the table thought this was quite good.  They also gave you French fries with the dish, which was kind of weird.  8.25/10

Peking Pork Chops:

This is an old school Cantonese classic that I really like.  It’s simply fried pork chops in a sweet and sour sauce.  The downfall of this dish is either the batter is too thick and oily or the sauce is too gloppy or too watery.  However, the version here was one of the better versions I’ve had in a while as it had none of the downfalls that I just mentioned and was really pretty addictive.  8.25/10

Steamed Dungeness Crab with Sticky Rice:

This is the dish that I always get at Imperial Palace / East Lake, which you can see here.  I was quite interested to try it since I barely see it in the city.  The flavor of the rice was pretty decent with a nice crab flavor.  However, the texture was definitely not as good as Imperial Palace / East Lake where it’s very al dente; it was mushier here.  Also, they didn’t put enough of the fried garlic and scallions on top so while it tasted good it wasn’t quite as flavorful as Imperial Palace / East Lake.  Overall though I thought it was tasty and worth ordering, but a notch below Imperial Palace / East Lake’s version.  7.75/10

Green Bean Soup:

This was complementary dessert soup.  It was the typical sweet green bean soup with tapioca in it.  It was pretty decent.  7.5/10

Overall, this was a very satisfying meal as the execution on the food is definitely a notch up from other restaurants in Chinatown and this is a good replacement for South China Garden.


52 Bowery, Ground Floor (between Bayard St & Canal St)

New York, NY 10013

(212) 608-0688

Hop Shing – In Search of a Replacement For South China Garden (Part 2)

Hop Shing was the second place I tried to in my search to find a replacement for South China Garden.  My first stop was Oriental Garden, which you can see here.

Hop Shing is an old restaurant located in Chatham Square that was originally known for its super cheap dim sum and good cha siu bao (pork buns) when I first came to NY.  They later changed the name to Chatham Restaurant, closed down for a while a few years ago, re-opened under new management I believe and reverted back to the old name of Hop Shing.  My friend’s dad knows the owners of the restaurant and told us that it’s good for dinner if you know what you’re ordering, so that’s how I decided to try it.

Despite closing down a few years ago the restaurant hasn’t changed much and looks just the same as it did many years ago.  It’s typical old school Chinatown decor meaning very little décor, bright white lights and run down.  There is counter up front where they have various dim sum in steamers and in back there are the tables and booths for sitting.  The clientele is mainly old Chinatown locals.  The staff is also super old school and some of them only really speak Cantonese; their Mandarin or English is pretty poor, but they are nice.

Here’s what we got:

Pork Bone Soup:

This was a complementary soup made from boiling pork bones.  It was light and had a nice pork flavor; it tasted good with some white pepper.  Overall, it was pretty good.  7.75/10

Steamed Shrimp:

This is an off the menu item; my friend called to special order it.  It’s a very simple preparation; you get fresh whole shrimp, steam them and dip them in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, green chili and green onions.  If it’s done right the shrimp should be sweet and complimented by the saltiness of the sauce.  The shrimp they used here are smaller than what you normally get, but they were fresh and sweet and the sauce was great with them.  Overall, this was quite good although I do like slightly bigger shrimp for this dish.  8/10

Lobster in Ginger and Scallion:

My friend told me the lobster dish to order here is the Sichuan style version which is spicy and has eggs and pork in it, but they were missing some of the ingredients that day, so we got the lobster with ginger and scallion.  The lobster was pretty good and was cooked pretty decent, but I prefer XO sauce as it has more flavor.  7.5/10

Oxtail in Pumpkin:

This was listed on the as a special on the wall in Chinese only.  Its oxtail cooked in a brown savory sauce and put inside of a pumpkin.  The oxtail was reasonably tender and the sauce was tasty, but I liked the pumpkin better as it was really tender and tasted good as a sweet contrast against the savory sauce.  Overall, it was decent, but not great.  7.5/10

Peking Steak:

This was similar to peking pork chops (jing du pai gu) except instead of fried pork chops, it’s with steak and onions.  I liked this as I love the sweet and sour sauce they use and the steak was nicely tender and flavorful.  Overall, this was one of the better dishes of the night.  8.25/10

Salt & Pepper Pork Chops:

These are pork chops deep fried in a salt and pepper batter and topped with fried garlic, diced green onions and green chili.  The batter was a bit on the heavy side although it wasn’t too oily and the saltiness of the batter was good.  The meat was nicely tender and it all tasted pretty good together and could’ve gotten a higher rating if the batter was a little lighter.  7.75/10

Fried Stuffed Tofu:

This is tofu that is stuffed with minced shrimp paste, battered, fried and served with the same sauce that was used in the steamed shrimp I posted on earlier.  The version here was quite good, the batter wasn’t oily or too thick and the shrimp paste was good.  It tasted great with the sauce.  8.25/10

Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves:

This is just snow pea leaves sautéed in oil and garlic.  This was standard version although I thought it was a little under seasoned.  7.25/10

Steamed Flounder:

The fish was cooked in the standard Cantonese preparation where you first steam the fish then pour hot oil and soy sauce over it before serving.  This type of preparation is one of my favorite ways to eat fish because it’s flavorful, but still allows you to taste the flavor of the meat.  It was pretty decent even though flounder is not one of my favorite types of fish.  The meat was tender and didn’t have any fishy or muddy flavor.  7.75/10

Beef Chow Fun:

I don’t usually order this dish as I only like getting it if it’s a place that really knows how to cook it, but one of my friends likes it, so we got an order.  It ended up being pretty decent as it wasn’t too oily and had decent wok hei, which is the smoky flavor you get from cooking in a wok at a high temperature.  If you’re craving this dish, the version here is not bad.  7.75/10

Stuffed Eggplant and Peppers in Black Bean Sauce:

This is purple eggplant and green peppers stuffed with a minced fish paste and the cooked in a black bean sauce.  I’ve always loved this dish and tastes just like it sounds.  The version here was quite good, not as good as SCG, but still good. 8/10

Overall, I enjoyed my meal here although I don’t think it was a replacement because the food is a little different than South China Garden as it’s somewhat less seafood centric and simpler food, but overall the food was consistently good and worth checking out.


9 Chatham Sq (between Mott St & Worth St)

New York, NY 10038

(212) 267-0220

Oriental Garden – In Search of a Replacement For South China Garden (Part 1)

I’ve been searching for a “go to” restaurant for family style Cantonese food in Manhattan as a replacement for South China Garden since it unfortunately closed.  In Flushing, I go to Imperial Palace / East Lake Seafood, which you can read about here.  However, since I live in Manhattan and can’t make it to Flushing as often as I would like, I’d like a place like South China Garden where I can get reliably decent Cantonese.

I started my search by trying Oriental Garden, which has been recommended to me several times.  It’s known for having fresh seafood and being a little more expensive than other restaurants in Chinatown.

The restaurant is a typical Chinese banquet hall type of setting although it is definitely a little cleaner and nicer than most other Chinatown restaurants.  The service was fine and they definitely speak English, so language is no issue.  The clientele was interesting as it was probably 80-85% non-Chinese on a Saturday night, which was sort of surprising.  Also, the prices around probably anywhere from 30-100% more expensive than other restaurants in Chinatown, but part of that is a function of them priding themselves on having fresh seafood.

Here’s what we got:

Steamed Scallops with Garlic and Vermicelli:

This was a special on the menu.  It was fresh scallops steamed in the shell topped with minced garlic, scallions and vermicelli noodles.  The scallops were fresh and sweet and the garlic and vermicelli complimented them well.  However, I had to take off some of the garlic because it was too strong otherwise, but besides that this was a well prepared dish.  8/10

Braised Tofu:

The waiter recommended this as a tofu dish.  It was a typical preparation where the tofu is fried and then braised in a light brown sauce.  The tofu was served with a spongy white vegetable that I couldn’t identify and some green vegetables.  The sauce wasn’t gloppy and was decent, but it was a little too light handed flavor wise and was a bit on the bland side.  7.25/10

Country Style Lobster:

This was also recommended by the waiter.  It was lobster sautéed with eggs, spring onions and pickled vegetables in a slightly dark salty sauce.  The lobster meat was nicely fresh and sweet, but I wasn’t crazy about the seasoning.  The eggs and pickled vegetables were good, but the overall seasoning seemed a little bit on the bland side even though it didn’t look bland at all.  7.25/10

Peking Pork Chops:

This was a typical preparation of fried pork chops in a sweet and sour sauce.  These were nicely fried and the meat was good.  The sauce was decent, but was a little too watery and didn’t stick to the pork chops well although it still tasted good. 7.5/10

Sautéed Snow Pea Leaves in Egg White Crab Meat Sauce:

I almost always get this dish and the version here was good.  I liked the sauce and the snow pea leaves were cooked nicely.  8/10

Fried Garlic Chicken:

This was fried chicken with minced garlic, scallions and soy sauce.  The version here is decent, but not great.  The skin wasn’t crispy enough and I thought the non-dark meat pieces weren’t quite as tender as they should be.  However, overall it was still tasty enough. 7.25/10

Sautéed Broccoli Stems:

This was a very simple preparation of broccoli stems with oil, salt and garlic.  It was pretty decent although not amazing.  7.25/10

Steamed Fish:

This was one of the things that I looking forward to here given their reputation for having fresh seafood.  I told the waiter I wanted a good ocean fish.  He picked this fish out, which I’m forgetting exactly what kind it was right now.  He did a good job; the fish was fresh and didn’t have any bad fishy flavor.  It was cooked in the typical Cantonese fashion where you steam the fish then pour hot oil and soy sauce over it very quickly.  Overall, this was quite good and probably the best dish of the night. 8.25/10

Overall, while the quality of their seafood was a little better than South China Garden the chef is less skilled in terms of how the food was prepared, seasoned, cooked etc.  So I’d say I prefer SCG over OG, but that said it is probably one of the better restaurants in Chinatown.  Also, as a side note, do not go here for dim sum, it’s awful.


14 Elizabeth Street (between Bayard St & Canal St)

New York, NY 10013

(212) 619-0085

Fu Zhou Cuisine – Excellent Dumplings and Good Fujian Snacks

As a preface to this post, here’s a short lesson on the demographics of Chinatown. China is a huge place and has many different provinces with dialects as unintelligible to each other as English and Spanish. Manhattan’s Chinatown primarily has two different types of Chinese people: Cantonese people from Guangdong province and Fujian people mainly the city of Fuzhou in the Fujian province. Originally Manhattan’s Chinatown like most other Chinatown’s in North America was almost solely Cantonese, but overtime it’s slowly being taken over by Fujian people, which is quite unique among Chinatowns. The heart of the Fujian part of Chinatown is on Eldridge Street and parts of East Broadway.

Fu Zhou Cuisine is a typical Fujian restaurant on Eldridge in that it is a hole-in-the-wall that serves cheap Fujian xiao chi (literally translates to “small eats”). These restaurants line Eldridge and East Broadway and they all serve fairly similar dishes such as fish balls, noodles and dumplings among other things.

I’ve tried several of these places and generally have been a little underwhelmed by them, but I happened to try Fu Zhou Cuisine recently and decided it was definitely worth noting. The restaurant has about zero décor as it’s just a bunch of tables with an open kitchen. While there isn’t much service since you order at the counter and then sit down, one of the ladies who runs the place is really nice. This is a pleasant surprise because at most of these Fujian places the people are very gruff and the atmosphere is sort of serious even if you speak Chinese.

They’ve totally translated the menu into English, so you will have no issues with language. I’ve included a picture of the menu, the one dish that is not translated says yu tang, which means fish soup.

Here’s what we got:

Wheat Noodles with Peanut Sauce (Ban Mian): This is a very typical Fujian xiao chi dish. It’s a simple dish consisting of peanut sauce, soy sauce and diced scallions over wheat noodles. It tastes similar to sesame noodles you may have tried before. It’s a pretty tasty dish assuming you like peanut sauce. 7.5/10

Dumplings (Shui Jiao): This is why most people come here. These are steamed dumplings stuffed with pork and scallions and served with a semi sweet chili soy sauce. These are made very well, the skins are excellent not too thick or thin and the pork and scallion stuffing is quite flavorful and I like the sweet sauce they give you. These are some of the best dumplings in Chinatown. 8.5/10

Fish Balls (Yu Wan): Fujian fishballs are unique in that they stuff them with pork. The version here is pretty decent as they didn’t have the commercial rubbery texture that you get from factory made fish balls. However, the flavor is a little more bland than really good fishballs, which I think is a function of how Fujian fishballs are made rather than Fu Zhou Cuisine’s fishballs being lesser quality. Overall, these are pretty decent, but not amazing. 7.25/10

Wonton Soup (Bian Rou): The Fujian refer to these very thin delicate wontons as bian rou, which means “flat meat” in Chinese. It’s wontons with very thin skins in a light soup. There is a Fujian dish where they pound pork until it becomes very thin and use that as the wonton wrappers and I’m honestly not sure if these are them or not as the wrappers are very delicate and the name would suggest they are, but I should ask them next time. Anyhow, the wontons here are really good, they really delicate and tasty, but the soup has been inconsistent as it can be too salty. Overall, it’s worth trying if you’re there. 7.75/10 (8.5/10 for wontons, 7.25/10 for the soup, could’ve been a higher rating if the soup was a little less salty)

Overall, this is a place worth checking out if you happen to be in Chinatown and want some dumplings as these are definitely some of the best dumplings in Chinatown.

118 Eldridge St (between Grand St & Broome St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-2532

Yao’s Dragon Beard Candy – A Hard to Find Chinese Candy in Chinatown


Dragon beard candy is a fairly rare Chinese candy that surprisingly is found here in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  A while back I’d seen this cart around a couple of times, but I figured that it went out of business because I only saw it a few times and it’s not really a Cantonese or Fujian candy, so I figured it just never got any traction.  However, that seems to not be the case as it seems to be permanently located in a fish and vegetable market on Grand between Chrystie and Bowery.

Dragon Beard Candy:

Dragon beard candy looks like a bunch of white cocoons.  Typically, it’s one of those things that I’ve found to be more of a novelty than something I craved, but I can respect someone who knows how to make it since I think it’s sort of a pain to make and has a very short shelf life. It’s made up of sugar, maltose syrup, ground peanuts and coconut.  The sugar and maltose syrup is melted and pulled into fine strands, which is sort of similar to cotton candy, but finer.  The interior is filled with a mixture of ground peanuts and coconut shavings.  I found Yao’s version to be quite good, actually better than most other versions I’ve had.  The strands are delicate and very fine and I liked the ground mixture in the inside.  I enjoyed them enough to buy them more than once.  Here’s a Wikipedia article about them.  Overall, it’s pretty good and definitely worth a try. 8/10

If you’re in Chinatown, I’d suggest dropping in and giving it a try as it’s definitely not very easy to find even in Asia and it’s pretty tasty.


Grand Street between Chrystie and Bowery (located inside the market on the corner of Grand and Chrystie)

New York, NY

Wah Fung #1 Fast Food – Where The Locals Get Their Shao La (Cantonese BBQ)

There are a few places in Chinatown that I would classify as “local restaurants” because they are filled with mainly Chinatown locals (meaning they are Chinese and are from Chinatown) and they are usually pretty good.  Places like Poon Kee, Yuen Yuen and South China Garden fall into this genre.  Wah Fung #1 Fast Food is also one of these places and although I’ve been there before for some reason I’ve never written about.  So last weekend while I was picking up some food for lunch, I decided that I needed to write about Wah Fung.

Wah Fung specializes in shao la, which is Cantonese style BBQ. I believe it originally started as a street cart many years ago, but became so popular that they eventually opened up a small restaurant.  Actually, “restaurant” is probably the wrong word because it’s more like a take-out stand that happens to be inside.

When you walk inside the area by the window is occupied by the owner who stands with a cutting board chopping meat.  He offers 4 types of meats: roast pork (cha shao / cha siu), soy sauce chicken (jiang you ji / see yau gai), roast duck (kao ya) and roast pig (huo rou / siu yuk).  Further inside there is a woman (who I believe maybe his wife) who has a cart that has steamed rice rolls (chang fen / cheung fan), fish balls (yu dan) and fried thin rice noodle (chao mi fen).  There is also one very small table with two seats, but that is it.  The place is tiny and can barely fit that constant amount of people waiting for food, so there is usually a line forming outside.

Combination Plate With Sauteed Cabbage Over Rice:

I ordered the combo platter with 3 meats and because there were so many meats in this platter I’m going to break this down meat by meat.  The sautéed cabbage while typical was quite tasty and paired nicely with the meat and rice. This platter is also ridiculously cheap at $4.50 and it could easily feed two people.

Roast Pork (Cha Shao / Cha Siu):

Wah Fung is known for their cha siuCha siu is a type of Cantonese roast pork.  Cha siu literally means “fork roast”, the reason being is that pieces of pork are skewered on long forks and then roasted in an oven.  The meat is seasoned in honey, five spice, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and red fermented bean curd.  Also, red food coloring gives it its distinctive red coloring on the outside.  This is literally one of my favorite foods ever, when I was a kid I used to just eat plates of this with rice, wouldn’t eat any of the rest of the food my family cooked and was totally happy.  Normally, you see this hanging in windows, but at Wah Fung its sitting is metal steam plates filled with sauce.  The marinade sauce here is excellent; it’s sweet, salty and generally good tasting.  The meat is tasty although it should be a bit more tender.  In Hong Kong, when you have really good cha siu, its melt in your mouth tender.  While it’s tender at Wah Fung, it’s not as nearly tender as it should be.  Although overall it is quite tasty and I think I might ask him to pour even more sauce on it next time.  8/10 (7.75/10 for the meat, 8.25/10 for the marinade)

Roast Duck (Kao Ya):

The meat was nicely flavorful, but skin wasn’t as crispy as I prefer.  Also, it was a little leaner than I prefer, I like my duck a little more on the fatty side.  Overall, it tasted good, but wasn’t amazing.  7.75/10

Soy Sauce Chicken (Jiang You Ji / See Yau Gai):

The chicken was a little disappointing.  It had good flavor, but was too dry.  There are better soy sauce chickens in Chinatown. 7.25/10

Fish Balls on Steamed Rice Rolls (Yu Dan Chang Fen):

The fish balls were definitely homemade and had good flavor and texture.  The chang fen (steamed rice crepe) was nicely cooked and tender.  The sesame sauce and soy sauce were also quite good. I should’ve asked them to put on some hot sauce, but overall this was quite good and pretty comparable to Poon Kee, which has been my gold standard in Chinatown. 8/10

Overall, this place is solidly good and it has to be one of the cheapest places in Manhattan.  Their roast pig (huo rou) also looked good, so I’ll be back to try that soon.


79 Chrystie St (between Canal St & Hester St)

New York, NY 10002

(212) 925-5175

Bread Talk – Serious Eats’ Favorite Egg Custard, Is It Actually The Best?

A Serious Eats article about the best dan ta (egg custard tart) in Chinatown was recently brought to my attention on (you can see both articles here and here).  They went the remarkable mission of trying 43 bakeries and proclaimed that Bread Talk’s dan ta are the best in Chinatown followed by Golden Manna and Taipan.

Bread Talk is a fairly unknown bakery located in the very southern most part of Chinatown far from the main bustling part of Chinatown.  I’ve seen it before, but honestly never thought about trying it.  I decided that I had try it as soon as possible since it’s fairly rare for me to hear about something totally new in Chinatown. The bakery is pretty new looking and is a long narrow room with the display cases on the right and seating in the back with Cantonese TV playing in the background.  It was actually sort of nice by Chinatown standards and looked very clean.  They had signs advertising their 2 for 1 dan ta and ji wei bao (cocktail buns).  They also had big signs advertising a long list of steamed bao (buns) with various sweet fillings.  I’m not sure if they speak English or not (one yelper claims they don’t), but you should fine since everything is in English and displayed.

Here’s what I tried:

Egg Custard Tart (Dan Ta):

Bread Talk only seems to offer the regular dan ta here not the Portuguese style ones (burnt on top).  The egg tarts look very pretty, the crusts look very symmetric and the egg custard is a nice light yellow.  The crust was excellent; it was nicely buttery, crispy and flaky.  The custard was pretty good, it wasn’t too sweet and when I heated it up it had nice consistency, but it lacked “egginess” and I prefer mine to be egg-y.  Overall, I’d say I prefer Ka Wah’s because I like their filling better which you can see here (word of advice, go in the morning when they are fresh as they are quite good in morning) or Double Crispy for Portuguese style egg tarts, which you can see here.  With that said this is definitely one of the better dan ta in Chinatown and is worth trying. 8/10 (8.25/10 for the crust, 7.5/10 for the filling)

Cocktail Bun (Ji Wei Bao / Gai Mei Bao):

Cocktail buns are one of my favorite Hong Kong pastries.  Their Chinese name literally means chicken tail bun hence the name cocktail bun.  A cocktail bun is a soft baked bun filled with a sweet, salty and buttery shredded coconut filling.  They were supposedly created in HK back in the 50s when people were trying not to waste ingredients so they created these.  Quality can vary pretty heavily with good ones being awesome and bad ones being pretty bad since they can be way too sweet, buttery, dense etc.  Unfortunately, Bread Talk’s version fell pretty flat.  The bread was just okay; I found it to be too dense.  But the real downfall was the filling was way too buttery and didn’t have enough coconut in it. The version at Mei Li Wah is light years better, so I’d recommend trying them there and don’t waste your calories on them here. 6.5/10

Overall, the dan ta are worth trying and a lot of their steamed buns looked pretty good, so I’ll be back to try some more stuff.


47 Catherine St

New York, NY 10002

Double Crispy Bakery – Solid Portuguese Style Egg Tarts and Wife Cakes in Chinatown

This is a short post on Double Crispy Bakery, which is a bakery that I found a few months ago by accident walking around Chinatown.  It doesn’t look any different or offer anything particularly different than other Chinatown bakeries.  It’s fairly non-descript with a bunch of shelves and display cases showing off their various Chinese pastries, cakes etc.  However, I noticed to the left of the cash register a display case showing of their dan ta (egg custards) and lao po bing (wife cake).  They looked particularly fresh and good so I gave them a try and I’m glad I did.

Here’s what I get:

Dan Ta (Egg Custard Tart):

Ka Wah has been my go to bakery in Chinatown for dan ta, but I’ll have to say this place maybe better than Ka Wah.  They offer three different types of dan ta: Portuguese / Macau style, regular and egg white.  The ones to get here are the Portuguese / Macau style.  These have always been my favorite type of dan ta.  They have the exact same crust and egg custard filling as the regular ones you see, but they are burnt on top, so they have a slight caramelized flavor to them.  The ones here were surprisingly good, the crust was nicely flaky and the custard was warm, fresh and egg-y.  They weren’t quite as burnt on top as I like them, but overall I liked them quite a bit.  I definitely recommend trying these and if they aren’t already warm when you get them then take them home and put them in the microwave because there is a world of difference between a warm dan ta and a room temperature one (fyi every time I’ve got gone they have been warm).  8.25/10

Lao Po Bing (Wife Cake):

Lao po bing is a thin disc shaped pastry that has a flaky and slightly buttery exterior and a filling made of sweet dong gua (winter melon).  Normally, they are fairly thin and pretty big and the interior is usually slightly gooey, but the version here is a little different.  The crust is a thicker and flaky crust, but the actual pastry is quite small.  The filling isn’t gooey at all, it’s a little more dense and isn’t quite as sweet as normal.  They also use more salt in the crust, so there is a slight saltiness to it.  I think they’re delicious and I definitely recommend trying them out.  8/10

This is a solid bakery and it’s definitely worth checking out for the items I listed above.


230 Grand St (between Elizabeth St & Bowery)

New York, NY 10013

(212) 966-6929

Hunan Manor – Excellent Hunan Food in Manhattan and Maybe One of the Best Chinese Restaurants in the New York

Hunan Manor is owned by the same family that owns the much-heralded Hunan House Restaurant in Flushing.   As the name would suggest they specialize in Hunan cuisine.  Hunan is a province in China that’s known for its’ spicy food.  Its’ cuisine is quite popular in China and probably one of the most well known cuisines.  However, despite the fact that you often see Hunan listed on the menus of various Americanized Chinese food places, actual Hunan food is not common in the US.

While it’s tempting to make the analogy that Hunan food is very similar to Sichuan food because it is spicy, I find their food to be quite a bit different.  Their food while spicy (“la”) doesn’t have the “ma”, which is the numbing quality that is synonymous with Sichuan food due to the use of Sichuan peppercorns.  I also find their food to be on the salty side (in a good way) and there tends to be a lot of cured meats compared to other Chinese cuisines.  It is definitely one of my favorite styles of Chinese cooking.

The restaurant is located in the area that seems to be the new mecca for Sichuan cuisines in Manhattan (Murray Hill / Kip’s Bay / Koreatown area) with restaurants such as Szechuan Gourmet, Lan Sheng, Mapo Tofu, Great Sichuan and Grand Sichuan all in this area.

The restaurant is fairly simple with white walls, dark wood furnishings and various Chinese tapestries hanging on the walls.  The service is nice and reasonably fast.  The owners are very nice and everyone can speak English, however you won’t hear much English as most of the clientele is mainland Chinese.

Here’s what we got:

Sliced Fish with Pickle Cabbage Soup:

This was a soup that had sliced white fish with pickled vegetables in it. I was expecting something much heavier in seasoning and flavor, but instead it was quite light.  The broth was a nice fish stock, the fish was fresh and cooked perfectly and the pickled vegetables added a really nice dimension to the soup with the slightly sour flavor.  This was excellent. 8.25/10

Sour String Bean Noodles in Soup:

This was a rice noodle soup dish with a topping that consisted of diced sour string beans, chopped scallions, ginger, red chili and minced pork.  The soup broth was slightly spicy and sour.  The topping was tasty with sourness from the sour string beans, heat from the chili and saltiness from the other toppings.  The rice noodles were decent, but a bit overcooked.  Overall, it was a good dish.  7.75/10 (7.25/10 for noodles, 8.25/10 for everything else)

Cold Cucumber Salad:

This was a simple dish with cold diced cucumbers, minced garlic and red chili in a light sweet soy sauce.  I’m a big fan of this style of cold cucumber and they did a nice job here. 8.25/10

Pumpkin Pancake:

This was mashed pumpkin that had been breaded in a panko type crust.  The pumpkin was perfectly mashed and sweet and the outside was nicely crispy.  The only issue was it was a little too oily, if it has been less oily this would’ve gone from good to excellent.  7.75/10

Steamed Eggplant with Salty Duck Egg:

This was steamed purple eggplant in a light slightly sweet soy sauce topped with minced pork, ground up salted duck yolk, diced scallions and red chili.  While it looked heavy it was actually quite light.  The eggplant was very tender from being steamed and the slight sweetness of the sauce and the saltiness of the toppings all came together very nicely.  This was a very good dish. 8.75/10

Braised Sliced Beef with Chili Sauce:

This was sliced braised beef topped with diced scallions and red chilis in a spicy black bean sauce.  The beef was perfectly tender and the sauce was really good, it was salty from the black beans and spicy from the chili oil.  The toppings were salty, but in a really good way and tasted wonderful with white rice. 8.5/10

Braised Winter Melon:

This dish was “hong shao” braised winter melon.  “Hong shao” preparation involves braising meat or vegetables in a combo of ginger, garlic, chilis, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine and other spices.  This was a strange preparation for me because growing up I always had winter melon either in soup or as part of a dessert, so having it as a braised dish was something quite new to me.  The winder melon was cut up into cubes and was very tender. The sauce was very nice, slightly sweet and slightly spicy.  I enjoyed this dish a lot. 8.25/10

Sautéed Preserved Beef with White Chili:

This was one of the cured meat dishes I wrote about earlier in the post that I’ve found to be common in Hunan cuisine.  The meat was good; it was salty and dry from being cured, but dry in a good way.  It had interesting dried white chili topped on it, I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten these before.  I liked it, but I didn’t think the white chilis did much for the dish although overall it was good.  7.75/10

Sautéed Pork Stomach with Smoked Bamboo:

I surprised everyone by ordering this and not telling them what it was, but they all ended up liking it a lot though.  This was sliced pork stomach with slices of bamboo shoots with chilis and scallions.  It was actually really hard to tell which pieces were stomach versus which were bamboo until you bit into them.  The stomach was very tender and the bamboo was slightly crunchy and the sauce was a simple soy sauce.  While it was a simple dish, it was really good especially with some rice.  8.5/10

Chairman Mao`s Red-Braised Pork:

This was another “hong shao” dish except this one was with pork belly.  The reason it’s called Chairman Mao’s is because Mao was from Hunan and supposedly this was one of his favorite dishes.  This was really nice, the sauce was great and the pork belly was nicely tender.  I will say it wasn’t quite as flavorful as a really good pork belly dish, but nonetheless this was still quite good.  8.25/10

Cumin Flavored Beef on Toothpicks:

This was beef on toothpicks that had been seasoned with cumin and it was topped with a green vegetable I couldn’t identify, chilis and scallions.  It is very different than other preparations I’ve had; it was much lighter in cumin flavor and it was actually slightly sweet.  The meat was really tender and I liked the flavoring a lot.  This was definitely a pleasant surprise.  8.5/10

Steamed Fish Head with Chopped Chiles:

This was a big steamed fish head topped with chilis and scallions in a slightly spicy soy sauce.  I tried this dish at the Flushing branch as well and I actually liked it better here.  The sauce was quite nice as were the toppings.  The fish was clean tasting although there wasn’t that much meat and the meat wasn’t quite as tender as I’d like.  It was a good, but not great dish. 7.75/10

Hunan Style Blue Crab:

This was blue crabs cooked in a slightly spicy sauce.  The shells were so soft that I actually just ate the shell in most cases.  I tried this dish twice and one of the times the shells had a lot of crab roe which was a nice touch.  This was a good dish. 8/10

Green Bean Soup:

This was given to us on the house.  Unfortunately it wasn’t very good; it was too watery and not sweet enough. 6.25/10

Sesame Sticky Rice Ball Soup:

This was tang yuan which are sticky rice dough balls filled with black sesame paste in a soup with egg white and fermented rice.  Tang yuan is one of my favorite Chinese desserts and I thought this was excellent.  It is a very Chinese style dessert, so I’m not sure if everyone will enjoy this as much as I do, but if you like Chinese desserts you will like this. 8.5/10

Overall, I’ve been very impressed by the level of cooking that is going on at Hunan Manor and this is a “must try” type of restaurant as it’s definitely a notch above most Chinese restaurants in NY.  I highly recommend coming here.

339 Lexington Ave (between 39th St & 40th St)
New York, NY 10016
(212) 682-2883

Foh San Mooncakes at Overseas Taste Restaurant (formerly Overseas Asian Restaurant) – My Brand of Choice for Mooncakes


This is a quick post about my mooncake of choice this Mid-Autumn Festival (the Chinese holiday which you are supposed to eat mooncakes).  I actually wrote about this brand briefly last year when I wrote about Overseas Taste Restaurant, which you can see here.

However, this time I took pictures, so people could see what they look like.  To recap, Foh San (富山茶楼) is a famous dim sum restaurant and mooncake bakery in Ipoh, Malaysia.  Ipoh is a mainly Chinese city in Malaysia that is known for having very good Chinese food.  I remember when I lived in Singapore people used to tell me I should go to Ipoh because the food there was amazing.  Unfortunately, I never made it up there although I will one day. Interestingly, I got in a discussion with klyeoh on chowhound who actually went to Foh San for dim sum because of our conversation, which was pretty cool and you can see it here and here.

Anyhow, last year I found Foh San mooncakes at several Malaysian restaurants in NY, but I’ve been buying mine at Overseas since it’s easy to get to and it’s in the city.

Imperial Jade Mooncakes:

Foh San has several different flavors, but I prefer the “Imperial Jade” (光輝翠月).  One of the main differences between these mooncakes and other mooncakes you’ll find in Chinatown is that the lotus paste is mixed with coconut milk and pandan leaves and there are crunchy bits of melon seeds in there as well.  I really like the flavor a lot better than the traditional version.  Also, I prefer to get one egg yolk as the saltiness of the egg yolk contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the lotus paste.  These are excellent.  8.5/10

If you’re buying mooncakes this year I’d highly recommend trying this brand.

49 Canal St (bet Ludlow St & Orchard St)
New York City, NY 10002
(212) 925-3233

LTO (Limited Time Only) – Dinner by Chef Eddie Huang

LTO is a “pop up” restaurant showcasing a specific chefs’ tasting menu in the space that used to be Broadway East (B East).  I got an email from the LTO listserv and I was excited to see Eddie Huang as I obviously love Chinese and Chinese influenced food.

The restaurant looks exactly the same as it used to.  It’s a sort of cavern-esk room with exposed white brick walls with red booths and wooden tables.  I generally liked the décor.  Although it was probably only 25% full of customers, so it felt a bit empty.

The service was a little disjointed as we had multiple servers and it was hard to get the waiters attention.  The servers were nice though.

Anyhow onto the food:

Fried Oyster Po Boy:

This was the typical Baohaus gua bao type of thing with a steamed bun, fried oysters, pickled aikon and carrot and a pate spread.  I thought this was excellent, the oysters were perfectly fried, the pate spread was a nice addition and the pickled daikon really went with well with it. I hope he introduces this to Baohaus because these were really good. 8.75/10

Cumin Spiced Beef Skewers with Scallions:

This was simply grilled beef skewers flavored with cumin and there was also a side of grilled scallions.  I wasn’t crazy about this, the beef was a little overcooked and the seasoning was a bit bland.  I did like the scallions though. 6.5/10

Icebox Duck Wings:

This was duck wings braised in soy sauce, five spice and maybe a few other things, in Chinese they call this preparation lu wei.  Duck wings don’t have much meat on them, so they are mainly skin.  I’m generally a big fan of lu wei meats and I thought it was pretty decent, but it didn’t blow me away.  7.5/10

Peanuts in Black Vinegar:

These are roasted peanuts in black vinegar with chopped cilantro.  These were great.  The combination of flavors is self explanatory, but all go really well with each other. 8.25/10

137 Fried Gator:

This was gator tail that was battered and fried.  The batter was seasoned with cinnamon.  I wasn’t crazy about this, the cinnamon flavored batter wasn’t my thing and the meat was decent, but I was hoping it would be more tender than it was. 6.75/10

Sesame Liang Pi Salad:

This was a take on Xian Famous Foods signature dish using cold wheat noodles in a spicy sesame sauce.  I thought this was pretty weak though, nowhere near as good as the version at Xian. It wasn’t very spicy and the sauce wasn’t all that flavorful. 6.5/10

FOB Chicken:

This was a roast chicken served with a slightly sweet chili sauce.  This was really good, this was probably one of the best roast chickens I’ve had in a really long time.  The skin was nicely crispy, but not overcooked and the meat was very tender even the chicken breast was really tender.  The sauce went well with the chicken.  I need to give Eddie Huang some serious credit for this, I really liked this. 8.75/10

Salt Cod and Chinese Broccoli Fried Rice:

This was served with the FOB chicken.  I really like salted fish in my fried rice, so I thought this was excellent.  It was a bit oily, but in a good way.  This accompanied the FOB chicken very well. 8/10

DMV Steamed Blue Crab:

This was two different types of blue crab; one was Maryland blue crab seasoned with Old Bay spice and the other was steamed Shanghai blue crab served with a scallion and ginger oil sauce.   Both were excellent, the Maryland blue crab tasted just like the typical Maryland blue crab preparation and the Shanghai blue crab was really nice with good sweet meat, I didn’t even think it needed the scallion and ginger oil sauce although it did go well with it.  This was a big hit at the table. 8.25/10

Hunan Corn Kernels with Leeks and Ham Hock:

This was corn kernels with smoked ham hock and leeks seasoned with a spicy seasoning.  I really like this type of preparation and this version was quite good.  The smoky saltiness of the ham hocks really goes very nicely with the sweetness of the corn and the spicy seasoning brings it all together.  I’m a fan of this dish.  8/10

Hush Puppies:

This was corn hush puppies served with a sweet chili sauce.  They were nicely fried and the chili sauce went well with them. I liked this dish. 7.75/.10



Soy Caramel Bread Pudding a la Mode:

This was exactly was it sounds like, but surprisingly the ice cream was ginger flavored although it was pretty mild and it had a nice salty caramel sauce on it.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this delicious dessert as it tasted a lot better than it sounded. 8/10

Overall, there were some hits and misses, but the dishes that were good were great.  I enjoyed the meal quite a bit and some of the dishes like the FOB chicken really showcased his skills nicely.  It was of a bit of an overkill from a pure quantity standpoint (we were so full when we left), but whatever that’s a good problem to have and that happens at pretty much every tasting menu.  I’d definitely recommend trying this out if Eddie Huang decides to do another “pop up” type of deal.

171 East Broadway (between Pike St & Rutgers St)
Manhattan, NY 10002

New Chiu Chow (Formerly New Chao Chow) – Another Taste of Chao Zhou Cuisine


In my post on Bo Ky, I mentioned that there are only 3 places in NYC that serve Teo Chew food (潮州, Chao Zhou, Chiu Chow) cuisine and New Chiu Chow is one of them.  I gave some background on Chiu Chow cuisine in my Bo Ky post which you can see here.

I also mentioned that I generally like New Chiu Chow a little better than I like Bo Ky although both are pretty decent.  That is generally still true although I think New Chiu Chow changed chefs as the food was a little different on my latest visit.  Although this was the first time I’ve ever eaten there on a Sunday night so it’s possible it’s just a different chef on Sunday nights.  I plan on going back soon to see if that is the case or not.

The restaurant is typical Chinatown décor that is there is no décor to speak of.  The waiters are reasonably nice, but the service is standard brisk Chinatown service.  They do speak English and the menu is in English so you will have no problems if you don’t speak Chinese.  I believe one or two of the older waiters are Teo Chew, but most of the waiters are Cantonese.  They have Vietnamese writing all over the menu and the restaurant, so it’s possible the original owners / waiters are Teo Chew people from Vietnam like Bo Ky.

Anyhow, on to the food:

Chili Oil:

Formerly, I would’ve said that New Chiu Chow had the best chili oil in Chinatown, but it seems to have changed a little bit and I’d actually give the edge to Bo Ky now as there isn’t as much shrimp paste in it, so it was a little less flavorful although still quite good. 7.75/10

Chao Chow Style Duck (Chao Zhou Lu Shui Ya):

As mentioned in my Bo Ky post this is a type of soy sauce braised duck.  The meat is tender and has great flavor from the braising, the skin is delicious and the vinegar sauce they give you really cuts through the fat nicely.  This is my favorite dish here and is definitely better than Bo Ky’s version. 8.25/10

Wonton Noodle Soup (Chao Zhou Yun Dun Mian):

New Chiu Chow makes a decent wonton noodle soup, it’s not going to blow your mind away, but it’s certainly most of the places in Chinatown.  7.25/10

Combination Rice Stick Soup On The Side:

This is mee pok ta / bak chor mee, which I talked about in my Bo Ky post.  The version at New Chiu Chow is a little better than Bo Ky although it’s not as good as before.  The noodles were good, nice and al dente.  All of the ingredients tasted fresh and good (pork, shrimp, liver, squid, scallions, fried onions and bean sprouts); I think they are a little better than Bo Ky.  The reason I say that it was not as good as before is that the soup broth used to be really fragrant and nice and this time it wasn’t as fragrant and was a little too salty although still good overall.  7.75/10

Chao Fried Prawn Balls Shrimp (Chao Zhou Xia Su):

This is another Chao Zhou dish that as far as I know you can only get at New Chiu Chow.  It’s called hae chor in Teo Chew.  For some reason their version went from mediocre to being pretty decent.  For Taiwanese people, it will remind you of a chicken roll (ji juan雞卷).  It is pork and shrimp paste, seasoned with five spice powder, wrapped and rolled in a beancurd skin and deep-fried.  It is served with a sweet orange sauce that is reminiscent of duck sauce you find out in take-out Chinese restaurants. The outside was nice and crispy, but not oily and the inside was tender and flavorful.  I don’t know why, but these just got a lot better than what I had here in the past. 8/10

Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce:

This was a pretty standard rendition, but it was good.  The vegetables were cooked perfectly and the oyster sauce tasted good with it. 7.5/10

Overall, I still enjoy New Chiu Chow even though the food seems to have changed a bit (some for the better, some for the worst).  I’d recommend trying out New Chiu Chow to get a taste of a cuisine that is rare to find in NY.

111 Mott St
New York, NY 10079
(212) 226-2590

Poon Kee – Delicious Hong Kong Snacks in Chinatown

Poon Kee is a tiny restaurant located on Monroe Street in the southern outskirts of Chinatown far away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of Chinatown. It specializes in Hong Kong style snacks such as steamed rice noodles and fish balls. I found it by accident walking around Chinatown when I noticed a long line coming out of Poon Kee I figured it must be good if there was a long line coming out of some random place that is far from the main part of Chinatown.

The restaurant has about 3 stools to sit on and most of their business is take out. There is no decor to speak of and there is a fairly consistent line coming out of the place with basically 100% Chinatown locals. The place reminds me of the type of old school places you might find in Mong Kok in Hong Kong, which is a busy district in Hong Kong that has places like this. I recommend coming here before 1pm because if you don’t they start to run out of their most popular dishes. The ladies are pretty nice actually, but they’re usually so busy that they don’t have much time to talk.

On to the food:


This is honeycomb tripe and radishes stewed in a broth that has star anise (ba jiao) and five spice (wu xiang fen). The tripe is very clean tasting and has a good chewy, but soft texture. The radish is very tender and soft. The broth they stew it in gives it a great flavor and they top it with a sriracha sauce which definitely kicks it up a notch. This was really good, it tastes very similar to the type of thing you would get in Hong Kong. Assuming you like tripe, I highly recommend this. 8/10

Fish Balls:

I’m pretty sure these are homemade because they have the good texture that you don’t get when you have frozen processed fish balls. Fish balls in and of themselves are fairly plain tasting, but with the sauces they are very flavorful. They top them with sesame sauce, a light sweet soy sauce, sriracha sauce, a little oil and sesame seeds. These are also very good and taste like what you can get in Hong Kong. 8/10

Dry Shrimp Rice Noodle:

This seems to be their most popular dish. It is rolled up steamed rice noodles topped with sesame sauce, a light sweet soy sauce, sriracha sauce, a little oil and sesame seeds. While they aren’t cooked to order like Sunlight Bakery, I think they are actually better and probably some of the best steamed rice noodles I’ve had in New York. I noticed some people ask for them with fish balls and they put them all in the same container. These are also really good. 8/10

Overall, I really like Poon Kee and it’s probably one of the more interesting and authentic restaurants in Chinatown. I highly recommend checking this place out.

39 Monroe St (between Catherine St & Market St)
New York, NY 10002

Nom Wah Tea Parlor – Surprisingly Good Dim Sum at One of Chinatown’s Oldest Restaurants

Nom Wah is one of Chinatown’s oldest restaurants; in fact it may be the oldest restaurant in Chinatown as it opened in 1920 (91 years old!!). This was the first time I’ve eaten here as I’d always heard it was more of a nostalgia type of place and the food was just so so.  I’m not much for nostalgia if the food isn’t good, but I recently read this article that discusses how the nephew of the owner had taken over the restaurant and revamped it.  A friend had also recently told me that the food is now good, so I decided it was time to try it out.

The décor is literally a throwback to a different time.  It’s got old school red booths, red and white checkered table clothes, really old school looking counters and pictures on the wall from ages ago.  It doesn’t look like a Chinatown place at all, but I liked the décor and it is nice and clean.  It also happens to be on Doyers Street, which is one of the cooler looking streets in Chinatown.  The service was very good and the owner was a nice guy.  They do speak English very well here and it’s probably among the most English friendly places in Chinatown.

One thing that I really liked about the place is that everything is cooked to order as opposed to having carts.  Very few good dim sum places in Hong Kong have carts anymore as the dim sum is just so much fresher when you cook to order.  They also kept their menu pretty short, which I think is great because the downfall of so many restaurants in Chinatown is that they try to offer everything under the sun, which is something you rarely see in Asia, but for some reason is very prevalent in NY.

Here’s what we got:


They’ve got an interesting tea list, we got the chrysanthemum tea and it was standard, but good.

Parsley and Scallion Rice Roll:

This was regular cheung fan (steamed Chinese rice crepe) with chopped parsley and scallions then covered in a lighter sweet soy sauce.  The rice crepe was fresh and had good texture.  The flavor of the parsley (tastes like cilantro, I think they’re basically the same thing) and scallion with the soy sauce were great.  Overall, this was quite good.  7.5/10

Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao):

There are four items on the menu that are circled in red and these are the house specialties.  The cha siu bao is one of those specialties.  The bun was excellent, very fluffy with a nice slightly sweet flavor, definitely among the best buns in Chinatown. The filling was pretty decent as it wasn’t too sweet and I don’t like the really sweet filling that is common among Chinatown places.  However, the bun to filling ratio was way off as there was way too much bun and barely any filling.  If they changed that this could be one of the better cha siu bao in the city.  7.25/10

Shrimp and Snow Pea Dumplings:

These were steamed dumplings with chopped shrimp and snow pea leaves. The skins were nice as they weren’t too thick, were freshly steamed and had good texture. The shrimp was very fresh and the snow pea leaves were a nice addition.  Overall, these were surprisingly good.  7.5/10

Stuffed Green Peppers:

These were green bell peppers stuffed with a minced shrimp cake and covered in a black bean sauce.  The shrimp cake was quite good, nice fresh minced shrimp.  The green bell pepper was good, but the slight downfall of the dish was the black bean sauce while not gloppy was quite bland flavor-wise. I also prefer it in the spicy green peppers.  Decent, but not amazing. 6.75/10

Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce:

This was a very standard, but well prepared version of this dish.  Simple boiled Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, not much more to it than that.  The vegetables were cooked well, so they retained their crunch without being over cooked.  7.5/10

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at Nom Wah, it probably has some of the better dim sum in Chinatown right now and the environment is definitely very unique in Chinatown.  I’d recommend checking it out.

13 Doyers St (between Bowery & Chatham Sq)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 962-6047

Saburi – Interesting and Tasty Wafu Chuka (Japanese-Style Chinese Food)

It seems like almost every culture has its’ own version of Chinese food. Wafu Chuka 味風中華 is Japan’s version of Chinese food and to my knowledge Saburi is New York’s only Wafu Chuka restaurant.  While I’m generally not much of a fan of fusion food and I don’t really like American-Chinese food, for some reason I do like certain Japanese-Chinese, Korean-Chinese and Indian-Chinese food, so I was glad to find this place. I’ve actually been going here quite a bit because it’s close to my girlfriend’s apartment. At this point, I’ve probably tried around 60-70% for the menu, but this post is going to be about some of their better dishes.

The head chef and owner’s name is Jun Cui. He trained under Iron Chef Chen Kenichi in Japan and I believe he is ethnically Chinese. I haven’t met him, but some of the chefs are definitely ethnic Chinese who lived in Japan as I’ve heard them come out and speak to people in unaccented Mandarin and then turn around and talk to their staff in unaccented Japanese (quite impressive).

The restaurant is clean and has decent ambiance, but nothing to write home about.  It has off-white walls with pictures of shadow puppets on the walls as the chef is a practitioner of this dying art and if you look around you’ll find a picture of Jun Cui and Chen Kenichi on the wall when they were both much younger. They also have a bar with various sakes, Chinese liquors and some very strong liquor that they infuse with various interesting things (herbs, berries and even snake).

On to the food:

Kaori Chicken:

This is probably my overall favorite dish here. The dish consists of sliced fried chicken over a bed of a salad with a light ponzu-type of sauce that has a lot of minced daikon in it. The chicken is beautifully fried, crispy on the outside, not oily or heavy at all. The sauce and salad complement it perfectly. This is definitely a must get dish here.  8/10

“Peedan” Tofu:

This is always on their special menu. It consists of diced pidan (Chinese preserved egg) over a very soft creamy tofu with a salty sesame oil sauce. I like this dish quite a bit as well. The pidan’s creamy flavor with the tofu and the saltiness of the sesame oil sauce complement each other really well. Another dish I definitely recommend getting here. 7.75/10

Ban Ban Chicken:

This is a cold sliced chicken dish in a thick sesame sauce. The chicken is surprisingly still quite tender and the sesame sauce is thick and flavorful.  If you like thicker sesame sauces then you will like this dish. I think it’s pretty good although my GF is less of a fan of it. 6.75/10

Gomoku Chahan:

Chahan is fried rice and when done correctly, I think Japanese fried rice rivals any good Chinese fried rice.  The wok flavor in Japanese fried rice is exceptional.  Here they serve it with roasted pork and various diced vegetables with some pickled ginger on top.  While it’s not the best version I’ve had, it’s certainly quite tasty and much better than most versions you get in NY. I highly recommend asking for some chili oil as I find that kicks it up a notch. 7.5/10

Kani Tama:

This is an egg omelet with crabmeat, mushrooms and some other vegetables in a light brown oyster sauce. It’s a light dish that goes really well with the fried rice as the flavors are quite subtle. You can taste the oyster sauce flavor but it is very light. 7.25/10

Overall, I like Saburi and there are some good dishes to be had here.  However, you have to be careful as some of their dishes are not very good in particular I’d avoid their ramen. That said it’s definitely worth trying if you’re in the neighborhood or looking to try something new.

168 Lexington Ave. (between 30th St & 31st St)
New York, NY 10016
(212) 481-7766

New Kim Tuong / Kien Tuong – Hard to Find Singaporean / Teochew “Carrot Cake” in NY

I noticed New Kim Tuong walking through Chinatown and thought it might be interesting because of it’s got a Vietnamese name even though it was clearly a Chinese restaurant. I thought it might be Chinese people from Vietnam like Bo Ky and New Chao Chow that serve some Teochow (Chiu Chow / Chao Zhou) dishes.

I went home, did some research on yelp and menupages and low and behold it does have a few Teochew dishes, but what was more interesting was this post on yelp that mentioned they serve chai tow kway (菜頭粿 / cai tou guo). Chai tow kway is translated to “carrot cake” in Singapore, so I decided I had to try this place as soon as possible (more on this dish later in the post).

The restaurant is a typical low end Chinatown restaurant with zero ambiance.  The place seems to have a pretty bustling take-out business with locals who seem to be pretty friendly with the staff. The service was quick and the servers are quite nice.  It is also exceptionally cheap ($3.50 for a bowl of noodle soup)

On to the food:

Complimentary Soup:

They gave us complimentary bowls of a pork bone soup with barley in it. It was actually quite good, clean flavor, not too salty and with reasonably good flavor. 7.25/10

Minced Beef Congee (Rice Porridge):

This was interesting.  The consistency wasn’t like normal Cantonese-style congee as it wasn’t nearly as thick rather the consistency was in between Cantonese-style congee and Teochew-style congee which is very watery, so much so that you can still make out the grains of rice.  It was pretty decent although not amazing. The you tiao (fried crueller) was pretty standard, but good. 6.75/10

“Pi Pa” Duck:

This is a type of roast duck called pi pa ya (琵琶鸭). Pi pa is actually a type of Chinese musical instrument. It’s called this because it’s a pressed roast duck, so it’s sort of flat like the instrument. I’m not sure whether it’s Cantonese or Teochew because I’ve only had it a few times.  It is listed in english as “pi pa duck” on the menu.  The meat was tender, juicy and had good flavor and the skin was nice and crispy. They gave you a red vinegar chili sauce that was quite good and helped cut the fat. It was pretty good if you like fattier meats although I prefer the duck at New Chao Chow or Bo Ky.  7.25/10

Chou Chiu Style Noodle Soup:

This was a typical Teochew noodle soup with rice noodles, cha siu (roast pork), sliced chicken, fish balls, beef balls, cabbage and scallions. The soup was just okay, it wasn’t too salty, but it lacked complexity.  The condiments all tasted fine, but none were particularly outstanding. Overall, I thought it was okay, but you can get a much better bowl at New Chao Chow or Bo Ky. 6.25/10

Fried Rice Flour Cake (Qian Dan Gao):

Chai tow kway is extremely hard to find outside Singapore, Malaysia and Chao Zhou (although I’ve never been to Chao Zhou). Even though it is translated to “carrot cake”, it actually has no carrots in it.  It’s cakes made of rice flour and minced radish similar to Cantonese lo bak go (蘿蔔糕 / luo bo gao) that you get at dim sum except that instead of big rectangle squares its cut into much smaller pieces that are pan fried with a sweet minced preserved radish, egg, garlic, dried shrimp, fish sauce and spring onions are sprinkled on top. Although at New Kim Tuong they do serve it as rectangles instead of smaller pieces. It’s a very popular dish at hawker centers in Singapore. The radish cakes were perfectly crispy on the outside, perfectly minced and soft on the inside. The condiments went really well with it and I particularly like the sweet minced preserved radish. It was a pretty good rendition although I would prefer if they cut it into smaller pieces.  I also wish they had a good chili sauce like at Bo Ky or New Chao Chow as that would definitely kick it up a notch.  I definitely recommend trying this dish out as it’s very hard to find. 7.75/10

Overall, this is definitely an interesting place and while some of the dishes were just okay, it’s definitely worth trying for the carrot cake.

83 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 966-2878

Hsin Wong – Good Cantonese BBQ and Peking Duck in Chinatown


Hsin Wong is another shao la (Cantonese BBQ) and congee restaurant in Chinatown.  The most well-known places are Great NY Noodletown and Big Wong King and they are also generally considered to be the best.  However, I think Hsin Wong is on par with them.

Although I’ve been to Hsin Wong in the past it’s been quite a while since I’ve been there and their advertisement for Peking duck caught my eye because I’ve been looking for a good Cantonese-style Peking duck for a while.  So, I decided to have a Chinese New Year’s dinner with some friends and write a review about it.

The place looks like a typical Chinatown BBQ place.  It’s got a large counter up front with BBQ meats hanging in the windows.  There are several large round tables and then smaller square tables along the walls.  They advertise various specials on the walls in Chinese.  The service is pretty decent and the waiters are surprisingly very nice.

Here’s what we got:

Roast Pig (Huo Rou):

This is the gigantic whole pig with golden crispy skin you see hanging in the windows of Cantonese BBQ spots. This is one of my favorite types of BBQ. The version here is quite good especially if you happen to get it when it comes out fresh (I got lucky one of the times and it came out fresh).  The skin is beautifully crispy, but the meat is still tender and flavorful. You dip the meat in oyster sauce and it tastes great.  8/10

 Wonton Noodle Soup With Roast Pork (Cha Shao Hun Dun Tang Mian):

This was surprisingly good, I have low expectations for wonton noodle soup in NY because it’s just not made with the same care and ingredients you find in Hong Kong (HK vendors are very passionate about wonton noodle soup, it’s somewhat analogous to ramen in Japan), but we’re not in HK so I keep trying it anyhow. The soup broth was pretty decent, flavorful and not overly salty. The wontons were plump and the shrimp tasted fresh.  The noodles were pretty decent as well and were cooked al dente. The cha siu (roast pork) was fresh out of the oven, so it was actually quite good, very flavorful and tender.  Overall, I think this was actually better than the last few times I had it at NY Noodletown, which is generally the best one in ctown. 7.5/10

Peking Duck (Bei Jing Kao Ya):

This was the reason I came here. Cantonese-style Peking duck is different from real Peking duck because it’s not cooked the same way and actually is just a roast duck and is served in mantou (steamed white buns) as opposed to the thin pancakes. I’ve been looking for a good version for a while, but I haven’t been able to find one since Nice Restaurant closed. However, the version here is quite good.  The skin was crispy and flavorful. The meat was juicy and succulent. They sliced up the duck for you and put the meat, skin, plum sauce, spring onions and carrots (I’m not sure why they put carrots in it, I took them out). Overall, this is probably the best Cantonese-style Peking duck I’ve had in the city. 8/10

Steak With Chinese Broccoli Stems:

This was a special, it was supposed to be with asparagus, but they ran out, so the lady said they could replace it with Chinese broccoli stems. It was a t-bone steak cooked in brown sauce covered in Chinese broccoli stems and some other vegetables. The steak was tender and flavorful and went well with the vegetables. Not much more to it than that, but it was quite good. 7.5/10

Salt Baked Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu):

This looked pretty, but it wasn’t nearly as good as South China Garden or NY Noodletown. The squid was a little on the chewy side and the batter didn’t have enough salt in it, so it was a little bland. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that great either. 6/10

Sauteed String Beans (Chao Si Ji Dou):

This was simply sautéed string beans with garlic. I thought the dish was decent, but it wasn’t flavored a lot, so I felt it was a bit bland and I also though the string beans could have been cooked for a little bit longer. Overall, it was decent, but nothing to write home about. 6.5/10

Pork with Peppers:

I didn’t order this, actually no one was quite sure who ordered this, so we think it might have been a mix up and ended up at our table as the restaurant was busy that night.  It was sautéed sliced pork, green peppers, string beans, onions, baby corn, snap peas and basil in a brown sauce. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. 6/10

Lobster Sauteed With Scallions and Ginger (Cong Jiang Chao Long Xia):

This was surprisingly good as the lobster was fresh tasting, the meat was cooked nicely and it was just generally tasty. I generally find scallion and ginger preparation to be a little too plain for lobster and crab, but this still tasted good although I think South China Garden’s preparation is better although the quality of the lobster itself is basically the same. Overall though, this was a nice dish. 7.5/10

Sauteed Pea Shoots (Qing Chao Dou Miao):

This was a simple preparation of pea shoots sautéed with some garlic and oil. This was a standard preparation and it was cooked well. 7.25/10

Pan Fried Flounder:

Another classic Cantonese preparation of flounder. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and the soy sauce was nice. Pretty self-explanatory, but this was quite good. 7.5/10

Clams in Black Bean Sauce:

The sauce here was good as it was flavorful and not overly gloppy. However, the clams were just decent.  It was a decent, but not amazing. 6.5/10

Red Bean Soup:

Pretty standard, but it was good as it wasn’t overly watery and I prefer mine on the thick side, so I liked this. 7.5/10

Overall, I liked the food here and I’d definitely recommend coming here for Cantonese BBQ and Cantonese-style Peking duck.

72 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-6526

Baohaus – Pretty Decent Monday Special

**Note this restaurant has moved, new address below**

I reviewed Baohaus a while ago on chowhound, which you can see here, I liked it a lot and I go there somewhat frequently to fulfill my cravings for gua bao and I also really like their fried chicken bao because it tastes just like ji pai (Taiwanese fried chicken) you get in Taipei.

I got an email from them (I signed up for their email list) saying they have a Monday Special.  I went in there last Monday and got it to go.  It was pretty good albeit a little on the small side.

Here’s what was in it:

Fish Cake with Smoked Ham Hock: This was a fried fish cake with bits of smoked ham hock in it.  It was freshly fried and the fish cake tasted homemade, it was good although it was a little on the salty side.  7.75/10

Eight Treasure Bao: This was a bao (steamed white bun) filled with a stir fry made of sliced mushrooms, carrots, dried tofu, bamboo shoots and maybe one or two other things.  It was quite good, the bun was fresh tasting and the stir fry had good flavor and wasn’t overly greasy or salty. 7.75/10

Dong Po Rou: Dong po rou is made by pan frying and then braising pork belly in soy sauce, Chinese rice wine and caramelized sugar.  It’s very tender and fatty since its pork belly.  I really like this dish a lot.  The version here was pretty tasty, it was very tender and had pretty decent flavor.  7.75/10

Overall, I thought it was good not mind blowing, but solidly good.  Worth trying if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

238 E 14th St (between 2nd and 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
(646) 669-8889

Noodle Village – Good Hong Kong Style Food in Chinatown

Noodle Village serves Hong Kong style Cantonese food.  I’m not quite sure how I can describe the difference between Hong Kong style Cantonese food versus Cantonese food in the rest of Guang Dong (the province that Cantonese food comes from) as I haven’t spent a huge amount of time in the rest of Guang Dong, so it’s possible it’s like this everywhere, but from my understanding HK definitely has its’ own style of food.  Many of the dishes that are served at Noodle Village are very emblematic of the types of dishes you find at a lot of casual small restaurants in HK.

The restaurant is reasonably nice and clean, better than most restaurants in Chinatown.  The service was fine.  They also claim that they don’t use any MSG, I don’t know if that is true or not, but I didn’t taste any in my food.

Here’s what we got:

Spicy Fried Fish Ball (La La Yu Dan Chuan): These were fried fish balls on skewers that were covered with a dried shrimp paste, chili oil, diced scallions and bits of fried garlic. I think they may make their own fish balls as they had good flavor and texture and didn’t taste like frozen ones. The shrimp paste was awesome and other condiments really went well with everything. These were really good, similar to the type of thing you get in HK. 8.5/10

Braised Beef Brisket Noodle Soup HK Style (Niu Nan Wang Tang Mian): The broth was light and not salty.  It was pretty decent, but I thought it was a little bit on the bland side; it didn’t have the deeper flavor you get with really good broth.  That said it was better than most of the broths you get in most noodle shops in ctown. The brisket was tender and had good flavor although it was a bit on the fatty side.  It also had tripe which was pretty good as well.  I got it with he fen (thick white rice noodle), which were good as well. Overall, it was pretty decent. 7.5/10

Chinese Broccoli & Yau Choy with Oyster Sauce (Hao You Shuang Cai): This was pretty standard, but good.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted good with the oyster sauce.  8/10

Pork with Salted Fish Clay Pot Rice (Xian Yu Rou Bing Bao Zai Fan): The claypot they use is a little smaller and wider than normal, but this kind of turned out to be good because there was a lot of the crusty rice at the bottom which I like a lot. The pork patty was pretty decent although it was a little too salty.  The soy sauce they use is okay, but it’s not home-made and was a lot saltier than at good places.  Overall, this was good, it’s not as good as A-Wah was at its peak , but it’s better than A-Wah is currently. 7.75/10

Clay Pot Rice with Sausage, Bacon and Spare Ribs: Same description as the other, but I didn’t like this this one as much as the other one because a lot of the toppings were a little on the dry side. 7/10

Fried Buns with Condensed Milk (Zha Man Tou): These are hard to screw up, I thought they were a little over fried, but they were still tasty. 7.75/10

Overall, it was quite good.  I was pretty happy with the preparation of the food as it was lighter than most food in Chinatown.  I’ll definitely be returning and writing more about it.

13 Mott St (between Chatham Sq & Mosco Street)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 233-0788

Old Sichuan – Good Sichuan Food in Chinatown

Last night I went to Old Sichuan 老正川 with some chowhound people.  It is a new Sichuan restaurant that is located where the now defunct Yeah Shanghai Deluxe used to be.  According to some people on chowhound, it is the same owners as Yeah Shanghai Deluxe.
The owner was extremely nice and very talkative.  She runs Old Sichuan and her husband runs Old Shanghai Deluxe down the street.  I’m pretty sure she is Shanghainese, but I didn’t ask her specifically.  She told us that the chef at Old Sichuan is from Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province.  He started cooking when he was 19 and has been cooking for 30 years.

The restaurant is reasonably nice with exposed brick and this weird bridge with a rock formation and water along the wall when you first enter to the restaurant.  It’s clean and much nicer looking than most Chinatown restaurants.

On to the food:

Roasted Peanuts and Seaweed:

This was served at the beginning of the meal. Both of them were pretty standard and self-explanatory, but they were good.  7.75/10

Pickled Cabbage (Si Chuan Pao Cai):

I’m not a huge fan of this generally, it’s just pickled white cabbage.  It’s a good version here though, crispy cabbage, good flavor and not overly sour. 7/10

Ox Tongue & Tripe with Spicy Peppery Sauce (Fu Qi Fei Pian):

This a famous Sichuan dish made of thin slices of tendon, tongue and tripe served cold in spicy red oil sauce with chopped up peanuts and chili peppers.  The version here is excellent, very clean tasting and you could taste both the ma (numbing sensation) and the la (spicy).  I really liked this dish a lot.  8/10

Sliced Pork with Spicy Garlic Sauce (Suan Ni Bai Rou):

This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.  The dish is thin sliced pork served cold topped with spicy red oil, garlic, chopped peanuts, diced scallions and red chili.  The sauce was spicy, but really fragrant and slightly sweet.  I really liked this and I could eat a whole plate of this with some rice and be happy.  8.5/10

Pan Fried Chicken Tiny Bun (Sheng Jian Bao):

Normally, I’d never order these at a Sichuan restaurant, but the owner recommended them and I believe she is Shanghainese, so it sounded like a reasonable idea.  She told us how they use chicken meat instead of pork, which is the normal meat you use.  The bottoms were perfectly crispy, the bun was not too doughy or thin and the meat inside was tender and flavorful.  I thought these were really good.  8.25/10

Water Cooked Fish (Shui Zhu Yu):

I think this dish was actually on the specials menu which is only written in Chinese on a blackboard.  In this dish, the meat is poached in water then put in a bowl with chili peppers and vegetables and then a bath of hot vegetable oil is poured over it.  The result is very tender meat, but a very oily and spicy bath of sauce over it.  The fish meat was excellent; it was a clean tasting white fish that was super tender although maybe too tender as it was hard to pick up.  Although the sauce was quite spicy, I felt was missing something.  When you have a really good version the sauce is very flavorful, but I felt it was a bit under flavored.  Overall, I thought it was quite good, but not amazing.  7.75/10

Shredded Potatoes with Vinegar Sauce (Suan Liu Tu Dou Si):

This was interesting and was recommended by the owner.  It was julienned potato strips with a few julienned sliced green peppers and carrots in it.  The dish was served hot and had a sour vinegar sauce on it.  I thought it was a bit plain; it would’ve been better if it more sour.  I wasn’t crazy about it, it would have been better cold.  6.75/10

Lamb with Cumin Flavor (Zi Ran Yang):

This is the typical sliced lamb in cumin.  The lamb was very tender here and not gamey.  The cumin was not as strong as most places and was also not really noticeable on the outside like it normally is. I liked it, but I think Szechuan Gourmet’s version is better.  7.5/10

Chong Qing Dry & Spicy Chicken (Chong Qing La Zi Ji):

Generally, I’m not a huge fan of this dish.  This is small chunks of dark meat chicken on the bone in a bath of chili.  The version here is pretty decent, but I’m still not a huge fan of the dish.  7/10

Sour String Beans with Minced Pork (Suan Dou Jiao Rou Mo):

This looks like a Taiwanese dish called cang ying tou, but tastes completely different.  It was finely diced snake beans with minced pork and some other vegetables.  The beans are sour, but I found the dish oddly bland.  It wasn’t bad, but didn’t have that wok flavor or anything all that distinctive about it.  I feel like it could be really good, but was just decent.  7/10

Sweet Eight Jewel Taro (Ba Bao Xiang Yu):

This was interesting, normally ba bao fan is made with nuo mi (sticky rice), but here she told us a specialty of theirs was to make it out of taro root.  It’s a mound of mashed taro that has sweet red bean paste inside it and raisins and dates on top of it.  They pour a condensed milk sauce over it.  Clearly, an extremely healthy dish!  I liked it a lot though, however it is a very Chinese old people type of dish, so I’m quite certain there are a lot of people who would disagree and not like it at all.  7.75/10

Overall, it was a mix of some very good dishes and some decent dishes, but a lot of promise.  I thought the dishes were probably a little better executed than most Sichuan restaurants in the city.  I definitely plan on coming back, so I would recommend trying this place out.

65 Bayard St
Manhattan, NY 10013
(212) 227-9888

New J&B (formerly King’s Seafood) – Potentially The Worst Dim Sum I Have Ever Had


I generally think I’m pretty good at filtering restaurants. I’ve usually researched a restaurant enough to figure out whether there is a reasonable chance that it’s good or if it’s something like Chinese food where reviews can be unreliable you can usually scout it out to see if there are tell tale signs that could be good.  In the case of New J&B there were a lot of signs that it should be good: hidden, crowded and not a single non-Chinese patron (nothing wrong with non-Chinese, but generally if I don’t see a lot of the given ethnicity in a restaurant I immediately get skeptical).  Unfortunately, they all these signs were very wrong.

I noticed this place a while ago when it was called King’s Seafood (it is also called New J&B on the check).  The state of dim sum in Manhattan is quite bad, so I’m always trying to find a new good dim sum restaurant.   So my GF and I walked in on a Saturday around 11am to check it out.

New J&B located on the 2nd floor of a commercial building on East Broadway in Chinatown.  When you walk in, it looks like a typical Chinese banquet hall.  It was quite crowded and so I was hoping maybe I’d found a new gem.  However, that was not the case.

Here’s what we got:

Steamed Shrimp Rice Crepe (Ha Cheung Fan / Xia Chang Fen):

This was the only dish that was even passable.  It was okay, the rice noodle was a bit thicker than it should be, the shrimps were okay and the soy sauce was fine.  It wasn’t terrible, but just okay.  6.5/10

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Gao / Xia Jiao):

Wow, these were so bad.  They were way oversteamed, so they all stuck to each other and paper at the bottom of the steamer, they’d completely fall apart by the time you got done un-sticking them from the paper and the other dumplings.  The skins were really thick and gooey.  The shrimp filling was bland and just generally mediocre.  One of the worst renditions I’ve ever had. 4/10

Pork and Thousand Year Egg Congee (Pi Dan Zhu Rou Zhou):

I don’t normally get this at dim sum because I usually find congee at dim sum places tends to be sort of mediocre.  However, we were sort of craving it so we tried it out.  The congee was flavorless, there was barely any pork or thousand year egg in it and I think it had been sitting around too long because it was luke warm.  Another bad dish.  5.5/10

Zha Liang (Fried Crueller Wrapped in Rice Crepe):

This is one of my favorite dim sum dishes.  However, again it was a travesty here.  The rice dough was too thick and had clearly been sitting around for a while as it was sort of cold and stiff.  The fried crueller (you tiao) in the middle was mushy and had also been sitting around too long.  We barely ate any of this.  3.5/10

Clams in Black Bean Sauce (Dou Chi Jiang Ge Li):

I really like clams in black bean sauce.  In an attempt to salvage the meal, I went over to the station where they were cooking fresh food hoping that it would be better than the garbage we had eaten so far.  However, this was probably the worst renditions of the dish I’ve ever had.  The black bean sauce was a flavorless gloppy mess.  The clams were overcooked and rubbery.  This was awful.  3/10

This is my first really bad review I’ve written in a really long time.  Oriental Garden served me one of my worst dim sum experiences ever and this was worse than that.  I couldn’t believe that place had any patrons even places like Golden Unicorn which I do not like at all are better.  I definitely recommend not going here.

39-41 E Broadway
New York, NY 10079
(212) 233-3359

Ka Wah – My Favorite Bakery in Chinatown

Chinatown is chock full of bakeries.  Most of the bakeries fall into two categories they are either a) old school style cha chaan teng (茶餐廳, cha can ting, literally “tea restaurant”) that serve various old school Cantonese buns and pastries or b) more modern bakeries that have all types of pastries, buns and crazy cakes shaped into cartoon characters.  For example, Mei Li Wah would fall under the cha chaan teng category and Fay Da / Tai Pan would fall under the latter category.  Generally, the quality can vary from pretty decent to just okay.  It is sort of hard to tell which ones will be good and which ones will just so so because they really all look very similar.

Ka Wah is a throwback and is closer to being in the cha chaan teng category.  It is an old school Cantonese bakery that is in the eastern part of Chinatown jammed in the middle of a completely Fujian neighborhood.  Based on that fact and the décor, I think this bakery must be very old.  It’s run by 3 old Cantonese ladies, who are pretty old school themselves. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding their Mandarin because they have such a thick Cantonese accent.

Unlike most bakeries in Chinatown, this place only serves maybe 8-10 different types of pastries and maybe 4-5 different types of buns.  All of it is Cantonese classics: dan ta (egg custard), dan gao (sponge cake), lao po bing (wife cake, a pastry filled with a sweet winter melon filling), almond cookies, ji wei bao (cocktail bun), bo luo bao (pineapple bun) and a few other things.  They also serve good yin yang cha (yuan yang cha, coffee and tea mixed with evaporated milk and sugar), nai cha (tea with condensed milk) and coffee.
I come here on the weekends usually fairly early around 10:30am-11am when the pastries are fresh (they taste better in the morning when they are fresher).

Here are some of the things I get:

Sponge Cake (Dan Gao):

This place probably has the best sponge cake I’ve had in Chinatown.  The cake is very light and airy with a great egg-y flavor and it’s soft as a pillow.  I really like these and they are so light you can eat them like they were nothing and they go great with some yin yang cha.  As a word of advice these in particular taste much better in the morning when they are fresh. 8.5/10

Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing):

They make a good version here.  The crust is nice and flaky and the inside is flavorful and not overly sweet.  However, this is an old school type of pastry and it’s very Chinese, so I’m not sure everyone will like this.  My GF thinks that its “old people food” and she doesn’t like it at all.  She also says I like “old people food” when it comes to desserts, so this is the type of thing I like, but I’m sure there will be a decent amount of people who do not.  7.75/10

Egg Custard (Dan Ta):

Hands down the best dan ta in Chinatown.  The crust is flaky, crispy and buttery without being overly buttery.  The custard is nice and egg-y and not overly sweet.  They sell both the small versions and large version.  I prefer the small version as I like the ratio of custard to crust better.  These are great.  8/10

Coconut Tart:

I always forget what this is called in Chinese.  I’m not totally sure why I always end getting these because I don’t love them and it’s not the version here just in general.  I guess it’s a nostalgia thing because I grew up eating stuff like this.  Anyhow, the version here is good. 7/10


I forgot to take pictures, but these guys make some of the best yin yang cha (yuan yang cha, coffee and tea mixed with evaporated milk and sugar) and nai cha (tea with condensed milk) in Chinatown.  I always get a cup of it when I come here.  7.75/10

Overall, this place is great and I highly recommend coming here before they decide to retire or something.  It is also ridiculously cheap.  Highly recommend.

9 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 226-0133

Bo Ky – Good Chiu Chow Noodle and BBQ Restaurant in Chinatown

I never really understood why Bo Ky and New Chao Chow never really get mentioned when people talk about Chinatown.  They are two of the better restaurants in Chinatown.  They are also the only restaurants that serve Chiu Chow food (潮州, Chao Zhou, Teo Chew).  Chiu Chow is a city in Eastern Guang Dong.  Even though they live in Guang Dong, Chiu Chow people have their own dialect that is much different than Cantonese and their own cuisine.  They are known for many dishes such as their rice porridge, lu wei 卤味 (soy sauce braised meats), noodle soups and use of fresh seafood among other things.

It’s definitely one of my favorite Chinese cuisines, but it is quite difficult to find it in New York.  In fact there are only three places in NY that serve it: Bo Ky, New Chao Chow and Chao Zhou in Flushing. I grew to really appreciate it when I studied abroad in Asia.  It is probably the second most popular food in Hong Kong after Cantonese food and it is probably the tied for first place as the most popular food in Singapore along with Hokkien food.  Generally, their food is a little lighter than Cantonese food.  You can see a couple of other Chiu Chow posts on my blog as well (  The Chiu Chow restaurants in NY have some Chiu Chow noodle soups and lu wei meats, but the rest of the menu is mainly Cantonese.  So unfortunately the breadth of Chiu Chow food is not really available in NY.

Bo Ky is owned by Chiu Chow people from Vietnam (hence the Vietnamese listed on their sign and menus).  There are a lot of Chiu Chow people in Southeast Asia, so you will often find them in Vietnamese areas.  For example, there are many Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants in Little Saigon in Orange County, CA where the food is technically Chiu Chow, but definitely has some Vietnamese influence.  It also happens to be delicious.

Bo Ky has typical Chinatown décor, which means there isn’t much.  The waiters are nice although the service is quite brisk.

On to the food:

Chili Oil:

Bo Ky has the second best chili oil in Chinatown (New Chao Chow has the best), the reason it’s so much better is partly because they make it themselves (you can buy it to go at the restaurant), but also because they use ground up dried shrimps in the chili oil which makes it so much better.  They also have some ground peanut and sesame seeds in it.  I use it quite generously when eating their noodle soups a long with the vinegar that has peppers in it, it really takes their noodle soups up a notch. 8.25/10

Cambodian Noodle:

I’m not sure why this is called Cambodian Noodle on the menu as it is definitely a Chiu Chow dish.  In Singapore, this is called bak chor mee (in Mandarin its called rou zuo mian).  It’s a noodle dish that is served in a bowl with noodles, minced pork,  bean sprouts, slices of pork, shrimp, scallions, these golden fried onions and fish balls (there is some variation in toppings, but this is how they serve it here).  They then serve a fragrant semi-cloudy pork stock soup on the side.  The noodles are called mee pok (麪薄 mian bao in mandarin).  However, for some reason the menu only offers rice noodles or thin egg noodles.   What you need to do is ask them for the soup on the side and for mee pok and then you will get this.  The version here is pretty decent although the soup is a bit saltier than it should be and not quite as fragrant as it should be (New Chao Chow’s is a bit better).  The noodles are served nice and al dente and the toppings are good.  I wish they put in the vinegar and chili oil like they do in Singapore, but I highly suggest adding both to this dish as it is an integral part.  Overall, it’s very tasty. 7.75/10

Here it is with the thin egg noodles (I definitely prefer it with the mee pok as opposed to the egg noodles)

Fish Ball Noodle Soup (Yu Wan Tang Mian):

Same thing, but only has fish balls, scallions, minced pork and golden fried onions.  It’s good but I prefer the bak chor mee. 7.5/10

Country Style Duck (Lu Wei Ya):

You will see ducks and chicken hanging up in the window here except you will notice they look different than other Cantonese BBQ places in Chinatown as they are a dull brown sort of color, they actually look much less appealing than Cantonese versions.  However, this a case where looks are very deceiving.  The reason for the dull brown color is that these are braised in a soy sauce.  The result is great, the meat is very flavorful and the skin is really delicious.  The flavoring here is excellent, the meat and skin are delicious.  The only knock is that there isn’t enough meat on the duck (New Chao Chow’s is better).  They also give you sweet pickled radish on the side which really goes well with the duck.  This is a very solid dish. 8/10

Country Style Mixed Meat:

This is the same thing, but it’s all offal, so liver, intestines, tripe etc.  It’s good as well, but I prefer the duck.  7.25/10

Fried Tofu:

I’m not sure this is on the menu, but it’s listed on the wall with pictures of it posted everywhere.  It’s freshly fried tofu triangles with broccoli served on top of a tangy soy sauce.  This dish is quite good, but I think my GF liked it more than me.  It is still worth trying though. 7.25/10

Overall, Bo Ky is quite good although New Chao Chow is better and I’ll be reviewing them soon.  I definitely recommend trying it out.

82 Bayard St (between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 406-2292

y – Good Chiu Chow Noodle and BBQ Restaurant in Chinatown

I never really understood why Bo Ky and New Chao Chow never really get mentioned when people talk about Chinatown.They are two of the better restaurants in Chinatown.They are also the only restaurants that serve Chiu Chow (潮州, Chao Zhou, Teo Chew) which is a city in Eastern Guang Dong.Even though there are in Guang Dong, Chiu Chow people have their own dialect that is much different than Cantonese and their own cuisine.They are known for a many dishes such their rice porridge, lu wei 味 (soy sauce braised meats), noodle soups and use of fresh seafood among other things.

It’s definitely one of my favorite Chinese cuisines, but it is quite difficult to find it in New York.In fact there are only three places in NY that serve it: Bo Ky, New Chao Chow and Chao Zhou in Flushing. I grew to really appreciate it when I studied abroad in Asia.It is probably the second most popular food in Hong Kong after Cantonese food and it is probably the tied for first place as the most popular food in Singapore along with Hokkien food.Generally, their food is a little lighter than Cantonese food.You can see a couple of other Chiu Chow posts on my blog as well ( Chiu Chow restaurants in NY have some Chiu Chow noodle soups and lu wei meats, but the rest of the menu is mainly Cantonese.So unfortunately the breadth of Chiu Chow food is not really available in NY.

Bo Ky is owned by Chiu Chow people from Vietnam (hence the Vietnamese listed on their sign and menus).There are a lot of Chiu Chow people in Southeast Asia, so you will often find them in Vietnamese areas.For example, there are many Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants in Little Saigon in Orange County, CA where the food is technically Chiu Chow, but definitely has some Vietnamese influence.It also happens to be delicious.

Bo Ky has typical Chinatown décor, which means there isn’t much.The waiters are nice although the service is quite brisk.

On to the food:

Chili Oil: Bo Ky has the second best chili oil in Chinatown (New Chao Chow has the best), the reason it’s so much better is partly because they make it themselves (you can buy it to go at the restaurant), but also because they use ground up dried shrimps in the chili oil which makes it so much better.They also have some ground peanut and sesame seeds in it.I use it quite generously when eating their noodle soups a long with the vinegar that has peppers in it, it really takes their noodle soups up a notch.

Cambodian Noodle: I’m not sure why this is called Cambodian Noodle on the menu as it is definitely a Chiu Chow dish.In Singapore, this is called bak chor mee (in Mandarin its called rou zuo mian).It’s a noodle dish that is served in a bowl with noodles, minced pork,bean sprouts, slices of pork, shrimp, scallions, these golden fried onions and fish balls (there is some variation in toppings, but this is how they serve it here).They then serve a fragrant semi-cloudy pork stock soup on the side.The noodles are called mee pok (麪薄 mian bao in mandarin).However, for some reason the menu only offers rice noodles or thin egg noodles.What you need to do is ask them for the soup on the side and for mee pok and then you will get this.The version here is pretty decent although the soup is a bit saltier than it should be and not quite as fragrant as it should be (New Chao Chow’s is a bit better).The noodles are served nice and al dente and the toppings are good.I wish they put in the vinegar and chili oil like they do in Singapore, but I highly suggest adding both to this dish as it is an integral part.Overall, it’s very tasty.

Here it is with the thin egg noodles (I definitely prefer it with the mee pok as opposed to the egg noodles)

Fish Ball Noodle Soup (Yu Wan Tang Mian): same thing, but only has fish balls, scallions, minced pork and golden fried onions.It’s good but I prefer the bak chor mee.

Country Style Duck (Lu Wei Ya): you will see ducks and chicken hanging up in the window here except you will notice they look different than other Cantonese BBQ places in Chinatown as they are a dull brown sort of color, they actually look much less appealing than Cantonese versions.However, this a case where looks are very deceiving.The reason for the dull brown color is that these are braised in a soy sauce.The result is great, the meat is very flavorful and the skin is really delicious.The flavoring here is excellent, the meat and skin are delicious.The only knock is that there isn’t enough meat on the duck (New Chao Chow’s is better).They also give you sweet pickled radish on the side which really goes well with the duck.This is a very solid dish.

Country Style Mixed Meat: same thing, but it’s all offal, so liver, intestines, tripe etc.It’s good as well, but I prefer the duck

Fried Tofu: I’m not sure this is on the menu, but it’s listed on the wall with pictures of it posted everywhere.It’s freshly fried tofu triangles with broccoli served on top of a tangy soy sauce.This dish is quite good, but I think my GF liked it more than me.It is still worth trying though

Overall, Bo Ky is quite good although New Chao Chow is better and I’ll be reviewing them soon.I definitely recommend trying it out.


82 Bayard St (between Mott St & Mulberry St)

New York, NY 10013

(212) 406-2292

South China Garden (formerly Cantoon Garden) – Still the Best Restaurant in Chinatown


I originally wrote about South China Garden (formerly Cantoon Garden) in January 2009, which you can see here, as one of the best restaurants in Chinatown.  Since then not too much has changed except for the English name; the Chinese name remains the same 粵江春餐館 (yue jiang chun can guan) which literally means Cantonese river spring restaurant, but really is referring to the Pearl River.  The menu, staff, manager and cooks all remain the same.  This has led to it also being the most consistent restaurant in Chinatown, which is actually quite a feat seeing how many if not most restaurants in Chinatown seem to suffer from ups and downs in quality as their kitchen staff comes and goes.

I probably come here about once a month maybe more, so I also come here much more frequently than any other restaurant in Chinatown by a long shot.  I’ve also slightly changed my order patterns as I’ve found other dishes in the restaurant that are very good.  I decided to write this post as an update since things are always changing in Chinatown and this is my re-affirmation that this is my favorite restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Here’s my latest meal here as well as my typical order now:

黃龍魚兩食 (Huang Long Yu Liang Shi / Yellow Dragon Fish Cooked Two Ways):

The one type of dish I always felt was missing at SCG was a good Cantonese fish dish, which I feel is pretty emblematic of Cantonese cuisine.  I’m not a big fan of the type of fresh water fish they used in their qing zheng yu (steamed fish) as it has that sort of fresh water fish taste that I’m not a big fan of (think the fish equivalent of being gamey).  This time I asked the waiter what fish is good and he told me to order the 黃 龍魚 (huang long yu).  Unfortunately, it is not listed on the menu and only listed on the wall in Chinese (hence I’ve provided the Chinese characters to make things easier for anyone who wants to try this).  First comes out the a very light fish soup that boils the fish, tofu, mushrooms, ginger and baby bok choy together and then they separate the soup from the ingredients.  The soup is excellent, very light, not fish and goes great with a dash of white pepper.  The other ingredients they give you on the side, but they’re not all that tasty since you’ve sapped most of the flavor for the soup.

The second preparation is diced pieces of the fish that have been lightly sautéed in a light clear sauce with peas (in the shoot), some other green stalk vegetable which I couldn’t identify and mushrooms.  This is a big winner, the fish is much higher quality (not remotely fishy), very tender and just a really good dish.  I highly recommend this as it’s one of my favorite dishes on the menu now. 8.25/10

Lobster in XO Sauce (XO Jiang Chao Long Xia):

This has been another staple dish for me and is not only quite good, but a steal for $25 for two lobsters.  I’ve tried most of the preparations and I prefer the XO sauce the best as it has good flavor and a slight amount of spice that really make it quite good.  The lobster is always tender and the sauce is great. 8/10

Fried Stuffed Hot Peppers:

This is another one of my newer favorite dishes here.  It is spicy green peppers stuffed with a fish paste and then sautéed in a black bean sauce.  The peppers are really delicious and the fish paste and black bean sauce go really well with the peppers. Surprisingly, the green peppers can be very spicy (it depends sometimes they are spicy, sometimes not) as Cantonese food isn’t usually even remotely spicy.   If you don’t like spicy food, I suggest removing the fish paste (it comes out easily) and scrapping out the seeds as the seeds are what is actually hot. 8.5/10

Salt Baked Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu):

Along with NY Noodletown, SCG has the best version of this dish in Chinatown (I think NY Noodletown’s breading is better, but SCG has more tender squid).  The saltiness of the batter along with how non-greasy it is and the fact that the squid is still tender makes this a solid rendition of this dish. 8/10

Fried Garlic Chicken (Suan Xiang Cui Pi Ji):

For some reason this dish is called “Fried Chicken w. Sauce” on the menu, but it’s actually a fried chicken with minced garlic on it.  However, it’s not like American fried chicken as it’s not breaded and it actually looks like rotisserie chicken.  The meat is very tender and the skin is perfectly crispy, but not dried out.  The garlic compliments it’s really well.  I definitely think this is one of their strongest dishes. 8.25/10

Steamed Big Crab With Ho Fun and Garlic:

This is great dish that consists of a large crab that has been steamed over a bed of ho fun (thick rice noodles), garlic and scallions, so that the juices from the crab mix with the garlic and great it’s own sauce that is really good.  The star is the noodles rather than the crab although the crab is still good.  8/10

Peking Pork Chops (Jing Du Pai Gu):

This is the Cantonese version of sweet and sour pork chops.  The pork chops are fried and coated with a sweet and sour sauce that is not gloppy or weird tasting.  It’s a very solid dish although it is sweet in case you don’t like sweet dishes. 8/10

Stir Fried String Beans with Preserved Vegetables:

I very recently started ordering this dish at the request of a friend and it turned out to be another good dish to add to the rotation.  It’s the classic stir fried string beans with minced pork, minced pickled vegetables and dried chilis.  They do it well here as you can taste that great wok flavor and the minced pork and pickled vegetables really compliment the dish and are not overly salty. 8/10

Pea Leaves With Crab Sauce (Xie Rou Pa Dou Miao):

This is dou miao (pea leaves) sautéed and then covered in a egg white and crab claw meat sauce.  Pretty self-explanatory, but very good.  8.25/10

Overall, still my favorite restaurant in Chinatown and definitely the most consistent.  Highly recommend.

22 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 964-2229

Hung Ry – Awesome New Modern Noodle Restaurant on Bond Street


Normally, I’m really skeptical of any type of fusion Asian type cuisine as 9.5 out of 10 times the result is some really bad food in some meatpacking type atmosphere.  So when I heard about Hung Ry I was very skeptical about it.  A pseudo Chinese noodle shop in a hip space on Bond Street.  I immediately imagined poor quality Chinese noodle soup trying to be masked in an upscale setting and taking advantage of customers who don’t know what any of this stuff is supposed to taste like.  Luckily, I was very wrong.

The space is a great spot on Bond Street that is somewhat industrial looking modern feel to it, but the décor looks great and really fits in well with the neighborhood.  The service was excellent and the owner is a really nice guy.  I spoke to him for a bit and he is a Tibetan guy who grew up in Switzerland.  He had an idea for this type of restaurant so his head chef and him walked around to different hand pulled noodle shops in Chinatown and ended up hiring one of the guys who pulled the noodles from an unnamed restaurant.  Great move on their part to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Squid Appetizer:

The owner highly recommended this and said it was one of the best dishes in the restaurant.  It is basically salt baked squid with chopped up cilantro and pumpkin seeds on top of it.  At the bottom there is a homemade chili sauce (not spicy at all). This was really good, better than any of the salt-baked squid in Chinatown (including South China Garden and NY Noodletown).  The batter was great, a little less salty than the versions in Chinatown, but still quite good.  Not overly battered and fried perfectly, not oily at all.  The squid is what really stuck out as it was very tender.  The cilantro and pumpkin seeds were a nice touch especially the cilantro as I really like cilantro. 8.5/10

Beef Tongue Appetizer:

Another recommendation from the owner.  The beef tongue had been stewed in a very light brown broth that I believe used soy sauce.  The beef tongue had a melt in your mouth type of texture with a great flavor.  The broth was a really nice compliment as it was very light, not too salty and really allowed the beef tongue to shine.  The execution was excellent on this dish.  8.25/10

Pig Foot Noodle Soup:

This was a special that night and the bartender (we sat at the bar) said it was excellent so I tried it.  It had a lot of Japanese chest nuts in it which made the soup slightly sweet.  The soup also had a nice star anise flavor, it was quite good, not too salty and you could taste a reasonable amount of complexity in it.  The pig foot was really good, nice and tender.  I tried the thin noodles.  They were good, but pulled a little too thin, so they didn’t retain their al dente quality as well.  Overall, it was an excellent dish. 8/10

Duck Noodle Soup:

This was awesome, quite simple just a seared duck breast, noodles and soup.  The soup had a more discernable star anise flavor as there were no Japanese chestnuts in this one, so it didn’t have that sweet flavor.  I liked this broth a little bit better.  The duck breast was cooked excellently and was rare in the middle.  We ordered the thick noodles in this one and they were much better as they retained their al dente quality better.  Overall, this was really good, much better than any of the Chinatown handpulled noodle places.  8.25/10

I was really pleasantly surprised by this place, it was probably one of the better discoveries I’ve made this year.  I highly recommend coming here.

55 Bond St (between Lafayette St & Bowery)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-4864

A-Wah – An Unfortunate Downhill Visit

I originally went to A-Wah in April 2010 and wrote a very favorable review of the restaurant on chowhound, which you can see here. A-Wah had by far the best bo zai fan (claypot rice) in Chinatown and probably the best version I’d had in the US.  I re-visited it probably 5-6 times shortly after that and it was always excellent.  Soon after that the NYT and Eddie Huang of Baohaus both ended up getting writing very favorably about it which made me happy since I always want good restaurants to do well.

Since then there have been some reports on both chowhound and yelp that either people didn’t like it or thought it was going downhill.  It had been 4-5 months since my last visit, so I stopped in today for lunch to find out whether it had actually gone downhill or whether some people just didn’t like bo zai fan in the first place (it’s not a dish that everyone universally loves).

Unfortunately, the naysayers are very much correct in their assessment that it is no longer very good.  So apologizes to all who tried it after it had gone downhill because you never got to experience what it should taste like.

Bo Zai Fan (Bao Zai Fan / Claypot Rice):

I got the house special which is called hua zai bao zai fan in Chinese (hua zai is the name of the restaurant in Chinese).  I immediately noticed a difference in the amount of meat they gave you, which was probably half as much as before.  I also noticed that the meat was drier and less flavorful than on my previous visits, I think it might have been re-heated.  The rice itself had definitely been pre-cooked and then they just threw some meat on top.  The rice was not that flavorful and was a bit on the dry side.  Because of the short cutting on the preparation the rice no longer has that great flavoring from the meats that good bo zai fan has.  The homemade soy sauce was still excellent though.  Overall, this was quite disappointing and I thought it was pretty mediocre. 6.25/10 (8/10 for the soy sauce though)



Salt-Baked Chicken (Yen Ji):

Their shao la (Cantonese BBQ) has never really been their strong point, but today was particularly bad.  The chicken was quite dry and the skin wasn’t very flavorful as all.  I had to really put a lot of the scallion, garlic and ginger oil on it to make it worth eating.  This was not good at all.  6/10

Thousand Year Egg With Pickled Ginger (Suan Jiang Pi Dan):

I wasn’t expecting this to be great, but I love this dish so I ordered it anyhow.  The pidan (thousand year egg) was the molten kind where the yolk is a bit runny, they weren’t bad, but weren’t great either.  The pickled ginger wasn’t very good, it had a sort of weird taste to it that I didn’t like and it wasn’t sweet enough.  The last time I had this was in July at Yung Kee in Hong Kong, so my bar is pretty high and it’s probably unfair to compare it to the best pidan I’ve ever had, but that is the bar in my mind right now.  Overall, it was okay, but nothing special.  6.25/10

Choy Sum With Oyster Sauce (Hao Jiang Cai Xin):

This was pretty good, the choy sum was cooked perfectly and they didn’t douse it was oyster sauce.  This was the only thing I thought was really good. 7.75/10

This happens a lot in Chinatown where a restaurant starts off strong and then goes downhill.  I thought A-Wah would be different because I believe the chef is the owner, which in my mind is great since you can’t pouch the chef if he is also the owner.  I’m not sure what happened?  Maybe they got lazy, the traffic got too high for them to handle after the media coverage or maybe they decided to cut costs, but whatever the reason I was pretty disappointed and this went from being one of the best restaurants in Chinatown to being another mediocre Chinatown restaurant.  I plan on going one more time for dinner to see if I had an off day or the chef was off or something.

5 Catherine St (between Division St & Broadway)
Manhattan, NY 10038
(212) 925-8308

Shanghai Café – Surprisingly good Shanghainese meal with the off the menu dishes

I’ve been to Shanghai Café many times and it’s been mixed in terms of quality, some dishes are pretty decent and some are mediocre.  However, it is probably the best Shanghainese restaurant in Manhattan.  I recently went back to order off the Chinese menu, which luckily I had a print out of as it wasn’t posted on the wall for some reason (scoopG on Chowhound has a great post of it, which you can find here).  As Shanghai Café is a well-known restaurant, I’ll get straight into the food.

Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat (Bai Ye Jie Kao Rou /百葉結烤):

This dish consists of knotted tofu skin and pork belly cooked in a brown sauce that is hong shao (red cooking).  Hong shao sauce is made of sugar, garlic, star anise, soy sauce, shaoxing wine and broth.  It’s slightly sweet, but still savory.  The sauce was good and not gloopy or over salted.  The meat was very tender and good.  I really like the knotted tofu skin as it absorbs the flavor of the sauce really well.  Overall, a very solid dish, definitely the best dish of the night. 8/10

Crispy Yellow Croaker (Cui Pi Huang Yu /脆皮黃):

This is a yellow croaker that has been lightly battered and fried.  The sauce is a sweet and sour sauce.  It was surprisingly good; I was concerned it would have that fresh water fish flavor that I don’t like.  A lot of Chinatown restaurants have that flavor because the fish aren’t great quality.  However, there wasn’t any of that flavor in this dish, which was great.  The skin was very good, freshly fried and crispy.  Everyone liked this quite a bit. 7.75/10

Fragrant Shredded Peppers and Beef (Xiao Jiao Xiang Gang Niu Rou Si /小椒香干牛肉):

This is shredded beef, dried tofu and sliced spicy green peppers.  Very simple and self-explanatory, but I always liked this dish and the rendition here is good. 7.75/10

Crab roe soup dumplings (Xie Fen Xiao Long Bao):

I decided to try the XLB here again, but unfortunately they were disappointing again (there are no even decent XLB in the city).  The skins were too thick and a bit over-steamed.  The soup is too heavy and the filling was a bit bland.  Stick to the regular dishes.  6.25/10

Stir Fried String Beans (Gan Shao Si Ji Dou):

I love this dish, but unfortunately it was very mediocre.  It had none of the wok flavor that it should have and it was a bit on the salty side.  Simple dish, but I wouldn’t order it here. 6.25/10

Overall, this was a surprisingly good meal and definitely took Shanghai Café up a notch in my book.  The state of Shanghainese food in NY especially Chinatown is pretty bad and in Chinatown this is definitely the best place although the competition is terrible.  Definitely recommend trying some of the dishes I ordered.  I look forward to trying more of the Chinese menu.

100 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-3988