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good black bean sauce dishes

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I recently had my first Chinese dish with black bean sauce. I was excited to find out that I really liked it, but it seems like it's pretty easy to get a bad version, since it was listed alongside brown glop in a recent restaurants-to-avoid post.

Can anyone recommend any good dishes with black bean sauce at any Manhattan restaurants? Extra points if it's not shrimp, but okay if it is so good that even a non-shrimp enthusiast will like it?

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  1. Hung Fat is chinatown had a FANTASTIC crab in black bean sauce. But alas, it has be gone for years. I would love to know of another place in chinatown that serves an equally good version. Anyone know of such a restaurant?

    1. I think the snails in black bean sauce at Hop Kee are great.

      1. Fermented Black Beans is a standard pantry item in any Chinese kitchen. If there is a favorite dish you have, simply ask them include them in preparation of you selected dish If you are afraid of the dreaded thick brown sauces, ask them to prepare your dish with a minimal amount of cornstarch, which is the thickening agent for most Chinese sauces. Three dishes I recommend in the traditional Cantonese style are:
        1. Whole Steamed Black Sea Bass or Flounder with ginger, scallion and black beans
        2. Spare Ribs in Black Bean Sauce
        3. Beef Chow Fun (Broad Rice Noodles)

        Enjoy

        1. I love the steamed fish head with black bean sauce at Cantoon Garden (Congee Villages serves fish maws in a similar way.) There's not really any sauce at all, just a bit of thin broth, but the meat of the fish is redolent of the beans.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Brian S

            I always liked the steamed eel in black bean. You can use black bean sauce to cook veggies too or crabs.

            1. re: designerboy01

              Hi designerboy01,

              Great call on the eel! I found that in general black bean (and sometimes with chili) with fish with river fish to be excellent. Other seafood that I like with black bean include razor clams and clams.

              I triedy the razor clams with black bean sauce at Oriental Garden. Have to say disappointed. It wasn't the rrazor clams which were big and plump and juicy. It was the black bean sauce that was poorly seasoned - chef problem.

          2. There's Jia Jiang Myun -- a Korean-Chinese dish of noodles in a black bean sauce (with or without seafood). Although you'll find better versions in Fort Lee or Queens, a decent place in Manhattan would be at Hyo Dong Gak.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Miss Needle

              I think Jia Jian Myun is a Chinese dish that the Chinese bought over during the Korean War. Seems like many Asian countries like this dish.

            2. Beware of non-Chinatown Chinese restaurants serving black bean sauce dishes. They typically leave the beans whole, swimming in a gloppy sauce so you don't get the flavor of the black bean until you bite into one, which, at that point, will totally overwhelm the other flavors in the dish. The other mentioned restaurants here pulverize their black beans with a little cornstarch prior to adding them into their dishes, which is the way to do it. Personally, I love the black bean sauce dishes at Hop Kee, especially the snails and crabs. Whatever you do, avoid Wo Hop, either up or downstairs. (Alas, Baconbits, I too miss Hong Fat and especially their sister restaurant, Hong Wah.)