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Dec 3, 2010 03:34 PM

Bo Ky – Good Chiu Chow Noodle and BBQ Restaurant in Chinatown

**For full post and pics**:

I never really understood why Bo Ky and New Chao Chow never really get mentioned when people talk about Chinatown. They are two of the better restaurants in Chinatown. They are also the only restaurants that serve Chiu Chow food (潮州, Chao Zhou, Teo Chew). Chiu Chow is a city in Eastern Guang Dong. Even though they live in Guang Dong, Chiu Chow people have their own dialect that is much different than Cantonese and their own cuisine. They are known for a many dishes such their rice porridge, lu wei 卤味 (soy sauce braised meats), noodle soups and use of fresh seafood among other things.

It’s definitely one of my favorite Chinese cuisines, but it is quite difficult to find it in New York. In fact there are only three places in NY that serve it: Bo Ky, New Chao Chow and Chao Zhou in Flushing. I grew to really appreciate it when I studied abroad in Asia. It is probably the second most popular food in Hong Kong after Cantonese food and it is probably the tied for first place as the most popular food in Singapore along with Hokkien food. Generally, their food is a little lighter than Cantonese food. You can see a couple of other Chiu Chow posts on my blog as well ( The Chiu Chow restaurants in NY have some Chiu Chow noodle soups and lu wei meats, but the rest of the menu is mainly Cantonese. So unfortunately the breadth of Chiu Chow food is not really available in NY.

Bo Ky is owned by Chiu Chow people from Vietnam (hence the Vietnamese listed on their sign and menus). There are a lot of Chiu Chow people in Southeast Asia, so you will often find them in Vietnamese areas. For example, there are many Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants in Little Saigon in Orange County, CA where the food is technically Chiu Chow, but definitely has some Vietnamese influence. It also happens to be delicious.

Bo Ky has typical Chinatown décor, which means there isn’t much. The waiters are nice although the service is quite brisk.

On to the food:
- Chili Oil: Bo Ky has the second best chili oil in Chinatown (New Chao Chow has the best), the reason it’s so much better is partly because they make it themselves (you can buy it to go at the restaurant), but also because they use ground up dried shrimps in the chili oil which makes it so much better. They also have some ground peanut and sesame seeds in it. I use it quite generously when eating their noodle soups a long with the vinegar that has peppers in it, it really takes their noodle soups up a notch. 4.25/5
- Cambodian Noodle: I’m not sure why this is called Cambodian Noodle on the menu as it is definitely a Chiu Chow dish. In Singapore, this is called bak chor mee (in Mandarin its called rou zuo mian). It’s a noodle dish that is served in a bowl with noodles, minced pork, bean sprouts, slices of pork, shrimp, scallions, these golden fried onions and fish balls (there is some variation in toppings, but this is how they serve it here). They then serve a fragrant semi-cloudy pork stock soup on the side. The noodles are called mee pok (麪薄 mian bao in mandarin). However, for some reason the menu only offers rice noodles or thin egg noodles. What you need to do is ask them for the soup on the side and for mee pok and then you will get this. The version here is pretty decent although the soup is a bit saltier than it should be and not quite as fragrant as it should be (New Chao Chow’s is a bit better). The noodles are served nice and al dente and the toppings are good. I wish they put in the vinegar and chili oil like they do in Singapore, but I highly suggest adding both to this dish as it is an integral part. Overall, it’s very tasty. 4/5
- Fish Ball Noodle Soup (Yu Wan Tang Mian): same thing, but only has fish balls, scallions, minced pork and golden fried onions. It’s good but I prefer the bak chor mee. 4/5
- Country Style Duck (Lu Wei Ya): you will see ducks and chicken hanging up in the window here except you will notice they look different than other Cantonese BBQ places in Chinatown as they are a dull brown sort of color, they actually look much less appealing than Cantonese versions. However, this a case where looks are very deceiving. The reason for the dull brown color is that these are braised in a soy sauce. The result is great, the meat is very flavorful and the skin is really delicious. The flavoring here is excellent, the meat and skin are delicious. The only knock is that there isn’t enough meat on the duck (New Chao Chow’s is better). They also give you sweet pickled radish on the side which really goes well with the duck. This is a very solid dish. 4.25/5
- Country Style Mixed Meat: same thing, but it’s all offal, so liver, intestines, tripe etc. It’s good as well, but I prefer the duck 3.75/5
- Fried Tofu: I’m not sure this is on the menu, but it’s listed on the wall with pictures of it posted everywhere. It’s freshly fried tofu triangles with broccoli served on top of a tangy soy sauce. This dish is quite good, but I think my GF liked it more than me. It is still worth trying though. 3.75/5

Overall, Bo Ky is quite good although New Chao Chow is better and I’ll be reviewing them soon. I definitely recommend trying it out.

New Bo Ky
80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. Dude, I am in awe. Another great review.

    1 Reply
    1. Great report. I never knew that you can get the Cambodian noodles dry with the mee pok. Thanks for the good tip, I will try this the next time I head down there.

      Bo Ky has been a staple of mine for a long time, very good price to deliciousness ratio. I think it doesn't get mentioned because it has been around a long time and isn't on the list of standard recs people always seem to give on here. That is a shame because it is good.

      As a side note, they sell that chili oil to go. I have been known to spread it on toast in the morning.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MVNYC

        yah i had heard they served mee pok, but its not on the menu and even the chinese name is something different on the menu

        1. re: Lau

          I think I've heard them call these noodles "cho mein" at New Chiu Chow.

      2. Have you been to Grand Bo Ky?

        Grand Bo Ky
        216 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

        2 Replies
        1. re: AubWah

          They are pretty much the same from my experience.

          1. re: AubWah

            i havent but it is the same owners i believe, never looks as busy though is closer to where i live so i should try it

          2. Another fabulous report, LauHound!
            I look forward to the next review; as I recall, there was a rather robust dicussion of Chiuchow cuisine here a few years back..I looked for it and lo and behold--you began the thread!


            1 Reply
            1. re: erica

              oh yah i forgot i wrote going to re-review new chao chow soon

            2. If we put a larger group together, could you recommend the next couple of dishes to explore the cuisine?

              10 Replies
              1. re: Purlie

                well unfortunately like i said, this restaurant really only has noodle soups and the braised meats as being representative of chiu chow cuisine, its not really a family style place (new chao chow is the same deal except it has a bunch of cantonese food as well).

                you can see the menu:

                i wish there was a real chiu chow restaurant that had more offerings besides noodle soups and braised meats. You can see a chiu chow restaurant in LA that i like alot:

                1. re: Lau

                  Yeah. I think Chao Zhou in Flushing has a lot more large dishes for people to share. Still, when I used to spend more time in Flushing, the things I liked best there were the Soy Sauce Chicken, which I frequently took to go, and their noodle soups.

                  I look forward to your review of New Chao Chow. My favorite thing there is their Curry Chicken Noodle Soup, which I believe is made with rice sticks.

                  1. re: Pan

                    well the soy sauce chicken you're speaking about is probably the lu wei i described earlier as i know chao zhou has it, ive had it there before, but although i don't remember how it was b/c it was quite a while ago

                    most of chao zhou's dishes are cantonese dishes, i've eaten there several times, but not for quite a while.


                    chao zhou, new chao chow and bo ky are somewhat similar to the small lu wei, noodle and congee shops in hong kong albeit with less selection

                    ill try to find some pics of what typical chiu chow food looks like and ill show post it up

                    1. re: Pan

                      here's a couple links to a well known chiu chow restaurant in HK, lots of pics, chiu chow food doesn't look as pretty at cantonese food, but again looks deceives, its very good

                      here's probably one of the most famous chiu chow noodle and bbq shops in HK

                      1. re: Lau

                        Thanks for the explanations and photos. In particular, the ones from Hung's Delicacies look awesome to me!

                        1. re: Pan

                          i found a good wiki article that has a pretty good explanation of the cuisine


                          1. re: Lau

                            I am a regular at Grand Bo Ky. I really like their cuttlefish balls. Do you think they make them or buy them by the bag full?

                            Grand Bo Ky
                            216 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                            1. re: AubWah

                              hmm dont know, never tried them, id have to try them....most of the ctown places don't make their own

                              1. re: Lau

                                on the menu the only balls advertised as homemade are the "homemade beef balls" The cuttlefish, shrimp, fish balls etc. do not, but the cuttlefish balls taste so good I wonder if they are

                                1. re: AubWah

                                  great report, i've been going more often now that the temperatures of dipped down. my favorite is the beef brisket noodle soup, verrry comforting.