Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Wong (大王): New York

During my childhood, whenever my family visited New York, we would always stop at Big Wong. It's the typical wonton noodle/congee/roast duck restaurant that is prevalent in Hong Kong and in US Chinatowns (For Philly folks, think Sangkee Peking Duck House). For my parents, it's long been the gold standard to which congee places in the US are compared.

So when I joined my parents for a few days vacation in New York, it wasn't too surprising that that we stopped by Big Wong.

What was a little surprising and perhaps a bit saddening was the beginnings of the bursting of the bubble of my perspective of this place.  I'm not sure whether it's the changing demographic in Chinatown translating into less customers for a Cantonese place like this (and decreasing ingredient turnover), my dining standards becoming higher and/or the actual quality of this place going downhill, but something was definitely off this time.

Wonton Noodles (混沌面) - The wonton filling was pretty tasty, but the wrappers don't have that fresh/recently made flavor that make dumplings in Flushing so frickn good. The broth is tasty, but a bit salty.  All in all, everything is flavorful, but it's not clear that everything has a high-quality/freshness level that would make you rave.

Dumpling noodles (水饺面) - Pretty much the same thing goes for this, except the dumpling fillings were not as tasty of the wontons.

Ox Tongue Pastry (牛脷酥) - Decent flavor, not overly greasy, but served only barely warm.  A large part of the joy of eating one of these is doing so when it has been freshly fried.  I probably would have complained still, but in the least, they could have just nuked this thing.

Chinese donut (油条) wrapped in Rice Noodles (肠粉) [炸兩] - The rice noodles were higher quality than your standard place, but the Chinese donut (油条) was somewhat cold and damp.  Like the ox-tongue pastry, the trick is to somehow get the you tiao freshly deep-fried and crunchy, while serving it wrapped in the moist rice noodles.

Rice Congee w/ Pig's Liver & Kidney (及第粥, Kap Dai Zuk) - Perhaps the most satisfying of the dishes and yet the worst of the bunch on some level. What we really like about the rice congee here is the marvelously and satisfyingly thick and creamy texture of the porridge and this certainly had that... but my Dad was the one who ate most of this and specifically the liver and kidney pieces. Later in the day, he fell ill: unsettled stomach, fatigue, nausea, the classic signs of food poisoning. And we could only think of attributing it to the kidney and liver pieces here.

Again, this was a one-time experience, so take it for what it's worth, but it always is a bit saddening revisiting a beloved childhood haunt and having it not quite live up to what you remember.

Big Wong (大王)
67 Mott St New York, NY 10013-4838 (Map)
(212) 964-0540
($Chinese, $NYC)

1 comment:

  1. In some way I felt the same about this place.
    Something change and I was not too happy about the seating/waiters at my last dining experience.