Chinese Greens (formerly NY Noodletown)
- Dan Silverman
I've just joined the chowhound pack and am a bit
surprised that I don't see any messages, reviews, etc.
about NY Noodle Town, located on the Bowery @ Bayard.
I've been going for years and I believe it's one of
the best cantonese spots on the Bowery, if not in the
whole area. What do you want? Congee, Noodle soup,
Roast meats--Baby pig at Noodle Town rules!! Any of
the specials on the laminated table cards are great--
any dish with flowering chives, any of the dishes with
black pepper sauce, etc. Casseroles too, esp. Roast
pig with oysters. Salt baked items can also be quite
good. Need a salt baked squid fix?? EAT HERE.
Although salt baked shrimp are now served without the
shells (why, I don't know), the salt baked flounder
can be sublime, and quite soon Salt Baked SS Crabs!!!
What do you other dogs thnk?
Oh yeah--the place is also open until 4 or 5AM...
they had the roast pig with oysters when you where
there?! no fair, everytime I have tried to order it
they didn't have it. I thought it was one of those
things that was on the menu but never available, kind
of like the sauteed watercress at the restaurant
formerly known as Shing Kee.
I have to go back and get that dish...
"kind of like the sauteed watercress at the restaurant formerly known as Shing Kee."
I know what you mean. They call it something else...I think it may be "water spinach". But be sure to order it with (off-menu) foo yee sauce, made from briny fermented bean curd. Their assorted mixed vegetables with foo yee is very good, too
hey, you're hip enough to know the Shing (and their great watercress), so let me ask you:
what's the big deal with Noodletown? Am i missing something?
re: Jim Leff
Jim, I agree with you about NY Noodletown.
I went there especially and tried different noodle
dishes two times. I couldn't believe how bland, dried
out and tasteless they were. My local Chinese
takeout joint was much better. And the attitude of
the people behind the counter did not help at all!
Wonki, if you are reading this...the snow pea shoots
at Tindo are excellent.I believe they are 10.95ish.
Question for Jim or anyone else who frequents
Tindo...I was there last week and saw someone eating
what appeared to be a large fried crab. Two people
were sharing. They did not know what it was? When I
asked the waiter what it was I had trouble
understanding him. From my vague description does
anyone have an idea what that might have been?
re: Jim Leff
Well,it definitely looked like a crab. It was large and
looked fried. It reminded me of a large fried soft
shell crab. They are not in season yet are they? Do
you know the name of any crab dishes or lobster that I
should order next time. I asked the couple what the
name of the dish was and they did not know? Thanks for
the help.By the way Jim, I went to Eva's in the Slope
and it was delicious...2 for 2...thank you.
glad you liked Eva's. It's actually not as great as it was, will
probably be removed from the next edition, but it's still very good
ANY of the crab or lobster dishes are good. I like crab
with black bean sauce or with ginger and scallion. For advice,
only trust the manager, the woman with glasses who hangs downstairs. The other
waiters will try to sell you whatever's most expensive (unless
you get to know them....which is a good idea)
re: Jim Leff
I have eaten at NY Noodle Town 2x. I found that the
roast pork was pretty good, and any more roast pork
that's not totally grey and dried out is a big find.
The roast duck had a nice star anise flavor on the
bones (I know this because I knaw). The portions are
huge the noodle dishes come in something like a pie
plate which for many people is the sign of a good
noodle joint. Perhaps that would be the reason.?
Like I said earlier they didn't have the supposed
roast pork with oysters that I wanted and they didn't
have another casserole dish I thought sounded good, so
I ordered something at the waiters suggestion a
casserole also with Chinese sausage I did not think it
was very good. I never ordered any of those seafood
dishes described above since I usually go for roast
meats (even though I was tempted by the pork/oyster
casserole which I thought might have been made with
dried oysters, but I never got to find out) at noodle
shops. So maybe those are really fantastic?
By the way, about the restaurant formerly known as
Shing kee...I have always thought the clams casserole
there was outstanding, however lately I get annoyed at
them because I try to order watercress (water spinach)
they inevitably tell me it is out of season,
watercress ot of season!? they don't have the mustard
greens either and the last time they did have the
watercress (post closing and re-opening under new
name) it was swimming in a pool of grease. So I order
what they are obviously trying to get me to order
which is flowering chive shoots and/or baby bok choy
or something of that ilk, which are great but of
course twice the price and sometimes you just want
what you want, if you know what I mean. I still think
the clams casserole are good there, though last time I
went not so great (the clams weren't so delicious and
I was actually able to stop eating the sauce before it
was completely gone). Are they better next door? Do
they have them at Tindo, which I was excited to hear
specializes in all those casseroles of which I am so
Sorry, didn't mean to go on about the whole Shing
vegetable thing, it has just been annoying me of
"Sorry, didn't mean to go on about the whole Shing
Nah, we LOVE it when people "go on". It's people "going
on" that make these boards such a riot!
"Are they better next door?"
Do ***NOT*** .........repeat........Do ***NOT*** go in
the restaurant just north of the-former-Shing-Kee
(which, for the record, is Kam Chueh...woops, I mean
the GOOD one we're talking about is Kam Chueh).
I won't get into potentially libelous statements here,
but just trust me on this one.
I know what you mean about the watercress. It's really
hard to order there. I miss the old Shing, where I had
my cadre of waiters who knew me and would set down
plates of shrimp in black bean sauce, watercress foo
yi, and salt and pepper squid without my even needing
to order them. After Sam died, the whole staff changed.
Do you have my book, by the way? I do a proper elegy to
Shing Kee in my review of Kam Chueh.
Tindo has tons of clam casseroles. As always, do the
little green menu. In fact, at Tindo, only stray from
this special menu if you really know what you're doing.
There is Not-Good Food to be had on the regular menu...
ps--I gnaw even maw.
no, no no!!!
Let's settle this EXTREMELY vital point right now.
The former Shing Kee started at 42 Bowery. They opened a second location one door south at #40. This branch gradually became the better one. Eventually #42 came under separate ownership (yes, it's called something like WK seafood Rest). I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PLACE.
#40, Kam Chueh, is still pretty darned good...if difficult re: watercress, and is the sole descendent of The Shing.
To those of you still eating at #42: GO SOUTH!!
re: Jim Leff
"In fact, at Tindo, only stray from
this special menu if you really know what you're doing.
There is Not-Good Food to be had on the regular
You know, they only started giving me the special menu
(in English) after I broke down and mentioned I knew
you. (I *had* to!) Then all the waiters started
treating me nicer, too.
So I've ordered several times off the regular menu, and
I haven't found anything that isn't delicious.
Just don't take "no" for an answer. Start by asking for
watercress. When they respond with feigned non-
comprehension (c'mon, they know from watercress...),
flip to water spinach. In general, be so insistent and
persistent that it's easier for them to simply bring
you the stuff than to waste any more time with you.
My model in such things is Bugs Bunny. "A ride?? I'd
love to go for a ride!! Where are we gonna ride to?!?",
etc etc. Wear 'em down.
The foo yee part is easy (I'm surprised you don't know
it...it's a classic serious Shing order), and the mere
mention of these magic words brands you as somewhat of
a Cantonese insider. It's almost as much of an "inside"
order as Horlick's or Ovaltine.
re: Jim Leff
So are we talking about watercress or water spinach
(kam kung?) with the fermented bean curd? Both are
great but they are quite different in appearance and
As I recall, when we fell in love with sauteed
watercress it was almost always served with the bean
curd. Now, its more usually offered simply sauteed
with garlic. Is this an example of dumbing down the
cooking for westerners?
In the same vein, It used to be that when we had salt
baked squid it was routinely served with a dish of
some sort of spicy, funky fermented fish paste dipping
sauce. Perfect. As the dish has become ubiquitous,
the sauce disappeared. Any clue on the insider's term
for this condiment?? thanks!!
re: jen kalb
"So are we talking about watercress or water spinach
(kam kung?) with the fermented bean curd? "
We're talking relative expression, not absolute, Jen.
What Kam Chueh calls water spinach amounts to
watercress, if I'm not mistaken (obviously, the
vegetable is sorta elusive so it's hard to say anything
In any case, almost ANY vegetable is good with foo yee
(which is, as I think you realize, simply a sauce, not
cubes of fermented "stinky" tofu) except real delicate-
flavored ones like flowering chives, snow pea leaves
and the various baby vegetables. And you're right; this
sauce is seldom served to outsiders...it's rare to even
find it on a menu. Nonetheless, it's definitely just an
option; it's perfectly non-gringo to sautee veg's just
with garlic, too.
"a dish of some sort of spicy, funky fermented fish
paste dipping sauce. Perfect. As the dish has become
ubiquitous, the sauce disappeared. Any clue on the
insider's term for this condiment?? "
I believe the technical term is "spicy, funky fermented
fish paste dipping
Hey, you getting my emails, Jen?
re: Jim Leff
Re: "what's the big deal with Noodletown? Am i missing
Blame it on Bob Fass' girlfriend; apparently she went
to China and on her return reported that Noodletown
(pre-renovation, and no "NY") had *the* most authentic
Chinese food she'd ever tasted. This I heard from Linda
Twigg (friends with both Bob Fass - WBAI radio
personality - and his girlfriend; Linda would go there
and always order the same thing - which she never
disclosed to me. Then she died (of causes not related
to Noodletown), carrying the name of the secret dish to
her grave. C'est la vie.
I keep trying and trying, and I can't for the life of me understand what all the fuss is about this place. It smells bad, the people are awful, and the food (though I haven't tried much of it) seems low average. But lots of otherwise smart people like it, so either it's mass dementia (like the tulip frenzy) or I'm missing something...maybe I'll give 'em one last chance.
Also, which other chinatown places have you tried?
re: Jim Leff
jim and sarah,
read all your posts about the water spinach,
watercress, etc. so i just had to respond. if you guys
like that stuff, have you ever had sauteed snow pea
greens, aka snow pea shoots, aka snow pea stems, and
who knows what else? that stuff is awesome! and imho
much better than watercress, water spinach, etc.
(although i must admit i've never had it with that fee
fi fo fum sauce or whatever it was i can't really
remember ;-)). anyways, snow pea shoots aren't quite
as bitter as watercress or as tough, they're a bit
sweeter but still subtly bitter, kind of like a cross
between watercress and regular spinach, although it
doesn't leave that feeling in your mouth after eating
spinach like you just got sandpapered in your mouth
(know what i'm talking about?) i simply love that
stuff and it goes so well with other chinese food that
you have to get it with every meal (when you can). the
preparation is simple, sauteed in lots of garlic and
oil (or perhaps chicken broth). the problem, and i
guess it's the same as the water spinach, is getting
it. you can try first by saying all of the
aforementioned versions of stems, shoots, greens etc.
attached to snow peas, and if that invariably fails,
you can fake the cantonese like i do, and say "dooohmg
yao" (in the first word, it's a long "o" as in "oreo"
and put lots of emphasis on the first word.) i guess
it'd be easier if you heard it but that's just about
the best I can do unless you want to call me, or
better yet, ask a friend who speaks cantonese.
unfortunately i believe it's a seasonal item and when
available can be quite expensive, about $13 in
chinatown probably and speculatively $36 at joe's
shanghai midtown (sorry about that, couldn't resist
:-) ). another thing is i haven't had really good snow
pea greens in manhattan yet and would love to hear if
anyone knows of places that do it right. take care
You're preaching to the converted, Wonki...this has long been my
favorite vegetable. It used to be an off-menu insider order, but
the secret's out. Ollie's Noodle Shop has 'em prominently
on the menu, and even Ruth Reichl mentioned them a couple of
You'd NEVER order 'em with foo yee, the fermented bean curd
sauce, however. They're far too delicate a flavor. Just
garlic and oil and nothing more.
Didn't know you were trendy, DID you? : )
re: Jim Leff
The dish I will return over and over again to Fuleen
Seafood Rest (Division Street) for is the pea leaves
with, I think, three egg sauce on their special menu.
Its a soupy, absolutely luscious dish, if you like the
preserved eggs. Since the pea greens are so fragile &
seasonal, they serve other greens in the sauce as
well. Perhaps this is similar to Ping's offering.
oh, forgot...it's best to order these things by name (same for watercress,
as someone piped up, but I don't know how to say it in cantonese).
Snow pea pod leaves are "dow myoo". Or something close (perhaps
someone can correct me if I'm slightly off).
They're great at kam chueh, also tindo. The version at Ping's
on queens blvd uses egg, which is interesting. They don't
make a great version with just garlic and oil, however.
re: jim leff
Haven't checked in lately, but saw the many comments
and questions about some of the wonderful Chinese
greens that are such a complement to any meal in
Chinatown. In case anyone still is interested:
"Watercress" is sai yun choy (don't know if that's the
right Anglicized spelling, but that's close to the
Cantonese pronunciation--this goes for the following
too) It's really nice in a soup, too-- sai yun choy
"Water Spinach" is ong choy. It is not watercress.
This vegetable has arrowhead-shaped green leaves and a
tender hollow stem. One of my very
favorites...especially with foo yee, the fermented bean
curd sauce. I believe it's some relative of the
morning glory plant.
"Snow Pea Shoots" are, as someone correctly stated,
pronounced dow myooh.
I have never had a problem being served any of these,
as long as I ordered them using the Cantonese names.
re: Christine Bridges
thanks so much for the awesome message, christine!!
Any fave places for ordering this stuff?
I was just thinking...isn't it weird that Chinatown
waiters suddenly get much more English-fluent when you
order expensive stuff? There's rarely a problem with
ordering, say "flowering chives with crab", and I've
never once met a Chinatown waiter who furrowed his brow
at the word "lobster"!
re: Jim Leff
Oh yeah, and I forgot someone also had wanted to know
the name of that funky, pungent, fishy condiment
sometimes served on the side of certain seafood
dishes. I think they were thinking of "hom har" or
salted shrimp paste. I used to have that served to me
with stir-fried conch.
>Any fave places for ordering this stuff?
My problem is that my Chinatown heyday was about 20
years ago, and all my favorite places are gone or
changed. I fondly remember Mon Sing, Sun Hop Kee, and
Canton Restaurant. Canton is still there, but I
understand from knowledgeable friends that it is
overpriced now and lacking in variety--it seems to be
catering to the semi-sophisticated Caucasian taste.
In its day, Canton was, I think, the best there was.
But that was then, and this is now....
Hop Shing (is it Bowery or East Broadway--it's in that
"five corners" area) is a grungy kind of place you
probably wouldn't take your mother to, but it has been
serving reliably good Cantonese food for a long time.
I have also had very good Cantonese food at Tai Hung
Lau on Mott Street, but I don't know how it is on
Everybody is into the Shanghai places now, and that
food is good, but in my book you can't beat excellent
re: Jim Leff
Thank you one and all for introducing me to a
wonderful new dish. Last night we went for major
feasting at our favorite Chinese, the Siam Cafe, (yes,
I know the name isn't Chinese; they also have Thai and
Vietnamese but their Cantonese is the best), in
Cleveland. We almost always order pea leaves or choy
sum with garlic, but last night I tried the ong choi
foo yee style. We loved it, especially nice were the
fine shredlings of ginger for punctuation. Another new
addition to our repetoire was short ribs with black
pepper sauce. Outstanding meltingly tender peppered
slices of shortribs. This was my first foray into the
mysterious,("What's in that pot?"), casserole
category; plan to try many more. Also had familiar
dishes such as shrimp won ton-noodle soup, Lobster
with ginger-scallion. Observed some families trying an
unfamiliar (to me), noodle dish and discovered it is a
traditional home style preparation listed on the menu
as noodle with bean sprout. Will have to give it a go
next time. Thanks again for the tremendous tip.
re: Jim Leff
Wow. Really, like Wonki, I didn't know that people
were hip to the whole snow pea greens thing. OK. Let
me toss in an additional question: in the past there
have been those times when we'd go to a Chinese
restaurant and upon learning that the snow pea greens
were out of season, we would order something called
"Hong Chai." Like Wonki, I'm Korean so I know that
"Hong" is Mandarin for red. I'm not sure what the
"chai" means. But in any case, both Hong Chai and
Snow Pea greens are prepared the same way: ultra high
heat, garlic, oil and stock. Does anyone tell me what
hong chai is? I am pretty sure they are not
watercress or waterspinach or water--anything. They
were about the same color as the snow pea greens but
the stems of each leaf were very thin-- the whole leaf
was very tender, and pleasant to the taste even for
carnivores like me (see related follow-up in defense
Hey Steve what the hell are you talking about. Have
you ever been there. Hey try the soft shell crabs
when they are in season they are the best. I don't
know where you have been but it can't be as good as NY
Noodle Town. Those other Sing Kee or what over are
nothing compared to Noodletown. Get the HELL out of
here. Hey go listen to linda she says thatit is the
best and it is the best. Hey let me ask you a
question are you a food critique. How would you know
about food. Did you know that the New York times.
that right the New York Times gave them 2 stars. The
other rest. can step aside. Only 2 other rest. have
stars. Do yours have it. NO. Hey i'm not saying that
the other sucks but you have to try the food. It is
real 100% authentic Chinese cruisen. It is not
Chicken with Broocoli buddy it is like pea shoot with
shredded ducks. Now thats a dish i always eat (if it
is in season of course) Hey try that next time and
tell me how you still think OK.
Hey Joe - while we encourage difference of opinions,
there is no need to personally attack people who have
different viewpoints than yours.
What gives you the right to tell them to " get the
HELL out of here"? And I would ask you the same
question - are you a food critic, and what do YOU
know about food? I would venture to guess the answer
is negative on both counts, since you seem to rely on
whether a place gets stars from the NY Times to be
considered good. The Times is NOT the only arbiter of
good food around here. Some of the stuff discussed
around here are below the radar of the NY Times, but
these places have as much legitimacy as those featured
by the Times.
This has always been (with a few exceptions) a very
civilized and generous community of posters. Your
boorish attitude is not welcome here.