It all started with Hing Won… one year ago this week
Tomorrow is the big day. It is the One Year Anniversary of Midtown Lunch. On June 7th, 2006, it all began, and the next day my first restaurant posting went up, about Hing Won on 48th btw. 5+6th. At the time, Hing Won was my favorite place for Chinese food in Midtown. Authentic Chinese food on the right, Steam Table “Chinese Food” on the left. The best of both worlds. Which means everyone in your office can enjoy it- from the guy who only eats Beef and Broccoli to the more adventurous eater, looking for an authentic Chinatown style lunch. Cheap, authentic, fresh, and delicious.
But more than the good food, Hing Won showed me there was a better way to Midtown Lunch. While other people I knew were eating crappy Chinese food (Manchu Wok, I’m looking at you), my wife had showed me a place that most people in Midtown would ignore (because of the crappy exterior), if they even noticed it at all. So with much excitement (I’m so busy looking for new places I don’t usually get to have lunch at some of my favorite old places), I returned to Hing Won- the place that one year ago was worthy of being the very first Midtown Lunch.
What I got, and the obligatory food porn, after the jump…
I have two problems whenever I eat at Hing Won. The first is the steam table they have on the left side of the counter. I have written often about my addiction to cheap “chinese” food. At the food court especially, I find it very hard to walk by those steam tables- and Hing Won’s looks especially fresh and delicious. It takes all my willpower to bypass the lunch of General Tso’s Chicken with rice and an egg roll, and make it to the right side of the counter- where the real draw of Hing Won is… and where my second problem begins.
The Chinese menu. When eating at any of the ethnic places in Midtown (or anywhere for that matter) the clientele will tell you alot about how good (or authentic) the food is. A lot of Indian people at Minar, or Ecuadorians at El Rincon del Sabor probably means that you are in for a treat. Well, the right side of the counter at Hing Won has no shortage of Chinese people… so you know it’s got to be good- if you are into authentic Chinese food.
Which brings me to my second problem. What the hell to order. The right side is sort of similar to the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. A hectic crowd gathers in front of a guy who writes your orders down on tiny little slips of paper, while the ladies to his left serve the food and take your money. It can be very daunting for the first time orderer, and to make matters worse- there are a ton of delicious sounding things on the menu. Almost too many good things. I would definitely decide what you want before “getting in line”, and by that I mean shoving your way through the crowd to the impatient guy who takes your order.
You can play it safe by ordering Roast Pork or Duck over rice, one of the noodle dishes or stir fries, or get a little more adventurous with dishes that have Bitter Melon, Preserved Pork, or Sour Cabbage. There’s also the dishes only written in Chinese with no translation (lord knows what those are), and some great looking seafood dishes, like the Scallops with Black Pepper Sauce- something I’d probably be afraid to order at a small Midtown dive, if I hadn’t been told by a trustworthy co-worker that it was out of this world good.
I’ve tried a few things on the menu, but there’s one dish that I find hard not to order… and it’s not because it’s so amazing, but because everytime I think of “getting lunch at Hing Won”, it’s the dish I can taste when I decide to go. Does that make sense? It’s the same reason I always order Pad Thai at a Thai restaurant. There are millions of amazing dishes to order, but when I think “I’m in the mood for Thai food”, it usually means “I feel like eating some Pad Thai”. Luckily for me, I’m married so I can always share whatever different dish my wife orders. That’s not the only reason I’m lucky… but it’s one of them (gotta throw that dislaimer in there).
So I went to Hing Won, almost one year after I first posted about it planning on getting something new and exciting… but I ended up ordering the same thing I always order. Sauteed Udon Noodles with Pork. And it was delicious!
You’ll probably go and try it, and comment “Eh… it’s nothing special”, but it’s my go-to dish. I can’t help it. The noodles are always cooked perfectly al dente (not mushy), and I love pork. The dish is awesome.
But immediately afterwards, I felt ashamed. Here I was returning back for the one year anniversary of Midtown Lunch, and I ordered the same boring thing I always get. Where was the adventure in that? So I did what any self respecting eater would do. I went back again the next day. And this time, I ordered the Roast Duck & Roast Pork over Rice.
But now I’m ashamed that I ate super greasy Chinese food two days in a row from the same place. I can’t win. Maybe I should move to China. They eat Chinese food every day, right? If I was Profiled, that might have to be my dream job location for lunch purposes…
Although who am I kidding? Me feeling guilty about two Chinese food lunches in a row is like a serial killer feeling sorry for victims #126 and #127. It’s a little late for remorse. Need the proof? There are now a full year of blog postings to back it up. But I can’t help it. I’m a fat man who likes to eat, and I work in Midtown.