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Ah Ping Snack Bar: In Love

Jim Leff Aug 24, 2009 07:16 PM

I just want to note that I'm completely obsessed with Ah Ping Snack Bar, the place that's finally made me fall in love with Foo-Chow food. I go again and again....haven't had a monogamous relationship like this with a Chinatown place since beloved Shing Kee closed down in the early 90's. Maybe New Green Bo for a while in the meantime, but even that wasn't steady.

Other chowhound posters have praised their peanut noodles. I think that's actually the only off dish (still decent, though). Get the loofah soup (with tiny clams and subtle, loving broth), the meat-stuffed gelatinous rice balls suspended in liquid ("Meat Stuffed Rice Flour Ball Soup"). Rabbit, clams, or, best of all, intestine in fouzhou sauce (a wine sauce). Lamb in wine dregs. God...the razor clam omelette. Water spinach in fermented bean curd sauce ("foo yee" in cantonese, "foo roo" here, in mandarin). Many many other extraordinary things, almost everything served with cauliflower. The chef is for some reason obsessed with cauliflower.

Very barebones, sit on stools at one of the three tables. Only water to drink. No English spoken.

Ah Ping Snack Bar: 2 E Broadway (enter on Catherine St) 212-962-7598 open till 10

Note: the waiters are really anxious about getting orders right....please don't just point at the dish, block out the calligraphs between two napkins (one above, one below) to stave off Server Stress.

  1. ChiefHDB Aug 24, 2009 08:06 PM

    So how would someone who doesn't speak the language go about eating here? I'm assuming the menu isn't translated. This place sounds delicious, I would hate for something as inconsequential as a language barrier to keep me away from it.

    21 Replies
    1. re: ChiefHDB
      l
      Lau Aug 24, 2009 08:13 PM

      the menu actually is translated once you get inside...im not sure if they speak english or not (never tried or seen anyone speak english in the place), but u can get by through pointing...shouldn't be a problem

      1. re: Lau
        Chandavkl Aug 24, 2009 08:16 PM

        Laminated English menu so I had no problem.

        1. re: Chandavkl
          Jim Leff Aug 24, 2009 09:46 PM

          Translated though it is, you must learn your way through the menu, though. The original menu was confusing and inadequate, but only listed the good stuff. Now they have a long, Chinese-American format menu full of permutations.......but you have to know what's good. Crib from my suggestions above, to start. Unless you're very familiar with Foo Chow food, one rule of thumb is to only order dishes that are unfamiliar-sounding.

          1. re: Jim Leff
            b
            brettnyc Aug 25, 2009 06:38 AM

            My girlfriend and I have been several times and never had a problem with the no-english. From the dishes Jim recs we've had the rabbit foo chow, razor clam omelette, and lamb with wine dregs, and definitely concur with the praise.

            Jim, I haven't noticed the loofah soup on the menu(haven't been back since the new bigger menu arrived, although I believe you mentioned that dish in your original Ah Ping post, when they had the first menu), and from a quick look didn't see it on the menupages one either. Does this have a different name on the menu/do you order this off-menu?

            1. re: brettnyc
              ChiefHDB Aug 25, 2009 06:53 AM

              I was looking at the menupages link and was wondering about the loofah soup as well. Also, any idea what the difference is between the razor with egg dish and chinese razor with egg (besides the price)? Lychee pork looks interesting too.

              1. re: ChiefHDB
                b
                brettnyc Aug 25, 2009 09:13 AM

                I've stuck to the more expensive razor clam omelette, so can't compare the two versions, but its excellent, and a great deal given how much razor clam they lay on.

                I had the lychee pork on our first visit, because they were "out" of all the other items we requested--I think they were feeling us out to make sure we really wanted the authentic stuff. It was fine(and from what I understand lychee pork is an authentic dish) but you can do much better there than the lychee pork. That first visit there may have been some confusion from the pointing as well--I believe we may have inadvertently pointed near the price trying to just identify the item, rather than pointing directly to the character listing the item, and they perhaps thought we were trying to confirm the price, and maybe the price had risen slightly, so they said it wasn't available? Either way, if you'll be pointing make sure to go right for the character to avoid confusion. I've found the woman that runs it to be very nice btw...

                1. re: brettnyc
                  scoopG Aug 25, 2009 09:50 AM

                  Lychee Pork is the Fuzhou version of sweet and sour pork. Called Lychee Pork because the pork is supposed to be cut to resemble lychees. The best versions I've had (at Best Fuzhou) are closer to the vinegary side of sweet and sour and not heavily sauced. Cauliflower is a common addition.

                  1. re: brettnyc
                    Jim Leff Aug 25, 2009 12:01 PM

                    Yes.....they're real anxious about getting orders right....don't just point at the dish, block out the calligraphs between two napkins (one above, one below). I'll add that to my OP.

                  2. re: ChiefHDB
                    scoopG Aug 25, 2009 09:48 AM

                    Well Loofa is: 絲瓜 Si Gua if that is of any help.

                    1. re: scoopG
                      ChiefHDB Aug 25, 2009 11:23 AM

                      Thanks for the recommendations. I figured lychee pork would have lychee in it. Either way, I will definitely be trying this place soon.

                    2. re: ChiefHDB
                      Jim Leff Aug 25, 2009 12:00 PM

                      NO IDEA on the two razor clam omelets! I've had both, and they're identical so far as I can tell. The flavor of something like cooking sherry (can't possibly really be) mystifies me.

                    3. re: brettnyc
                      Jim Leff Aug 25, 2009 11:59 AM

                      I don't have a menu here (and menupages version is old), but it's called baby clam soup with sponge gourd (or somesuch). There's only one clam soup, and it contains loofah.

                      1. re: Jim Leff
                        b
                        brettnyc Aug 26, 2009 07:08 AM

                        Thanks will check the loofah soup out. Also curious now to try the other razor clam omelette...Could the difference be atlantic vs pacific razor clams, given one is called "Chinese razor clams"?

                        1. re: brettnyc
                          Jim Leff Aug 27, 2009 09:22 AM

                          I very seriously doubt it.

                          I guess I need to go order both omelettes side by side.

                          1. re: Jim Leff
                            b
                            brettnyc Aug 27, 2009 02:37 PM

                            Yeah just was throwing that out there, no idea on the distinction, especially since I've just had the one so far.

                            There are definitely worse things than needing to eat side by side Ah Ping razor clam omelettes :)

                            1. re: brettnyc
                              Jim Leff Aug 27, 2009 04:18 PM

                              Where do you think that sherry-ish flavor comes from? It totally stumps and intrigues me....

                              Oh....and I forgot to recommend an off-menu item: dungeness crab stir fried (in shell!) with scrambled egg.

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                penthouse pup Aug 27, 2009 06:09 PM

                                Maybe a judicious splash of Shao Xing into the mix?

                                1. re: penthouse pup
                                  scoopG Aug 27, 2009 07:18 PM

                                  That would do the trick!

                                  1. re: scoopG
                                    ChiefHDB Aug 28, 2009 03:31 PM

                                    I'm planning on making a trip for lunch tomorrow. Cribbing from Jim, I think I'm going to get the razor clam omelette, the loofah and clam soup (good for the rain too), rabbit, and some vegetables.

                                    Anything I absolutely shouldn't miss?

                                    1. re: ChiefHDB
                                      l
                                      Lau Aug 28, 2009 04:03 PM

                                      i'd definitely try the bian rou (fuzhou dumpling soup), i think they are very good

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6019...

              2. re: ChiefHDB
                squid kun Aug 24, 2009 11:15 PM

                I think the Menu Pages menu (linked below) is the shorter original version that Jim mentions.

                -----
                Ah Ping Snack Bar
                2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

              3. Jim Leff Sep 20, 2009 12:37 PM

                New chef. Sloppy, careless, unsubtle. Same menu. Argh.

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