Good news for lovers of the bargain pork chop: On the site of the late, lamented May Wah, the reassuringly named Wah Mei is turning out a similar menu of under-$5 Chinese lunch plates. Under new ownership—but with some of the old cooks—Wah Mei trumps May Wah’s single pork chop option by offering several, including a “house special” chop; black pepper, garlic, and onion chops (all $4.25 over rice); and a new “Macao-style” pork chop burger ($2.50).
The big difference, however, is in the seasoning. “For the first time,” says HLing, “their pork chop tasted good to me. The chop as well as the minced meat sauce over rice were all tasty. The old May Wah’s meat did have a great aroma, but the smell didn’t translate to taste.” makistar, in dissent, prefers the old ways: “It’s not bad food, but it’s missing the to-die-for aroma. If May Wah was a 10, Wah Mei is a 7.”
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, on Chinatown’s eastern fringe, these are sad days for devotees of Happy Joy, a recent victim of rising rents. “The gentrification below Delancey continues,” laments jimmyjazz, who will miss curry chicken, beef chow fun, and spicy string beans, among other things, from the sprawling Chinese-Malaysian menu.
Another Chinatown favorite, Cantoon Garden, is alive and well and on top of its game, serving dependably delicious Cantonese food. Casseroles are smart orders here. banquo loves the one with tender lamb—loin, knuckle, neck, and other parts—plus tofu skin, Chinese cabbage, and jujubes in a thick, rich stock scented with star anise. Fish head and stewed chicken casseroles are also reliable and comforting, Brian S advises.
Other winners: corn–fish maw soup, fried chicken with garlic sauce, and lobster in XO sauce—not the most delicate version in town, says banquo, but fresh, garlicky, mildly spicy, and a deal at $20 for two lobsters. One don’t-miss seasonal special is pea shoots with two kinds of egg: thousand-year egg and lightly poached fresh egg, blended in a pleasingly salty ground-meat sauce. “I was blown away by this dish,” sighs Polecat.
Wah Mei Pork Chop Fast Food [Chinatown]
Formerly May Wah Fast Food
190 Hester Street (between Baxter and Mulberry), Manhattan
Cantoon Garden [Chinatown]
22 Elizabeth Street (between Canal and Bayard), Manhattan