Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hop Kee

A few months ago, Feisty Foodie, BeerBoor, TT, TC and I decided to go out and celebrate Chinese New Year (which was in Feb, btw). None of us are too experienced in the land of Chinatown. I used to go much more often when I was younger. But so many places have come and gone that I've only stuck to my staples. So when Hop Kee was mentioned, we agreed due to some good reviews and its mention on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.

We arrived to a fairly empty basement restaurant which wasn't too bad. We hate to wait. We ordered 8 different dishes to bring us good luck throughout the new year.

First on the menu, dumplings. They're supposed to represent gold. They're fried golden brown, no?
Here's a cross section. The dumpling itself was really passable to dislike. The skin was too thick and the filling strange. Not the normal pork and chive dumplings I'm used to. However, the sauced was the worst offender. Being a weird mix of ketchup and barbecue flavors, I turned my nose after the first taste.
For a long life, we also ordered beef chow mein. The long noodles shouldn't be cut so the longer the strands, the longer your life. Noodles are also very popular at birthday dinners.

This dish of noodles wasn't too good. The sauce was very gloppy, the beef mediocre, and the noodles completely lackluster. Some people brought up the issue of thin noodles versus thick. I guess it's how you grew up eating this. But I think chow mein is supposed to have thin fried noodles covered in gravy. While thick noodles are generally used for lo mein which is stir fried.
For some variety, we also ordered some fried salt and pepper squid. This was actually okay. Though it didn't have nearly enough of salt and pepper to make it the proper dish. It was just fried squid.
My favorite dish of the night was clearly the stir fried green. The Chinese broccoli was cooked nicely and was well seasoned. It retained its natural crispness while also being tender.
And the special dish of the night were the Cantonese blue crabs. By special, I mean that it was by far the most expensive dish and also the most popular. It was mentioned in the episode of No Reservations and every single other table ordered it. However, it completely fell flat. The carb was overcooked and the flavors completely demolished any crab flavor. The kick though is that some pieces were undercooked. If you look at the lower right hand corner of the plate, you'll notice some goo. That's undercooked crab, my friends. So, the conclusion is that they cooked the crabs over too high heat. This was a terrible disappointment. The waiters seemed surprised when we didn't finished the dish and we didn't want to take it home.
These are salt and pepper pork chops which again weren't very salt and peppery. They were simply fried and over salted. Some people liked it more than others. I was an other.
This dish was supposed to be garlic paper chicken. But as you can tell it looks nothing like it. It tasted and looked like that took a different cooked chicken and pasted on a weird burned garlic paste. I didn't think the chicken was particularly juicy not tasty. Definite pass.
The last dish of the night was a whole steam tilapia fish. I requested for it to be simply steamed with ginger, scallions and soy sauce. The sauce was simple and classic Cantonese but the fish was overcooked. However, I was okay with eating this since it seemed the most fresh.
Hop Kee was a really bad choice and I certainly would never go back here. The quality of ingredients and the cooking methods were completely subpar. I was surprised that the restaurant got really full by the time we were leaving. Goes to show how different people's taste are. But if you have similar tastes to me, I vehemently advise you not to go.

For another opinion: please read the Feisty Foodie's review.

Hop Kee
21 Mott St # B
New York, NY 10013
(212) 964-8365


  1. The food overall was meh. Still nice having dinner with everyone. The chinese broc/ Kai-lan was my fav. dish too.

    Thanks again for covering me that night then. Much appreciated.

  2. I am a firm believer that everyone has different tastes but I can't imagine anyone liking crappy food (hahaha). Seriously though the crab dish was the most shocking - it was so bad but EVERY TABLE ORDERED IT. So offensive. I will remain unconvinced that Bourdain knows jack about Asian food.

  3. @TC: Yeah, my company was the only redeeming quality that night.

    @FF: Now that I go back and think about it, not many Chinese people ate there that night. I guess that says a least to me.


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