Chinese cuisine has become ubiquitous in America with the proliferation of cheap take-outs and all the P.F. Chang’s of the world. In New York City, I am very partial to some of the fiery Sichuan establishments in the city, and there is no shortage of Chinese restaurants with a variety of regional roots and influences. It wasn’t until recently, however, that a popular Chinese restaurant chain decided to invade the Big Apple. Hao Noodle and Tea is the first American outpost of Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, a chain led by Sichuan native Zhu Rong with branches in major cities of China. The restaurant is not particularly bound by a specific region, but I had a pleasant dinner with my girlfriend on a recent Saturday visit.
After spending all afternoon that day hunting for an apartment (yes, I’m finally moving to downtown Manhattan after spending five years in Midtown East!), we had a huge craving for something spicy, and many of the dishes we ordered were spot on. I still can’t forget the delightful Le Shan chicken that had very clean flavor with spicy kick just enough to make you sweat a little bit. Spicy mung bean jelly with peanuts and Sichuan style chili sauce also had addictive quality to it, and the crispy shrimp sauté with ginger paste and chilies was also nicely cooked. Only the dan dan noodles with scallions and chili oil felt a little bit off; there was nothing wrong with the flavor but the texture of the noodles could’ve been a little bit more on the firmer side.
Among the non-spicy options, I enjoyed eating the sweetly smoked sole that had very nice balance of flavor and the fish itself was cooked gently. Emerald shrimp dumplings with pork and diced bamboo shoots inside were also nice bites to start your meal. It wasn’t until the end, however, that I saw the best dish of the night. Taro soup slush that we had for dessert was absolutely wonderful, with its healthy ingredients and moderately sweet flavor that became more and more addictive with each scoop. I would come back to Hao Noodle and Tea just for this dish alone!
The restaurant accepts reservations; we walked in around 6 p.m. and were able to grab seats at the communal table. There is nothing in the dining space that suggests an authentic Chinese establishment; it looks more like a fancy Asian fusion place with modern and trendy looks. I was hugely disappointed that the restaurant didn’t procure its liquor license yet and therefore serves only teas (realistically, how can a restaurant in NYC survive without a liquor license??), although I had no compliant on the aromatic scent of jasmine tea that I ordered. Hao Noodle and Tea is a nice option to consider if you want to get your fix on Chinese cuisine; the wide range of flavor means there is something for everybody depending on their tolerance for Sichuan spice. I would certainly want to come back to try other dishes from the rather massive menu.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 401 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 633-8900