Pork Belly in Black Bean Sauce: The Must-Have Lunch Special at Chung King Garden

It was the thought of a pork lunch special that brought me to Chung King Garden. The extensive menu is trimmed down for lunch time, but even their lunch special menu has tons of options, all for $6 or $7 dollars.  Chung King Garden is one of the bigger restaurants in Chinatown and the service is fast, so you will likely be able to get seated and get served quickly. Expect Szechuan fare, though the last few pages of the menu are devoted to “American Chinese food”. If you are reading this site, you are probably somebody who knows to stay away from that section.

The double cooked pork comes in a black bean sauce? I’m sold. This is definitely the lunch special to swoop in on. It is basically like having bacon for lunch. Thin strips of pork belly are joined by onion and jalepenos. I don’t recall ever having pork belly with black bean sauce before, which is a shame, because the  smokiness of the black bean is a perfect topping for this cut of pork.  The black bean sauce is rather light; it knows better than to even attempt to overshadow the pork pieces.

Homestyle eggplant, another lunch special, is a delightful mush of eggplant, carrot, bamboo shoot, peppers, mushroom, and snow peas. It was hard to ignore the corn starch induced gloppularness, but I was in to the flavors, especially the soft, sweet eggplant. And this was a good way to get my daily dose of (oil covered) veggies in.

I also figured I would try the braised pork noodles from the regular menu, which ended up being thin noodles in broth. I wasn’t expecting it to be in soup, but that turned out to be my favorite part. Thin noodles aren’t really my thing, they kind of bore my mouth. The pork bits were just a bit dry considering how much fat was on them. But the pork infused broth was quite good, it reminded me of pho, there may have been some star anise in there.

Had to see what the lamb skewer was about- it was under 2 bucks after all. The 4 chunks of lamb were a bit fatty but there was a lot of edible meat on there. The meat is seasoned with cumin, a common preparation for Szechuan lamb, but I am not a cumin person, so I wouldn’t get it again. But, I believe Chung King Garden uses cumin seeds rather than ground cumin, giving it less of that armpitty essence that I detest.

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

  • I heart pork belly lunch specials, especially with black bean sauce
  • Plus, with many non-pork (and non-meat) cheap lunch options, there is something for everyone
  • Cheap noodle options also make a satisfying lunch
  • They do a good job preparing eggplant

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

  • A few more pieces of pork could never hurt…
  • They could stand to take it easy on the cornstarch
  • I was not ready to be taken down to cumin town

Chung King Garden, 915 Arch  St (@ 9th St), 215-627-3792



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