Downtown Lunch: Hong Kong Station
Making Downtown office workers jealous is something this blog has been doing for awhile now. To even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (insuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food), and seems to be particularly fond of Chinatown (my dream lunch location). There are no shortage of “make your own salad” bars in Midtown. This week, Daniel shows us the Downtown version, an infinitely cooler “make your own noodle soup” .
Hong Kong Station has 3 locations in Chinatown, showing that people really do love to “Create your own noodles within your own budget” (Their slogan not mine.) These clean, almost cafeteria like noodle shops offer good fresh food, made almost instantly. All you have to do is choose what you want…
You start with the noodle, where there are two decisions- thick or thin and rice or egg. That sets you back $1.75. Toppings are dropped on top of the noodles at the cost of $1.25 each, and run the gamut. On this day I went with the thin egg noodle topped with Beef Stew, spinach, mushrooms, and spring rolls. About a pint of chicken broth is dumped on the concoction which is then topped off with minced parsley/scallion and some garlic sauce. If you like it spicy, get some of their curry sauce (although I would opt for it on the side so you can add it according to your own heat threshold). The whole thing came out to $6.75, and was really filling.
When you have a head cold, there’s nothing better than your Jewish grandma’s chicken noodle soup. But my grandmother lives in Long Island (obviously) and I work in Chinatown so this was the next best thing. The broth was really salty, but flavorful, and the beef stew was perfectly tender with just the right amount of fattiness. The portions of the toppings range from “that’s it?!” to “oh my, thank you!”. They were a bit stingy with the beef stew niblets, while the rubbery shittake mushroom pieces were almost too plentiful. Two fried pieces of spring rolls seemed just about right, and not too soggy from the soup- but not don’t expect them to be stuffed, they’re basically just fried spring roll wrappers.
Squid balls may sound gross to some (they do to me), but they’re actually pretty tasty. I didn’t get them this time around but have gone that route on previous visits. Not funky enough for you? There’s also beef tripe, pig’s blood, and the hugely popular pig’s feet- but not so much for me. I prefer the parts of the pig that didn’t stand perpetually in poop (say that 5 times fast).
While Hong Kong Station has more of an antiseptic mess hall feel to it, and lacks some of the charm the ageless Chinese joints have to them, it’s nice being able to walk in and sit down with your lunch within 2 minutes, knowing that your food will be hot, fresh, and leave you with enough change left over from a $10 bill for a freshing drink on your way out (try the red bean ice for $3).
Hong Kong Station (3 locations)
- 45 Division street, 212-966-9682
- 128 Hester street (btw. Bowery & Christie)
- 45 Bayard street (btw. Elizabeth & Bowery)
Post & Photos by Daniel Krieger
Can we get one of these in Midtown please? (Or can I get a job in Chinatown?) Got a Downtown lunch recommendation to share? Email them to email@example.com and I’ll forward them along to Daniel.