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May 11, 2007 06:27 PM

Where's the best/most authentic Hakka restaurant...

...anywhere in the five boroughs is okay. I'm just craving a taste of Hakka cuisine, and I want to make sure it's the best out there. Thanks in advance!

--Janet (GG)

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  1. This needs disambiguation. Are you using Hakka to refer to the Southern Chinese cuisine or the Indian-Chinese cuisine?

    5 Replies
      1. re: gaijingirl

        There may not be any. There were a couple in Chinatown in the 80s, and it appears there was a place called Hakka VIllage in Flushing around '97, but I can't find any more recent references. You may have to fly to San Francisco for Ton Kiang.

        1. re: Peter Cherches

          Oh, shoot. (I've been looking for a decent Hakka restaurant in the hopes of finding Lei Cha (Thunder Tea Rice), and a few other Hakka specialties like Pan Suan Zi (Abacus Yam Beads). Bedsides, I've done Cantonese, etc, enough times that I really wanted to give Hakka cuisine a try.

          (I wonder if maybe Taiwanese restaurants might do the trick, given the Hakka percentage of population...)

          1. re: gaijingirl

            There are so many Hakka people in the Chinese diaspora that I wouldn't be surprised if many of the people who run Cantonese or Taiwanese restaurants are Hakka (like at Wo Hop, which KRS mentions below). The folks who run Ton Kiang in San Francisco hail from Burma.

            1. re: gaijingirl


              For the particular "tea", or more like a soup, you might try to do a search with a different Chinese character: 擂茶
              擂 can mean to pound, or to grind, as in mortar and pestle. It has the same pronunciation as 雷, which means "thunder", but isn't the commonly used name for the tea. There is on the chinese website a frame by frame how to for the soup. You will see that the mortar and pestle figures prominently in the making of this soup. The rice and veggies are done separately, and then the soup is poured over the rice/veggie as a meal. The main spice is chopped scallion and chopped Chinese celery(coriander?). As a separate side dish, luo2 buo2 gan1(dried daikon strips) and fried peanuts, dried squid..etc can be pan fried together to provide crunch and savory-ness.

              ".......and a few other Hakka specialties like Pan Suan Zi (Abacus Yam Beads). Bedsides, I've done Cantonese, etc, enough times that I really wanted to give Hakka cuisine a try....."

              Again, here you will benefit from the correct order of characters.It is good that you at least put "Abacus Yam Beads", but the correct name is Suan Pan Zi, (算盤子) not Pan Suan Zi. This seems to be a dish made of mashed Taro Root (not quite Yam). It looks as if you'd have better luck finding this dish in a Malaysian restaurant than in a Chinese Hakka (Taiwanese) restaurant.


      2. Would you mind enlightening us about the origin of Hakka food..exactly which region is this from? I am asking because I ate at a great Hakka place in Beijing recently and before my visit I had not heard of this cuisine, which is all the rage in Beiijing now, it seems.

        3 Replies
          1. re: erica

            Dear Erica,

            Hakka cuisine is definitely distinctive, with a strong focus on preserved ingredients and offals (such as pig intestines, etc.) My interest is the cuisine (besides just pure culinary curiousity), is some particular Hakka specialties, like Lei Cha - which is a drink, and also a type of tea-rice dish, mixed with a lot of herbs, mint, green tea, etc. Sounds delish, but very hard to find in NY...

            1. re: gaijingirl

              Thanks. I wrote a small report about my visit to a Hakka restaurant in the Back Lakes area of Beiijing..I wish I had asked for input here before I went!

          2. Gaijingirl, your blog has helped me and I wish I could help you, but as Peter said, all the Hakka restaurants appear to have disappeared. Hakka Village was at 41-52 Main St, and perhaps there is still a Hakka place there, I dont know. I think you can find some Hakka dishes at other Chinese restaurants, though. Salt-baked chicken is a lot like what Malayan chinese restaurants call Hainan chicken. The fried stuffed tofu cubes topped with meat that Hakka like are also served in Cantonese restaurants. The malayan young tau foo, while different, is inspired by them. Another Hakka dish, pork belly with preserved vegetables, is found in many Cantonese restaurants... it's full of fat and I love it! I have never seen Lei Cha, and the closest place that has Abacus Yam is in Singapore. I dont understand why Hakka dishes aren't more common, since quite a few immigrants are Hakka I think. The Hip Sing Tong is/was Hakka, I think.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              The dearth of Hakka food is nationwide. None in Los Angeles and just a couple Hakka restaurants in the San Francisco area. I suspect people would rather eat Hong Kong/Cantonese cuisine when they dine out rather than an array of Hakka dishes.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Dear Brian, Chandavkl and Peter,

                Thanks for the's always sad when you see a cuisine under-represented. (I guess part of the problem of being a true Chowhound is that your tastes eventually get so rarified that it becomes hard to find something new.)

                I have to admit, HK food is great (as is Cantonese) - but darn it, I want something new! It always amazes me that New York has such a multicultural culinary reputation, but once you get past the obvious standards, other nationalities/tastes are hard to come by (for example - authentic Burmese, hardcore Singaporean...or Hakka.)

                But regardless, I always appreciate the input from Chowhound...I wouldn't find half my places without it!! :)

                1. re: gaijingirl

                  the excellent burmese cafe has been discussed a lot on this board.

              2. re: Brian S

                Sorry salt baked Chicken is very different from Hainan Chicken. The latter dish is cold, not to mention the spices. I would love to eat at a Hakka restaurant if anyone finds one. But you would be better off looking for a particular dish at a Cantonese restaurant.

                1. re: Brian S

                  I'm wating for a comeback for Hakka. That is why I cook because I can't find these dishes anymore. Hainan Chicken is much different than Salt Baked Chicken....

                2. Wo Hop on Mott Street is Hakka. People put the place down, but if you know what to order, it can be excellent. I always get Beef Hakka San Lo Mein, with ginger and a Hoisin-based sauce, and there are many items that are off-menu (or at least off-English-menu).

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: KRS

                    are you talking about the basement one, or the street level one? I've eaten at both, and actually prefer the one street-level although people say that one is the "fake" wo hop. with that said, can I just go and ask for hakka specialties? hakka as an ethnicity is funny, I can meet people from taiwan, from china, from southeast asia, and somehow, they end up saying, "well actually, I'm hakka" and its all a laugh. I'll ask a friend of mine, she's actually part of a local Hakka association in New York and whenever they have picnics and bbqs, its all home-cooked so maybe truly, the restaurant experience doesn't exist in new york.

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Dear Big...

                      I was re-reading your post, and suddenly it occurs to me... Not a rush, but is there any chance that (next time you're talking with her) you could ask your friend about any Hakka restaurants in NYC? Surely someone's who's part of a local Hakka Association would have the inside scoop... In the interim, there's Wo Hop I guess (although as a pure English speaker, I'm not sure I could get my requests across clearly if asking for a Hakka off-menu dish...)


                      --Janet (GG)

                      1. re: gaijingirl

                        Maybe Hakka people just dont want it. By analogy, there are many Jewish people in New York, why arent there hundreds of restaurants serving excellent renditions of traditional East European Jewish cuisine? There are some similarities between the peoples: diaspora and intellectual excellence. I"ve read, incidentally, that the first Jewish immigrants (circa 1890), as soon as they had raised themselves out of poverty, made the traditional super-fatty holiday dishes every day. They literally made themselves sick and got sick of those dishes.

                        1. re: Brian S

                          You mean the first Eastern European Jewish immigrants, of course. German Jews had come earlier in the century, and Portuguese Jews go back to colonial times.

                          1. re: Peter Cherches

                            Yes. If you're eating in Chinatown, it's worth the very short walk from Chatham Sq. to see the tiny Jewish cemetery with graves dating to the 1680s at 55 St. James Place. I think they were Dutch and were fleeing the Portuguese, who had just conquered a Dutch enclave in Brazil.

                            1. re: Brian S

                              No, they were Sephardim (Jews from Iberia), but yeah, they were fleeing from Brazil after the Portuguese took it from the Dutch. But anyway, I think the comparison of the Hakka, who have in many cases been several-time exiles from their original homeland, and the Jews is pretty interesting. It would make sense that just as Jews have found the cuisine of whatever country they live in to be interesting, so do the Hakka. The local foods and customs usually rub off on immigrants to a significant degree. And in turn, the immigrants affect the host countries.

                        2. re: gaijingirl

                          I spoke with my friend (her parents are actually the head of the group) and they can't quite remember any right now. there used to be on in flushing maybe 5 or 8 years ago but it closed. seems like we might be out of luck in terms of an expressly hakka rest. but like the rest of the board, there are probably many places which happen to have hakka people.

                          1. re: bigjeff

                            makes me wonder if there is any hakka resto in the newer brooklyn chinatown?

                            1. re: mrnyc

                              I actually biked all through Sunset Park's 8th ave on sunday (had a grilled pork banh mi at ba xuyen, saw the Pacificana but didn't go in) and saw about a half-dozen Gia Lam restaurants, but didn't actually chow through the strip. Everything felt pretty cantonese-y but there were a few takeout restaurants that had their selections right out on the sidewalk (snails, crab, pork belly, etc.) that looked like standard cantonese chinatown fare. You'd probably have to go door-to-door to really figure it out.

                    2. Two chickens wrapped in paper grabbed my attention yesterday when I passed the window display of New Dragon Town, in Flushing. "Salted baked chicken," at $6.95, is first in the poultry section of the menu; the only other item I've spotted that suggests Hakka roots is "pig entrails," $4.95, in the roast/bbq section. Didn't have room today, but hope to try it soon.

                      Shown below is the version from Moi Kong, one of the best-known Hakka restaurants in Singapore, accompanied by chili sauce and a garlic-ginger sauce.

                      New Dragon Town
                      41-12 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

                      Moi Kong
                      Murray St, Singapore, Singapore 07, SG

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: DaveCook

                        is salt-baked what some people (myself included) know as bai-zhan-ji (my bad pinyin)? I thought salt-baked implied that it was baked in a salt crust, and I thought this was different from hainan chicken rice, which is similarly prepped but less salty than bai-zhan-ji, and served with rice cooked also in chicken broth? or am I mixing these all up?

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          hainan chicken (served with chicken broth flavored rice or not) is not salt baked - it is poached at a very low temp in a seasoned broth.

                        2. re: DaveCook

                          I've also seen those paper-wrapped birds (mentioned in my earlier post; photo below) at Yummy Noodles, in Manhattan, but the result tasted more like "salt-bathed chicken"; it had a wet, unenticing mouthfeel.

                          Yummy Noodles
                          48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013