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