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Wo Hop

  • s

Will be visiting early Jan. Wo Hop was recomended by my doctor who is a new yorker. He says it the best food in chinatown. What do u chowhounds say?

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  1. Wo Hop is no good whatsoever. It may have been once (I have older relatives with fond memories). Search the board, there are tons of great options in Chinatown.

    1. I say your doc should stay out of his prescription cabinet. Seriously, Wo Hop has its fans, but I think there are many better choices. If you are looking for Cantonese in Chinatown (assuming so since Wo Hop is), here are some ideas:

      Noddleshop/Hanging Meats:
      NY Great Noodletown
      Wing Wong

      Oriental Garden
      Kam Cheuh



      1. Wo Slop? You're joking right?

        1. I always love Grand Sichuan on 24th and 9th Ave, I prefer it to all the Chinese food in Chinatown.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Josh

            Yes! Grand Sichuan is fantastic.

            Sadly, we also fell for the Wo Hop hype once.

            1. re: Josh

              Grand Sichuan on Bowery and Canal puts most places to shame- on quality..and heat.

              1. re: FuDee

                Exactly right. Wo Hop is the place to go between 1:00-5:00. Won Ton soup, Pork Egg Foo Yung and a noodle dish will hit the spot. If you are in Chinatown when other places are open, do take the walk down.

            2. there is no better restaurant in chinatown at 4 am while drunk

              1 Reply
              1. re: vegas

                Yes! Exactly right. Go to Wo Hop between 1:00-5:00 a.m. Won Ton Soup, Pork Egg Foo Yung, and a noodle dish will hit the spot. When other places are open, avoid the place and get something delicious.

              2. s

                i always suggest Joe's Shanghai
                for the crab and pork soup dumplings.

                There is nothing like em'


                then head to the chinese ice cream factory on bayard

                1. t

                  Woe is me Hop, and woe is you too if you choose to dine here.

                  Wo Hop is the reason I started surfing the net and found chowhound. I was tired of being steered to bad tourist traps like this one.

                  1. I've never eaten there but I have looked in. Wo Hop dates from the 1930s. At that time, the INS in its wisdom didn't let in any Chinese who could cook, so you'd have your choice between sweet and sour glop and gluey chop suey. I suspect it's that way today. It looks like the kind of place they'd film a 1940 film noir... you know, the kind where the narrator says, "I finally found Louie the Mutt in a greasy dive in Chinatown, the kind of joint where you could keel over from food poisoning and the waiters wouldn't notice."

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Brian S.

                      "Wo Hop dates from the 1930s. At that time, the INS in its wisdom didn't let in any Chinese who could cook..."

                      Yes. On Ellis Island they established a special test kitchen. Any Chinese who showed the slightest culinary expertise was immediately shipped back.

                      All right, now that we've all established our Chowhound bona fides lets get real. Wo Hop is old style Americanized Chinese food that isn't particularly good even on it's own terms. Years ago I worked in the area and remember being dragged there by clueless co-workers who raved about the chow fun. Awful stuff.

                      The one dish that I really liked was their won ton soup which I remember as fresh tasting and full of flavor. For years afterward I used to order it as take out. I haven't been back in quite awhile but you might want to give it a try.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I've tried to answer your question on the Not About Food board. Link is below.

                        You wrote:
                        "Wo Hop dates from the 1930s. At that time, the INS in its wisdom didn't let in any Chinese who could cook..."

                        Yes. On Ellis Island they established a special test kitchen. Any Chinese who showed the slightest culinary expertise was immediately shipped back.

                        All right, now that we've all established our Chowhound bona fides lets get real

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    2. Don't tell me... your doctor friend waxes on about the old days of "chinese" food with egg foo young, umbrellas in his drink, the PuPu platter and all that was wrong with Americanized chinese food.

                      1. I'd file this one under "Top 10 signs you need a new doctor"

                        1. Suspicious I am, is this restaurant owned by friends or family of his? I would not step in here unless this was the only place serving.

                          1. I remember eating at Wo Hop a couple of years ago with a group of friends. It was pretty good as I recall -- not the most inventive Chinese I've ever had, but certainly fresh and cheap. What's so bad about it? These responses make it seem horrible. I'd like to know of some specific criticisms of the food at Wo Hop, and not these meaningless blanket statements.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Foodboy

                              With the plethora of much more authentic, as well as the several new regional Chinese restaurants opening, why eat dumbed down American Chinese fake greasy flavorless stuff?

                              1. re: Foodboy

                                I'll be specific. The dishes we ordered were worse than almost any suburban chinese I have ever had. The sauces in our chicken dishes were gloppy, dull and reeked of msg. Meat in the beef dishes was cheap, tough, not good quality. Fried rice tasted off. Bottomline...nothing really tasted good or fresh.

                              2. j
                                John Gallagher

                                Wo Hop is TERRIBLE, but I still go every so often, just like I used to like to visit the Howard Johnson's in Times Square. It is, shall we say interesting.

                                Back in the day it used to be great to go there in the middle of the night and watch all the people who were getting out of night court, and it was fun. Still go there every so often, but I do wonder what the good doctor was thinking of.

                                1. I'm guessing your doctor is an older man, trading on fond memories of his younger days?

                                  A former friend used to drag me here all the time, as if it were the only place in Chinatown. *sigh* It's not terrible, I remember liking a few things (roast pork with chinese mushrooms, singapore chow mei fun) but couldn't classify it as the best Chinese food I've ever had.

                                  That distinction will most likely be awarded to the Excellent Dumpling House on Lafayette b/t Walker & Canal. The dumplings there are good (excellent, even), but the rest of the food there is truly amazing.

                                  1. I can see where your doctor friend is coming from. My parents, who live in NJ, still rave about the time we went to Wo Hop in 1980. My father was convinced that that was _the_ place to go in Chinatown until I took the family to Joe's Shanghai and then New Green Bo.

                                    1. A couple of days since your post and perhaps no one is still reading this thread, even though a tangent is now raging on the "Not About Food" board.

                                      Be that as it may, let me weigh in on Wo Hop. I was 15 in 1968 and started going there. It's main qualification was that you could eat for next to nothing (2-3 of us could fill up for under $10 TOTAL, not apiece). It's secondary attraction was that it had "weird" things on the menu, not found in suburban (or even Bklyn. neighborhood) joints where chow mein and chop suey were the norm. And it was open very very very late (6am!!), so we could get there after the Fillmore East's late show. (Please, no comments about what a 15 year old was doing out that late -- some other time).

                                      Wo Hop was not a "good food" Chinese dive on Mott St. even then. But the congee was filling and the greasy lo mein & chow fun similarly so. AND IT'S PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY OF THE SAME QUALITY NOW. No drop off in quality, no decrease in kitchen skills. Just a slight price adjustment. So, basically, your Doctor friend is wrong. It's really not good food at all, although my fond memories of the place take me back there every 2 years or so.

                                      However, there WERE many better places in the immediate area even back when. We graduated to Hong Ying next door (much better, but now gone), to Hong Fat (which wasnt that much better & is also gone) & to Bo Bo's (very good, very gone). Anyone who wants to do the same and step up in the immediate neighborhood now, goes to NY Noodletown. And it's better than anything was back then. Go there. It's what your Doctor friend meant to say. Enough.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Steve R.

                                        an awesome, thoughtful and historic minded reply to the best thread of the year. thx!

                                        all i got is i went to WO HOP late back in like '83 or so. i have not been in a long time, but it was fine for late night style eats, esp if you have a young and beer numbed palate.

                                        1. re: Steve R.

                                          Hong Ying! Thanks for the memory. When I was driving a cab back in the days of yore, that was my standard late late stop. A heaping bowl of roast duck chow fun was $1.50, and it more than satisfied.

                                          1. re: Steve R.

                                            Bo Bo? 20 1/2 Pell Street? Ah, winter melon soup.

                                          2. My sister whose about 40 now had raved about Wo Hop. When she came to visit us recently we walked around Chinatown and she insisted we visit her old stand by from her high school days.

                                            It was the single worst Chinese food I have ever had in my entire life.

                                            Mind you that includes Chinese food in the Finger Lakes Region of NY.

                                            1. I do love the wonton soup and I don't eat soup anywhere else!

                                              1. I have to say that I don't agree with most of you. I lived in NY until 1998 (36 years, I now live in San Diego) and Wo Hop qas mine and my friends' favorite. Nice and dingy, cheap, and good authentic food. And, its open 24 hours a day. Never had a bad meal there. I only wish there were someplace as good here in the San Diego area.

                                                Unless something changed in the last 8 years, I still highly recommend it.

                                                1. not good at all, if y must go try the duck, fu lee on division st. much better, try their lobster w/ginger/scallions

                                                  1. I think there is a bit of snobbery going on about Wo-Hop here!It is fine for what it is. It does a nice job on Americanized Asian standard fare. There is a place for everthing, and Wo Hop is fun, available and what many want in a chinatown experience. Is anything there a revelation to the palate? No. But it is the place I would take my out of town friends who are too timid for the food I normaly go to chinatown for.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                                                      Diagree. Wo Hop wasn't so good in the old days (and yes, I go back quite a ways), and it's less so now. As Steve R. noted above, there were places back then like Hong Yee's on Mott (where I used to go for $1.50 Roast Duck Chow Fun when my cab passengers took me downtown), Bo-Bo's on Pell, and King Wu (great pressed duck with mushrooms) downstairs on Doyers - to mention a few. Just about any randomly chosen downstairs rice shop on Mott was better than Wo Hop - and it was pretty much all the same Chinese-American food, so please take "snobbery" out of the equation.

                                                      There are plenty of good restaurants in Chinatown, easily identifiable from the many posts on this site. Wo-Hop simply is not and never was one of them.

                                                      1. re: Striver

                                                        I ate ate many of the places you mentioned and I cannot say any were markedly better or worse then Wo Hop on a given night. So lets just agree to disagree. Good eating.

                                                    2. Since you're asking for our opinion, here's mine on Wo Hop: "Ugh. Try again."

                                                      On very rare occasions I do find American Chinese nice, but Wo Hop's crowded atmosphere, pushy service, and limited selection have kept me from ever going back. Its popular with the non-Chinese I've noticed, but based on reputation and price alone does not merit more visits to a place from what I've understood has gone down (waaay down) hill.

                                                      1. I started going to Wo Hop in 1969 and imprinted on their beef yat gaw mein, wonton soup, roast pork chow fun, young chow fried rice and shrimp with curry noodles. Believe me, it's MUCH better than the La Choy glop my grandmother used to pour out of a can, as well as the Chinese/Pacific palaces in the suburbs, whose idea of exoticism was a slab of canned ham with canned pineapple slices and canned maraschino cherries.

                                                        Wo Hop is peasant food, but real peasant food.

                                                        The wontons had a filling you could actually taste, and the suey kow had a lot more of it. The shrimp with black bean sauce actually tasted of fermented black beans. The young chow wor suey kow was a feast of mixed meats and veggies.

                                                        It's of course best after midnight, when you want stomach-filling comfort food, but for that there's nothing like Wo Hop.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: KRS

                                                          Ya think any of this had to do with, how do I put this, "our state of mind" in '69 through the early '70s? And, the wor suey kow was why we moved to Hong Ying next door.... well, that and the huge pile of small black snails eaten with toothpicks and the stuffed hot peppers.

                                                        2. i always liked wo hop- not the one on the street, but down those narrow stairs. i was last there in december of 2005. i always thought that they made the best egg rolls,and the shrimp with black bean sauce and sesame beef-sesame chickenis excellent. yes they have a lot of competition-joes shanghai, grand sichuan among many others. but where else can you get chinese 24/7/365 in nyc?

                                                          1. OK... so according to you all, the quality of this place is poor and one I should stay away from.

                                                            But, say you were dragged there by someone.

                                                            What would be the suggested meal to get to maximize quality?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: dmbrooking

                                                              Haven't tried these myself, but KRS was saying last year that some of the kitchen staff is Hakka, so there are off-menu Hakka dishes you could ask about ... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                            2. Wo Hop is about as bad as it gets

                                                              1. I think it depends on when and what condition you're in when you go to Wo Hop. At 4am in the morning, the pork dumplings and beef chow fun are greasy, but excellent choices (as is most of the menu). At normal hours, I would go across the street to Peking Duck House or further down Mott street to Big Wong.

                                                                1. OMG. i am almost starting to feel sorry for this doctor! i've been living in manhattan for 11 years, and have lived in the burbs eating in NY for over 20, and have never been to wo hop. i always wondered cuz of the shirts, but after this thread, i don't think i'll ever set foot in there...

                                                                  1. i have NEVER had any problems with WO HOP (downstairs) and i have been going there for years.Yes the place is cramped and theres no decor,but i get my usuals-those killer egg rolls,shrimp with black bean sauce and sesame chicken and im in bliss.

                                                                    again they do have a lot of competition-joes shanghai,big wong,peking duck house among many others but when im in downtown manhattan i try and get over there.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: mrbeachy

                                                                      "...clueless co-workers who raved about the chow fun. Awful stuff."

                                                                      I beg to differ!

                                                                      Ancient and Inscrutable Wo Hop (and other Chinese noodle dive) secrets: 1. Go to the dive in the basement, not at street level. 2. Never under any circumstances order any "house specials" or "expensive" stuff. They really suck. Get the cheap stuff - like the chow fun or chow mai fun, etc.

                                                                      I have never been able to find roast duck chow fun like they make there. I live out west now and nobody knows how to make it right. Was last back to visit 6 months ago and it's as great as ever and the prices have barely gone up over the years.

                                                                      The only place that I knew that was even better is sadly long gone now, Hong Fat.

                                                                    2. Sure, it's not the best in Chinatown, but it probably isn't the worst, either.

                                                                      One doesn't necessarily go there specifically for the food. It's the surroundings and the link to the past. One must go downstairs to enjoy that link.

                                                                      I went for the second time this past weekend - both times with my 12-year-old son. He loves it. O.K., so all we get is chicken lo mein and chicken fried rice, but it's edible (albeit with too much sodium) and it's inexpensive. Along with "crispy noodles" at 50ยข and a soda for him for a buck, it came to a whopping $13.00 even. And we brought home the leftover fried rice.

                                                                      A reply mentioned Ping's, which is across the street. I believe that they lean toward seafood - fine if that's what one is looking for - and is more expensive.

                                                                      Take a stroll along Canal Street after your meal to experience the craziness. Just don't buy the pirated DVDs or other merchandise that's being offered.

                                                                      1. i think wo hop was up there in the past. i have relatives in their 70s that i trust on NY food that still claim it to be the best. Not any more. Go to Dumpling House. Or Grand Sichuan on 24th & 9th Ave.

                                                                        1. Yeah, the atmosphere is not high class, but i'm not paying for the style and fine dine. I'm paying for food. I want Chinese-- i want it fast, semi-good, and to hit like a bullet of flavor. That's what you get at most Chinese-scoop-plop-stops in LA and that's what i stumbled upon in Nyc. Not a fancy dine, but a definite flavor talent. I loved it.

                                                                          Talking with my Asian friends in LA at a weekend party about my trip they asked if i went to Wo Hop. Apparently it has some fame. Probably due to its age and ability to survive in creating a quick dish. For that i say visit it for a quick lunch or a regular cheap eat.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: escape.infinity

                                                                            Glad you enjoyed it. However, there are 20-30 better places just as cheap and fast and flavorful within the 10 block radius. The only thing you want that Wo Hop has is the "semi-good" part. Wo Hop is well known because it's been around like this forever. It's famous for being famous, not for its food. Next time, try NY Noodletown or Chou Chou.

                                                                            1. re: Steve R

                                                                              Hey, Steve R., just read your post from Decemeber 2005. I'm born in 53' as well and remember Bo Bo, "The Home of Chinese Actors" vividly. You would order depending on how many people you had and leave the rest to the staff! As for Wo Hop, I always take friends and relatives visiting NY there. It's an institution!

                                                                          2. I was there today; I was there last week and I go at least once a month. I have been going to Wo Hop (downstairs only!) for maybe 10 years. I don't know where to begin after reading these "reviews", so I'll just ramble with stream of consciousness.

                                                                            The food is excellent. I have never had anything bad. Our typical meal is won ton soup (small, which is big enough for 2); egg roll; spare ribs; roast pork chow fon; and something else, today chicken with black bean sauce.

                                                                            We saw a long line as we approached and considered going someplace else. Hop Kee, right there on the corner where we have gone occasionally - smaller portions, more expensive, much larger space, so no wait usually: nah. New Green Bo (Nice Green Bo?) on Bayard - used to go there, sometimes a line: nah. Dim Sum a Go Go on East Broadway - excellent - we go there every few years, much more expensive: nah. Joe's Shanghai - great dumplings, frequently a line: nah. Noodletown - went a couple of times - good, but nothing special. Big Wong - someone told us they have great spare ribs. We tried it once and they were horrible - small and cold. Upstairs Wo-Hop - never tried it, often thought about it when the line at downstairs was long. It was pretty crowded today, but nah. Many other places we have tried: nah nah nah.

                                                                            We always come back to Wo Hop. The waiters are very friendly, the excellent tea (in glasses) and water is refilled regularly, and if you ask, you can have a pitcher of ice water and a pot of tea. The portions are large. We almost always have something to take home. We don't often share a table, but today we did, with a couple from Seattle, who were there because of Wo Hop's reputation.

                                                                            We once met Jerry Stiller there, who sat at the next table.

                                                                            Our picture is one of hundreds on the walls.

                                                                            My old favorite was Lin's Garden, mentioned in a song on Paul Simon's first solo LP. At that time there were two factions: Lin's Garden and Hong Fat. We liked them both (this was in the 60's) but preferred Lin's because the duck sauce was served in large plastic ketchup-type containers and Hong used those little dishes, which never held enough. They had signs in Chinese all over the walls, which we assumed were dishes that only the Chinese would like.

                                                                            Amazing to remember, but I discovered Wo Hop, not by recommendation, but because of a t-shirt purchase. We went to a warehouse in Williamsburg, where one room was devoted to t-shirts that were over runs from school teams, bar mitzvahs, etc. Well, for $2 I bought a Wo Hop shirt. Many months later I said, "Let's see if this place is still there and check it out." We did and the rest is history.

                                                                            Now tell me: How can a restaurant do business for 70 something years and attract people from all over the world (last week we saw people from Germany and Milwaukee) and have people stand in line up the stairs and down the block, if it stinks and has lousy food?

                                                                            On second thought, don't go there. The line will be shorter.

                                                                            Joe's Shanghai
                                                                            24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                                            Big Wong
                                                                            67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                            Wo Hop
                                                                            17 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                            Hop Kee
                                                                            21 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: speedo232

                                                                              "Now tell me: How can a restaurant do business for 70 something years and attract people from all over the world (last week we saw people from Germany and Milwaukee) and have people stand in line up the stairs and down the block, if it stinks and has lousy food?"

                                                                              How long has McDonalds been around, and how many billions have been served by now?

                                                                              By all means, enjoy the food at Wo Hop, and far be it from me to tell you you shouldn't like stuff I consider some of the worst slop I've ever paid for outside of a school cafeteria. There's ultimately no arguing taste.

                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                Wop Hop is part of my youth. I've been back recently. The quality is not as I remembered it, but I don't really care. It's a New York treasure and let's hope it never closes. And I love the grumpy service.

                                                                            2. Wo Hop (downstairs) is definitely not about the food but about the "sideshow" @ 3 AM. You don't go to Wo Hop (downstairs) if you are looking for fine Chinese dining.
                                                                              Recently @ Wo Hop 3 AM a "family" of 10 Roma (gypsies) comes down the stairs with several 7 year old, or so, children. They all sit together @ the center table and enjoy a feast of just about everything on the menu while the kids play tag.
                                                                              A true NY moment and we loved it.
                                                                              So, as other posters have suggested. Unless it's between 1 AM and 5 AM you can get much better food in Chinatown.

                                                                              Wo Hop
                                                                              17 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                                Been going to Wo Hop since the early 60s. As many posters said, keep it simple and you won't be disappointed.

                                                                                Back in the 80s I took a co-worker there (this was before they gave you the checks on the table) and when I went up to the register to pay he asked me how much it was; "$10.00" I told him and he handed me a ten dollar bill. "Are you treating me?" "No, why?" "it's ten dollars for the two of us." That made him a loyal Wo Hop-per.

                                                                                Wo Hop
                                                                                17 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                              2. No. It is not the best food in Chinatown. It has a huge fan base, but the people who love it are attracted to a certain nostalgia, the prices, the quantities, and old school Chinese American style food. There are a number of great places to choose from. My go to place is Old Yeah Shanghai on the corner of Mott and Bayard. Try the crab and rice noodle in a pot, the Tong Po pork and the soup dumplings. I know most people swear by the soup dumplings a block away at Joe's Shanghai, but I think the overall menu at Old Yeah Shanghai is better.

                                                                                I brought home food from Wo Hop a couple of months ago. I didn't like it much. My wife and daughter would not eat it. It went into the garbage.

                                                                                Joe's Shanghai
                                                                                24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                                                Wo Hop
                                                                                17 Mott St, New York, NY 10013