We were walking on 14th street when we passed by in front of Hao Noodle, an outpost of Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen that we discovered previously. We decided to go there for lunch on a Saturday, craving Chinese food and were so delighted by the food there that we came back the following week for dinner..
Both times we got sat in the main dining room that is, during the day, bright thanks to an opening in the ceiling and gives an amazing feel to the well decorated place. If it was not for the four people sitting behind me, who did not understand that they did not need to yell to be heard by the person next to them, it would have been perfect.
Hao means “great” in Chinese and I admit that it is the way I felt upon eating there, although a walk after that was necessary. Here is what we tried:
Vegetable spring rolls that were very hot as just made. They were delicious: crispy on the outside with not too much shell, and delightfully greasy.
Eight spices crispy tofu: this is one of their most popular dishes. The soft tofu is encased in a fantastic shell that is crispy, not greasy and flavorful, giving this dish an incredible taste.
Pork and shrimp soup buns. These 3 steamed dumplings were so good: the filling was fatty and tasty. I like the fact that they serve only 3 as usually it is 6 or 8 and if you are the only one eating them, it is too much (if you want other dishes I mean).
Boiled octopus in chili and sour sauce: this was extremely spicy and my mouth was on fire, but so good that I kept going at it! And the octopus was well cooked, not rubbery at all.
Next were the noodles. The first time we went, Jodi ordered the scallion oil and mushroom noodles while I got the Dan Dan noodles. The scallion oil and mushroom noodles were amazing especially the mushrooms that were sort of caramelized and gave some earthiness to the dish. And the noodles, perfectly cooked al dente were sublime, bathed in an incredible oily sauce.
If you like spicy food and are not a vegetarian, I recommend the Dan Dan noodles. This Sichuan dish is made with Sichuan pepper, minced pork and scallions. When I asked how spicy it was, the waiter said that between 1 and 10, it would be a 6...for him. Well, it was spicy and after you mix the noodles with the generous amount of sauce and pork under, you get quite a bit of heat. But it is so good that you get back to it, even if your mouth starts to be on fire as the heat is building up.
To lower the spiciness of the dish, a great drink is their homemade lychee iced tea that was very refreshing and that I preferred over the house made citrus black tea or sparkling apple juice.
When we came back, I decided to try the version with dry shrimp of Jodi’s dish: the scallion oil and dry shrimp noodle. When the dish came, a fishy smell came out of it that kind of put me off. And then the taste was not that great, fishy again, the shrimp being a bit tough and the dish lacking the earthiness the mushrooms gave.
That day however, we had the fried noodles with egg and vegetables, a vegetarian dish that was amazing: delightfully greasy and very tasty, it is a dish I would get again (well, Jodi would get and I would gladly share…).
Of course we could not not try dessert and we went for one of their signature desserts: fried egg rice cakes and the black sesame rice balls with dried orange peel in red bean soup. Both are a bit like mochi as made with rice. The fried egg rice cakes were soft and chewy, with the best part was being the sides that were slightly caramelized. The black sesame rice balls were also quite original: these very soft balls had sesame in it that gave a nice nuttiness. And the red bean soup was scrumptious and comforting, although I would have loved it to be sweeter.
This was a great meal and I cannot wait to go back to Hao Noodle. This is a great place for good Chinese food.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Hao Noodle - 343 W 14th St, New York, NY 10014