After Big Wong went downhill some years back (iirc it changed hands), I tried out all the usual suspects for roast pork and ended up preferring New Big Wang on Elizabeth and Bayard. Its version was never too dry--a problem with some of the other "Wong" restaurants-- and had just the right proportion of lean to fat, and the perfect hint of sweetness and (I think this is what accounts for the slight star anise taste) 5-spice powder. I went home with a pound of the stuff at least once/month.
So when New Big Wang closed in 2008, I was upset. However, it soon re-opened as Yee Li, and the char siu tasted as good as ever. Until a few months ago, that is: one night I brought some home and it had a strange chemical taste that at first struck me as probably a packaging issue. But the taste didn't go away after I transferred containers, and I had to throw it away. I figured this was anomalous, but had the exactly the same experience tonight. Same foul taste, same result. I don't intend to return. So be warned, folks.
On a more positive note, I want to put in a small plug for one bbq restaurant that flies a bit below the CH radar, namely Fu Wong on Bowery. The roast chicken (not sure the right name --it's the hanging chicken in the wax paper, not the soy sauce chicken, which is only average) is the best I've had since Big Wong in its heyday, and the duck is also better than most. I'd also recommend the congee and a delicious green bean dish w/ bean paste (can't recall the exact menu name), which reminded me of the water spinach w/ bean paste at Cantoon Garden, but might be even a bit better. I wouldn't say this place is a must visit, but for me it's better than the current Big Wong and similar places that get more press here.
67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013
1 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013
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