If anyone out there remembers Hong Fat's noodles with gravy, can you please advise where to get a good version of that dish in NYC? My cousin was a Hong Fat devotee and has been searching for a worthy rendition of these noodles since the restaurant closed.
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I was only there a few times and it was in the 90s. I've shared your post with my cousin and hope he replies to your inquiry.
Loved your blog post. I can't tell you how many times I've had the same experience of going on autopilot to a longtime favorite only to find it has vaporized. By any chance have you tried the noodles with gravy at 69? If so, how do they compare to Hong Fat's?
I have not been there recently- it has been a few years. I liked their food a lot and it was very similar to Hong Fat but I'm not sure if I ever had the noodles with gravy. I probably did and I am sure it was good but I can't say for certain.
Did the gravy have meat in it....or was it simply brown gravy? also, were the noodles similar to lo mein egg noodles.....or were they flat white, wheat or rice flour?
fourunder, I think the dish they are referring to is an old American-Chinese (Cantonese) dish called Yat Gow Mein 一個麵. Sometimes spelled Yat Gat Mein, Yat Gai Mein, Yokamen, Yakamein etc. I am sure there are other variations. It was once part of the holy trinity of early American-Chinese fare along with Chop Suey and Chow Mein.
The noodles are usually thick, made from wheat and served in a broth or brown gravy. 69 on Bayard and Hop Kee still serve it. Too pedestrian for Wo Hop!
There was an old menu from York's Chinese Tea Garden & Ladies Lounge in Phlladelhphia (1917) seen on Ebay recently that had the following:
"Yock Ko Mein noodle soup 25 cents
Noodle soup with half-boiled egg, chicken and roast pork; Raw Onions 5 cents extra"
Hangover cure in New Orleans:
69 Chinese Restaurant
69 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013
Yat Gow Mein from my memory was Red Roast Pork Or Chicken slivers with shredded vegetables, noodles and Soup Broth(Won Ton).
In New England/Boston, I distinctly remember deep fried chow mein noodles covered in brown gravy.
Like Cantonese Chow Mein, I have also seen Deep Fried Lo MEin or Shanghai Noodles covered in Brown Gravy
Both Brown Gravies were the same used for Egg Foo Young.
Noodles with Gravy and Ground Pork is a pretty common dish.....sometimes with peas over rice.
Yat Gaw Mein a.k.a. Yetcamein and a bunch of other aliases took different forms in different parts of the U.S. I never saw it in California and only when I started traveling in the Midwest and East Coast did I run into a dish with that moniker. The term also meant different things in different cities. My first encounter was in Sioux City, Iowa, where it took the guise of boiled soup noodles, where it became the subject of my first and only published restaurant review. In other cities it resembled what is often called lo mein (though, of course, lo mein also has taken a different meaning in different cities across the U.S.).
bmj2k: thank you for your response and for the link, it was very informative. As I said above, my grandfather was the original chef in Hong Fat and passed away in 1974. My dad and his brother were waiters in Hong Fat until my grandfather's passing and subsequently opened up their own restaurant on Elizabeth Street named Hong Wun, which closed in the early 1980's. I asked my dad about Hong Fat's apparent popular gravy on noodles so all of you posters can try and make it for yourselves. He said my grandfather would make a broth by boiling pork and chicken with salt (meats should be attached to bone), then once the broth was done, he would add brown sugar, corn starch and oyster sauce until it thickens. Then obviously he would pour it over the noodles. He also mentioned there were variations of this dish by adding bits of meat.
I remember this dish (I hope I'm recalling the right one) served with small (beef?) ribs mixed in, bite size.
I wish I was the chef that so many others of you are, I'd love to make that dish just to bring back some memories. If nothing else, I now have another trip to Chinatown in my future!
I would go to Hong Fats and then one of the main waiters, "Kevin" left to open New Lin Heongs on Bayard. We started going there instead. There was an old waiter there "Wong" who never wrote anything down and a nice you waiter named Mark that was getting married. One of the other New Lin Heong waters, "Stanley" opened Hong Wun down in the basement on Elizabeth St. We were in there nights when Bill Cosby came in comedian Paul Lynn. Stanley was a real funny guy. He called me "Half Hour"
Noodles with Beef and Oyster Sauce was one of my favorites. I would ask them to add cashew nuts to the top as well!
Do you know any of these waiters: Kevin, Mark, Wong or Stanley?
E-mail me at Pinball@aol.com
I was recently in the Hong Kong Guangzhou area and I found a restaurant that made sweet and sour pork the way your grandfather did!
Believe it or not, I have a Hong Fat menu from the mid-1970s (maybe 1974?). I hope this helps you in your family research "hwun." I've uploaded a photo but chow.com reduced the resolution so much that it is nearly impossible to read. If you want a high-res image, please let me know your email and I will send you one.
Gravy noodles would be lu mian in Mandarin. Unfortunately I don't have Chinese characters on my IPad, but another Hounder will surely supply it.
just as an fyi, its probably not the same dish as the hong fat dish, but sounds very similar, there is a hokkien dish that is quite common in singapore called lor mee, which translates in mandarin to 鹵麵 lu mian. i'm not a huge fan of it, but its reasonably popular in singapore; i was at a hawker center called old airport road about 2 months ago that has a famous lor mee place and no joke starting at 10am there was a line of 20+ people the whole time and it was consistently like when i left 3 hours later
its quite thick broth with wheat noodles
this is in mandarin, so most of you won't understand it, but this is a video of a famous lor mee place in singapore that has been around since the 50s and they'll show you making it etc. basically they just talk about how it was founded by the guys father, what makes the lor mee special, how it tastes / how much they like it, then ask customers why they come there
Hi.....I found your post and the picture of the old Hong Fat menu and I would love a copy....if you can send me a high res one, that would be great, thanks, bob
Hi - I happened to google Hung Fat. We used to go there in the 70s when we we're kids with my parents. We lived in Sheepshead Bay.
Bean sprouts and pizza we're my first solid foods.
We moved to Denver and was hard to find Chow Fun. Places looked at us funny asking why there was no chow fun on the menu. Regular Americans wouldn't know what it was and ever order. When my Mom said we we're from Bklyn which was obvious by her accent, they understood why she asked.
I would love to see the old menu. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have the vaguest memories of hong fat from that time but I was there about five times with friends, one of the first chinatown restaurants I tried. I recall it was absolutely packed every time we went, we waited on line a couple of times. the atmosphere was fun, all the customers were happy to be eating the food.
I recall thinking it was good but wanting to explore other places where my friends were perfectly content with hong fat. the stand out dish for us was some sort of fried butterflied jumbo shrimp with a red sauce. Also, I think it was the first place I had clams with black bean sauce.
After several decades, we still remember the wonderful egg rolls. Helpers sat at a table in the back making them as fast as they could. The place was small and fairly long and every table always full. Best Chinese food we ever tasted. In fact, it might be the best Chinese food we ever. Always said we would choose to go to Hong Fats if we ever visited NY again. janice from Dallas
My wife and I had our first date at Hong Fat in 1965. Great food and two couples could eat their fill for $10. We are still married and were disappointed on a recent trip to find that it had closed. We went often enough that the waiters all knew us. Once we went with a Chinese friend and said to her "they love us here!" "You idiots", she replied, "they are saying 'Big tippers. Sit at our table'."
Haha...yes I miss it too on return trips to NYC.....Our waiter back then was an asian gentleman named Kevin.....He left around the early seventies with some other staff to go to a restaurant around the corner which I believe was then called New Lin Heong, but I think has now morphed into 69 Chinese restaurant (69 Bayard)..Can't speak to the food lately tho........
It's nice to hear that you and your wife had your first date there in 1965. My grandfather was the chef there until 1973 (when he passed) and my dad was one of the waiters there. My dad was probably one of the waiters who served you.
I went there a lot during the 70's when we were in college. What was your father's name or name he was called at the restaurant? I knew waiters that went from Hong Fats to New Lin Heongs , like Kevin and Stanley, who the latter opened his own place on Elizabeth Street in a below street level place.
My dad said he went by the name Wun, which is his last name. He remembers the names of the waiters you mentioned in your previous post, specifically Kevin. He said the customers loved Kevin because he was in the US Army during the Korean War and as a result he was able to speak English well.
My dad and his brother were the owners of Hong Wun on Elizabeth Street. He mentioned a lot of his customers from Hong Fat were Queens College students. I will see if I can find a picture of him during the Hong Fat days.
There was a place on Mott Street called Mon Bo where Stanley worked. He left and opened Hong Wun on Elizabeth Street. We went to Hong Wun all the time. It was down Stairs from Street level. Do you have any pictures of your Dad and his partner?
Noodles with Beef and Oyster Sauce was one of my standard orders! I would ask them to put Cashew nuts on top.
We were in Hong Hun late one night and Paul Lynde, the comedian came in. Another night we went there and Stanley had the door locked. We looked through the window and Bill Cosby was at a big round table with some people back towards the kitchen. Stanley saw it was us and unlocked the door to let us in. We went to Seton Hall in NJ and we would go to China Town about 3 nights a week .
Hong Fats was the original place we went, then New Lin Heongs. Then Hong Wun. Sum Hey Rice shop was across fron New Lins, but we did not go there much. Hong Wahs on the Bowery was another place we went. Next to Kevin's at New Lin Heongs, was a grocery store on the corner. We would buy cases on Sun Lin Mein chicken flavored ramen noodles. I tried to find it again, but someone said the factory in China burned down. Stanley was a real funny character. Is he still around? Kevin had an old waiter at New Lins that was called WONG. We would go with 7 or 8 guys and he never wrote our orders down.. What a memory he had. There are a young waiter named Mark there, that got married I remember.
My dad worked on Wall street and we would often walk around the village until late at night. After that the family would head on down to Hong Fat's for a bowl of beef and tomatoes lo mein. My father swore it was the best noodle shop in Chinatown and we never went anywhere else there. As kids we would ask from time to time, just because we were curious, but it was always no, from my father. I think there was a restaurant downstairs, but nope, we couldn't try it. This had to be the late 60s, early 70s. They served hot tea in big water glasses and it was open really late. I think it was open until 3 AM or something ( most of the noodle shops were). The people working there were always nice. It had the typical decor of all the noodle shops, very plain. It was on the street level not the basement. My sister and I have tried to figure out how to make those Beef and Tomatoes Lo Mein, for decades. In fact, my sister even married a Chinese guy but he doesn't know what we the heck we are talking about! The noodles came with lots of delicious pieces of beef and lightly stewed tomatoes cut in quarters, covered with the brown sauce, which is described below. The recipe you posted below sounds promising like something I might try, and then I will add some beef and tomatoes and I'll see. It was a great place, that so many New Yorkers fondly remember. I'm in Chicago now but there was no place like Hong Fat. Hope you will see this post ten years after you asked!
Beef and Tomatoes in Brown Sauce is essentially Sliced Beef in Oyster Sauce with Tomatoes added.
In a wok,
* add oil
* add garlic
* add beef and sear
* add chicken stock
* add tomatoes
* Add Oyster Sauce, Salt, White Pepper and Corn Starch Slurry. MSG Optional
Hi Hwun, I'd love to get in touch with you. I also have a relative who was an owner of Hong Fat. Would love to share info! I don't know so much, but my mom and grandma know more.
I would go to Hong Fat during the early 70's. The waiters at that time were Bing, Sing and Kevin... We were poor college kids at the time and would pool our money and ask the waiters to bring us what we could afford. They never disappointed us the food was always great! People were not as greedy then. When my now very old friends talk about the old days we always have a soft spot for Hong Fat.
That is when I started going to Hong Fats. 1972. I was a Freshman at Seton Hall. We met Kevin there. He was a great waiter. Beef Chow Fon was about $1.65 a plate. I remember one night we paid the bill and had hardly any money left for a tip. When we walked out, one of the other waiters chase out after us yelling, "Quarter Head! Quarter Head!"
Kevin opened his own place at 69 Bayard. New Lin Heongs
He told us to come to his new place. That became our regular place. We would drive in at least 2 nights a week from Jersey. The 3 regular waiters at Kevin's were Wong, Mark (who shortly after got married) and Stanley.. Stanley eventually left and opened his own place around the corner from Lucy Yung's on Elizabeth Street. It was down the steps in the basement area.