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Feb 13, 2011 02:28 PM

Hsin Wong – Good Cantonese BBQ and Peking Duck in Chinatown

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Hsin Wong is another shao la (Cantonese BBQ) and congee restaurant in Chinatown. The most well-known places are Great NY Noodletown and Big Wong King and they are also generally considered to be the best. However, I think Hsin Wong is on par with them.

Although I’ve been to Hsin Wong in the past it’s been quite a while since I’ve been there and their advertisement for Peking duck caught my eye because I’ve been looking for a good Cantonese-style Peking duck for a while. So, I decided to have a Chinese New Year’s dinner with some friends and write a review about it.

The place looks like a typical Chinatown BBQ place. It’s got a large counter up front with BBQ meats hanging in the windows. There are several large round tables and then smaller square tables along the walls. They advertise various specials on the walls in Chinese. The service is pretty decent and the waiters are surprisingly very nice.

Here’s what we got:
- Roast Pig (Huo Rou): This is the gigantic whole pig with golden crispy skin you see hanging in the windows of Cantonese BBQ spots. This is one of my favorite types of BBQ. The version here is quite good especially if you happen to get it when it comes out fresh (I got lucky one of the times and it came out fresh). The skin is beautifully crispy, but the meat is still tender and flavorful. You dip the meat in oyster sauce and it tastes great. 8/10
- Wonton Noodle Soup With Roast Pork (Cha Shao Hun Dun Tang Mian): This was surprisingly good, I have low expectations for wonton noodle soup in NY because it’s just not made with the same care and ingredients you find in Hong Kong (HK vendors are very passionate about wonton noodle soup, it’s somewhat analogous to ramen in Japan), but we’re not in HK so I keep trying it anyhow. The soup broth was pretty decent, flavorful and not overly salty. The wontons were plump and the shrimp tasted fresh. The noodles were pretty decent as well and were cooked al dente. The cha siu (roast pork) was fresh out of the oven, so it was actually quite good, very flavorful and tender. Overall, I think this was actually better than the last few times I had it at NY Noodletown, which is generally the best one in ctown. 7.5/10
- Peking Duck (Bei Jing Kao Ya): This was the reason I came here. Cantonese-style Peking duck is different from real Peking duck because it’s not cooked the same way and actually is just a roast duck and is served in mantou (steamed white buns) as opposed to the thin pancakes. I’ve been looking for a good version for a while, but I haven’t been able to find one since Nice Restaurant closed. However, the version here is quite good. The skin was crispy and flavorful. The meat was juicy and succulent. They sliced up the duck for you and put the meat, skin, plum sauce, spring onions and carrots (I’m not sure why they put carrots in it, I took them out). Overall, this is probably the best Cantonese-style Peking duck I’ve had in the city. 8/10
- Steak With Chinese Broccoli Stems: This was a special, it was supposed to be with asparagus, but they ran out, so the lady said they could replace it with Chinese broccoli stems. It was a t-bone steak cooked in brown sauce covered in Chinese broccoli stems and some other vegetables. The steak was tender and flavorful and went well with the vegetables. Not much more to it than that, but it was quite good. 7.5/10
- Salt Baked Squid (Jiao Yen You Yu): This looked pretty, but it wasn’t nearly as good as South China Garden or NY Noodletown. The squid was a little on the chewy side and the batter didn’t have enough salt in it, so it was a little bland. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that great either. 6/10
- Sauteed String Beans (Chao Si Ji Dou): This was simply sautéed string beans with garlic. I thought the dish was decent, but it wasn’t flavored a lot, so I felt it was a bit bland and I also though the string beans could have been cooked for a little bit longer. Overall, it was decent, but nothing to write home about. 6.5/10
- Pork with Peppers: I didn’t order this, actually no one was quite sure who ordered this, so we think it might have been a mix up and ended up at our table as the restaurant was busy that night. It was sautéed sliced pork, green peppers, string beans, onions, baby corn, snap peas and basil in a brown sauce. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. 6/10
- Lobster Sauteed With Scallions and Ginger (Cong Jiang Chao Long Xia): This was surprisingly good as the lobster was fresh tasting, the meat was cooked nicely and it was just generally tasty. I generally find scallion and ginger preparation to be a little too plain for lobster and crab, but this still tasted good although I think South China Garden’s preparation is better although the quality of the lobster itself is basically the same. Overall though, this was a nice dish. 7.5/10
- Sauteed Pea Shoots (Qing Chao Dou Miao): This was a simple preparation of pea shoots sautéed with some garlic and oil. This was a standard preparation and it was cooked well. 7.25/10
- Pan Fried Flounder: Another classic Cantonese preparation of flounder. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and the soy sauce was nice. Pretty self-explanatory, but this was quite good. 7.5/10
- Clams in Black Bean Sauce: The sauce here was good as it was flavorful and not overly gloppy. However, the clams were just decent. It was a decent, but not amazing. 6.5/10
- Red Bean Soup: Pretty standard, but it was good as it wasn’t overly watery and I prefer mine on the thick side, so I liked this. 7.5/10

Overall, I liked the food here and I’d definitely recommend coming here for Cantonese BBQ and Cantonese-style Peking duck.

Hsin Wong
72 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. Thanks much Lau for the detailed (and mouth-watering photos) report. Like that Cantonese touch of shredded carrots in the Peking Duck buns!

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoopG

      thanks...haha actually i don't really like carrots, so i took them out, but the duck was quite good, definitely recommend trying it. btw its also pretty cheap at like 22.50 or maybe 23 for a whole duck i think

    2. Perfect timing! I'm meant to organize a group dinner and was considering Hsin Wong for pork and duck. Thanks for the report.

      Hsin Wong
      72 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

      3 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        ahh glad to be of help, both dishes are both worth trying

        btw i'd suggest going to dinner on the earlier side here b/c they close fairly early (like 10pm), so the bbq meats in the window are fresher if you go earlier (its pretty money when u get them when they just came out although its impossible to time that)

        1. re: Silverjay

          Speaking of organizing a group dinner, and at the risk of either sounding kinda weird or getting murtilized in an alley, are any of you Chinese thread regulars interested in setting up a gathering with a complete stranger?
          I have just spent the day collecting food info for my upcoming business trip and am sad that I have to go to fabulous Chinese restaurants by myself and so not be able to order lots of different things. I have found a couple of threads where it looks like some of you got together for dinner?
          My husband thinks I am nuts for writing this, but I would be up for meeting with a group (emphasize group) of regular posters for dinner.
          I will be hopping a train into Manhattan (from Secaucus) each evening from Sunday 2/20 through Wednesday 2/23, not getting in earlier than 7:30 pm, and am going to spend at least two nights in Chinese places. Was thinking of Szechuan Gourmet and Shanghai Deluxe Cafe based on threads and also the kind advice of scoopG; but for the opp to share lots of food would be open to considering other venues.
          Hope I am not making an ass of myself in a public forum with this post!

          Szechuan Gourmet
          21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

          1. re: glang

            You can email me through my website; just click on my username. With a group, I'd recommend the Cantonese food at South China Garden, rather than Shanghai Deluxe Cafe. I think you need at least 5 people considering the large portions at South China Garden, though. I think I'll stay away from Shanghai Deluxe for a while, though, based on the labor dispute mentioned in another thread.

            South China Garden
            22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

        2. I like the Suckling Pig, Roast Duck, Red Roast Pork and Soy Sauce Chicken here as well. They also have Pig heads(Face portion) that you can purchase for 2-3 bucks depending on who is behind the counter......great for picking and making stock.

          The place on the corner of Bayard and Elizabeth is a Sister Restaurant....the name escapes me.

          10 Replies
          1. re: fourunder

            oh really? its called yee li, never been there though

            1. re: Lau

              Yes, Once i wanted the Pig heads to bring back with me to New Jersey.........One of the owners asked me how many i wanted and I told him I would take three or four if he had them They only had one in the front area and none in the kitchen.....he told me to follow him to the corner and he directed a worker to get them for me from the back. He rang up the purchase at the corner place......with full access to both cash registers. I asked him if he owned both places and he nodded in the affirmative.

              1. re: fourunder

                Will they cook this pig face meat at Hsin Wong and serve it as a dish?

                1. re: Silverjay

                  I've never thought of asking them to do so, but I can't imagine why they would not if you asked them to.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    yes, but I don't think it's on the menu: you'll have to ask

                    1. re: diprey11

                      if you guys happen to try it please let me know, that would be interesting

                    2. re: Silverjay

                      Shouldn't the pig's head already be cooked? It's part of the roast pig. I've only gotten a roast pig head once and not from Hsin Wong, to make some Pig's head congee but the congee turns out way too greasy.

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        I dunno about Cantonese style pig's face/ head meat. I've had it grilled up before. It was fatty and good with some thinly julienned green onions. But I'm interested if Hsin Wong can make a dish out of it or if they just slice it off or whatever.

                        1. re: Silverjay

                          yah me too...i like face meat, so id be interested to see what they can do with it

                  2. re: Lau

                    Yee Li is a very strange restaurant: very uneven. If you get lucky the roast meat can be quite good, but I have been short on luck lately.

                2. I was underwhelmed when I got some, I think, roast duck noodle soup (perhaps with wontons) years ago at Hsin Wong. But on the strength of your review, I may want to go back for Cantonese-style Peking Duck. Thanks, as always, Lau.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Pan

                    the problem with all of the bbq places is that the meats can materially vary in quality depending on when exactly you get them. I've had the roast pig and the cha siu at hsin wong when they are straight out of the oven and when they'd been sitting around too long and there is a fairly material difference in quality. the same goes for ny noodletown and big wong. so unfortunately, to a certain degree it is luck of the draw. that said it is worth checking out b/c when it's good its quite good.

                    also btw, i forgot to say in my original review, i reserved my duck ahead of time (i called them and reserved it the day before). they advertise it on the wall, but i think you may want to reserve it ahead of time to make sure it's fresh

                      1. re: Lau

                        the problem with all of the bbq places is that the meats can materially vary in quality depending on when exactly you get them.
                        Just like any top can be cooked properly with the exact same methods every time.....but sometimes you just get a bad piece of meat. I tend not to hold this against a place myself.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          well its not the method i mean rather b/c they are pre-cooked, i'm talking about when you get them relative to when they were cooked i.e. its much better to get them when they are fresh out of the oven versus several hours later

                          1. re: Lau

                            I would agree with that as well.

                    1. That sounds great. Do you know if they serve the Peking Duck at lunch.? There don't seem to be many places in Chinatown that do.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: LloydG

                        hmmm i don't know, you could call them and ask, they speak english fine

                        1. re: Lau

                          Lau, did you ever have the tea smoked duck from any establishment in Chinatown? I had it at Hsin Wong.....not enough flavor of anything to wow me....but the duck was tender without any chew.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            like the sichuan kind (樟茶鴨 zhang cha ya)? they had it at hsin wong? are you sure about that? i dont think ive ever ordered it anywhere in chinatown since its not a cantonese dish its a sichuan dish

                            even when i do go to sichuan restaurants i don't order it that often, i think its a decent dish, but i don't love it

                            1. re: Lau

                              This was a few years ago, but in general when I'm not shopping on Grand Street, I usually purchase at either Bing Wong or Hsin Wong, so I'm pretty sure it was at Hsin Wong. I can't help with the name of the duck or if it is indeed a Sichuan preparation (I'm not that knowledgeable about food styles/regions)....however, I can vividly picture the moment when I saw it in the window. The duck is split open and when it came to my turn to order, I inquired about it and the difference compared to my usual Roast Duck order. His response was it was * Tea Smoked *.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                hmmm interesting, i dont know, ive never seen that listed at any of the places, but its possible

                                1. re: Lau

                                  L, not including drinks- for a group of 10-12 persons eating pork and duck and assorted other dishes, can you give a ballpark per head cost for food?

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    pretty cheap, i mean depending on how much u order i think ure looking at like 15-20 / person if you order a good amt of food

                                2. re: fourunder

                                  Well, Sichuan duck cannot be substituted for a regular Cantonese duck, no way! Well, they are both fire-cooked and I love both... But, a lean 4Chuan duck is a nice appetizer, while a Cantonese duck must be combined with other foods so that it can release its juices and season the dish; otherwise it would taste greasy and heavy. Some older people say a Cantonese duck is a true poor people's food: you just add a little bit to your rice or whatever have you. Think olive oil: would you just drink it up or would you mix it in?
                                  Just my 2c.

                                  1. re: diprey11

                                    they are definitely completely different.

                                    your assessment is probably a correct one although i'm happy as a clam with some good cantonese roast duck over rice or with some good noodle soup.