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Hakka sighting on new menu at Obento Delight

  • p
  • punto Dec 28, 2011 09:12 PM
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I have eaten at Obento from time to time for years and years whenever I had business in the area and appreciated its low-rent feel. It's menu was not particularly exciting, but I was always satisfied with my meals, which usually consisted of some form of udon.

Today, I was back on the UWS with an hour to kill and was about to grab a slice the the Two Boots on Bway near 95th when I thought, "why not go to Obento, since I have the time for a real meal?"

Well, it seems that they are "under new management" and the menu has been somewhat revamped. On one hand, there are now lunch specials (not a good sign, in my opinion). On the other, is seems that what was strictly a Japanese menu now has a section of "Indo-Chinese"dishes (my memory on this; the takeout menu I took with me doesn't list any of this). A number of the selections are denoted as Hakka, which caught my attention and I ordered the Hakka Chile Chicken (name from memory, again), which was quite tasty, with lots of coriander, in addition to the chile based brown sauce with hints of curry (at least to my palate).

I would encourage hounds to give this place a try. The waitress and someone who appeared to be the person in charge both were very interested in what I thought of the dish and made it clear that they were eager to please. I can't say that I tried enough of the menu to pretend that I can revue the place, but I would definitely say that I was more than pleased with my experience, both food-wise and service-wise. Prices are reasonable enough that I can't see any reason not to test the waters.

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Obento Delight
210 W 94th St, New York, NY 10025

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  1. its not real hakka food, but an indian version of chinese food that popped up and alot of the dishes are called hakka <blank>. you can find the same dishes at chinese mirch or tangra masala in queens

    there is a very small chinese population in india (mainly in kolkata) that came there a long long time ago who are mainly hakka (i read and watched a whole documentary on it when i was in india years ago) and they are mainly dentists (weird enough)

    here's an article on them:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Lau,

      Thanks. That does explain some things. When I asked if Hakka was a regional cuisine, like Hunan, the owner said yes, but did not offer any explanation of where Hakka might be. It also fits in with the fact that none of the current staff looked particularly Japanese or Chinese (to my eyes, that I admit have been mostly trained by decades of ethnic restaurant-going and not by actual travel to Asian countries), but rather more Indo-Chinese.

      None of this takes away from my desire to return, but it is always interesting for me to get any back story details.

      1. re: punto

        so hakka people are chinese people, but they dont have their own homeland, they've been somewhat nomadic historically although i'm not sure it was totally out of choice. they live mainly in the eastern part of the guangdong province and parts of the fujian province and there is a very sizeable population in taiwan and they are also spread out all over southeast asia (singapore, malaysia, indonesia etc) and other pockets in china

        in chinese they are called ke jia ren, which loosely translates to guest people and i believe they are called that since they don't really have their own province / homeland

        their food is somewhat difficult to find although ive had it a couple of times

        here's a wiki article on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakka_Ch...

    2. The new takeout menu needs to be better organized, the counterwoman acknowledged; for the time being the menu in my hands is available only by request. In addition to what seems all the previous Japanese fare, it includes many sections each under the broad rubric "Indo-Chinese." There are many chilli and a few Manchurian dishes, as well as lobster Hong Kong style, Szechuan fried rice, Thai shrimp curry, Amercian chop suey, and a couple of dishes labeled Hakka.

      Although I don't hold out great hope for the quality, I give them credit for offering the choice of Hakka chilli chicken either dry or with light gravy.

      1. having just arrived back from the Hakka land in Southern Taiwan and eaten Hakka food for a week, yes coriander/i.e. cilantro and chile are main ingredients in Hakka chicken, but it's actually more a Southern Taiwan dish called three cup chicken (and they use wild chickens called Tuji), since chiles and cilantro are grown widely in Taiwan, but I saw chile and cilantro fields in Meinong, Taiwan's Southern Hakka area. There are probably Hakka communities all over Southern East Asia, and the Hakka food in Northern Guangdong and Fuijian (the supposed Hakka homeland where the Hakka language is still strong represented) was completely different from the Hakka food in Taiwan. No cilantro and no hot chile dishes at all.