Chinatown’s Bo Ky Focuses on Noodles, But They Serve Another Standout

It is definitely hearty, carb-filled food weather but I have grown tired of the options down in the Financial District. Sure, there’s the Hot Soup Cart when something warm sounds good, but I’ve found that hit or miss, and I can only eat the pho at Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches so many times before that too becomes boring. This is when I look for an excuse to head to Chinatown and I found that with a Serious Eats post on the food at Bo Ky on Bayard (btw. Mulberry & Mott). The shrimp rolls looked like something that needed to be consumed (by me), and I am always OK with noodle soup in its many glorious forms.

Bo Ky is not a classy restaurant by any standards. It’s one that is more like a cafeteria in that if you’re by yourself they put you at a table with other lonely eaters slurping at bowls of soup (and either staring at you or trying to avoid eye contact). Really though, you’re not going there for the ambiance but the cheap-ass food.

My order was for seafood noodle soup ($5.25) with flat noodles and the house special shrimp rolls ($6.75). There are apparently two kinds of shrimp rolls, so make sure you know which one you’re ordering. The menu makes it easy because it has pictures of both kinds, so you can point at the one you want, as the man taking my order made me.

The soup came out first and it was a decent-sized bowl but not gut-bustingly huge. If this is all you’re ordering it’s probably going to fill you up but my strategy was to eat the noodles and seafood and leave most of the broth to save room for the shrimp rolls. The noodles were like a wide flat rice noodle and made me use every ounce of my chopstick skills to get them in my mouth. There are cheaper soup options on the menu but I was wanting some seafood and this bowl had fish balls, shrimp, octopus and some sort of mystery aquatic creature I couldn’t identify.

The restaurant has two pots of  homemade sauce on every table that I hightly recommend you utilize. One is a chili-oil containing hot sauce and the other green one seemed to be garlic and some sort of pickled pepper. I put some of both in my soup and they really helped the broth.

Onto those shrimp rolls. Oh, Bo Ky special shrimp rolls, I would eat you every day if I could without my heart exploding. The filling is shrimp and some other finely ground meat with plenty of black pepper flavor, all wrapped in bean curd sheets that get nice and crispy after their oil bath. They’re one of the more expensive items on the menu, but totally worth it.

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

  • They have about every combination of noodle or soup you can imagine.
  • It’s no frills, but that’s the way I like it!

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

  • You can find cheaper food in Chinatown.
  • I don’t like sitting at a table with strangers watching me eat.
  • The noodles aren’t the best you’ll find in the ‘hood.

Bo Ky, 82 Bayard St. (btw. Mulberry & Mott), (212) 406-2292



  • Bo Ky’s menu is full of strange and wonderful items. The 1st time I went there, I had “Country Style Mixed Meat” which was miscellaneous pig parts served the way Peking duck is.

    Also, that mystery item (I assume it’s the thing with the crosshatched cuts in it) is squid.

    Their wonton soup is really good and cheap as well.

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    I think the crosshatched item is more likely to be cuttlefish, not squid. Many Chinese, Thai & Vietnamese restaurants use cuttlefish but refer to it as squid, since it behaves similarly in cooking.

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    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t squid because I’ve eaten enough of that to know what the texture is like. Cuttlefish seems right, but who knows…

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    Next time try the duck and pork chop! Both are really good and what my friends and I usually get there. They also have a cleaner and brighter branch(?) on Grand Street between Mott and Elizabeth streets.

  • My favorites there are: 1) Cuttlefish ball soup; 2) Beef stew (beef stew chunks stewed in onion, carrots, tomatoe-y broth) with lai fun (the white round thick rice noodles).

  • i also love their curry chicken over rice.

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