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Hop Shing was the second place I tried to in my search to find a replacement for South China Garden. My first stop was Oriental Garden, which you can see here.
Hop Shing is an old restaurant located in Chatham Square that was originally known for its super cheap dim sum and good cha siu bao (pork buns) when I first came to NY. They later changed the name to Chatham Restaurant, closed down for a while a few years ago, re-opened under new management I believe and reverted back to the old name of Hop Shing. My friend’s dad knows the owners of the restaurant and told us that it’s good for dinner if you know what you’re ordering, so that’s how I decided to try it.
Despite closing down a few years ago the restaurant hasn’t changed much and looks just the same as it did many years ago. It’s typical old school Chinatown decore meaning very little décor, bright white lights and run down. There is counter up front where they have various dim sum in steamers and in back there are the tables and booths for sitting. The clientele is mainly old Chinatown locals. The staff is also super old school and some of them only really speak Cantonese; their Mandarin or English is pretty poor, but they are nice.
Here’s what we got:
- Pork Bone Soup: This was a complementary soup made from boiling pork bones. It was light and had a nice pork flavor; it tasted good with some white pepper. Overall, it was pretty good. 7.75/10
- Steamed Shrimp: This is an off the menu item; my friend called to special order it. It’s a very simple preparation; you get fresh whole shrimp, steam them and dip them in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, green chili and green onions. If it’s done right the shrimp should be sweet and complimented by the saltiness of the sauce. The shrimp they used here are smaller than what you normally get, but they were fresh and sweet and the sauce was great with them. Overall, this was quite good although I do like slightly bigger shrimp for this dish. 8/10
- Lobster in Ginger and Scallion: My friend told me the lobster dish to order here is the Sichuan style version which is spicy and has eggs and pork in it, but they were missing some of the ingredients that day, so we got the lobster with ginger and scallion. The lobster was pretty good and was cooked pretty decent, but I prefer XO sauce as it has more flavor. 7.5/10
- Oxtail in Pumpkin: This was listed on the as a special on the wall in Chinese only. Its oxtail cooked in a brown savory sauce and put inside of a pumpkin. The oxtail was reasonably tender and the sauce was tasty, but I liked the pumpkin better as it was really tender and tasted good as a sweet contrast against the savory sauce. Overall, it was decent, but not great. 7.5/10
- Peking Steak: This was similar to peking pork chops (jing du pai gu) except instead of fried pork chops, it’s with steak and onions. I liked this as I love the sweet and sour sauce they use and the steak was nicely tender and flavorful. Overall, this was one of the better dishes of the night. 8.25/10
- Salt & Pepper Pork Chops: These are pork chops deep fried in a salt and pepper batter and topped with fried garlic, diced green onions and green chili. The batter was a bit on the heavy side although it wasn’t too oily and the saltiness of the batter was good. The meat was nicely tender and it all tasted pretty good together and could’ve gotten a higher rating if the batter was a little lighter. 7.75/10
- Fried Stuffed Tofu: This is tofu that is stuffed with minced shrimp paste, battered, fried and served with the same sauce that was used in the steamed shrimp I posted on earlier. The version here was quite good, the batter wasn’t oily or too thick and the shrimp paste was good. It tasted great with the sauce. 8.25/10
- Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves: This is just snow pea leaves sautéed in oil and garlic. This was standard version although I thought it was a little under seasoned. 7.25/10
- Steamed Flounder: The fish was cooked in the standard Cantonese preparation where you first steam the fish then pour hot oil and soy sauce over it before serving. This type of preparation is one of my favorite ways to eat fish because it’s flavorful, but still allows you to taste the flavor of the meat. It was pretty decent even though flounder is not one of my favorite types of fish. The meat was tender and didn’t have any fishy or muddy flavor. 7.75/10
- Beef Chow Fun: I don’t usually order this dish as I only like getting it if it’s a place that really knows how to cook it, but one of my friends likes it, so we got an order. It ended up being pretty decent as it wasn’t too oily and had decent wok hei, which is the smoky flavor you get from cooking in a wok at a high temperature. If you’re craving this dish, the version here is not bad. 7.75/10
- Stuffed Eggplant and Peppers in Black Bean Sauce: This is purple eggplant and green peppers stuffed with a minced fish paste and the cooked in a black bean sauce. I’ve always loved this dish and tastes just like it sounds. The version here was quite good, not as good as SCG, but still good. 8/10
Overall, I enjoyed my meal here although I don’t think it was a replacement because the food is a little different than South China Garden as it’s somewhat less seafood centric and simpler food, but overall the food was consistently good and worth checking out.