Certain Asian cultures are known for their bbq, but Chinese has never been one of them. Grilled skewered meat, however, is actually a very popular street food in many parts of China. The new outpost of Hao Noodle in Chelsea devotes a portion of its menu to this relatively unfamiliar but very tasty Chinese bbq tradition. The cuts of meat are small and delicate, but the flavors are anything but. The lamb with cumin explodes with heat, while the pork shimmers in a sweet marinade. Once in awhile the flavors venture too far out into the deep end, as was the unfortunate outcome with the gloppy eggplant in fish-flavor sauce, but in most instances, the boldness hung comfortably by a thread. The most successful dish, in my opinion, was the one with the most restraint, which in this meal was the grilled steak. There were minimal seasonings and the meat was accompanied by just a side of garlic and salt and pepper, a less is more approach that was very effective.
The Chelsea location also features several of the signature entrees of the original West Village restaurant. Hao Noodle, as the name suggests, excels at noodle dishes, and the fabulous noodles with scallion oil and dried shrimp is something that must supplement your bbq skewers. If you prefer more of the traditional signature mains, you would do well to order the Le Shan chicken, the sweet and sour Shanghai ribs or the sweetly smoked sole, which are all available in Chelsea. One item I probably could have done without was the tomato rice stew. Tomato rice in general, I learned, is a polarizing dish, and the fact that it was served as a soup over noodles made it even more so.
BBQ pairs very well with a glass of beer or wine, especially when it is BYO. Hao Noodle’s liquor license has been a long time pending, and as of last week it was still in limbo. Tis the season to be jolly, and nothing brings greater joy in this time of gifts and spending than a good bargain.
343 W. 14th St. (between 8th and 9th Ave)
New York, NY 10014