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 (http://www.lauhound.com/category/chiu-chow/). 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:
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
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
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