Downtown Lunch: Is Wah Ji/Hua Ji Better Than Excellent Pork Chop House

Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so 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 (ensuring 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.)

Downtown Lunch: Wah Ji

Wah Ji Pork Chop fast food has a bigger name than the space it occupies, having recently opened in a small cubbyhole on Allen street. Word of this spot came through a tip by our Midtown Happy Hour correspondent Mamacita, who saw it posted on chowhound ….gracias mama! After reading a few of the reviews I wanted to check it out for myself, having seen several posters compare (and ultimately diss) Excellent Pork Chop House.

Downtown Lunch: Wah Ji

My lunch companion and I started out by sharing an order of the popcorn chicken, a fairly generous portion of fried chicken bits dusted with paprika. They were good but could have benefited from some dipping sauce, and at $2 you should be happy if they throw you a packet of ketchup.

Downtown Lunch: Wah Ji

We also sampled the black pepper pork chop, one on rice and one over noodles ($4 each). Our lunches arrived quickly, piping hot, and in white plastic takeout containers (I guess they don’t give you plates even if you’re staying.)

Downtown Lunch: Wah Ji

The sizzling-slab-o-swine was perched atop an ample portion of rice and some pickled vegetables. I really liked the way the sauce underneath the chop blended together with the veggies and rice. The porkchop though? It was good but a bit too much fat/gristle and not quite as flavorful as I would have liked. Excellent Pork Chop House still takes the cake for me as having the best chops in C-town.

Downtown Lunch: Wah Ji

Seating is limited to a few stools and if you’re lucky you’ll be treated to the show we got on our visit. A troupe of traveling methadone addicts shared a single lunch there so they could basically hang out for an hour. When we were leaving they started putting mascara on each other. I felt pretty bad for the store owners who basically sat there not knowing what to do. Only in NYC can you get all this.. a 4 dollar lunch and a show.

Now for my favorite part of the review… Menu Miscues! (Bells and whistles sound.) Well this menu was almost entirely without error. I’d say the only question I found was on the item titled “Shanghai Over Rice”.

Sounds like an enormous dish for only $4.

Wah Ji/Hua Ji Pork Chop Fast Food, 7 Allen Street (btw. Canal+Division), 212-219-9876



  • man, I’m bummed about that chicken, it looks so good too! I wonder if you can ask for some lemon wedges and do it up popcorn shrimp style. I’ve considered caring hot sauce in my purse for moment just like this. I already have a couple of bottles at my desk. -I know, I’m weird

  • Excellent Pork Chop House seems better still. But I’ll give this place a try.

  • Mamacita- not weird at all. My mom used to carry a bottle of Maggi (whatever that crap is/was) in her purse for when we went out to eat. My dad would put it on his food, not sure what food or why, I was pretty young, but I remember not really thinking twice about it. And Yankee Stadium doesn’t have pickle relish, so a few times, when I’ve remembered, I’ve brought packets of relish with me to the stadium because I love hot dogs with relish (and ketchup + mustard). Hahaha.

  • That looks good. Of course I still love EPH. I’m really not sure where there is to diss about that place. It’s all good though, more pork chops for me.

  • My mom always asks me if I want to take a mini tube of gochujang (red pepper paste) when I travel. I always decline, but my parents make good use of the tubes when they travel.

    And I’ve been meaning to try Hua Ji, but last time there was a questionnable person inside so I decided to go somewhere else. He must have been part of the methadone troupe.

  • I think it has something to do with being a lover of different cheap eats too. When you’re trying a lot of new places you end up with a dud. That’s when you whip out the sirracha!

  • Excellent Pork Chop House has the best chicken leg in Chinatown! That plus the wantons in spicy oil makes for a quick, satisfying, awesome lunch.

    Never liked their pork chops or noodles.

  • HI Mamacita I don’t think you’re weird. I carry a pepper grinder, sea salt and powered cayenne with me. I think the powdered is a better idea than liquids and perhaps more versatile, though less tasty and less applicable to Asian foods. Penzey’s carries 0.6 oz (small) plastic jars which are very convenient.

    BTW when’s the next ML Friday happy hour?

  • I think they may have had sirracha bottles there for you..but those popcorn shrimp have a bit of kick as it is.

    I’ve never carried any condiments around with me but find it interesting that people actually do that.

  • Some people carry condiments around in their wallets but it eventually wears a small circle into the leather :-)

  • Shanghai Over Rice isn’t a typo; it’s the name of the dish. I don’t really know what’s in it but I’ve seen it on menus at plenty of restaurants.

  • really? that’s interesting..I’ve never seen it written like that on a menu before..without a vegetable or meat following the word. I still thing it’s strange as if you were to say “Hong Kong over rice” or “Japan over rice”.

    just sounds strange to me.

  • Eating there was definitely quite a notable experience, Daniel! =P It was a fab deal for what we got, though I have to agree that the pork chops were a bit too fatty & lacked enough seasoning.

    Shanghai over Rice is a direct translation of the dish. It’s usually a mixture of shrimp, diced chicken, pork, black mushrooms, & carrots. I grew up seeing it on all the Shanghainese restaurant menus and just took it for granted. Now I’m curious as to the origin of the name!

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