New Hong Kong: Authentic Chinese Food Hiding in Plain Sight

If you are on the hunt for a new favorite place for Chinese food — real Chinese food — New Hong Kong Restaurant isn't the kind of place you might plan on visiting, even though you've probably driven by it more times than you can remember.

From the outside, the restaurant seems to have stopped in time. Its weathered orange and sea foam green Chinese façade and neon sign (which spells out the restaurant's original name, Hong Kong Restaurant) conjure an image of an establishment whose heyday was decades ago.

Inside is more of the same: A once-grand arched entryway decorated with Chinese symbols gives way to a room of worn red carpet and dark, wood-paneled walls dotted with Asian artwork. If it weren't for the drop ceiling, a soundtrack of pop hits from the '80s, and a purring Pepsi machine, one might think little, if any, attention has been paid to the place, on the busy northwest corner of Indian School Road and 24th Street.

New Hong Kong's flavor-packed clay pots are among the restaurant's highlights.
Jackie Mercandetti
New Hong Kong's flavor-packed clay pots are among the restaurant's highlights.

Location Info

Map

New Hong Kong Restaurant

2328 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Category: Restaurant > Buffet

Region: East Phoenix

Details

New Hong Kong Restaurant
2328 East Indian School Road
602-954-9118
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Shredded pork with seaweed soup (serves 4): $7.95
Beef brisket with daikon hot pot: $10.95
Singapore rice noodles: $8.95
Spare ribs with pumpkin:$10.95

Related Stories

More About

But then there is the food and, with it, the realization that despite its appearance, New Hong Kong is very much alive — with a pulsating culinary heart.

Here, tangled nests of expertly prepared stir-fried noodles, trembling clay pots nearly blowing off their lids to expose steaming, flavor-packed broths, and moist, marinated meats represent the well-balanced flavors, fresh ingredients, and deftness of Cantonese cooking techniques.

It's enough to make you kick yourself for not stopping in sooner.

Blame the self-abuse on one man: Jian Yu. A longtime chef in his hometown of Kaiping, in China's Guangdong province, Yu brought his family to Phoenix in 1997. His cooking developed a reputation among Chinese residents, who followed him from one restaurant gig to the next until he took over Hong Kong Restaurant (adding the word "New") seven years ago.

"He's very picky," says Mei Yu, Jian's daughter and a server working alongside her mom. "He's a picky eater — picky about food and picky about ingredients. If he doesn't like the looks of something he's shopping for that day, he won't make the dish it's used in."

If you aren't given the Chinese menu, ask for it. It's got the dishes you've come for, not the ones on the Americanized menu or value buffet, something the Yus have kept in place for western palates. The six-plus pages, including a separate sheet for specials, include an enormous number of options, all with minimal descriptions, some written in Chinese. It can be daunting. But you could do worse than start with the most familiar. Better yet: If Mei's on hand, tell her what you like and let her do the rest.

In true Cantonese tradition, soup is served before a meal, and at New Hong Kong, the soups are a good place to start. West Lake soup, made with chunks of chopped beef and tofu bobbing in broth made thick with corn starch, has a smooth and mellow taste. And a shredded pork and seaweed soup, deep green and packed with chunks of black Chinese mushrooms, is simple and delectably salty. For a kick, add a few shakes of white pepper.

The Cantonese are best known for their expertise in stir-fry, but steaming and deep-frying also come into play. Jian Yu is a master at all three, and there isn't a dish at New Hong Kong that will be served less than perfect in its preparation.

Yu's salt-and-pepper chicken wings and pork chops may be two of the best-kept deep-fried secrets in the Valley. The wings arrive moist with a golden brown, delicately crisp coating; the chunks of pork are heartier and crunchier. Both are enhanced with diced garlic, onions, and Thai chile peppers.

You've probably had house chow mein and Singapore rice noodles before, but Yu's versions, deftly prepared and bold in flavor, are worth a comparison. The Hong Kong-style house chow mein features browned, crispy fried noodles loaded with a glistening pile of stir-fried shrimp, Chinese mushrooms, chunks of fish, and slices of bright red barbecue pork. Even better is the Singapore rice noodle. Its barbecue pork and shrimp mix with egg and bean sprouts in stir-fried vermicelli whose curry seasoning makes it especially addictive.

Cantonese cuisine incorporates nearly all forms of edible meats. "There is a Chinese saying," Mae says smiling, "that we will eat any animal whose back faces the sky."

There aren't any snails or snakes on the menu, but offal lovers won't have to look too hard to find a dish that incorporates fish maw, pork stomach, or sweet-and-sour pig feet. The latter can be found in the handwritten portion of the menu, which Mae says is most popular with the older Chinese guests. Featuring hunks of gelatinous trotters covered in a pool of thick brown sauce — sweet, vinegary, gingery, and dark as sin — the taste may be best described as something akin to barbecued gummy bears. An interesting dish, to be sure, but probably not one I would order again.

In the more familiar realm, there is an excellent dish of spare ribs with pumpkin. Featuring chunks of braised, bone-in pork mixed with soft cubes of Chinese pumpkin and embellished with seasonings of garlic, soy, and star anise, the taste — savory, licorice-like, and slightly sweet — could be reminiscent of a Chinese-style Thanksgiving dinner. Simpler but no less stellar is the famous Cantonese dish black pepper beef filet. Its slices of deep, dark beef are thicker than most, and Jian prepares them rare enough for a tender, peppery bite best enjoyed with stir-fried crunchy onions and scallions.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
2 comments
kvenet
kvenet

The interior is equally uninviting but the servers are friendly and the food good but I would take issue that it is great. Very timid on the seasoning even after asking to have it s"spiced up." Interesting options available but you can find those at other restaurants if you ask for "off the menu" suggestion. 

I tried 6 dishes and none really excited me. Nice people, decent food but don't expect any revelations here.

pansies1136
pansies1136

It's the best place - I have been a regular for years - Once you get past the exterior, which is not inviting, and makes you want to second guess stopping in, you will fall in love with the food

 
Loading...