Greasy Chinese to the Rescue at Win Won

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I feel like there’s a shortage of good, greasy Chinese food in the Financial District.  The only one ever covered here on Midtown Lunch: Downtown NYC was Yip’s, written up by my partner in crime Kevin.  And with Chinatown so close, there probably isn’t much of a need for a lot of these kinds of restaurants, but that doesn’t make the walk or subway ride up to Chinatown any more enjoyable.  Sometimes you want Chinese food and you want it now.  That’s when I head to Win Won.

In my very first post, I made reference to a Chinese joint tucked away down a dank, dark alley, the kind you’d imagine tourists being lured down shortly before they’re featured on Unsolved Mysteries.  Win Won is that place.  Located on Liberty Place, it’s accessible from either Maiden Lane or Liberty Street, though you get more of an ominous feel if you enter from the latter since it’s covered in scaffolding.  After that, it’s as easy as following the throng of overweight, middle-aged men that are usually a good indicator that the food is certainly unhealthy and possibly delicious. Lucky for us, it’s both.

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On this particular trip, I decided to go for one of my old favorites, shrimp with lobster sauce.  For those of you uninitiated, it’s not as elegant of a dish as you might think.  The shrimp part is pretty straightforward but the lobster sauce doesn’t actually contain any lobster.  At least not in any of the restaurants I frequent, Mr. Moneybags.  And without lobster, it makes it difficult for the sauce to taste like lobster too, so you can throw that idea right out the window.  Quite frankly, the origin of the sauce baffles me (please submit enlightenments in the comment section below), but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the dish and it shouldn’t stop you either.

I had the best shrimp with lobster sauce of my life while in Toronto visiting my friend Tim and have been chasing the high, so to speak, ever since.  This one looked like it might fit the bill.  The shrimp were large and plump, the sauce unnervingly viscous.  A good fit so far.  I ordered mine on a bed of vegetable lo mein for a total $6.50, but you can get yours on anything from white rice to shrimp fried rice with accompanying fluctuations in price.  By the way, prices are subject to change without notice, as I’ve experienced in the past, so don’t rely on the pricing you see on any menu, even the one in the shop.  And be sure to ask for chopsticks if you want them because they rarely, if ever, include them in your “to go” bag or on your “to stay” tray.
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Did this dish unseat my Toronto experience as the best shrimp with lobster sauce of all time? No. But it was a good start. The shrimp were big and juicy and the sauce had a gorgeous, gelatinous texture, but it all lacked a bit of flavor.  The lo mein really came through to add the right amount of saltiness to it, so I was really pleased that it was there to backup my main feature.  All it really needed, though, was a good shot of soy sauce, so don’t leave the restaurant without it.

Bottom line is that Win Won is exactly what you’d expect.  Good, cheap food, but not quite Chinatown. But that’s not a bad thing. With its decent portions and cheap prices, Win Won won me over awhile ago and I’ll keep going back until there’s an express train that takes me from the FiDi straight to the heart of Chinatown and back in less than an hour.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I don’t have to trek all the way to Chinatown for a decent, greasy meal
  • Big plump shrimp and nice sauce consistency in their shrimp with lobster sauce
  • Walking down the alley to get to this place makes me feel like a bad ass

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Why eat Chinese food in the FiDi when you’re so close to Chinatown?
  • The shrimp with lobster sauce lacks flavor
  • Dark alleys scare me

Win Won, 10 Liberty Place (btw. Maiden Lane & Liberty St.), (212) 732-8264 or (212) 732-2861



  • easy. it’s called lobster sauce because it’s sauce for lobsters. it’s in the same boat as duck sauce and steak sauce.

  • I guess that makes sense. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from lobsters to shrimp. Certainly has a bit more zing than “Crustacean Sauce.”

  • the sauce looks like what you would throw up after eating bad lobster, so there could also be that connection.

  • Is this placed owned by the same people who own Hing Won, Hop Won and Kar Won? Do they have the Roast Pig over Rice!?!

    That would be *huge* for Downtown Lunchers…

  • The shrimp with lobster sauce looks alright. And I like how ‘thoroughly’ clean the shrimps with the dark streaks are. lol.

    I would usually eat it with a spoon over chopsticks though to get the most out of the sauce over rice.

  • this looks good. I think i know what im having for dinner… zachs korean fried chicken and shrimp with “lobster” sauce

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    The commenters here must be really young. I can remember eating a dish called “Lobster Cantonese” in the greasy Chinese places of my youth. The dish was the identical sauce (i.e. the sauce for lobster) over pieces of shell-on lobster. This evolved into shrimp in lobster sauce dish that is served today.

    • Mystery solved! I’ve never seen this dish in action and thus have never had the privilege. I mostly just assumed they used to use this kind of sauce for lobsters some time in the past. And, after a little research it seems this modern version lacks ground pork.

      Is this dish still sought after? Meaning, do you have a recommendation for a place that still serves this? I think a lot of restaurants have since moved on to the more ‘authentic’ lobster with ginger and scallion dish. Not sure I’ve ever seen this on a menu…

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