Saturday, February 20, 2010

late night eats: hop kee

It's entirely possible that I ate enough Chinese food yesterday to feed a family of five in Guangdong. After work, I went to Joe's Shanghai to satisfy a weeklong craving for soup dumplings with Ali and then we went to Verlaine for those yummy $5 Hanoi lychee martinis. But by around 1AM, I had downed several lychee martinis with the rest of the Filipino crew and then that inevitable craving for Cantonese food hit us. And before I could say "MSG", I was back in Chinatown stuffing myself silly.

So yes, I guess at this point I must concede that I eat too much. After this post, I am enforcing a moratorium on food stories. I don't think my body can handle one more week of eating at this pace, and I think the blog's readers want to read about something other than food for a change. So this will be the last one for awhile (or so my waistline hopes).

With that, let's end the food tripping streak with an ode to my beloved Chinatown hole-in-the-wall: Hop Kee. Hop Kee has gotten more attention lately for being featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in the "Disappearing Manhattan" episode. He went to Hop Kee with Chef Chris Cheung to show the vast difference between what the white folks and the Asian folks ordered back in the day at this place. Bourdain's childhood menu consisted of egg rolls and sweet and sour pork, while Cheung's included snails in black bean sauce and Cantonese-style crab. Watch it, I kinda love this episode:
Filipinos particularly love Hop Kee because the Chinese food we grew up eating is precisely this type. Well, plus we love ending a night out by pigging out on Cantonese food and Hop Kee stays open til 4AM, ably satisfying our post-drinking cravings. I've actually only been at this place at normal hours once: for dinner with my friend Kathryn last Wednesday to sample their snails in black bean sauce. Yummy as they are, it's a bit of a challenge to eat the snails so it's not something I'd ever order when I'm suffering from drinking-induced hunger pangs at 3AM. This was quite possibly the healthiest meal I ever had at Hop Kee, with just the snails, sauteed veggies and some salt & pepper pork chops:
The 3AM lineup is not quite as healthy. It's gotten to the point that I just fire off the orders at the waiter without looking at the menu because I know what everyone wants: yang chow fried rice (2 orders), salt & pepper squid, salt & pepper pork chops, and walnut shrimp. Last night we got thrown for a loop because the waiter heard me say "salt & pepper shrimp" instead of "salt & pepper squid." But we ate it anyway, and it was good. And we still had the squid. Oink oink.

The walnut shrimp, with it's sweet white sauce, batter-coated shrimp and caramelized walnuts, is to die for. I want some right now.
The chicken was something new on our lineup, but it was pretty good too.
I always find myself with deadened taste buds the next day from the massive intake of MSG. But I don't care. Like Anthony Bourdain, I too love MSG. And I have to say that it's bugging the hell out of me right now that I've never tried that pan-fried flounder. Damn you Chris Cheung, damn you ...

Ok, last of the food posts, I hope. Let's see how long I'll last.

Hop Kee is located at 21 Mott Street (between Chatham Square & Mosco Street), New York, NY 10013. Tel. (212) 964-8365


Joylet said...

Damn me for snooping around your blog at this hour when there's no chinese resto open to feed my post drinking binge hunger pangs!! Waaah Cel, the life you live! Msg ftw!

the chiconomist ♥ celine said...

hahaha just go back to bed and go to Maan Haan when you wake up!

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