Tag Archives: chinese food

Hwa Yuan

I went to Hwa Yuan with my wife and a group of friends to celebrate Lunar/Chinese New Year. We had a massive feast, but the very first bite of the meal was the clear favorite for all of us: crispy tangy beef.

This shit was like meat candy. So good that I wanted it by the bucketful.

Next up, Peking roasted duck.

Look at this fellow up close:

Our waiter sliced it up table side:

Here’s a short video of the slicing, set to American New Year music:

I also really liked this plate of sliced mountain yam with ginger, snow peas, goji berries and wood ear mushrooms. The yams tasted like giant water chestnuts.

This plate of eggplant was really tasty too, and I typically don’t love eggplant.

This dish was called “Amazing Chicken.” I really liked the sauce, but I wish the chicken had a bit more texture on it.

This was a roasted and stewed Barramundi fish.

And this bowl of ma po tofu was perfect. Just the right amount of silky texture and numbing spice with heat.

These pea sprouts were tasty too – almost like a cross between spinach and collards, simply steamed with garlic and soy.

Get your asses down to this joint and dig in. The food is really great!

HWA YUAN
42 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Guan Fu Szechuan

I recently had the pleasure of dining with a bunch of food friends at this new Szechuan joint in Flushing called Guan Fu. They do an incredible job of showcasing the different kinds of spice that the cuisine is known for (numbing as well as heat), while also developing intense, robust flavors that you can actually taste. Contrast with many other Szechuan joints in NYC that just blow your mouth out with heat and numbness, leaving you unable to actually enjoy the food.

That’s not to say that the food here isn’t spicy. It sure as heck is! But the balance is so well done that it’s quite impressive. But let me get down to business, because we tried 17 different dishes here. There is a lot to discuss…

The first four dishes were cold preparations.

1. Thinly Sliced Pork Liver

This was nice. No mealy texture or gamey flavor. Good heat from the red chilis. Excellent citrus-flavored sauce.

2. Sweet Fried Pork Ribs

These were awesome. Great crispy texture, super tender, and with just a little bit of heat to gently contrast the sweet.

3. Razor Clams

These were served with Mexican green peppers (likely a poblano or hatch variety) as well as some red Thai chili peppers. Great preparation, and the clams were perfectly cooked.

4. Bean Jelly

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The bean jelly was reminiscent of a snappy, thick noodle. This was served with chili oil, peanuts, sesame seeds and scallions.

Okay now onto the warm food.

5. “Water Fish” Tilapia

This was both numbing and heat spicy. The fish was served in an over-seasoned broth so as to get all the flavors into the flesh of the Tilapia. In fact, the sauce/broth isn’t meant to be eaten, as is the case with many of the dishes we were served.

6. Dry Pot Frog

This was another favorite of the night. The frog was so tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was served with crisp, fried potatoes and lotus root in the mix too. That textural contrast really blew me away. Just be careful of the tiny bones in the frog meat!

7. Sliced Beef With Pickled Cherry Peppers

This was a really fun dish. The peppers were pickled, but the beef and cucumber cooked in the sauce were both fresh (meaning not pickled). Really nice.

8. Hot Pot

In addition to cabbage and mushrooms, this also contained slices of lamb meat and beef meatballs. Awesome flavors going on here when you mixed it all together, and a little bit of numbness from those famous Szechuan peppercorns.

9. Sweet & Crispy Corn

This was a nice way to knock back any heat that might be lingering in your mouth. These little nuggets were a perfect snack. Juicy inside, bursting with kernel corn flavor, but crispy and batter-fried on the outside.

10. Kung Pao Chicken

This is a famous dish, but done right and as close to authentic as you’re going to get. Lots of heat, really tender meat, and a great contrast of flavors and textures in the stir fry mix.

11. Ma Po Tofu

This is another famously spicy dish from the Szechuan region. The sauce here is a blast of heat and numbing spice, meant to be eaten with rice. I skipped the rice, though, and was just spooning the sauce into my mouth, gulp after gulp. It was great!

12. “Fishy Pork”

There is no actual fish in this dish, but it is made with the intent of giving the diner the essence or flavors of fish. The actual protein here is shredded pork, and it is delicious.

13. Hand Ripped Cabbage With Pork Belly

Bacon makes everything better, especially cabbage. This was a really nice way to get a veggie into the mix other than incorporating peppers and onions into a stir fry.

14. Double Pepper Chicken

Wow. Just when you thought Kung Pao was a kick in the balls, you discover double pepper chicken. The two peppers are green chilis (jalapeños) and red chilis (Thai chilis). But the sneaky spice here is the numbing Szechuan peppercorns that are also worked into the dish. Excellent.

15. Shrimp

These head-on giant shrimp were excellent. They even serve small shrimp where you can eat the shell as well.

16. Green Beans

I love how the veggie comes out last. These were simple and delicious though. A welcome addition to the meal.

17. Fried Sesame Cakes

I’ve had these babies before and I love them. These were filled with a squash mash or paste of some kind. I generally like the red bean or mung bean pastes better (they’re a little sweeter).

That about does it. I really want to come back here and try more stuff, or even just put down full portions of my favorite dishes from this trip, like the bean jelly and dry pot frog. Get your ass out here and try this stuff ASAP!

GUAN FU SZECHUAN
39-16 Prince St
G01
Flushing, NY 11354

Sing Kee

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

A food friend of ours organized a massive 18-person, multi-course Chinese Thanksgiving meal on the weekend before turkey day as a way to celebrate our love of food.

We started with a house soup that contained dry winter melon and shredded pork.

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These clams were served in a bean sauce that really popped. Super flavorful and clams were cooked perfectly.

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These fried pork chops were incredibly tender and juicy. Definitely one of my favorite courses.

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I’m not usually into full veggie dishes, but this mushroom platter was really incredible and satisfying. Those things at the bottom are little tofu skin crepes that are filled with a variety of mushrooms.

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This whole fish (flounder, I believe) was another top dish of the day.

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The meat was succulent and tender, and the veggies were a nice vehicle to deliver the sauce that they sponged up.

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Fried and chopped lobster with some sort of Cheetos-like cheese coating. Incredibly unique for a Chinese joint. These were gobbled up almost instantly.

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Beef! Yes! This was likely either flank or strip, but it came out on a sizzling skillet and was served in a really delicious brown sauce. Very tender.

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Also a winning dish, this chicken was basically deconstructed and then re-assembled with the meat having been replaced by mixed-protein sticky rice. That rice was then coated and blanketed with extremely crisp chicken skin. So awesome, and so labor intensive.

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Another hit dish was this dungeoness crab on a bef of flat, wide noodles (think chow fun style).

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This was a very photogenic dish, and the crab meat was delicious.

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The noodles could have used a bit more of a flavorful sauce, but otherwise this was really good.

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On the side we enjoyed some stir fried and garlicky pea shoots.

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And for dessert was a warm bowl of sweet bean porridge, of which I did not get a good shot.

All in, this meal only cost $45pp with tax and tip included. I definitely recommend giving this place a try. Especially for the chicken/sticky rice, fried pork chops and whole fish.

SING KEE
42 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

Mahjong & Amazon Restaurants

Amazon recently launched a restaurant delivery service called Amazon Restaurants to compete with services like Seamless and GrubHub. They offered a few Instagram influencer friends and I some credit to try it out and post pics, give our thoughts, etc.

To make a whole night of it, we decided to order a whole bunch of Chinese food (and a little Thai) and make it game night as well with a Mahjong table and a deck of cards for Big Two.

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Here’s a list of what we ordered, from three different restaurants.

Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns & Ramen: Pan Fried Pork Dumplings, Sticky Rice Shao Mai, Sliced Beef with Tripe in Chili Oil, House Special Ramen, and Sticky Rice Balls in Chinese Sweet Liqueur.

Spice: Maekong Aged Pork Chops and Emerald Vegetable Dumplings.

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Hot Kitchen: Slow Grilled Lamb Ribs, Ma Po Tofu, Sliced Fish & Sour Cabbage Soup.

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Since I’ve reviewed Kung Fu before, I will focus on the other items here. The big standout for me was the slow grilled spicy lamb from Hot Kitchen. The cumin and red pepper dry spice is just fantastic. I highly recommend it, especially because lamb ribs are a rarity on menus.

While the pork chops from Spice were pricey and a bit dry, they were super tender and had a nice aged flavor to them. Perhaps get these in the restaurant, rather than for delivery, to ensure they are cooked properly.

As for the delivery service, Amazon Restaurants was great. They have a good selection of restaurants stretching across the city, and the food arrived in a timely manner, still hot and fresh. A welcome addition to the food delivery service market.

KUNG FU LITTLE STEAMED BUNS & RAMEN
811 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019

SPICE
435 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

HOT KITCHEN
251 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Hand Pulled Noodles Class

My buddy scored some tickets to this cool Xian Foods noodle pulling class at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and he was kind enough to bring me along.

Basically, they taught us how to make dough, and then gave us some pre-made dough and all the ingredients to make some delicious tingly beef noodles, which has become so popular at their restaurants. Here is the man behind the brand, along with some wheat flour noodle dough:

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And here is a video of me pulling my noodle:

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And then some all-important final photos, and behind the scenes action of us taking photos.

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A photo posted by Johnny Prime (@johnnyprimecc) on

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Hell yes.

Yaso Tangbao

Soup dumplings are some of the most amazing things to eat. That burst of thick, viscous deliciousness is like nothing else in the food world. So when two friends of mine hosted an Instagram event at Yaso Tangbao, a dumpling and noodle joint in Brooklyn, I was psyched. First, I captured this footage of the guys making the dumplings. Check it out:

Then, of course, I gorged my face off on this shit. There were three varieties of soup dumpling, the best of which was the spicy (with red powder on top).

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These are some of the best I’ve tried. The pouches never ripped or stuck to the paper beneath – and the flavors inside were always robust and packing great depth.

We also tried some other fun stuff:

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Along with a shitload of noodle dishes. The one with the meatballs was amazing. Those meatballs are really soft and tender, made with pork.

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As far as straight up meat goes, this place also slings some killer ribs.

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And while this whole fish dish isn’t on the menu (staff caught it the day before and served it to us special), one awesome thing at this place is a water cooler filled with soy sauce. Yup.

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YASO TANGBAO
148 Lawrence St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

The Tang

The Tang is a great little noodle bar on 1st Avenue at 7th Street. I was invited here for a PR event showcasing some of their current and forthcoming dishes. Everything I tasted was really fucking good, and, in fact, the noodle quality is probably the best I’ve had in town so far. They’re strong, thick, have a really nice texture and snap to them, and they’re really nicely flavored in all the dishes I tried.

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The meats in all of these noodle dishes are outstanding, by the way. One had braised pork belly, one had sliced beef, and the other had ground meats.

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Some of the soup noodle bowls are excellent too.

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But this place is more than just noodles. One standout item was the sliced beef short rib. These babies are packed with a ton of flavor, and cooked so perfectly. You don’t see short rib presented like this too often, like a real cut of steak on a plate, so I am featuring it here for my steak reviews as well. Short rib can be fatty, and that’s why it is usually either grilled hard with tons of sauce, or braised. But here, it was leaner and notably excellent at medium rare temps, because it was cooked sous vide style for 20 hours. 8/10.

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This place is really my speed, especially given this large format pork knuckle/shank dish that will be rolling out on the menu soon. It’s super soft and tender.

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I also tried a sesame tofu dish, a salad with soft boiled egg, and some sliced, rolled chicken with chili oil.

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THE TANG
120 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009

Northern Tiger

This stand at Hudson Eats slings some decent dumplings and noodles.

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My wife, a friend and I came here after a crazy chocolate event at ICE to get something a little savory to balance the palate.

We tried an order of their special kung pao chicken dumplings.

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These were chock full of good quality chicken, but they were a bit over-sauced and dense. Good flavors though.

The next dumplings we tried were some pan seared pork and chive fuckers.

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These were much better. They had great texture and contained the right balance of juices and meat inside. Very nice.

Finally, we tried an order of sour and spicy chicken noodles.

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This contained two types of noodles: spaghetti-like clear “glass noodles,” and wide, flat noodles.

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I think they could have used a hit of spice to them, but the chicken meat was high quality and the flavors worked. This place is worth a shot if you’re in the area, especially for the pan seared pork dumps.

NORTHERN TIGER
At Hudson Eats
225 Liberty St
New York, NY 10281

Flaming Kitchen

This joint offers a legitimately awesome Chinese food experience in the heart of Chinatown. The owner contacted me for a press meal, and I was quick to jump at it.

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The interior is very bright, pretty, spacious and clean. The dining room was a cool and comfortable, with plenty of elbow room.

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My wife and I turned over all control of our meal to our waiter, Griffin, after we poured ourselves some oolong tea.

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Griffin asked a few questions, like “do you like spicy foods,” and “do you have any food allergies.” Yes, and no. “We are willing to try anything.” He was happy about that, as he was planning to feature some of their more signature dishes for us. And then we were off…

The first thing that came out was this plate of thinly sliced conch with spicy chili sauce.

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The conch was cooked perfectly. It was tender enough to make you think you were eating chow fun noodles, but it still had snap to it, like you might associate with nicely cooked squid. My wife referred to this dish as “protein noodles.” I thought that was pretty clever, so we did a “lift” photo for all of you Instagram whores out there.

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And the spicy chili oil with lemongrass was the perfect sauce to deliver all of this deliciousness. I can’t wait to go back and order more of this. $12.95.

Next up were these pan fried mini pork buns. Say what? Steamed pork buns that are also fried? Yup. Take a look:

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They’re steamed first, and then one side is pan fried to give it a nice flat and golden brown crisp. I’ve never seen this before.

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Inside was tender and lemongrass-spiced pork meat with scallions.

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They were great. The bun was soft but not sticky and gummy, and the pan fried side gave them a nice texture mix that kept my taste buds interested from the first bite to the last. $5.95.

We tried four entrees! The first, and our most favorite, was the braised whole tilapia in spicy chili broth with peppercorns.

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It may LOOK like a nightmare of spices for you heat pussies out there, but I assure you, this broth is drinkable. I love spicy foods, and I can handle a lot of heat, but my opinion is that this dish is accessible to all in terms of spice levels, so long as you don’t actually eat the dried red chilies. The peppercorns within are very herbal and only slightly numbing, like a milder version of the kind you might encounter in spicy hot pot. This was so addicting that we brought home whatever was left of this dish so that we could have at that broth again and again. It almost had a Thai tom yum flavor, but without the lemongrass.

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But back to the actual fish: the meat was extremely tender and flavorful. Braised means it is fall-apart tender, and with some fresh cilantro on top, you feel like you are eating so fresh and healthy. Tilapia is a light fish to begin with, so this was a very good entree to start with. $24.95.

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We even got some of the cheek meat out of the head. Mmm.

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Next up was sauteed frog with spicy peppers.

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The frog itself was mainly leg meat, with some occasional other parts mixed in, but chopped up coarsely so you had to be deft with not swallowing any bones. I found that eating in the front of my mouth, with my front teeth, was the trick to maneuvering the bones with ease. The meat was awesome. If you haven’t had frog, to me it tastes like a cross between tender chicken and a scallop, both in texture and flavor.

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This was the spiciest dish of the day, too, as the chopped dried red chilies added a nice kick in the balls for heat. The green peppers aren’t that spicy but they have a great aroma and flavor. I even tasted traditional black pepper in there as well. $22.95.

The next dish was salt and pepper jumbo shrimp. These were presented butterflied, but with the shells and heads still on, on a bed of lettuce, peppers, sliced garlic and scallions.

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While a few were slightly overcooked, the salt and pepper batter was delicious and crunchy. We dipped these into the sauce that came with the frog dish as well, for a little more spice. $21.95.

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We treated the fourth entree as a side, since it came out alongside our fish dish. This was sauteed pumpkin with celery and artichoke.

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The pumpkin was tender and slightly sweet, which went well with the fresh braised celery flavor. The artichoke added a bit of starchiness to the dish, so if you are not a meat eater, this will be nice and filling for you, and unique to boot. Not bad for vegetarian! $14.95.

We will definitely be back here, again and again. For a long time my wife and I were hunting for a good Chinese and spicy Szechuan joint in the area. This place will give us our fix, every time. When you come here, I highly recommend the pan fried mini pork buns, the braised whole fish and the sliced conch dishes. All three were amazing. I realize that frog is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoyed it. If you are up for trying something different, then go for it because I recommend that as well. They also serve dim sum, so if that’s your thing, I suggest doing that as well. Oh, and upstairs is a karaoke joint. So you can go up and sing your ass off after dinner.

FLAMING KITCHEN
97 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Bite of Hong Kong

My wife and I have been on the prowl for a good Chinese place for quite some time. We were always in search of something more – something simultaneously unique and seemingly authentic, serving up good quality food without breaking the bank. Our criteria were numerous: (1) It had to be in Chinatown, but (2) not overrun by tourists (Wo Hop). (3) It couldn’t be some cheap, dirty and shitty joint (China Red), or (4) some gigantic dim sum warehouse dining room or buffet (Golden Unicorn). (5) We also had no room in our hearts for more than one visit to an overpriced and super trendy joint (Red Farm). (6) Finally, the menu couldn’t solely consist of Americanized Chinese dishes as the signature items (every other takeout/delivery Chinese joint in the city).

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good General Tso’s chicken from time to time. But like I said above, we wanted something more. I know that list above may seem like a diva’s demands, or the asinine pre-performance requests of a big Broadway star, but in NYC, where Chinese food is insanely abundant, one can start to become very picky and particular about what they want to eat.

So where to go? Enter Bite of Hong Kong.

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This joint contacted me to come in for a press meal. When I read the detail sheet, I was instantly excited. This place seemed to meet all of our criteria in one fell swoop, perhaps because the menu contains more than just standard Chinese/Cantonese fare. There are lots of Hong Kong style dishes in there, of which I am, admittedly, not fully familiar. But my and my wife’s eyes and appetites naturally wandered to those things, because they were different from what we typically see at Americanized joints. They were more authentic, and, in turn, more unique for us.

Take this trio of appetizers that we munched on, for example. Jellyfish, duck tongue, and crispy pig intestines. I’ve had jellyfish before, and the best way to describe it is this: a cold salad made of slightly crunchier/snappier noodles.

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The shit is delicious, so don’t let the “ickiness” of the actual protein fool you. If I gave it to you without telling you what it was, you’d think it was a kind of noodle or unique vegetable.

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I found myself jumping back and forth between that and the crispy pork intestines pretty regularly.

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These were crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside, kind of like pork skin with some meat attached, only halved in the crisp and succulence factors. These make for a great snack. As far as intestines go, and offal in general, these are pretty top notch!

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The duck tongues were a bit more tricky. I popped one into my mouth and started to chew, thereby pulverizing the small bone that is attached. This was my first time having them, so I had no idea. Our host, Mike, then explained that you eat the meat off and around the small bone, kind of like how you would take down a chicken wing.

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These had more juicy fat content to them than I expected from a muscle like the tongue. When I say fat content, I mean the edible, flavorful kind – like in the marbling of a steak. Up front is the meaty part, and in the back, around the bone, is the fatty part. Cooked with soy sauce and spices, this is a fairly simple dish, and the portion size is large for an appetizer.

I’m a huge fan of chow fun, the long, wide, broad noodle dish. Here, we went with the dry preparation, which is simply hit with heat in a wok and tossed with veggies and protein. We chose beef.

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The beef was incredibly tender and flavorful, and the noodles were cooked perfectly. This dry version, when executed properly, leaves pretty much no oil in the dish, and leaves behind no greasy texture whatsoever.

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That was certainly the case here, because Chef Fei is a master on the wok. This chow fun ranks among the best I’ve had.

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Speaking of bests, our next dish was hands-down the best crab dish I’ve had in NYC. That shot of Fei above was taken as he was plating.

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This is fried Dungeness crab. The legs are separated from the body and each part is coated with a light and puffy batter before hitting the wok.

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That batter is amazing, by the way. It reminded me of the batter you sometimes get around Chinese fried shrimp, or shrimp toast. Perhaps a beer batter?

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In any case, you can put the shell in your mouth and pull the crunchy batter off with your teeth for a nice hit of savory with each bite of juicy crab meat.

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I seriously couldn’t believe it when it came to the table. Not only was it stunning to look at, but the method of cooking preserved so much of that rich crab flavor in each bite of meat. As you can see, the final product gets topped with crispy fried shallots, scallions, egg, and shredded carrot.

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Even the super flavorful gutsy bits were left in the shell and fried. I passed those off to my wife, because she loves that stuff.

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A crab of this caliber will run you about $50 here, as the market price is in the $20’s per pound.

I should note here that all of their seafood is pulled right from these tanks, which are situated between the front dining room and the rear dining room.

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Rear dining room:

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The seafood selection here is truly incredible, by the way.

Dungeness crabs:

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Coral shrimp:

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In addition to those critters, they also have fresh lobster and a variety of live fish, which they serve whole in various cooking preparations. We saw one coming out to another table and were blown away by the presentation.

And instead of the standard orange at dessert time, Bite of Hong Kong brings over some slices of fresh watermelon. Nice touch.

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So long story short: it seems that my wife and I found our ideal place for good Chinese food that meets our demanding list of criteria. I highly recommend this place. I wish I had discovered it sooner, as it opened in March 2015. I’ve missed out on over a year of this delicious shit! And if you happen to live in the area, you should pop in to try one of their lunch special meals for under $6. That is an insane bargain!

BITE OF HONG KONG
81 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002