Taking The $3.50 Roast Pork Challenge At New Kim Tuong
A few weeks ago I thought I had found a pretty good deal in Chinatown with a Sichuan lunch including soup, appetizer, rice and entree for $5.50. I know there are cheaper meals to be had in Chinatown, but it’s pretty daunting finding them. Well, after the post was up the ML Twitter account got this little message from @Gordoneats:
Downtown deal of the century? How about $3.50 for roast pork on rice (with bean sprouts and soup, takeout) at New Kim Tuong?
According to Zach, Gordon used to work for Serious Eats and is an authoritative source on all things tasty in Chinatown. The next time the urge hit me to head up there, it was with this mythical, cheap roast pork meal in mind. After all, it’s time I branched out from my five-for-$1 dumpling meals.
The restaurant is on a busy stretch of Chrystie and you really have to be watching for it. Once I stepped inside, I realized this was a popular place, and one in which you have to not be shy and just shove your way to the counter to order. This doubly applies if you are the only non-Asian person in the place and everyone is looking at your like you’re lost.
After finding a paper menu (the only ones on the wall are not in English), I saw two different specials for $3.50. One was marked as “any three kinds with white rice,” which means you pick any three items from the steam table that’s to the left of the guy hacking away at meat. Since none of that was marked and I only really wanted the BBQ roast pork, I went with the second option of “any one BBQ meat on white rice.”
Now for the magical part of my visit, which was when I was waiting for my food and noticed the gigantic pig carcass hanging behind the man with the cleaver. And just as I spotted that, the guy reached over and sawed a sizable hunk from the side of it. Oh yes, this was my lunch.
After some chopping with that cleaver, I was handed a hefty container with this weird design on the top. Hmm… Anyway, whatever was inside cost $3.50 including tax, so they can pretty much put whatever on the containers they want.
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but there was a fair amount of BBQ pig and white rice here, along with a pile of those bean sprouts that Gordon mentioned. I got no soup, but that’s OK. You can eat at the restaurant if you want table service, but there’s also a park with plenty of benches across the street if you want a little Chinatown picnic.
That pork was delicious and crispy and I liked the bean sprouts too. As for the rice, I only ate the parts soaked with grease, which is part of the ML diet, right?
I don’t know if it’s worth a special trip up to Chinatown to eat here, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood and looking for a cheap and delicious meal, this place fills the bill.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- There’s a guy hacking pieces off a roast pig for your viewing (and eating) enjoyment.
- You can get some of that delicious pig for $3.50.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I don’t like having to shove my way through people to place my order.
- It’s a little out of the way, even for a $3.50 meal.
New Kim Tuong, 83 Chrystie St. (btw. Grand & Hester), (212) 966-2878