My dear friend Richard Feldman, owner of seven restaurants in Hong Kong insisted on taking me to this little place he knows for my last dinner before I head home. With a handful of friends in tow, we embark on New York Club, a hole-in-the-wall flanked between auto shops on a hidden street corner. The restaurant itself seats about 6 people indoors, and several tables are set up on the street for those who aren’t opposed to dining without AC.
Of course, dining without AC in Hong Kong’s sweltering weather was not an option for me, and Richard managed to finagle us up to the second floor, into the restaurant owner’s private quarters — someone’s living room in fact — for our meal.
I was already a little concerned when he told me the place served Shanghainese and Thai food. What a weird combination I thought. Still, I trust Richard’s taste buds for two reasons: him having lived in HK for the last 23 years and him knowing my palate pretty well.
The menu is a hodge podge of strangeness. Apart from the Thai and Shanghainese, there is Malaysian, even garlic bread, to my son’s delight.
We started with a Shanghainese favorite, a cold dish called “kau-fu” which are gluten bits braised in a dark soy sauce with wood ear mushrooms and beancurd knots. What surprised me the most was that it tasted EXACTLY the way my mom makes it. I immediately pushed all my worries aside in anticipation for the rest of the meal to arrive.
Jellyfish and Cucumber Salad is another item I grew up eating. Here, the best part of the jellyfish is used — not the strands, but the larger, crunchier pieces. The salad is tossed with a soy, sesame oil dressing.
My mother does Braised Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs the same way it is served here. The meat falls off the bone and Chekiang vinegar is used to give it that tart sweet richness. My son loved this and I’m contemplating making it at home.
Because a few of my friends are vegetarian, we ordered both Vegetable Wontons as well as Meat and Vegetable Wontons. I actually liked the vegetarian ones a little better even though they were both good. I just felt that the meat ones needed a little more salt in the filling.
I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to order more Shanghainese items because they required advance ordering, so if you are planning to stop by New York Club, make sure you call a day ahead to order things like Lion’s Head Casserole, Yi Tuh Shi — a casserole with salted pork, bamboo shoots, fresh pork and beancurd knots.
Moving on to the Thai offerings, we made the perfect decision in ordering Lemongrass Pork Cheek. It just tasted so much better texturally and much stronger flavor. We should’ve ordered another plate of this but we wanted to try a lot more stuff so we refrained from doing so.
Papaya Salad is tart and spicy and highly refreshing. The green papaya was nice and crunchy, but some of my friends found it too spicy to continue. My high tolerance for spice paid off here and it was like an addiction eating bite after bite of it.
Thai Vegetable Curry was probably one of my least favorite items purely because I make Thai curry at home and I much prefer eating things I don’t cook at home. The spices were well paired and even though I liked it, I left most of it for the vegetarians to enjoy.
Prawn Cakes were a favorite — very light and crispy on the outside. We tried to order another plate but the owner insisted we try the Prawn Toast instead, but sadly, we should’ve just gotten the prawn cakes because they were so much better.
Pad Thai is not something I ordinarily order, but we got some Vegetarian Pad Thai and it was the weakest item of the night. It didn’t matter seeing I don’t like pad Thai anyway so I only took a taste.
Hainan Chicken was superb. Moist, tender poached chicken is served with Ginger Rice (ordered separately), but I could’ve just eaten this and nothing else and I would’ve been happy.
The piece de resistance was the Garlic Crab. Unfortunately, the portion was kind of small and I had only two pieces of it when I could’ve eaten the entire crab on my own. The salt and pepper flavors plus the fried garlic created the best flavor ever. This was delicious!
We ended the meal with two vegetable dishes. Pea Shoots with Zucchini was light and seasoned with fish sauce. This is a nice dish for those who do not want something spicy.
For me, Stir fried Kang Kung was the epitome of deliciousness. Chili, garlic, fish sauce all cooked together with the water spinach on high heat is so simple but stunning!
We had a few more dishes which I don’t have photos for, but I’m sure with what’s been listed, you’ll have plenty to choose from should you find yourself in Hong Kong and looking for a unique dining experience.
I highly recommend you call to reserve a table and pre-order some of the Shanghainese specialties. Our dinner ran us around HK$220/US$28 with tip and that included soft drinks and a bottle of white wine.
New York Club
20 Brown Street, G/F
Tel: +852 6530 0288