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A-Wah - The best bo zai fan (claypot rice) in ctown

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I'm way behind on reviews, I've got a ton of reviews to write, but I had such a good meal at A-Wah tonight that I decided to write about it right now.

A-Wah is where the now defunct Roasted Delights was at 5 Catherine Street (bet bowery and e broadway). From the outside it looks like a typical cantonese bbq shop with meats hanging in the window. When you walk in they actually did a reasonably nice renovating the place and its decently nice with some dark wood panels and this green coloring on the walls. They also have a TV going playing chinese music. Makes the place much more bright and friendly feeling than most chinese restaurants.

The staff is actually very friendly and seemed to have alot of regular customers now as they were chatting up with some of them. The clientele was 100% chinese and mainly cantonese with a few mandarin speakers mixed in. They told me how much soy sauce I should put on the rice and asked me how my food was, which by ctown standards is exceptional service. I spoke to them in chinese, but I'm pretty sure they can speak english b/c one of the waitresses came up and originally started talking in english to me (even though I'm chinese, the way i dress, look etc is a dead give away that I'm ABC), so I don't language is an issue. Fyi, the dish I'm talking about usually takes about 20 mins to cook, so don't expect super fast service.

I originally came in thinking it was just another bbq place and my plan was to try a few different types of bbq meats and see how it was. I quickly nixed that plan when I looked at the menu and it said in chinese that its a bo zai fan (claypot rice) restaurant and I looked around and every person had bo zai fan in front of them.

For those of you who don't know, bo zai fan is a hong kong claypot rice where they steam the rice in a clay pot and then put various types of meats that you can choose over them and then you pour soy sauce on it. If you watched Anthony Bourdain's episode where he goes to HK, I think it's like the first thing he gets. It's one of my all time favorite hong kong comfort dishes. Not sure why it doesn't get talked about much on chowhound, but it's probably b/c people don't know what it is.

Here's what I got:
- soup: they gave me a free soup that was very good. Simple light broth (not salty at all) with tender pieces of chicken and greens which I couldn't identify (they were very dark and almost looked like collard greens), but were very tasty.
- peking duck buns (bei jing ya): I noticed this as it was listed as an appetizer. I only ordered it b/c I was thinking maybe they took a page out of Corner 28's playbook, so it could be interesting. You get 3 very small buns in a bamboo steamer. They were decent but not great, the ratio of mantou (steamed bun) to duck was too much (i.e. too much bun not enough duck). The duck itself was fine, but a bit too fatty (this is coming from someone who really likes fatty meats) and there wasn't enough skin. Overall, not bad, but not amazing
- pork and chinese sausage claypot rice (bo zai fan): this is the very first one listed in their claypot section. It's 3 types of meats over the rice, a minced pork patty, chinese sausage (la chang) and a sort of thick cut bacon. You pour a very dark and thick soy sauce over everything and mix it up (you'll see the difference in the soy sauce b/c its not the regular soy sauce you normally see...there are different grades of soy sauce). This was really good in fact its the best version I've had outside HK and its even better than Yummy Noodle who does a very respectable version. The minced pork patty was delicious and tender, the chinese sausage was great (hard to mess up) and the bacon pieces were delicious and tender. It's weird with bo zai fan I find that no matter how much soy sauce I put in it never seems to be too much, the lady even said I put alot in although I told her I like it that way (normally I'm very adverse to oversalting food). It all goes so well together and I love the crispy pieces of rice at the bottom of the claypot. This was so good, I was very pleasantly surprised.
- sesame filled rice dough balls (tang yuan): this is one of my all time favorite chinese desserts (another dessert my gf claims is an old people dessert and hence I like it). It's very tender rice dough balls filled with a sweet black sesame paste served in hot water. They are sort of hard to mess up and these were great. I almost always get this anywhere that serves it.

Anyhow, this place is probably one of the most exciting places to open up in chinatown in a long time. I highly recommend coming here and trying this dish b/c their version would be considered decent in HK that's how good I thought it was.

I forgot to take pictures, but I might go back on weds and if I do I'll take pictures then.

-----
Roasted Delights
5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

Yummy Noodles
48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

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  1. and the connection with Yummy Noodles is...?

    10 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      in the review i mentioned that it was better than yummy noodle which was previously the only place in chinatown that really specializes in bo zai fan and actually has a very good version as well

      chowhound now automatically puts links up when you mention a restaurants name in a review

      1. re: Lau

        I am finding that out now - irritating at times!

        1. re: scoopG

          you always have the option of removing a place link that was automatically added, as soon as you hit SUBMIT or REPLY; it's that 5-minute window or so when you can still do an edit.

          1. re: bigjeff

            yah i just figured that out too

        2. re: Lau

          Lau - I went to Yummy Noodles for the first time today, and tried their bo zai fan. Was not impressed at all. Ordered the house version (Chinese sausage+meat pattie), but found it to be very rudimentary. Bo zai fan is supposed to be 香/fragrant, but theirs have no depth whatsoever. I know they're nowhere near A Wah as you mentioned, but I wanted to give them a shot anyway. Do you go to Yummy Noodles anymore, if so, what do you get there? I wasn't too impressed with their cha siu (roast pork) either. Their 牛腩撈麵 (Chinese style lo mein with beef brisket) was ok, but you really can't go too wrong with that dish. Are there any particular dishes that you make a special trip to Yummy Noodles for? If not, what do you think are their best dishes? Based on my experience today, I probably won't give them a second visit unless you (or another poster) offers some redeeming dishes I should go back to try. I don't think their food is worth the $ for the most part.

          -----
          Yummy Noodles
          48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

          1. re: Noodle fanatic

            the only thing i used to get there was bo zai fan and their si yao gai, which they do decently. i found most of their other bbq to be just ok.

            there is no reason for me to go to yummy noodle anymore b/c a wah is definitely better; i actually haven't been since a wah opened and its possible it went downhill b/c the guy who opened up a wah is from yummy noodle, so there is the possibility of the typical chinatown thing where the chef leaves and the food goes downhill

            1. re: Lau

              Thanks Lau. Good to know. Their bo zai fan today was basically a 肉餅 (meat patty) over rice that happened to be served in a bo zai (casserole); if they'd taken the contents out of the bo zai you wouldn't have been able to tell that it was a bo zai fan. Looking forward to trying A Wah soon.

              Going back to my post about where to find a Hong Kong style diner/cafe (茶餐廳), I stumbled upon a place called Coluck Restaurant (第一中西餐廳) at 16 Elizabeth St today with the entrance down that corridor from where Yummy Noodles is. I didn't try the food, but saw on their menu breakfast items like ham and egg sandwiches and macaroni in soup. The reviews on Yelp makes me think they're probably below average. Have you heard anything about them or tried their food?

              I popped into Mei Li Wah Bakery briefly and saw lots of elderly couples enjoying tea. Have you tried anything else there besides the buns, and what are their specialties? I saw a lot of cheung fun on the menu.

              -----
              Coluck
              16 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

              Yummy Noodles
              48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                coluck was the place i was talking about, i forgot it has an english name b/c the chinese name as you have written is di yi zhong xi can ting, so #1 chinese western cafe. i've eaten there once a really long time ago, i dont remember it being particularly good, but it was so long ago i don't want to opine and its been there a long time and seems to have a decent following (i never see non-chinese in there), so its possible its good

                there is one other place i forgot that might have what you're looking for, its ming's caffe (i haven't been though): http://www.yelp.com/biz/mings-caffe-n...

                i've had the congee and cheung fan at MLW, i was underwhelmed by both. congee was a bit watery, NY noodletown's is way better and the cheung fan was overcooked, its was mushy and stuck together. i stick with the buns

                1. re: Lau

                  No one goes to MLW for Congee. It's a quick fix dim sum app place + bakery + over 100 year old piece of nostalgia.

                  1. re: scoopG

                    someone on the board wrote about their congee being good its was like dried scallop and ginseng or something like that. the quality of the congee itself wasn't good when i tried it recently, i regretted not just going to ny noodletown

      2. thanks for the report i will have to try the bo zai fan. i wonder how the roast meats compare to where i eat them, ny noodletown

        1 Reply
        1. re: FrankieLymon

          i wanted to try some roast meats, they looked good, but i couldn't eat anymore as bo zai fan is pretty filling....NY Noodletown is my general go to place too although A-Wah is definitely worth it for their bo zai fan alone

        2. Have you had the bo zai fan at Cantoon Garden (or whatever the new name of that place is)? I'm curious as to how it compares to this version. I dislike the version at CG because they do a poor job of transferring the flavors of the meat into the rice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

            the version at CG is passable, but Yummy Noodle and A-Wah are definitely much better....I never really expected it to be good at CG as its sort of far out what they are good at, but they do have a reasonable sized section on the menu for it.

          2. Is it safe to say Cantoon Garden is the best place in Manhattan for Sauteed lobsters with XO sauce. I think it is offered at many restaurants in chinatown

            1 Reply
            1. re: FrankieLymon

              i'm not sure what CG and sauteed lobsters with XO sauce have to do with this post?

              Anyhow, I like them at CG, but to be fair I haven't gone around to every cantonese seafood place in ctown to try them so its possible somewhere else does a better job, but generally I find CG to be the best across the board cantonese seafood / family style type place in ctown

            2. This sounds wonderful!! Thanks for sharing.

              Ignorant question: Can you get bo zai fan in a vegetarian or seafood version (either at A-Wah or elsewhere)? I don't eat meat, but would love to try this place if possible.

              -----
              A-Wah
              5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

              3 Replies
              1. re: piegirl74

                unfortunately bo zai fan is very much about the combo of meat, rice and soy sauce. When you get it, you pour soy sauce over it and then mix it all up and scrap crusty rice off the sides (which is really good) and let it sit for a minute so the soy sauce and meat permeate the rice (the rice tastes really good), so getting it without meat sorta defeats the purpose. I've never eaten a vegetarian bo zai fan.

                However, A-Wah does have a 3 types of mushrooms bo zai fan which appears to be vegetarian, so you could try that.

                -----
                A-Wah
                5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                1. re: Lau

                  Thanks for the tip. I eat at Hangawi (a vegetarian Korean place) a lot and get their stone bowl rice which sounds similar (crispy rice bits - YUM). I refer to it as Korean paella (in that the rice next to the bowl gets crispy and when you mix it, you have lovely crispy bits mixed with other fluffy rice).

                  It's not the most authentic version, but a decent approximation when you don't eat meat. I will consider giving the mushroom version a try - thanks much!

                  1. re: piegirl74

                    the basic preparation is almost exactly the same as dol sot preparation (the korean stone pot), so will be similar to that although toppings are obviously different

              2. Thanks for the report. I had only gotten so far as to peek inside to see what had replaced Roasted Delights, then (erroneously, as it turns out) concluding that it wasn't worth pursuing. I like the part about where they started speaking to you in English. My problem is that when I go into a Chinese restaurant they start speaking to me in Chinese, and I don't know what they're saying. However, the one place where they speak to me in English is in the LES portion of Chinatown, so they're much more attuned to ABC's there for whatever reason.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chandavkl

                  they definitely speak english, i'm going to write a follow up report as I went on monday, but i need to upload some pics onto yelp. I saw two tables with people who did not speak chinese come and one of the main waitresses (who is very nice btw) spoke to them and actually had reasonably complicated conversations (i.e. her english is good) b/c one table was vegetarian and the other had very specific requests about her dishes

                  1. re: Lau

                    Lau - Looking forward to your report. We're going to CT tonight, and thought this might be a great place for us to try. I'd like to try the Bo Zai for me and the kids, but my husband doesn't eat meat, but we all love seafood. Anything stand out in terms of seafood? Thanks ----

                2. the bo jai fan at yuen yuen is pretty good too. but it is very old school, and most of the real menu is written on the walls in chinese...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fayyeeyee

                    i've always been meaning to eat at that place, but i've never gotten around to it...looks interesting

                    1. re: Lau

                      Yuen Yuen's medicinal/snake menu can be intriguing or a deterrent, depending on your point of view. (I voted for the latter.)

                      -----
                      Yuen Yuen
                      61 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                  2. So I went there again on monday night for dinner with another person, here's what I got (w/ pics):
                    - complementary chicken soup: same as before, we talked to the lady a bit and she said they make it fresh and it takes them 4 hours to boil and make the chicken stock...great
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - soy sauce chicken (jiang you ji): there version is just ok, the skin should be a little more crispy and the meat a bit more tender. NY Noodletown, Big Wong and Yummy Noodle all have better versions
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - House special chinese sausage and minced pork (hua zi bao zai fan): this was awesome (same one I got last time), when you mix it all together and let it steam so the meats and soy sauce mix with the rice, its just so good
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - Carp Fish and Ginger Casserole (jiang cong yu nan bao): this was a recommendation from the waitress. It's a clay pot casserole filled with fried chunks of carp that are in a semi-sweet sauce (if you know what "hong shao" is than that is how it is cooked). I love this preparation as I've had it in HK many times usually with fish head, its got a ton of fried garlic cloves in it with scallions and spring onions. The sauce is semi-sweet. The preparation was very good here, the flavor tasted very similar to a dish I had at one of my favorite restaurants in HK. However, carp is not my favorite fish as it usually has that fresh water fish taste and this had a bit of that taste. Also, in chinese it says "yu nan"; yu = fish and nan = usually means tendon, so I'm not actually sure what part of the fish was. The meat that was on it was very tender (like melt in your mouth), there was a decent amt of bones and then there was alot of a soft gelatinous meat that I didn't mind it, but I think alot of chound readers might. I'd like to try it with their fish head (they have the same version with fish head), preparation was awesome.
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - fried buns with condensed milk (zha man tou): this is another HK favorite of mine and they do a great job on it, fried mantou (white fluff bread) with condensed milk...self explanatory and awesome
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - milk and egg white ginger flan: OMG this made me so happy, in HK there is a chain of places called Yee Shun that serves a milk pudding that is amazing, its very light, not too sweet and has the consistency of dou hua (a super silky chinese dessert dish). I never thought I'd see it in NY ctown. Well, they have it here. It's sweeter and not quite as silky as the one in HK, but beggars can't be choosers and it was good. Definitely recommend
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...
                    - Egg Flan (bing hua duan dan): this was a yellow egg custard. It was decent albeit a bit sweeter than I'd like, pretty self-explantory
                    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/gxPy5X...

                    All in another great meal, definitely recommend coming here

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Lau

                      Generally 'yu nan' means fish belly (and it's usually carp) in canto places. "yu nan bo's" also always seem to involve carp belly in the casserole. That pic of the chinese sausage/minced pork bo zai fan looks great.

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        its possible it was the belly, it was extremely soft meat, it was the gelatinous part that threw me off and we couldn't decide what exact part of the fish it was...probably should have just asked the waitress

                        the bo zai fan is very good

                      2. re: Lau

                        Lau I took home a take away menu and there a few items without English translations. Do you know what those would be?

                        Thanks

                      3. Thanks for this writeup, Lau. Based on your recommendation, we hit up A-Wah on Saturday afternoon.

                        We had two orders of clay pot rice, the house special w/ pork and sausage, as well as the chicken with mushrooms. I love this type of dish. It's very simple and what they call "homestyle." I feel like I'm eating in someone's kitchen, and not a restaurant. It also has some obvious similarities to the Korean comfort staple, bibimbob. The two dishes are kind of like cousins who were once very tight but have since led disparate and separate lives. If you like one, you're likely to like the other, but not for the exact same reasons. I love the way the flavors, juices and soy sauce run together and coat the rice, but, with a dish like this, I always like to keep some of the rice as it is, for more variety. I also love the way the rice hardens and gets crispy at the bottom of the bowl - a highlight. It was worth the effort to scrape every bit of it up - I felt like a kid, brimming with unbridled joy, as I mixed the crispy rice bits in with everything else.

                        As you say, the house special sausage and pork is excellent. I'd order it again in a heartbeat. The chicken and mushroom version was fine, but not on the same level. The chicken bits were small, bone-on and quite juicy and tender, the mushrooms fresh-tasting enough, but this just didn't have the same amount of flavor and all-around action as the house special. As my wife noted, the rice was of a high order as well. It has to be, in order to absorb all these flavors and still have some bounce and umph.

                        This was also a very friendly, clean joint. The waitresses were very nice and laid-back. One of them told us that she used to work at a Korean sushi place on Northern Boulevard. Supposedly, if we are to believe her, there's a sizeable Chinese and Korean scene out in some neighborhood called Flushing.

                        I'll have to investigate.

                        P.

                        -----
                        A-Wah
                        5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Polecat

                          glad you enjoyed, i think you got why i like the dish so much

                          as far as toppings go, i think the classics are the pork patty, la chang (chinese sausage) and / or the salted duck (its a salt preserved duck)...i almost never order it without at least one of those in it b/c they really go very well with it

                          1. re: Lau

                            Can you tell me what is in the Chinese sausage?

                            Thanks!

                              1. re: FLnow

                                sometimes they have livers in it too. yum~ those are darker in color. but lau is right, the default ones are usually just pork, flavored with rice wine

                                1. re: another_lau

                                  yah, but these ones are the red ones, not the darker ones with liver

                            1. re: Polecat

                              On this stinker of a gray wet day, all of the above. Thanks Lau

                              1. re: Polecat

                                I used to eat at Yuraku all the time on Northern Boulevard; this was no fusion korean-japanese (hwe-style place) but purely japanese joint run by koreans; all the servers wore kimonos and the place was so old school! I'm sure it's still around.

                              2. no problem going there on a friday night walkin for a group of 4-5? and, are these single serve, like, one per person?

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  Was I doing something I should know about?
                                  Fair cop, bigjeff

                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                    Jeff, no problem for four to five people. I would say that each clay pot serving is the size of a small-to-medium casserole dish. They can serve a single, hungry diner, but are easily shared as well. Enjoy.
                                    p.

                                      1. re: Polecat

                                        The rice casserole was more than I eating alone could finish at once.

                                        1. re: wew

                                          i never actually finish the rice, its too much rice for one sitting, but i usually finish all the meat and maybe half the rice

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            I couldn't stop eating the rice, it was too good. So I went for a long bike ride the next day

                                    1. Just curious how much these dishes cost?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. The house special bao zai fan is $9.26 including tax and a wonderful broth called "soup"

                                        1. Lau, great rec; 3 of us had an excellent meal on friday night (it was packed!):

                                          + house casserole number one, the first one
                                          + pickled veg with intestine
                                          + crispy pig (small plate)
                                          + pea shoots (dou miao)
                                          + carp ginger casserole (carp belly, yup)
                                          + we might have got something else, I can't remember

                                          the rice casserole (#62) was great; good flavor, great portion, the pork patty was very nice and light; the other salted meats excellent; great crust. the carp casserole was very good; like fish sticks but amazing; intestine dish was very good, a tad sweet but still very "xia fan" and the crispy pig was great, served with a nicely sweet sauce, the surface of the pork quite salty but very good and the skin extremely crispy; beats many a lechon that I've ever had in my life.

                                          the place looks like the typical BBQ joint from outside but if you can get past all the clutter on the menu (general tso's and stuff) there is good stuff. I bet there is much more good stuff on the specialties section as well; we were eyeing some of the tripe stuff and another table got the beef curry casserole that was actually oxtail. holy cow it looked so good. the place is extremely affordable and we threw down for an amazing meal. great energy from the crowded dining room and the very good staff as well.

                                          thanks Lau, we'll be back for sure.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bigjeff

                                            glad you enjoyed...i want to get that curry casserole, i saw it on the menu and it caught my eye. this is definitely one of the better restaurants in ctown now

                                          2. This is a great find, for the house special claypot rice and the milk and egg white ginger flan alone. (Next time I may order my flan hot instead of cold.) Lau, would you do me the favor of contacting me through my website?

                                            10 Replies
                                              1. re: Lau

                                                Eating In Translation. You can reach me at DaveCook [at] EatingInTranslation [dot] com.

                                                1. re: DaveCook

                                                  check your email, i emailed you

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    Until now I thought that an near unknown thai resto in queens was the best at packaging food to go, but now A Wah has the honors. I ordered three casserole dishes to go and was given, I realized after walking a bit, three clay casserole pots. I returned so they could correct the mistake and they requested the pots be returned the next day. At work in brooklyn, the food was perfectly warm and looked so elegant that we opened a Donnhoff riesling 2007 and feasted.

                                                    1. re: wew

                                                      glad you enjoyed, A-Wah is pretty awesome...they take my award for best single dish in ctown

                                                      -----
                                                      A-Wah
                                                      5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                              2. re: DaveCook

                                                Dave, I'd like to hear your report after your meal!

                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  Maybe we should talk over a claypot rice or two; there are many varieties at A-Wah that I haven't tried!

                                                  -----
                                                  A-Wah
                                                  5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                                  1. re: DaveCook

                                                    you should try the preserved duck one next time....its another classic, i was planning on ordering it last night, but forgot

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      one more thing, was that bright yellow ball a hard cooked duck egg yolk? It was good, I just ate it. Was I supposed to smash it up and mix it in? I bet a sunny side up runny egg would be good in there, ala bibimbop. But I suppose runny egg yolks do make everything taste better.

                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                        yah well its a salted duck egg yolk (preserved), i sort of break it up into pieces and eat it with everything else

                                                        btw there is a version that has the a runny egg, its usually on a minced beef patty, i'm not sure if they have that version of not, i know yummy noodle does

                                              3. There are times when I get very annoyed with Chowhound as it seems like it boils down to people complaining, insulting others or talking down to others who they think know less then them. Then I come across a post like this, directing me to a restaurant I probably never would have found (I have a lot of favorites already) and to a dish I never really heard of. Lau I really want to thank you, thank you, thank you. I just had one of the more delicious meals in a long time.

                                                First off I got the complimentary soup. It had a really rich chicken flavour, more European to my mind then most Asian soups I have had. A very nice start to the meal.

                                                While I waited for my meal I noticed everyone in the place had a clay pot in front of them, good sign. I was pretty excigted when the house special pork and sausage arrived. The waitress instructed me on the soy sauce and off I went mixing away without distrubing the bottom layer. Being familiar with dolsot bibimbop the procedure is fairly similar. The end result was fantastic, 4 kinds of meat, minced pork patty, sausage, roasted pork belly and another roasted cut that was almost like a cross between roast pork and jerky. Everything went well especially with the salty, sweet, fermented taste of the soy sauce. I ended up using more then I thought would make sense but it kept absorbing the stuff. I liked all of the pork products but especially the minced stuff which I think was laced with a preserved vegetable and some dried seafood product. The crunchy slightly charred rice presented a nice textural contrast to the soft rice.

                                                I also got the greens with oyster sauce which were standard and made me feel better about eating all of that fatty pork and white rice.

                                                This was my first clay pot rice dish, so my opinion is not an educated one on this topic but I thought this was absolutely fantastic. The only thing I would have liked would have been more scallions but I am not sure if that is traditional or not. So again, thank you Lau. If I ever see you I owe you a beer or two.

                                                I will definitely be back with a larger group. I don't think I cannot get the house special but there are many other things I want to try.

                                                38 Replies
                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                  glad you enjoyed it so much....and yes you seem to never really be able to pour enough soy sauce on it

                                                  re: the soup. their soup is very good...there are lots of chinese soups that taste like this that are made out of some sort of meat or seafood that has been boiled a long time, but its more homestyle stuff and i also think that people don't necessarily know to order these soups (also not available everywhere since they are a pain in the ass to make)

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    Lau - did you ever put together a list of "bests" for Manhattan Chinatown? I'd love to see your recommendations for:
                                                    - Best Congee
                                                    - Best 茶餐廳 (HK style diner, pinyin: cha can ting)
                                                    - Best 水餃 (shui jiao)
                                                    - Best bo zai fan
                                                    - Best 消夜 (xiao ye/latenight dining)
                                                    - Best Cantonese dinner (wedding banquet style dishes)
                                                    - Best Cantonese breakfast
                                                    - Best Cantonese Soup (老火湯; lao huo tang)

                                                    I'm from Hong Kong, but have not really had the courage to try too many places in Chinatown here. The places I currently go to are Noodle Village for their 姜蔥撈麵 (ginger scallion lo mein), Congee Village for a traditional Cantonese dinner, and Dim Sum Go Go for dim sum. They're pretty good, but none of which can compare to what I can get in HK... (o dear, even London has better dim sum than we do!) I'd love to know where the more refined Chinese restaurants are, or if they even exist here? (I don't mean refined as in fancy decor, I mean refined in the execution of cooking, i.e. not "粗"/literal translation: rough) e.g. I go to XO Kitchen for the 焗豬排飯 (baked pork chop over rice with red sauce), but am not happy with the poor quality of pork they use - is there any place else that does this dish better? Thanks in advance!

                                                    This part is not related to NY: "Sorry if this is off topic, but for those who are wondering, the dim sum restaurant I highly recommend in London = Pearl Liang. There's another dim sum place called Yauatcha which I quite like and would recommend if you like modern dim sum in a more posh environment, but most purists and traditionalists (including my mother) would frown upon this overpriced creation by Alan Yau".

                                                    1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                      This is a GREAT idea for a new thread! I don't know much about Chinatown and would LOVE to see a "Best of Chinatown" thread compiled by experts.

                                                      1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                        Have you tried the bo zai fan at A Wah yet? Manhattan's Cantonese Chinatown is Old World circa 1970-1980. The more inventive new cuisine there is being offered by the Fujian immigrants who are expanding Chinatown east. For more refined Cantonese dining, especially dim sum you will need to head to Flushing and/or post on the Outer Boroughs board. I don't know of any Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown that does not offer ginger scallion lo mein so I would encourage you to sample places like NY Noodletown, Yogee Restaurant, Yummy Noodles (see squid kun below) and more and let us know what you think. I find the best Cantonese soup broth in general at New Chao Chow at 111 Mott Street. Breakfast joints: easy to find walking in Chinatown at 7:30 am and you will see what is open. Two that come to mind are Mei Lai Wah at 66 Bayard and Big Wong King at 67 Mott although I am not big on congee. Others can weigh in on the best congee joints. (Regarding Hongkong dim sum the Wall Street Journal reported recently on how many of the dim sum houses in Hongkong are now serving up previously frozen, machine-made dim sum!)

                                                        -----
                                                        Big Wong
                                                        67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                        New Chiu Chow
                                                        111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                        Yogee
                                                        85 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002

                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                          scoopG - Thanks. Out of NY Noodletown, Yogee Restaurant, and Yummy Noodles, which would you consider the best overall? How are they different? How do they compare to Noodle Village What are their star dishes? I'm impressed with Noodle Village because its dining room is comfortable (unlike most places in Chinatown where they give new meaning to the term dive), and the shui jiao (dumplings) uses whole/chunks of prawns versus the minced kind that most places serve, which could be good too depending on your preference/mood. I also find that the quality of execution at Noodle Village is leagues above XO, in other words, Noodle Village's food is more refined than that of XO even though they serve many of the same dishes. You can tell from their 湯水 (tang1 shui3), a Chinese term for the quality of broth. I don't eat squab in Chinatown because I'm afraid to find out where they get their squab from, but my sister and mom had it the other day, and said it was good. To those who haven't read through the whole thread, I'd like to stress that neither Noodle Village/XO are out-of-this-world Chowhound worthy, but merely places that I go to since I haven't found some place better in NY. Although I really like Noodle Village and it hits the spot when I'm missing Hong Kong.

                                                          For those who go to XO, never order their wonton (or report back and let me know if I had it on an off day?). I'm hoping it was an anomaly, but the wonton ingredients were super weird (water chestnuts and some other pungent Chinese vegetable I don't know the name of) and tasted so horrendous I had to spit it out. Also never get anything with yu pian (fish fillet) in it, the quality and preparation of the fish was so bad I had to spit that out too. I only go there because I need a fix of 焗豬排飯 (baked pork chop over rice with red sauce au gratin), but that's gone down hill as well the last time I went. Might have to cross them off my list if they don't improve the next time I go.

                                                          And regarding the WSJ article, local haute foodies in HK don't necessarily go to "dim sum houses", they seek out the best at the highest-end Cantonese restaurant or the most original dive. The previously frozen, machine-made dim sums are for the unrefined eater (like those who voluntarily eat at places like Applebees or TGIFridays) or those who have to eat at a food court.

                                                          1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                            unfortunately, NY ctown is not all that good (I eat in flushing when I want better chinese), its decent and big, but it lacks very good cantonese; the two things that you can get that are pretty good on an absolute basis are bo zai fan and congee.

                                                            From what I've had I'm not much of a fan of fujian food although I do plan on trying more of their places to make sure it's just b/c i'm not super familiar with their food.

                                                            - Best Congee: NY Noodletown or Big Wong; I tried mei li wah the other day and I thought their congee was not that good (stick to their cha siu bao and gai mei bao)
                                                            - Best 茶餐廳 (HK style diner, pinyin: cha can ting): tough, i don't think there is a good one in NY; normally I go to XO as you do, but it's not a real cha can ting as you've stated the food at XO is hit or miss; I do like their pork chop rice, but again as you've said the quality of the pork they use is just so so; I usually get their zha liang and zha mantou as well (although it's not really cha can ting food, but they do a decent version of both). The two other cha can ting places I can think of are the one in the hallway bet elizabeth between canal and bayard (the hallway is between elizabeth and bowery), its called like #1 chinese restaurant or something like that in chinese and mstar cafe on division right off bowery. I've eaten at the place in the hallway a long time ago, but I don't remember it all that well, haven't eaten at mstar.
                                                            - Best 水餃 (shui jiao): there is no good cantonese dumpling place. I generally go to prosperity on eldridge for shui jiao, also 144 E bway has pretty decent shui jiao. Although at both places i don't get shui jiao, i get guo tie, i think they are better
                                                            - Best bo zai fan: A-Wah hands down, one of the few restaurants in ctown that is very good on an absolute basis. Yummy Noodle House is second best.
                                                            - Best 消夜 (xiao ye/latenight dining): NY Noodletown
                                                            - Best Cantonese dinner (wedding banquet style dishes): Cantoon Garden is my favorite in ctown...Amazing 66 is decent as well
                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589457
                                                            - Best Cantonese breakfast: doesn't exist except for congee places
                                                            - Best Cantonese Soup (老火湯; lao huo tang): no great cantonese soup places; i agree that new chao chow does decent soup although it is technically a chiu chow place although i'd say its a cantonese place that happens to have some chiu chow food (bo by is decent as well another chiu chow place run by chinese from vietname); their rice stick with soup on the side is definitely their best dish along with their duck. Noodle Village is decent, NY Noodletown does a decent shrimp wonton noodle soup (although nothing close to what get you in HK

                                                            )

                                                            That's the rundown, I think you're better off going to flushing for chinese although to be frank NY doesn't have amazing chinese food. My two favorite cantonese restaurants in flushing at Imperial Palace and Canton Gourmet
                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543625
                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/454983

                                                            btw speaking about dim sum in HK regardless of what the WSJ said, NY isn't even remotely close to what you can get in HK....I'm going to HK in 3 weeks, can't wait; perhaps my favorite food in the world

                                                            -----
                                                            Big Wong
                                                            67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                            Noodle Village
                                                            13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                            Yummy Noodles
                                                            48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                                            Congee
                                                            98 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                                            A-Wah
                                                            5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              Lau - thanks so much! Where is NY Noodle Town, and what is its name in Chinese? I can only find one called Great NY Noodle Town on Yelp (利口福), is that the one you're referring to?

                                                              Regarding Cantonese soup (例湯), have you tried Congee Village (粥之家)? I usually try to make it myself, or when I'm lazy go there and have theirs.

                                                              Sorry I forgot to include these few in the original post, but what are your thoughts on:
                                                              - Best Dim Sum
                                                              - Best Chinese Bakery: I normally go to Fay Da or that place on a street corner with the fish/turtle tanks inside, but would like to know if there's another place you'd recommend.
                                                              - Best Bubble Tea: Ten Ren?
                                                              - Best 燒味 (Siu Mei; Chinese rotisserie chicken/duck/pork/cuttle fish etc.): I normally go to Bayard Meat Market (德昌), but is there a better place?

                                                              Thanks again. Have a great time in HK and stay cool + dry! Don't think I'm going to venture out to Flushing, because if it's not that amazing, I'd rather take a 15-hr flight to HK.

                                                              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                Great NY Noodletown is the place. It was originally NY Noodletown, then a few years ago became Great NY Noodletown in one of those inexplicable name tweaks that so often happen to Chinese restaurants. Most people still refer to it by its original name.

                                                              2. re: Lau

                                                                In all fairness Lau, you are biased towards Cantonese!

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  NY doesn't have amazing Chinese food? Maybe you are already in Hongkong in your mind! NYC has just about all all of the major Chinese cuisines covered. Solid Dongbei, Fujian, Hunan, Sichuan, Wenzhou and old world Cantonese which speaks to our wonderful diversity. Won't find that same diversity in Hongkong or Taipei. In Beijing today, Xinjiang is all the rage. Go figure.

                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                    Lau,

                                                                    Did you have specific recs for chiu-chow food at New Chao Chow? That's the place on mott, right, across from Shanghai Cafe? I do like the random dishes I get at Bo Ky but I can never remember what I get each time; I just make sure it has duck in it; it's usually noodle soup of some form or another.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    New Chiu Chow
                                                                    111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                                                      Yes, it is at 111 Mott - more or less kiddie-corner from the Shanghai Cafe. I like their won ton soups, but have not been there in awhile!

                                                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                                                        I actually go to New Chao Chow for two specific dishes:
                                                                        - Combination Rice Stick Soup On The Side: i forgot what it's called in chinese, but it's basically bak chor mee, which is a dish i learned to really like when I was singapore although it's nowhere near as good here as it is there obviously. here's a pic of what it looks like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mee_pok
                                                                        - Chao zhou style duck (chao zhou lu wei ya rou): this is their version of roast duck, its really good. It's in a very dark, but light flavored soy sauce served with some perserved vegetables. If you know what "lu wei" is it very much lives up to that name

                                                                        Generally I'd stick to any of the chao zhou style soups (in chinese it will have the characters saying chao zhou on them, there is a fish ball one, a wonton one, a duck one and maybe a seafood one....don't get the beef stew one, its totally different

                                                                        )

                                                                        -----
                                                                        New Chiu Chow
                                                                        111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                                          oh one other thing about New Chao Chow...douse their soups with their chili paste; they have the best chili paste in ctown by far (well Bo KY's is just as good actually), its got shrimp paste in it and I believe some black bean...its so good

                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                            Bo Ky's chili paste is addictive, luckily they sell jars to go.

                                                                    2. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                      I like both NY Noodletown and Yogee. Yogee does not get much love on the board here. Bright, clean and out of the way. Every place in Chinatown has both pluses and minuses. Big Wong King has the best BBQ Roast Pork. (Lau prefers NY Noodletown but I think they cut their slices too thick.) (Oh and the Wall Street Journal article mentioned only a couple of places in Hongkong today actually serve freshly made dim sum.)

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Big Wong
                                                                      67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                      Yogee
                                                                      85 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                                        scoopG - i am biased towards cantonese as my personal opinion is that its the best chinese cuisine, but i've always admitted i'm biased towards it. That said there are many other chinese cuisines that I love as well in particular chiu chow (although that is sorta cantonese), taiwanese, singaporean (mix of several southern chinese cuisines), sichuan and some shanghainese

                                                                        Noodle Fanatic - Chandavkl answered your question NY Noodletown
                                                                        - Best Dim Sum: there is no good dim sum in the city, i rarely go anymore if I do its dim sum go go or red egg....I normally go to jade asian or guangzhou in flushing
                                                                        - Best Chinese Bakery: depends what I'm looking for. For dan tat I go to Ka Wah on Eldridge, definitely the best dan tat in the city. I go to another bakery on hester between bowery and chrystie for steamed red bean buns. I like Lung Moon on Mulberry generally. Mei Li Wah for cha siu bao and gai mei bao. There are lots of ok bakeries in ctown, but I haven't found an amazing one.
                                                                        - Best Bubble Tea: i don't get it often, but i usually go to Vivi; i like the yuan yang cha at mei li wah alot, i also like the hong kong tea at the bakery next to fong too inn on mott a little south of bayard
                                                                        - Best 燒味 (Siu Mei; Chinese rotisserie chicken/duck/pork/cuttle fish etc.): I'd just go to one of the bbq shops like ny noodletown or big wong

                                                                        With regards to Flushing, Flushing is noticeably better than chinatown and its actually not all that far (depending on where you live in the city). I do think its worth your time. Take 15-20 mins on the LIRR or if you live downtown like I do, I normally walk to ctown and take the buses from ctown to flushing (about 15-20 mins as well). Flushing also has many different types of chinese cuisines to try from. I'd recommend going to flushing. There are a ton of places i'd recommend if you end up going, post on the outer boroughs and I'll give you a ton of places to go

                                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                                          Hi Lau - I've posted on the Outer Borough boards and would love your expert opinion on whether I should stick with Manhattan Chinatown or go to Sunset Park for certain things. I'm moving to Park Slope, so both Chinatowns will be roughly equidistant for me. Thanks in advance! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7133...

                                                                          1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                            hey noodle fanatic, ill respond in a few days when i get back to the US, im in mexico right now...computer im using is kind of annoying

                                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                                              Thanks in advance Lau! You're too kind! Have a fantastic time in Mexico and great eatings there :)

                                                                        2. re: scoopG

                                                                          scoopG - my post referred specifically to Cantonese food, so I assume that's what Lau was responding to. I'm sure each regional cuisine has its merits, that said, I think people tend to find most comfort in whatever delicious cuisine they grew up with. For me personally, having grown up in Hong Kong pre-1997, that means Cantonese, Shanghainese, bits of Taiwanaese, Chao Jou, and Sichuan. Not to mention Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai.

                                                                          1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                            Very funny, Lau and I responded at the same time with a very similar response. Love that there's a fellow ex-Hong Konger on this board! How could I forget Singaporean/Malaysian? Which reminds me, is there a place in NYC that serves really good/refined 海南雞飯 (Hainanese Chicken Rice)? Or is it just Nyonya? Thanks for the tip re: Flushing. I'll try to see if my friends who have cars would like to take a "trip" out there ;) I'm a little worried about taking the Chinatown vans after reading about the van wars in the NYTimes awhile ago. I know it's probably not that bad, but you be careful out there! (I'm in FiDi, so Chinatown is very close).

                                                                            scoopG - where did you develop your love for Chinese food? It's great to see someone being so open to all the regional cuisines. Although I have to agree with Lau that Cantonese cuisine, in my humble opinion, is the best of all Chinese cuisines.

                                                                            1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                              Any other ex-Hong Kongers on this board? Would love to hear from you!

                                                                              1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                                NF, you are right about that: Cantonese does reign supreme of all the Chinese cuisines. Superb treatment of fresh seafood, delicate flavors, minimal use of spices to let the true taste of the food come through and exquisite presentation. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy all the rest! I have Taiwanese friends who dislike Sichuan food. I have a friend from Beijing who doesn't get Stinky Tofu. The more vibrant Chinese cuisine happenings in NYC are from newly arrived immigrants who have opened up Shangdong, Fujian, Dongbei, Wenzhou, Hunan eateries etc. Cantonese immigration peaked here 30-40 years ago. Flushing is an ease to get to, only 30 minutes from Grand Central or 18 minutes from Penn Station. Flushing is a richer, more educated Chinese community. A good majority of the Chinese in Manhattan's Chinatown have only a high school education and do not speak English.

                                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                                  scoopG, refresh my memory: where are the wenzhou joints at? and, signature dishes? was it just this one joint?
                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638289

                                                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                    Satisfactory Wenzhou, stall #32 in the Golden Mall, makes a fantastic oblong fish cake soup. I think that's the signature Wenzhou dish. Also a place called Welcome You, 135-21 40th Rd. is also of the Wenzhou persuasion. Those are the only two I've been to, but I think there's a couple more.

                                                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                      That's the place, "Welcome You." Chinese name is 阿外樓. Tel: 718-886-0202. Their menu features both Wenzhou and Taiwan dishes i.e.Wenzhou wontons, Wenzhou Casserole, Sauteed Chicken Taiwan Style, Bok Choi in Taiwan Style etc. Plus a full page of some 28 Wenzhou special dishes in Chinese only, from $7.95 to $21.95!

                                                                                    2. re: bigjeff

                                                                                      That's right bigjeff. But there is another Wenzhou restaurant - will have to dig through my menus...

                                                                                  2. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                                    well i'm not from HK although i've spent a lot of time there and know alot of people there; i am part cantonese though...i did live in singapore for a little while; i'm from LA, which does happen to have alot of good chinese food and I got alot of home cooked chinese food growing up (grandmother was by far the best chinese cook i've ever had; grandfather was an excellent cook as well).

                                                                                    I dont think HK has much in the way of taiwanese food (given taipei is 1.5 hrs away, might as well just go to taiwan anyhow). there are some great sichuan private kitchens (way way better than anything we have here) and they've had very good shanghainese for a long time. Honestly, when it comes to chinese food I think cantonese people are pretty biased to liking their own food along with a few other popular things like xiao long bao.

                                                                                    I would not be concerned about the chinatown vans, I take them all the time as do alot of other people i know, no one has had any type of problems.

                                                                                    as far as hainan chicken rice, its all been terrible from what i've had although I want to try Taste Good in Elmhurst as I heard its the only good malay restaurant in NY. Chicken rice is actually pretty hard to get right, its one of my favorite foods (i ate either hainan chicken rice or nasi lemak everyday for lunch in singapore), wish we could find a decent place. I was in singapore in december and ate at tian tian hai nan ji fan multiple times....amazing.

                                                                                  3. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                                    NF, I lived in Hongkong from 1986-1991 and there were no Taiwanese, Shanghainese or Sichuan restaurants then worthy of any note. No mainlanders either. Plenty of bad Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean though and not many Filipino restaurants despite the huge numbers of Filpina workers there.

                                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                                      I lived there '85-'96 on the Hong Kong side. Maybe they didn't exist when you were there, but it's possible they opened up after you left, given the supersonic pace of HK, and the general population's love for food. Case in point: what other city publishes weekly magazines devoted entirely to restaurant scoops?!

                                                                                      Regarding Filipino food, most Filipino workers didn't eat out much since most are live-in nannies/drivers and cooked their own meals, so I'm not surprised that there weren't any Filipino restaurants (none that I knew of anyway). They also do sort of a potluck when they'd meet up and have picnics on Sundays. Furthermore, why would one seek out Filipino restaurants, when everyone has their own personal Filipino chef at home? (I had a lot of adobo growing up, so delicious!) One of the greatest privileges of growing up in HK has got to be having fresh, nutritious home-cooked meals everyday, courtesy of your live-in nanny + mom.

                                                                                      1. re: Noodle fanatic

                                                                                        Not all HK moms are cooking it up, that is for sure.

                                                                                        And the generalization about the magazines as a barometer seems a bit of a stretch.
                                                                                        I will chalk it up to personal enthusiasm.

                                                                        3. re: MVNYC

                                                                          >There are times when I get very annoyed with Chowhound as it seems like it boils down to people complaining, insulting others or talking down to others who they think know less then them.

                                                                          Yeah, Lau's not about that stuff. This place is on my list.

                                                                          I do like Yummy Noodle's version. And if you order to go, they give you a little clay pot to keep - no one's ever asked me to bring it back. I must have a half dozen of those. (In Chinatown shops the retail price is not much more than a buck for that size, so I assume they get them wholesale for much less.)

                                                                          http://www.chow.com/blog/2010/04/clay...

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Yummy Noodles
                                                                          48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                                                          1. re: squid kun

                                                                            It is very possible that I wasn't asked for a deposit at A Wah. We, the staff and I, lacked a common tongue, but shared good spirits. When I brought back the pots they gave me money, which might have reinforced my mistaken notion.

                                                                          2. re: MVNYC

                                                                            Went tonight. Like everyone, I'm very thankful for the great recommendation Lau.

                                                                            Of course we got the House special chinese sausage and minced pork (hua zi bao zai fan). This was fantastic...the pork steam coming off of it was damn fine to inhale.

                                                                            Ginger and scallion lo mein was also good, but I don't have too much to compare it to. Our order of greens, were really fantastic-- garlicky and briny.

                                                                            Pan fried dumplings were nothing special, and the roast pork was pretty bad...tough and flavorless, and the skin tasted off. We also got the complimentary chicken soup, which was ok.

                                                                            The waitress gave us the white people treatment...forks and spoons while trying to steer us towards the Americanized stuff. I had to track someone down for chopsticks. I think she eventually softened up though.

                                                                            Really looking forward to attacking the leftovers in my fridge and checking it out again.

                                                                            1. re: ChiefHDB

                                                                              roast pork was charsiu-style, or pernil-style with the crackly skin? not sure of the difference on their menu between suckling pig, and some of the other roast pork items.

                                                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                More pernil style, and served with hoisin. The waitress said they were out of the suckling pig. I wouldn't have ordered it if they didn't have the roasted meats hanging in the window. Oh well, could have just been because we were there around 930-10pm, but the skin was really sorry looking.

                                                                                Sauteed the remainder of the bao zai fan in with an egg and some spices for breakfast this morning... very awesome.

                                                                          3. a-wah feeling the love from Dave Cook at NY times and Eddie from Baohaus

                                                                            http://events.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/...
                                                                            http://thepopchef.blogspot.com/2010/0...

                                                                            more people go the better...keep them in business, so i can continue eating there

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. I just had the yummy noodle house special combo and . . . . it was extremely satisfying! good patty, tasty bits on the rice . . . . thoroughly enjoyable. I liked A-Wah's too, but . . . . I think I liked Yummy's more. I do want to eat at Yuen Yuen sometime but I'm intimidated because I don't speak any cantonese and that place is scarily old school and authentic.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Yuen Yuen
                                                                              61 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                              A-Wah
                                                                              5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                Sure it's not Yuen Yuen's snake soup?

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Yuen Yuen
                                                                                61 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                  bigjeff, do you think you could check out this thread on a thai dish and help identify it?
                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7289...

                                                                                  can you read the menu name there?

                                                                                2. Went to A-Wah last night and ordered the house special bo zai fan. I've had bibimbap, but am a novice with Hong Kong claypot rice, so I have nothing to compare A-Wah's version to. But it was delicious. The rice was both chewy and crunchy, each of the three types of pork were tender and flavorful and the house soy sauce made everything fragrant and taste rich - in fact, I probably could have put more of it on.

                                                                                  I'd be interested in trying the other claypots, but it's tough to deviate from one with three types of pork. Will have to bring some company next time.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  A-Wah
                                                                                  5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                                                                  1. Tried A-Wah last night with my brother in law and husband. Two house specials and one duck with sausage was enough to feed three, though I guess I could have just gotten two bo zai fan with extra meat. Total was about $25 for all three bowls.

                                                                                    The egg on top of the house special was great in combination with the scallions and meat. The pork patty was excellent but the chopped bone-in meat was chopped so finely that eating it was a pain. Not a lot of meat on each piece and at least one piece was only bone (annoying). I think I actually liked the sausage and duck one better.

                                                                                    Also, I don't think they are pre-making the claypot rice bowls now because we definitely waited a good amount of time before the first one came out. And the second took like 10 minutes after that. And another 10 minutes before the third one.

                                                                                    Overall, it was tasty but I think Noodle Village might do a better, more flavorful version where the rice is also a bit crispier and oilier. Maybe they have thicker soy sauce there? Also, one of our clay pots had barely blonde rice whereas the second was more golden brown, but the last one had a bunch of burnt/blackened spots. Inconsistent, I guess.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Noodle Village
                                                                                    13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                                                      I've had A-Wah a few times now - claypot rice, sauteed chinese broccoli, roast meat over rice, shrimp dumplings in soup and several of their congees -- all have been pretty good especially their congees. However, I had a disappointing experience yesterday with their wonton lo mein (HK style). The wontons were ok but the dried yellow noodles that came with it reeked of ammonia and was on the salty side. Anyone know if ammonia is used in these yellow thin wonton noodles?

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      A-Wah
                                                                                      5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                                                                    2. Lau, I went and I gotta say I agree with Polecat - the House Special is delicious, the chicken and mushroom is so so.

                                                                                      I really liked the opening broth, but I'm not sure I'd go again.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: windycity

                                                                                        when did u go?

                                                                                        the meal i had recently was a shell of the original meals i had there

                                                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                                                          Yeah I just went backwards and saw your posting on the downhill trajectory. I went in early Nov.

                                                                                          Sucks that it went down so fast. Always have to scramble to find the fresh, delicious places.

                                                                                          1. re: windycity

                                                                                            yah this was the first time i'd been back there since early summer, there have been reports for a while that it had gone downhill, but i hadnt been there in the meantime so i cant say exactly when it went downhill

                                                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                                                              I agree w/ Noodle Fanatic. Not good. Rice is hard and ingredients are haphazardly thrown on top. No love in the food. However they do include the clay rice pot if you order takeout.

                                                                                              1. re: i8NYC

                                                                                                i dont think u saw my more recent review to investigate the negative reports that had been coming out about a-wah

                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/749930