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.
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.
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.
I found myself jumping back and forth between that and the crispy pork intestines pretty regularly.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rear dining room:
The seafood selection here is truly incredible, by the way.
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.
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