Chinatown, Food in Film/TV, Giveaway, Restaurants

Feasting at Hop Kee & No Reservations Giveaway- NYC

February 23, 2009 | 28 Comments
pan fried flounder @ hop kee spicy beef chow fun @ hop kee
steak @ hop kee crabs cantonese style @ hop kee

Yes, it’s another post about Chinese food, because as you may have noticed by now, I love Chinese food. My friend, Eunice, says sometimes I act like they are going to run out of food in Chinatown. They probably won’t, but why take the chance!!! Amazingly enough, I wasn’t crazy about Chinese food until I started dating my boyfriend. I mean I liked it, but not with this much fervor. Growing up, my brother would order Chinese take-out almost every day. In the summers, I would wake up to my brother holding two menus: Chinese in one hand, Italian in the other. As a result, Chinese food was nothing special, it was always around. Well that changed when I started living with David. My boyfriend, as I mentioned previously, does not like pork. In addition to that, he does not like Chinese food. Consequently, Chinese food is now another obsession of mine, and whenever an opportunity arises, I hit Chinatown with a vengeance. Two weeks ago I did just that, when my Chinese food-loving friends, Soo Hyun and Joo Hyun, came to visit me from Seoul. As usual, we did some damage at Hop Kee.

Hop Kee is one of my long-time Cantonese favorites in Chinatown. In college, it used to be one of my go-to spots after clubbing, since they’re open until 4am on the weekends. The place hasn’t changed much since then. They still have the old red booths and the waiters still wear the thin grayish white jackets that make them look like shady back-alley dentists. But most importantly, the food is the same, delicious, cheap, and plentiful.

crabs cantonese style @ hop kee

One of my favorite dishes there is the Crabs Cantonese Style ($11.25). The crabs are cooked in an addictive brown meat sauce with egg that tastes so good you’ll be scooping it up and mixing it into your white rice. Or if you like crab roe, like I do, you can mix your rice into one of the top shells, which always has some roe inside. My only complaint about this dish is that sometimes the sauce can be a bit sandy from the crabs. It’s happened to me once out of a thousand times, so you shouldn’t be too worried about it, but I can see many people being very turned off by that one time. If you think you are possibly one of those people, remember, you’ve been warned.

pan fried flounder @ hop kee

My other favorite is the Pan Fried Flounder ($16.50) served in a soy sauce based sauce and garnished with ginger and scallions. I love this dish because the fresh flounder is fried super crisp yet the innards are soft and melt in your mouth. Strangely enough, David actually loves this dish, and luckily for me, craves it once in a while. So if you have a friend who is wary of Chinese food, order the Pan Fried Flounder and he/she may become a convert.

spicy beef chow fun @ hop kee

Spicy Beef Chow Fun ($5.95), although not very spicy for my standards, is another stand-by at Hop Kee. It’s your basic chow fun with tender beef and a few slices of hot green peppers thrown in for some heat. Nothing too exotic, it’s just classically good.

steak @ hop kee

Two weeks ago, I tried something new, the Steak with Chinese Broccoli ($14.95). Soo Hyun and Joo Hyun liked it well enough, but I found it a bit odd. The thick soy sauce based sauce was fine, as was the Chinese broccoli, but the texture of the steak, akin to chewy rice cakes, was not to my liking. And although I ate a good amount of the steak, I wouldn’t order this again.

After a week of eating out all over New York City, Soo Hyun and Joo Hyun still consider our meal at Hop Kee one of the best. Hop Kee isn’t fancy or trendy, but you’re guaranteed you’ll have a deliciously filling meal each time, even David. Coincidentally, in today’s No Reservation episode titled “Disappearing New York,” Anthony Bourdain goes to Hop Kee, but strangely, eats egg rolls, pork fried rice, and sweet and sour pork. Um, yeah… All I have to say is, were they out of french fries and General Tso’s Chicken? I’ll give Tony some slack this time though, I mean he did eat wild boar anus in Namibia. However, if the next episode is about McDonald’s Value Meals or Subway, I may go postal. I mean, good god, the world already has one Guy Fieri.

In any case, besides the sweet and sour chicken blip, No Reservations is one of my favorite food-related shows, and the nice people at No Reservations are giving me one copy of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Collection 3 to give away. To enter, write the name of your favorite Chinese dish, along with the name of the restaurant and the location, in the comments below. U.S. entries only please, unless you want to pay for international shipping and handling. A winner will be chosen at random. However, any submissions about General Tso’s Chicken or Beef and Broccoli will be deemed weak, and you will be automatically disqualified. You have until 12 am ET Monday (March 2, 2009) to enter. Good luck!

UPDATE I – Just saw the full episode of “Disappearing New York” and Tony redeems himself by eating Pan Fried Flounder and Crabs Cantonese Style after his 70′s cliché Chinese meal. All is right with the world again.

UPDATE II – Official drawing was tonight and the winner is CaseyD! Your name was picked randomly from my straw beach hat. Congratulations Casey! And thanks to everyone who participated. I’ll be hitting up all the NYC spots.

Hop Kee
21 Mott Street (b/n Chatham Sq & Mosco St)
New York, NY 10013

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28 Comments

  • eunice at 6:32 pm on February 23, 2009

    shrimp with walnuts from congee village! 100 Allen St. NYC 10002

  • Joohyun at 7:21 pm on February 23, 2009

    oh hopkee :P
    I love the story of your brother holding two menus.

    we miss you!!

  • Karla at 8:51 pm on February 23, 2009

    fave Chinese dish-Shredded pork stomach in spicy sauce/Frog with Szechuan pickled hot pepper from
    Xiao La Jiao at 133-43 Roosevelt Ave in Flushing

  • Danny at 9:47 pm on February 23, 2009

    Ooooh, I’ve never been there before. Can you believe that? 8 yrs of walking around Chinatown. The shame.

    A really fiery dish is the beef filet in chili oil at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th street. I just had it like two hours ago. It’s pretty awesome.

  • reen at 10:59 pm on February 23, 2009

    i HATE chinese food but i really like this one authentic taiwanese place (a lot of the specialties are in chinese with no translation) ive seen pple eat chicken out of logs and stuff but my fav dish is the tofu casserole with pork served over a metal plate with a low fire, and pork with bamboo shoots, it sounds really simple but its soo good.

    5914 Main St Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet Inc

  • Jason at 9:52 am on February 24, 2009

    The cumin lamb at Little Pepper 13343 Roosevelt Ave in Flushing is amazing

  • CaseyD at 12:55 pm on February 24, 2009

    cheung fun and zongzi (lotus wrapped stuffed rice) from the street vendor on the NE corner of bowery and grand. mmm.

  • Evan at 8:09 pm on February 24, 2009

    Spicy beef hand-pulled noodle soup @

    Super Taste
    26 Eldridge Street
    New York, NY 10002

  • winky at 10:11 pm on February 24, 2009

    Fried whole fish with garlic sauce from Famous Sichuan,10 Pell St

  • JK at 3:12 am on February 25, 2009

    Spicy Salted Pork Chops at Hop Kee in NYC.

  • Lindsay at 9:41 am on February 25, 2009

    Spicy Garlic Chicken from Fortune Inn in Hampstead MD

  • Sue at 2:59 pm on February 25, 2009

    The roast duck and preserved egg/salted pork congee at big wong, best cantonese bbq in chinatown i think!

  • Sue at 3:00 pm on February 25, 2009

    big wong’s at 67 mott, near bayard

  • ekim paehc at 1:35 pm on February 27, 2009

    I am not sure how meeting your boyfriend ignited your passions for chinese food. You say that he does not care for it. The last time I went to Hop Kee, it was over -run by Koreans in Burberry. Anyone know how this place became a hang-out for the kimchee set? The chow fun at Hop Kee is the best in the world.

  • bionicgrrrl at 3:56 pm on February 27, 2009

    @ekim – Well, since he doesn’t like it, we don’t eat it often when we are together. Not sure about you, but I always want what I can’t have. The “kimchee set”? OK… As for Korean people at Hop Kee, I think one reason is that they have a menu in Korean, as well as Chinese and English. However, I’ve never seen it overrun.

  • JavaSquid at 11:10 am on March 1, 2009

    I nominate the Duck Tongues from Szechuan Gorumet (21 W 39th St.) They are inauspiciously green and tongue-numbingly spicy.

  • kayce. at 10:30 pm on March 1, 2009

    i wondered thru 1/2 the post if hop kee was the same place tony ate at ~ the crab cantonese looked familiar ~ and i was going to correct you about his “ode to nostalgic chinese” meal, but luckily caught your update… tony can do no wrong for me, LOL. ;) (SIDEBAR) the guy who showed him hop kee = SO CUTE! ^_^

    anywho…

    my fave chinese dish is a classic: mai po beef (i think that’s the right spelling) and my fave place to eat it is at my house, LOL, but second to that is a place here called straits on juniper street in ATL.

  • bionicgrrrl at 10:34 pm on March 1, 2009

    @kayce – You can have the Chinese guy, I’ll take Tony! ;)

  • hi five at 11:03 am on March 3, 2009

    that crab dish looks so good i am going to eat this blog!!!

  • bionicgrrrl at 8:52 pm on March 3, 2009

    @JooHyun – I miss you guys too. :(

    @Danny – Shame on you. Get there stat!

    @hi five – I hi five you.

  • freddy at 12:24 pm on July 18, 2009

    YOUR ARTICLE TAKES ME BACK TO A HAPPIER TIME, FOOD WISE, BEFORE MOVING TO VEGAS 6 YEARS AGO. GROWING UP IN JERSEY WE USED TO VISIT CHINATOWN EVERY TWO WEEKS, SHOPPING FOR FRESH SEAFOOD,MEATS,FRUITS,VEGETABLES AND THE OCCATIONAL IMITATIONAL GOODS! AND THAT WAS JUST IN THE MORNING BEFORE THE RESTAURANTS WOULD OPEN @1100 BEGINNING A FOOD FEST WITH MY FAVORITE FOOD DISH,”CRABS CANTONESE STYLE”AAHH!!!!FROM HOP KEE, THEN PAN FRIED FLOUNDER IN GINGER SAUCE, PEKING STYLE PORK CHOPS, BEEF IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE, WINTERMELON SAUCE, PLENTY OF RICE AND SUNKIST ORANGE SODA. BELEVE ME WE ORDERED ALL THIS FOOD BUT ATE HALF TO EAT THE REST LATER FOR DINNER AT HOME. AND I ALSO REMEMBERED GOING TO THE LATIN CLUBS IN NYC ONLY TO END THE NIGHT, OR I SHOULD SAY MORNING @HOP KEE. BUT I ALSO WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT OTHER PLACES FOR PASTRIES:ME LA WAI, ICE CREAM:I FORGOT THE NAME BUT IT’S ACROSS THE STREET AND HONG YING RESTAURANT ABOUT TWO DOORS DOWN FROM HOP KEE(THEY MAKE A KILLER CUBE STEAK WITH A SMOKY FLAVOR). MEMORIES IS ALL I HAVE NOW BUT IF YOU COULD E-MAIL ME THE RECIPE FOR CRABS CANTONESE STYLE FROM HOP KEE I WOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL.

  • bionicgrrrl at 11:08 pm on July 19, 2009

    @freddy – I wish I had the recipe to give you!!! I did find this recipe online for Lobster Cantonese. Haven’t tried it yet, but if it’s good, I will definitely write a post about it. And NYC isn’t so far from Vegas, I’m sure if you ever visit, Hop Kee will still be waiting for you in Chinatown.

  • Ulla at 8:54 pm on October 19, 2010

    Hop Kee is one of my favorites too! I love their Cantonese-style crab too. I wonder how they get the egg in the sauce…. Gorgeous pictures!

  • bionicgrrrl at 9:51 pm on October 19, 2010

    @Ulla – My friend was telling me recently he hates Chinese dishes with egg in it, but really, what’s there not to like?! I love the crab sauce. I can eat a bowl of it as soup.

  • nynyjap at 12:33 pm on January 28, 2011

    Next time you go, try the salt and pepper squid (I think it’s actually called salted squid with hot peppers), or the snails in black bean sauce and the chinese broccoli in oyster sauce. those are my standard go-to dishes at my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. The crabs cantonese is definitely great, but the other dishes are also very very good.

  • bionicgrrrl at 4:40 pm on February 13, 2011

    @nynyjap -I love the snails there too! Never tried the squid. Will try it next time.

  • James at 2:54 am on February 24, 2011

    I’m going to try Hop Kee for the first time with some friends this Friday! And I’m hella glad that I’m on the side of pork. I mean, on the side of eating pork. I’m glad that I’m the enemy of the pig.

  • bionicgrrrl at 4:06 pm on February 24, 2011

    @James – Hope you like it. I highly recommend crabs Cantonese style, fried flounder, and if you don’t mind the work, snails in black bean sauce. Enjoy!

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