Big Wing Wong
102 Mott St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10013
It was a sunny President’s Day and we decided to celebrate by biking into Chinatown and stocking up on some cheap groceries. We get our groceries roughly every two weeks from Hong Kong Supermarket, the biggest supermarket (I believe) in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Vegetables and meats are so, so much cheaper here than at your average American supermarket. Sometimes, you can get a whole bag of tomatoes for a dollar! You can also find much more variety of vegetables, such as bitter melon, pea shoots, and fresh prince mushrooms – makes cooking much more interesting. Since we were already in the area, we of course picked up some lunch. I decided I was in the mood for some juicy char siu. Char siu is a Chinese barbecue pork that is often eaten with rice, noodles, or even in a bun. Red food coloring is often added to give the meat its reddish exterior. It has a shiny glaze of honey on the outside that gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor.
Based on various reviews I read online, Big Wing Wong apparently has some of the best char siu in the area. The restaurant was extremely busy when we popped in. Tables were filled with various parties as you are expected to sit wherever there is an empty space. We ended up sitting at a table with three girls who worked at the restaurant. They were on their lunch break, which only ended up being not more than 15 minutes. The place is extremely fast paced. People come in and either order a whole duck to-go, or sit down and eat with their heads buried, without pausing to take a breath, down their tea, and peace out. We were clearly noobs as it took us more than 5 minutes to decide what we wanted to eat and I of course had my camera out.
I ended up getting the char siu and roasted duck combo. The meats came on top of a bed of jasmine rice that was a little too dry (definitely over a day old). The rice sauce was also lacking a little meat fat (normally, the rice is drizzled with soy sauce + meat drippings, we only got the soy sauce). The char siu was okay… it was definitely on the leaner side, which I prefer, though some pieces were a little dry because they lacked the fat. Normally a char siu is also sweet and salty; I felt that these porkies lacked some honey. The extra honey also gives the meat a nice exterior glaze that is sometimes burnt a little during the roasting… I imagine I just didn’t get a piece that was burnt. The plate was only $5.00 so I couldn’t really complain. An entire strip of char siu definitely has better and worse cuts – I probably just didn’t get lucky.
The duck, on the other hand, was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I would say come here for the duck over the char siu because the duck was soooo tasty. The duck skin was light and crispy and the meat was clearly marinated for a long time in some crack sauce.