Noodling at HK Wonton Garden – NYC
As the story goes, the owners of Wonton Garden on Mott decided to split and one group left to open HK Wonton Garden on Mulberry, and the other stayed and reopened in the same location as New Wonton Garden. If I had to pick a side, I’m Team HK Wonton Garden all the way. Here’s why…
It’s not because of their wontons or dumplings. For both, I prefer New Wonton Garden, or better yet, Noodle Village. I ordered Roast Duck & Wontons ($6.75) once, and the wontons were incredibly dense. My coworker ordered the same with dumplings, and dumpling innards were equally leaden. The duck, however, was very meaty and juicy, and the soup was well-seasoned with a nice body. From that day on, I’ve made a practice of ordering anything except wontons and dumplings, and so far, it’s worked out for me.
For example, Rice Soup with Fresh Fish Meat, a.k.a. congee with white fish, ($5.25) was pretty solid on one occasion. The congee had a good thickness, and the white fish wasn’t overcooked.
Beef Tendons and Beef Stew with Noodles ($6.75) was also very good with tender meat and sticky tendons, although don’t expect any pickled greens. If you like beef stew and want something different, try the Beef Stew (Curry Sauce) with Noodles ($5.50; pictured above). It’s the same beef stew with tendons, but covered in a thin curry sauce, and with soup served on the side. The curry is mild, so I like to add a spoonful of chili oil. As for the wonton noodles, they’re almost always cooked well so they’re chewy, not mushy. Only one time out of god knows how many did I find the noodles marginally overcooked.
In addition to the great duck at HK Wonton Garden, roast pork (char siu) is also very tasty. On my last visit, I had the Roast Pork with Noodles ($5.25) and the pork was moist with just enough sweetness. As for all the gailan (Chinese broccoli) you see in the bowl, if you want greens, you have to ask for it ($1 extra). I’ve written about my gripe with Chinatown restaurants not adding greens to noodle soups before (chopped scallions don’t count), so I won’t get into it again (except to say in Hong Kong, greens in noodle soup is always a given), but at least if want it, you can have it for a dollar more. (Thanks hungry for making the suggestion!)
So regardless of the name of the restaurant, hold the wontons and keep on noodling. Everything else is sure to be excellent.
HK Wonton Garden
79 Mulberry Street (b/n Canal & Bayard St; map)
New York, NY 10013