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Oct 9, 2006 03:12 PM

tong po pork meat attack at NEW GREEN BO

yesterday i did something i havent done in quite awhile. i had the delicious and messy tong po pork for lunch at NEW GREEN BO.

bottom line is their version of this dish is very much melt in your mouth perfection.

fyi tong po pork is some tasty baked pork lined with layers of its own fat. i think its pork shoulder not sure. it comes in a sweet saucy red block on a bed of sauteed bok choy. you also get a side of 4 sweet steamed buns. so you tear up the meat block and make yourself little sandwiches. after two messy attempts i just ate the rest seperately.

afterward you take a nap.

highly recommended.

any other versions of this dish or similar that people would like to share?

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  1. Dong po pork is one of the world's oldest dishes. I posted this last year and it got lost in the move to the new website.

    Sometime before the year 1100, Su Dongpo, the famous Chinese artist, who somehow managed to combine devout aceticism with ribald sensuality, wrote a poem called "Ode to Pork". In it he described his favorite pork dish.

    "Pork in Huangzhou is plenty
    there it costs utterly lowly
    The rich detest it; the poor fluff it
    slow the fire, hold the water, it comes alive when the time is right"

    This just might be the oldest recipe extant, and perhaps the oldest dish still commonly served. Most Shanghainese restaurants have it, named in the poet's honor, Dongpo Pork. In calling it a poor man's repast, Dongpo was being modest. It takes two days to prepare properly. Pork belly is simmered in a mixture of rice wine and soy sauce for hours, kept overnight, and then steamed.

    I read about this dish many years ago but tried it for the first time tonight. They have it at Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown. Brightly lit, trendy young crowd, all the waitresses in black t-shirts and black jeans, you'd never expect it to have such a traditional dish. But they do. It's not on the English menu, but if you ask for dong po rou you will get it.

    It's a huge and almost perfect cube, five inches by five by three. Most is soft, succulent meat, but the top layer is rich, luscious fat. It reclines on a bed of crisp spinach, and is surrounded by a rich brown sauce made of the cooking liquid reduction. It is wonderful.

    The Chinese believe that if you follow the brushstrokes of calligraphy with your mind's eye, you will feel what the artist felt when he painted, even though he is dead a thousand years. Surely the same is true of food. Today Dongpo came alive for me. Li Bai drowned trying to kiss the moon. Dongpo would howl at it.

    Shanghai Cafe, 100 Mott Street, 212 966-3988

    1. now thats what im talkin about.

      brian that was wonderful.

      this is why chowhound remain such a great site.

      thanks so much.

      1. Great story...This dish is also popular in Japan, especially Kyushu and Okinawa. They call it "buta no kakuni" or simmered pork belly. It's usually served alone, with some Japanese mustard or with some stewed root vegatables. No bok choy. It's also a common topping on ramen..I had some American relatives visit me in Tokyo once and I took them to a Kyushu style restaurant and ordered this dish. When it arrived, they both used their chopsticks to pick around the fat layers, as if they were pulling back the inedible rind of a fruit. It was an absurd scene these two girthish Americans hunched over and seemingly, trying to eat "healthy"...Anyhow, I'm sure the recipe had made over from China to Japan long ago. It's a standard at Chinese restuarants in Japan... Ah, in my mind now I can just imagine the perfect plastic rendition of it in a Yokohama Chinatown window....I'd like to try the real deal though, especially this mini sandwich thing, at NEW GREEN BO...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          interesting; I've had the tung-po in many places and its always pretty sweet, yeah shanghai deluxe even does a honey pork which is basicall the same thing but even sweeter. the pork that I had at minca (ramen spot in EV) was very salty though, and very different in flavor from the tong-po although surely its pork shoulder or pork belly all the same.

          1. re: bigjeff

            I think other cuts of pork can receive similar treatment. Pork shoulder, for example, featured at Shanghai Cafe and Joe's. Also Lake Spring Restaurant in Los Angeles is worldfamous for "pork pump" (really pork rump, I think)


        2. I like New Green Bo for many things, but not their Dong PO Ro so much. Last month I had it, it was way too sweet and not quite tender enough. It's not served the traditional way, either. IF they're going to serve this in a large chunk they should have it cooked so that it's easy to cut into pieces.

          The best version I had was, well, in Hangzhou, China on the West Lake, along with the other famed dish, Long2 Jin3 Xia1 Ren2, River Shrimp plainly sauteed garnished with the local Dragon Well Tea Leaves. The Dong Po Pork was assembled and served in a small clay pot, just the right size....somewhat taller than a White Castle..but similar in length and width. In NYC I had it at that dinner that Jim Leff put together, long ago, at Tang Pavilion in Midtown Manhattan. (is it still there?)

          Since Silverjay spoke of the Japanese version (Menchanko Tai does a good version) there needs to be mentioned the Taiwanese version, "Gua4 Bao1", or what they call Taiwanese Hamburger at the former Laifood in Flushing. 37th ave & Prince. Same pork, add Suan1 Cai4 (chopped pickled Mustard green), cilantro, ground peanuts mixed with some sugar....served also in the same white steamed Chinese bread.

          In any case, if a person doesn't like or cannot take fat, don't bother. Eating it without the fat defeats the purpose!

          Incidently, it's coming to me now, Tang Pavilion if it's still there, is next door to one of the Menchanko maybe 55th between 6th and 7th? It'd make a good Chinese Japanese Pork Belly Sandwich Taste off.....pardon my geeky Chowhounding thoughts.

          6 Replies
          1. re: HLing

            no, no, no -- bless your geeky chowhound thoughts!

            i agree the red sauce was maybe a bit too sweet and the pork 'block' itself was very large (too large for me to eat it all that is for sure). however, i disagree about tenderness. mine was melt in your mouth.

            hmm, now i must try the taiwanese version. hling you did not mention, but does the taiwanese 'hamburger' version have the shanghai style red sauce as well?

            1. re: mrnyc

              The "Taiwanese Hamburger" is braised/stew not in the bright red sauce as New Green Bo. It's soy sauce. In fact, most of the other Dong Po Pork didn't have the bright red sauce, but more of a "lacquered" style, as in Jean George's Chinese fusion restaurant's dish. (what is that place, 66? or something? Not sure if it's even still there)

              New Green Bo's pork belly, or pork shoulder dishes are hit and miss...i think they sometimes get it to be melt-in-your-mouth, but just as often not. When the fat start to break down and become buttery, is when you count your lucky stars.

            2. re: HLing

              ohh i forgot about gua bao, those are so good i havent had one in a long time. Is there anywhere in the city that might serve a decent version?

              1. re: Lau

                I wish I could tell you that there's a nice Taiwanese restaurant in Manhattan's Chinatown..but I think it came and went a couple of years back. Whereas, in Flushing, you can get Gua Bao from at least 4 places within a 2 block radius. (37th ave between Main street and College Point ave, including the Flushing Mall)

                There is, oh no, another version that is Fujianese. This is probably the cheapest I've had: $1 ! Nothing inside the sesame studded Fujianese bagel except for a big piece of pork, light brown in color. On E.Broadway under the overpass (or is it the train track) at Division (i think). I've had it when the meat had just the right amount of fat/lean balance and was cooked tender enough, maybe one out of 5 times. In this case, it's the bread that makes it unique.

                Incidently, this is the same type of bread that Dennison's new discovery, the Province Chinese Canteen (Walker and Church) uses for their sandwiches.

                So I guess, as my chow thoughts meanders Chinatown, my recommendation to Lau may just be this Province Chinese Canteen, very close to the A, C, E trains, not far from the Franklin street stop of the 1 train. Just go they close at 7:30 pm. It's not "Gua Bao", but they have some nice pork shoulder sandwiches.

                1. re: HLing

                  ah thanks for the tips HLing. I think the last time I had a gua bao was either in taiwan or the flushing mall a while ago. I think I need to make the trip to flushing soon.

                  I think I've the place tried the place under the bridge you're talking about, wasn't all that impressed, meat wasnt that good and the bagel was just mediocre, you're talking about the place that people on chowhound talk about about that also sells the "green sandwich"? (which I thought was just bad)

                  I'll try the province place, sounds good.

                  1. re: Lau

                    province is definitely good, although it doesn't have the peanuts and mustard greens that Laifood has. I think the replacement restaurant "Lu's Seafood" has it but it's $4.50, it used to cheaper, like $2.00. But definitely the "gua bao" is the best, and of course comparable to the Momofuku Pork Bun, which I'm surprised no one has mentioned as a similar sandwich to the "gua bao".

            3. I had that dish in Hangzhou and they served it in a ramakin cup with a cover. That is one good way to send your cholesterol to hell. :)