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Feb 13, 2008 09:58 AM

New Chao Chow - worth trying

I ate at New Chao Chow on Mott bet hester and canal. It's an interesting place, it serves chao zhou (chiu chow) and cantonese food. I'm not super familiar with chao zhou cuisine as i'm not chao zhou and dont really know any chao zhou people although i've been exposed to it a bit in LA and singapore, but from my understanding the chao zhou people in the US have a reasonable amount of viet influence as alot of them lived there before coming here.

Anyhow, i've been here before, but i just ordered wonton noodle soup in the past (which is pretty decent btw). This time i got interested in coming back after reading an old siestma article about the place. The food kind of tastes like i thought it would in terms of being pretty viet influenced (bean sprouts, fish sauce etc).

I ordered the following:
- Combo rice stick noodle (not sure what it was in chinese b/c i couldnt read enough of the characters, i believe it is hu tieu which is some type of reasonably well known viet noodle dish) - they serve the soup on the side, the bowl is filled with medium thickness white rice noodles, slices of fish cake, pork, liver, ground pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions and i believe some deep fried onions (don't know how to explain these but in singapore they served them all the time, its like little crispy golden brown onions). Now that i think about it it reminds me of laksa except that its not in a curry soup. They also give you some of that viet fish sauce on the side (nuoc mam). I'm not even certain i was eating it correctly, but i poured the fish sauce on the noodles and then ate the noodles and condiments in a spoon and drank the soup sort of at the same time. Anyhow, it was very tasty, something pretty different and i'd definitely eat it again. Also the condiments that are on the table are great they have the typical la jiu jiang (chili sauce), but also a chili oil with i believe fermented black bean, pickled chilis and also hoisin sauce
- Chao Zhou duck (i cant remember, but i think it just says chao zhou ya in chinese) - this is similar to the roast duck you'd get at a cantonese place, but its a little different, its less salty, more yellow in color and tastes a little lighter even though there is still alot of fat on it. Its served hacked into pieces in a dark soy sauce. It's quite tasty and i'd recommend this as well
- Fish ball noodle soup - friend got this, it was just fish ball noodle soup with noodles, nothing special and he didn't think he would order it again.

All and all a good meal, definitely different and i will be coming back again at some point.

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  1. New chao chow is smiliar to bo ky but I think has the edge on noodle soup stock. I like the duck from bo ky better though. The soup stock for the regular noodle soups is quite tasty.

    Other stuff to try.

    Chicken curry noodle. I think bo ky is consistently better for it though. Their chicken curry noodle, when the chicken isn't overcooked, is quite good and greasy.

    Beef stew noodle too. It's pretty much similiar to the one you get at vietnamese places. Quite good.

    Find the hot sauce on the table with ground dried shrimp. That one is fairly tasty.

    4 Replies
    1. re: randumbposter

      Thanks for the tips on New Chao Chow. I'm interested in exploring more. I'm a BoKy fan, but only for specific dishes. I tried the beef stew noodle at New Chao Chow and thought it was gross, basically a can of Campbell's tomato soup with stew beef and noodles.

      1. re: Peter Cuce

        Good comparison. I grew up drinking campbell's tomato soup maybe that's why I'm such a fan. The soup is kind of sweet with star anise and beef stew flavor. I guess it's not for everyone. Bo ky offers something similiar too.

        1. re: randumbposter

          So is it one of those dishes like the Cantonese standard beef & tomato that is inherently not good, but is just meant to be a basic, working man's dish, or something along those lines?

          1. re: Peter Cuce

            I think tastes are just subjective. I happen to like cantonese tomato n beef stir fry. Maybe asians like tomato with sweet flavor. Isn't ketchup spaghetti popular in Japan ?

    2. That rice stick noodle soup is killer at Chao Chow. I'm not sure how it's supposed to be eaten either; when I tried it I mixed everything together.

      Bo Ky really gets me with some of their options though, particularly their silver noodles (short, fat and chewy -- they aren't listed on the menu) in their stews and soups.

      1. Thanks for the info. I have always wanted to try Chao Zhou but I have never eaten there. Is the restaurant relatively clean? Does it get crowded like Bo Ky?

        1 Reply
        1. re: bearmi

          its sort of same type of atmorsphere as bo ky meaning its not very nice, its not super clean although not really dirty either and its sort of crowded though i think bo ky might be a bit worse

        2. I just came across this thread which focuses on one of my new obsessions: The chicken noodle soup here. When I by the soup I also buy a few containers of the broth which I use in my home cooking.

          But please explain more about this style of cooking. A Google search turns up references the Swatow region of Guangdong province. Yet there is Vietnamese writing on this storefront and Viet names on the menu..... And I notice reference above to Viet-influenced dishes. What is the connection? Is this place run by overseas Chinese who have lived in Vn?? Would they have fled China in the mid-20th Century and settled in South Vietnam?/ Thanks!

          15 Replies
          1. re: erica

            Hi erica,

            Swatow is the same as as "Chao Chou" or "Chao Zhou."

            Chao Zhou is the current Mandarin pinyin, or romanization of Chinese characters developed by the mainland Chinese after 1949 to replace earlier alphabetic systems developed by westerners (Wade-Giles, Yale University.)

            In general Cantonese cuisine, which has great variety, can be divided into three subsets: Toi San, Teo Chiu and Swatow.

            About 50% of Chinese-Americans can trace their ancestry to the Toi San area, which is south of Guangzhou city.

            Chao Zhou/Swatow cuisine is heavy on seafood and famous for soups in which the ingredients float on top! Chao Zhou cuisine also shares some similarities with Fujian (or Fukien) cuisine.

            Viet Nam is less than 600 miles from Guangzhou. New Chao Chow Restaurant may have been started by overseas Chinese who immigrated here from Viet Nam, I'm not sure. Hope this is of some help!

            1. re: scoopG

              This is most interesting. Thank you. I seem to recall Vietnamese writing at Bo Ky as well...I suppose I will have to ask the owner/manager when I return to NCC for my soup!! It might make sense that their families originated in the Swatow area and then were displaced to Vietnam and then displaced again to the US? ?? Do Fukein restaurants also feature Vietnamese writing on windows and menus??

              They (NCC) also have roast meats in the front, and on the menu...would that be the Toi San influence?? Are these three regions you spoke of correspondent with geographical areas of the former Canton province?

              Sorry to be so persnickety...I like to understand where the foods come from..

              1. re: erica

                The Chinese have an expression which says Chinese people are found all over the world. Hua Qiao (Overseas Chinese) refers to the many Chinese who settled outside of China over the centuries. My guess is that the owners of NCC were/are originally overseas Chinese from Viet Nam.

                Yes, Toi San, Teo Chiu and Swatow are all different areas of Canton (Guangzhou) province. Northern Cantonese and Southern Fujian share some infusions of mutual influence.

                I know of no Fujian restaurants in Chinatown that have any Vietnamese writing.

                1. re: scoopG

                  You're right. I asked someone and they confirmed that the original owners of NCC were Chinese from Vietnam.

                2. re: erica

                  I'm pretty certain the owner of Bo Ky was born in Vietnam but is ethnically Chinese.

                  1. re: erica

                    the owners are bo ky are chinese people who lived in vietnam fyi

                    not sure where the owners of new chao chow are from, but it is a chao zhou restaurant not a toi son restaurant

                    all of the 3 places they talked about are in the canton (guangzhou) province...fuzhou is a separate province

                    fujian people will not have vietnamese written in their windows etc...if you want to see fujian restaurants, just walk down eldridge street and you'll notice everyone is speaking a different dialect than the one you're probably used to hearing in the more mainstream part of chinatown (i.e. they're speaking cantonese)

                    1. re: Lau

                      Thank you. Lau. I understood that Swatow and Toi Son are different..just suggested that NCC was blending the influence of the two regions in their food. And now I will have to explore Eldridge Street area with which I am not too familiar. I am sure I will come back with more questions! Thank you for the explanation..

                      1. re: Lau

                        Not sure that people realize just how old "New CC" is. I've been going for 25 years... same owners, several of the same waitstaff & definitely same menu. It created a little stir when it opened, as that part of Mott St wasnt very Chinese yet, with only a couple of veg. and fresh seafood storefronts... maybe one other restaurant. They started by putting their name up with Vietnamese translation directly under it. The staff spoke Chinese dialects but I know that several spoke Vietnamese as well. The customer base was mixed.

                        My own take on the food is that the meat soups are definitely not anywhere near as good as the seafood. For two, a big bowl of mixed seafood soup each with a split side of poached chicken or roast duck is a great lunch. The noodle dishes and many of the menu items are greasy. Bo Ky or NY Noodletown does this stuff much better.

                    2. re: scoopG

                      Interesting about Swatow/Chao Zhou. If anybody is familiar with Swatow in Toronto, I'm assuming that Chao Chow's style of food is similar?

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Miss Needle, it seems Swatow in Toronto gets some mixed reviews. They do serve General Tso's Chicken which is decidedly not Chao Zhou! I've not eaten there but some of these hounds have:


                        1. re: scoopG

                          I haven't been to Swatow in years, but I ordered a lot of seafood dishes. If they had General Tso's on the menu, I probably would have never noticed it as that was not on my radar.

                        2. re: Miss Needle

                          if you're ever in LA, go to seafood village and then you'll know what chao zhou cuisine is (i dont think there is a real dedicated chao zhou restaurant in NY although I could be wrong)

                          1. re: Lau

                            Yes, this reflects the demographics of the respective Chinese populations. Chiu Chow restaurants have been around in the Los Angeles area since the mid to late 1970s, coincident with the arrival of the Vietnamese refugee population and the ethnic Chinese among them. On the other hand, the Vietnamese presence in NY is much less substantial, particularly after many Vietnamese resettled themselves in sunnier areas after their original U.S. assignments, so the Chiu Chow influence in Manhattan would be much less.

                            1. re: Lau

                              Will make a note of it for the next time I'm in LA. Thanks!

                        3. re: erica

                          All the staff that I've ever spoken to or heard speaking, spoke Cantonese or uhhh Toishan-ese (is that a word?), even the guys that seemed to be the owners.

                        4. I am speculating that similar to Thailand, many of the Chinese in Vietnamese are from the Teochew region in Southern China. The Teochew soy-braised duck is quite a staple amongst South-east Asian Chinese food, and in Singapore is served on top of steamed rice flavored with soy, spices and studded with cubed yams. So tasty!
                          Another dish to try in New Chao Chow's the braised innards, a small plate yielding intestines, ears, skin and stomach. Quite tasty especially with the chili paste flavored with dried shrimp.