Monday, February 7, 2011

Our super bowl of noodle soup

The bond Street in the Lower ManhattanImage via Wikipedia
Steaming bowls of Chinese noodle soup are served on Bond Street in Manhattan.

At Hung Ry in Manhattan, you might think the man in kitchen whites is jumping rope as he holds his arms out wide and swings a thick, springy band of noodle dough. But his feet never leave the ground.

The specialty here is made-to-order, Chinese-style soups filled with meat, seafood or vegetables and hand-stretched organic noodles prepared in the open kitchen. You can smell the flavorful broth as a bowl is delivered to another customer nearby.

On Sunday night, I chose a special -- lobster, hake, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and long, thick noodles in a lobster broth, with veal stock "for color," our waiter said. My wife had a soup filled with ox tail, brisket, sun choke and thinner noodles. Soups range from $14 to $20.

When my soup was set down in front of me, I leaned over and took a deep breath of the steam rising from it. The dark broth was delicious. My wife doesn't use chopsticks, so she asked for a fork, and I noticed she had easier time of eating her noodles by twirling them on her fork then I did with chopsticks.

Besides being long, the noodles are firm but chewy. Two of the small bottles on the table hold spicy sauces you can squeeze into a small dish. I dipped the tender lobster claw meat and noodles in mine. I drank gunpowder green tea and my wife enjoyed a zingy, lichee-flavored organic soda ($4.50 each.)

The interior of Hung Ry has an unfinished feel, with reclaimed wood and exposed ducts, water pipes and fire sprinklers. In the rear, there's a bar, counter seating and the open kitchen. Outside a unisex bathroom is a sink with soap and thick, terry washcloths to dry your hands. 

The name of the restaurant sounds as if it's Chinese, but I'm wondering if it isn't just a play on the word "hungry."

After our filling meal, we wanted to stop at X'ian Famous Foods in Chinatown to take out more of these hand-pulled noodles, this time in a stir-fry with dried chilies. But I couldn't find a parking space, not unusual for a Sunday. 

So, we drove to a branch of X'ian Famous Foods on St. Marks Place, in the East Village, and found parking even worse than in Chinatown. 

Bike lanes on the avenues have eliminated hundreds of parking spaces, and I saw numerous traffic cones on side streets, placed in empty parking spaces to reserve them, presumably for residents. 

Sundays are great for going into the city, because you can park just about anywhere and don't have to feed the meters. But Super Bowl Sunday is no longer the free ride it used to be for visiting Manhattan. 

We did get a table at Hung Ry without a reservation, even though it was featured in The New York Times last week. But now, the city with eight million stories also seems to have a million pot holes and a severe shortage of street parking.

Hung Ry, 55 Bond St., between Broadway and Lafayette Street,
Manhattan; 212-677-4864. Web site:
Chewy, hand-pulled Chinese noodles

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