NY Times The Minimalist: Hainan Chicken Sept 12th, 2008
Hainan Chicken was featured in this week’s NY Times Food Section. Is it me or does this photo look more like one of Chicken Salad than Hainan Chicken – or maybe they just do it differently in LA? To give credit, the author admits he doesn’t know much about Hainan and that there are many ways to make this dish, which is true. However he also wasn’t able to name any places in New York to get Hainan Chicken.
Personally, I love the Hainan Chicken at the Malaysian restaurant NyoNya as Hainan Chicken is one of their signature dishes and it’s probably as close to the real thing outside of China. At NyoNya, they steam the Hainan Chicken with a soy sauce (and slightly garlicky) marinade. The chicken is served whole (not shredded) in a deep dish of sauces made up of the rich fatty flavors from the chicken skin and bones. To eat, you first ladle a spoonful of the sauce over the chicken, and then dip it in the spicy chili. To take the intensity of the flavor to a higher level, order a bowl of rice cooked in chicken sauce (you have a choice of chicken flavored, coconut and regular rice).
To be fair, I haven’t tried the shredded variety featured in the NY Times article. It looks great and since it’s skinless it’s probably more a bit more healthy in many regards. Either way, judge for yourself at NyoNya. I know you won’t be disappointed.
NyoNya is located at 194 Grand Street (at Mott) in Chinatown NY
212 334 3669
Yep, I splurged. Well, it was actually for Sing’s birthday last month and it was a fun and worthwhile. Sorry, no photos though cause well, I’d like to say that I didn’t want to feel like a tool / tourist and be caught with a camera at a ‘jean georges’ restaurant. (See Frank Bruni’s NYT Article about photos) Haha. Actually I don’t give a shit and I had my camera but it was so dark in there that none of my photos came out – I’ll try to photoshop them and add them later.
Before the food, lets talk about the restaurant decor. If you’re a hard core POTD (Plate of the day) reader, you’ll recall my writeup about Hutong in Hong Kong. Hutong is also a pan asian restaurant decorated with vintage Chinese and Thai decorative motifs – antique lanterns, cabinets, and of course you have to throw in a few buddha statues. Both restaurants are Asian street food inspired. But I have to say, from here we see the difference. Spice Market is what Hutong should be – interesting decor + great service + innovative / great food. The waiters at Spice Market were top notch – abundant like Hutong but not in the way and very attentive.
For food we tried the Red Curry Duck which was cooked in a huge claypot with ample portions. The meat, however was a little on the tough side for me. We also tried the Strip Bass steamed on a bed of napa cabbage with water chestnuts and cucumber. Also gigantic portions to be shared with at least 2 people. This was a great dish, the fish was tender and delicious. For dessert we tried a strange home made candy bar that if you had to describe was like a Snickers, 5th Ave bar, and 3 Musketeers. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George has the candy bar line up. LOL]]>
Somewhere in MongKok Kowloon, Hong Kong
For those of you who haven’t been to Hong Kong or China, I just wanted to dispell any myths about the food.
First of all, you probably can’t find General Tsiao’s Chicken in China. I don’t even know who Genreal Tsao is – does anyone? Ok, you can order Sesame Chicken or Sweet and Sour which is similar but you’ll probably be laughed at by the cook.
Secondly, there’s more than just Chinese food in China. I know this is probably obvious for most people but honestly I get asked if I ever got sick of eating Chinese everyday when I was living in China! Hey, that’s what McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, (haven’t seen any Taco Bells for whatever reason) and other American Multinational Comglomerate fast food chains are for right? Seriously though, you can find a lot of great ethnic food from other cultures who live in the area. I’m not talking about the few select foreigners who move to China and open up a French or Italian restaurant. What I mean are ethnic groups who have lived and integrated into the culture and opened up resaturants using a blend of local foods along with their own. Take La Caridad in New York (Chinese Cuban) as an example. Here in Hong Kong, Indian Chinese food is all over the place. Indonesian seems to also be a favorite and we checked one out in Tsim Sha Tsui near Kowloon Park. This one served authentic curries. The rice was scooped out of this wooden bucket that I suppose they steam it in. Didn’t have any time to visit any Korean restaurants this time in HK but look out for more posts about Macau and Zhongsan China coming up next.