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new pork chop shop in Chinatown: Wah Ji

we spotted a new pork chop shop on Allen Street right near our school, so we had a lunch date on Monday to check it out (Wah Ji Pork Chop Fast Food at 7 Allen Street).

The restaurant was very small, very clean, and completely empty when we entered. New wooden counters, nothing dingy, and two very nice ladies behind the counter.

I got the basic: pork chop over rice ($4). My lunchmate gave it a bit of a twist by getting the black pepper pork chop over rice (also $4). We saw them lift the chops out of marinade and dip them straight into the fryer. Within a couple of minutes they were served up to us over generous helpings of rice and a scattering of chopped preserved vegetable.

The chops themselves were huge and meaty, with a fine band of fat but not so much that it eclipsed the meat--I was definitely surprised by how they weren't just the standard Chinatown piece o' fat you'd normally get. The flavor was also delicious. My lunchmate thought his black pepper sauce was good, but a bit too sweet and preferred mine, and while I liked them both, I preferred mine, too--the flavor of the pork was really brought out by the marinade, which had a complex array of flavors (star anise? coriander? cinnamon? not sure).

also, for $2, I got a popcorn chicken appetizer which was a very nice surprise--sizeable, actual strips of chicken (not just Chickie-Knobs (tm) of who knows what), with crispy friend basil leaves. The chicken excited my lunchmate the most--he said next time he'd just get that plus a scallion pancake for a quick, light lunch.

 
 
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  1. ohhhh that looks like xiang su ji, which is the popcorn chicken u get in taiwan....i love that stuff, im excited to try this place

    1. It sounds like a cleaner version of Excellent Pork Chop House on Doyers. If you've eaten there before, how do they compare?

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      Excellent Pork Chop House
      3 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

      9 Replies
      1. re: Greg

        haven't checked it out--that's a bit outside the orbit of my school, but maybe I can squeak over there on a longer-lunch day.

        1. re: didactic katydid

          i recently happened to re-visit Excellent Pork Chop House...it was really underwhelming...old-tasting rice, bland soup, and small mediocre pork chop...i'd had a solid meal there in the past so perhaps it's heading downhill...

          thanks for the tip on Wah Ji...i'll try it soon...

          1. re: Simon

            i dont think the pork chop at excellent pork chop house is very good...in fact most of their food is ehh

            the thing they do well are some of their soups...in particular si sheng tang (4 god soup), which hling found (thank you) and I like some of their chicken and spare rib soups (fairly similar) and also get a side of lu rou fan (rice with pickled veg and ground pork), some of their apps are ok as well

        2. re: Greg

          I tried this place last week and its pretty good. The pork chop was juicy but I still prefer Excellent pork chop house and their preserved vegetables. However, I do like the fact that Wah Ji gives you a complimentary house soup with your order.

          1. re: DarthEater

            I didn't get a soup! Maybe it's a promo they're doing only sometimes? Did you get it to go? (we ate in)

            1. re: didactic katydid

              Yep, got it to go. It was during dinner hour at 6pm. Some places in chinatown only serve soups during prime time. I'm not sure if that the case here.

          2. re: Greg

            ya excellent pork chop house really isn't that good; I'm used to a pork chop with more than just the marinade, maybe a light dusting of flour or cornstarch; the standard for me was 2000-era Laifood "66" in Flushing on Union Street; big meaty, fatty chop, plenty of 5-spice, great crust, etc. will give it a whirl, esp. for $4.

            1. re: bigjeff

              just stopped in yest. for a curry roll (4pc) and popcorn chicken (salt-pepper chicken). the curry roll was bad; basically samosa filling in a mini spring roll shape; the popcorn chicken was heavy w/ MSG but delicious nonetheless. the place got overrun with spipky-haired adolescents at one point; everyone seems to like the pork chop over rice. also, name is Hua Ji, not Wah Ji.

              1. re: bigjeff

                They...changed the spelling on the sign? That's weird.

          3. I didn't find the pork chop to be huge and meaty. I found the meat portions to be quite small. Might have to ask for an extra porkchop for 2 bucks next time. That being said, the food is pretty good. It's better than the excellent pork chop house and that other place san chia or something. The funny thing with the excellent pork chop house is that I've actually gotten good porkchops from them, other times I've gotten stale flavorless crap. I like the excellent pork chop house meat sauce a bit better though. Has anyone tried the wah mei, the place where mei wah used to be ?

            2 Replies
            1. re: randumbposter

              weird how everyone's having different experiences--my foodie friends and I work right nearby and have gone here a bunch and they don't even order the pork chop anymore because it's too huge for lunch.

              oh, but one guy DID get (not very good) soup the other day, thrown in for free with his meal...seems like it's random when you get it.

              1. re: randumbposter

                i grew up on wah mei or mei wah or whatever its called now! (the one on hester, right?) i LOVE their chicken leg rice! i tell them to add some extra sauce and yum yum in my tum tum alllll night :)

              2. For those of you keeping score, this is the former Kingdom of Pancakes and 3 Wang Kitchen locations. Nothing is over $4 and lots of stuff around $2. Food is good--don't know how they do itl.

                1. on friday I got a lunch buddy and we ordered 1 order of pork chop/rice ($4) plus one extra pork chop ($2) and then split the rice, so we basically got rice + pork chop for $3 each. best deal ever!