I have been very excited about a Renaissance of sort with all the exciting Chinese restaurants that have opened in New York City that create their own paths with distinct menus and culinary styles (for instance, see my review on Le Sia here https://kenscale.com/2018/08/31/le-sia/). In particular, the restaurants showcasing Chinese-style rice noodles called mifen, starting from Little Tong Noodle Shop (see my review for this restaurant here https://kenscale.com/2017/06/20/little-tong-noodle-shop/), are quickly challenging the stronghold that Japanese ramen shops currently enjoy in the city. Hunan Slurp is one of the new trailblazing newcomers in this regard, with an interesting background story of the chef who was once an artist who “seek to cure his homesickness through cooking” (directly quoted from the restaurant’s website) at this new sleek operation with futuristic décor. While Little Tong’s noodle dishes are based on the influence of Yunnan province in the southwest of China, this restaurant, as the name suggests, draws influence from the Hunan province in central China. The biggest mistake my wife Jun and I made once we sat down and browsed the menu was that we did not realize that the restaurant does not yet a liquor license and therefore can’t serve any alcohol. We both like to wash down our food with some sips of wine, cocktails or beer so that was a huge oversight, even more so once we realized how good the food at Hunan Slurp was.
Contrary to my initial thought that this was a noodle-centric shop, Hunan Slurp’s menu is surprisingly expansive, starting with hot and cold appetizers followed by mifen and seasonal specials sections. We weren’t quite sure about the portions of the dishes and ordered only three which turned out to be a wise decision because the portion was quite generous. As if reflecting the chef’s background, the plating of each dish had a certain artistic appeal to it, starting with the skewed beef with cumin in toothpicks that was a beauty to look at under the lights and was a great way to start the meal with chewy beef piece that was a perfect bite size. We also tried the Farmer’s Egg dish consisting of stir fried egg accompanied by pepper and pork. I very much liked its robust flavor with spicy kick although Jun thought the seasoning was a little too aggressive and ordered a bowl of white rice to help neutralize the seasoning.
For the mifen, we decided to go the other direction of spiciness spectrum and ordered a bowl with fish fillet and seasonal green. The broth was pure white and already smelled wonderful when the bowl came in front of us; its aromatic flavor helped balance out the bold flavor from the other two dishes and turned out to be more and more addictive as I slurped the noodle. Jun remarked that the soup reminded her of a Korean delicacy called jiri (a type of mild fish stew) known for being a perfect hangover cure and generally a very popular food for good health. Combine with fresh fish fillet (there are some small bones here and there so watch out while you eat the fillet), and this bowl turned out to be quite a stand-out noodle dish that would’ve been even more wonderful on a rainy evening.
The restaurant does take reservations, but if you don’t want all the hassles, you can probably walk in on the earlier side of evening (which is what we did on a recent Friday). As noted above, I lament that the restaurant does not have liquor license yet and hope they do soon and find out some interesting alcoholic beverages to match their dynamic food offerings. The dining space and vibe of the restaurant would work for a number of different occasions such as casual dates, get-together with parties of around 5 or 6 (I actually think large groups may work pretty nicely because the menu is large enough to allow for sharing of several dishes), etc. If you want to see an evolution of contemporary Chinese cuisine in a modern setting that also gets the cooking right (unlike all the Taos of the world), I highly recommend that you check out Hunan Slurp.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 112 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
Telephone: (646) 585-9585