Flatiron Lunch: Home’s Kitchen for Good Chinese Food in Our Area
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
I ran into a Chinese friend and her brother, who is a chef (well, really they are Los Angelenos with Chinese heritage), and they said something about Chinese dinner. Since she lives near 25th Street and 6 Avenue, I was hopeful she would give me a tip for an awesome Chinese restaurant nearby, but when I emailed her to get the details, I was so disappointed to learn the Chinese dinner had come from Chinatown. Not fair. But not surprising.
So without any recommendations, I searched menus for a good Chinese restaurant in the area. With mixture of good and bad, but mostly good, reviews, I settled on Home’s Kitchen. (Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite Chinese restaurant in the area.)
I was encouraged to see a mix of Asians and non-Asians eating there. While waiting for my take-out order, I couldn’t help but notice that the whole place smelled like a Panda Express food court from my high school days. I suspect the woman who ordered the sesame chicken near the door had something to do with this.
Looking at the menu online in advance, I had pre-decided on Twice-Cooked pork lunch special ($8.95). The woman asked if I wanted lean or streaky pork. The lean is apparently normal pork, and streaky is pork belly “very delicious”, as described by the server. It is hard to say no when something is given such a ringing endorsement.
Unfortunately, I had to run into a meeting as soon as I got back to the office, so I didn’t get the chance to try it while it was piping hot. The dish showed promise with a good amount of spice, but I thought for twice-cooked pork belly the fatty part was neither crispy like bacon nor totally melt-in-your-mouth.
Asking for a recommendation on another dish to try, the ma po tofu ($8.95) was suggested. The container was so full, I’m not sure how they were able to close the lid. Perhaps the tofu expanded in the container?
I was happy to see the tofu wasn’t fried (in my opinion the good parts of fried tofu are lost when they are put in a sauce.) In fact, the tofu was so soft that it started to break apart as I scooped and completely dissolved without really having to chew. This was the superior dish for me. It had better flavors, with ground pork (yeah, this is not a vegetarian dish), black beans, chilis and scallions, and was easier to eat.
All of the lunch specials come with your choice of white, brown or vegetable fried rice. You also get soup (wonton, egg drop, hot and sour or miso) or a spring roll. None of these add-ons blew me away, but they all helped round out the meal.
The soup included three wontons and after a scoop of the sauce from ma po tofu, it perked up a lot.
The veggie spring roll was fried…which might have been its only redeeming quality. Just like the soup, the spring roll benefited from the ma po tofu sauce.
THE + (What people who like this place will say)
- It may not be Chinatown, but Home’s Kitchen might be the best we’ve got.
- And Asians actually eat here.
- The Ma po tofu is delicious.
THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)
- The streaky style pork could be cooked better and have a better name.
- Too bad the sides and rice are average.
- This Chinese food has been too Americanized.
Home’s Kitchen, 22 East 21st Street (between Broadway and Park Avenues), (212) 475-5049