Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs Opens Their Breakfast/Chinese Food Mashup in New Location
Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs, the 35+ year old diner on 8th btw. Olive & Hill, is not exactly a hidden Downtown gem. But it isn’t Philippe’s either. It lives somewhere in between, and for those who work or live or breakfast downtown, it’s borderline legendary. For me, it’s a no-brainer Midtown Lunch. The idea is so simple in its genius, that some might be confused at first by its brilliance. On one hand its unfamiliar, on the other it’s so familiar you can’t understand how this place isn’t a nationwide franchise. Breakfast diner + Chinese food. That’s it. Think Chinese roast pork with eggs, hash browns and toast. Or corned beef hash and eggs over fried rice.
I first heard of Uncle John’s last month, when Dig Lounge (run by yesterday’s profiled lunch’er Matt) reported that Uncle John’s would be opening a second location on Grand btw. 8+9th, in the Stillwater Hotel. I couldn’t wait that long, and immediately rushed to their original location… only to find it closed! For good (so sad). Thankfully their new location on Grand opened last week, so on Monday I headed over for some over easy egg topped salt and pepper pork chops.
Uncle John’s regulars will probably be super bummed by the new location. The old school diner feel is completely gone, replaced by a restaurant that has all the trappings of a new school Asian spot trying to be “clean” for the white people. Most of the seating is nice tables and chairs, and there’s the obligatory leafless trees that tell you “this place is modern!” There is an old school’ish diner counter in the back, no doubt an homage to the original space, but the kitchen is now hidden in the back (they used to cook everything right behind the counter). Thankfully the menu is completely untouched, and more seats means less waiting time for the customers. (Although, word is already out- and on Monday, despite the increase in seating, the place was completely packed during lunch.)
During lunch, Uncle John’s serves up a pretty standard Americanized Chinese food menu. Egg rolls, shrimp and lobster sauce, sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken… you get the idea. There are also daily combo specials for $6.75 served with rice:
Monday – Chicken Chow Mein w/ Sweet & Sour pork
Tuesday – Kung Pao Chicken w/ Chasu egg foo young
Wednesday – Cashew Chicken w/ Egg rolls
Thursday – Broccoli chickekn w/ sweet and sour wontons
Friday – Kung pao shrimp w/ crab puffs
But we were there for the breakfast menu, which is 80% normal. Eggs, corned beef hash, steak and eggs, omelettes with toast and home fries, plus a burger, patty melt and breakfast sandwiches. Typical diner food, except for the “chasu” (Chinese BBQ pork), pork chops, and teriyaki chicken… all served with eggs, toast, and home fries. So simple. And yet, so genius. Like brunch from my dreams…
Roast pork with eggs over medium, homefries and toast. Sorry bacon. You’ve been trumped. The sweetness of the pork was a perfect complement to the savory eggs and hash browns- which were pretty spectacular. Giant slices of potato, browned to a crisp while still retaining some of their potatoey goodness. I’m guessing they use tenderloin for their roast pork, so it was a tad bit dry for me- but for those who like their roast pork less fatty you’ll probably love this version. No fat or gristle to speak of.
They give you so much food, the toast is kind of superflous… unless of course you do this! Pork and egg sandwich. How could I not?
The roast pork was good, but the pork chops are even better. They have grilled pork chops and eggs, but why on earth would you go grilled when you could go fried. The salt and pepper pork chops were even better than I had dreamed them. Crispy, super salty, and covered in sauteed Jalapenos and scallions. Don’t let the “spicy” part discourage you. The dish is super spicy if you want to be, but it’s fairly easy to regulate the heat by scraping off the jalapenos. You can substitute in fried rice for potatoes, which I did. And then added chow mein for an extra $1.75. The fried rice was fine, but the chow mein was excellent. Slight sweet, with a great flavor, and most importantly not mushy. If you like the noodles at Panda Express, you’ll love these. (I do. And I did.)
I also got my egg over easy, for maximum spillage. I’m the kind of person that would choose dim sum over a typical “brunch” every time, and lunch over breakfast. But breakfast for lunch, I kind of love… and once you throw the Chinese food in, this is kind of one of the best lunch places I’ve ever been to. Seriously. I would return to Downtown on the weekends for this place. (Just don’t go on Sunday, they’re closed.)
Right now Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs is still only open for breakfast and lunch (6:30am until 3pm) but now that they’re in a new location, connected to a hotel, they plan on opening for dinner. That’s right. Two months from now… after work Chinese food and eggs. What more could you want?!
- Chinese food + eggs = genius!
- You get so much food for under $10
- I like that there is more seating in the new place
- I don’t like roast pork that is too fatty… their version is really lean
- My co-worker wants breakfast, but I want Chinese food. Bingo!
- As Chinese American food goes, this place is far better than average
- I liked the old diner location better. The new place is too…new. And I liked watching them cook behind the counter!
- Breakfast should remain as breakfast.
- The roast pork is kind of dry, and the fried pork chops are too salty!
- What’s so great about putting an egg on top of Americanized Chinese food?
Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs (New Location!), 834 S. Grand Ave. (btw. 8+9th), 213-623-3555