Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Indifference and pork chops (Excellent Pork Chop House 武昌好味道)

Pork chop over rice

Good things come in threes. That's a fact of life. The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, The Mighty Ducks, High School Musical (okay, maybe not that one) - all come in triplets, all awesome. The problem with trilogies is no matter how good the overall concept is, and no matter how great each might be on their own, there's the unavoidable problem that one of the three is going to look like crap... simply by association with two similar yet slightly superior offerings. Just like movies, with three big Taiwanese pork chop places in Manhattan's Chinatown, someone had to be the ugly duckling. The slightly demented slow child in the family if you will. I feel like that's what happened to Excellent Pork Chop House. Remember when Saruman gets his ass beat down in Two Towers? It's not that I didn't enjoy watching that film, but it feels kinda pointless when you find out he's not even the final boss. Excellent Pork Chop House is like that. It isn't bad, but if you've had the others you'll have a - meh, that was okay - moment.

Unabashed *M.S.G* announcement

I do find it amusing that they're super proud of their MSG usage. Maybe it's because when I was growing up, my family would always have a bag of MSG on hand for cooking, but I feel like it probably makes things taste better. Asians have been using it for years (soy sauce and kelp both have high quantities of glutamic acid) in their cooking, so there's probably something to it. Oh, and all those people telling you how MSG will give you cancer, killer headaches and probably aids too? They're apparently just crazy. It's science bro. Come at me (when you have statistically significant data).

Thinly pounded chops

Know how I said Hua Ji had epic-ass crispy crusting? Yeah well, Excellent does not. They still pound the pork harder than BrO-J Simpson on the gridiron, and they still season it with generous amounts of salt, pepper, and five spice, it's just... the final product doesn't have the same refined crunch as its neighborly counterpart. Tastewise it's also not as in your fact as Hua Ji's. Given the lack of textural distinction you'd hope for a more heavyily flavored sauce, but they chose to go plain. I understand that maybe they want the flavor of the pork to shine - and if it were the only game in town, I'd probably be singing its praises - but in its current situation it comes off as somewhat boring.

Pork sauce & veggies

Did you know... that there was still shell on the outside of my soy sauce egg? True story.

As for the pork sauce? While May Wah could lay claim to some legitimately dope pickled veggies and pork mix, Excellent can't say that either. Again, it's not like they're bad at playing this pork and rice game, they just don't do anything particularly well.

So for the lazy ones who just look at pictures, here's the tl;dr - everything here is adequate, but sometime that's just not good enough. If there's anything I've learned from Will Ferrell movies... "if you're not first, you're last" -Ricky Bobby. Excellent Pork Chop, no one remembers second place. You're not too far off from the competition, you just gotta step up your game whether it's in the sauce or in the chops. Do it. I believe in you.

Excellent Pork Chop House
3 Doyers St # 1, New York, NY 10013


Danny said...

I haven't had hua ji, but I still say EPH is delicious and I'd put it above May Wah overall. I just had EPH like four days ago, still good!

Katie said...

I remember the Food Detective episode on MSG. The people who's food didn't contain it complained of far more symptoms and ailments than those who actually had the MSG in their food.

Patrick said...

Funny. I actually think Excellent Pork Chop house is the best... haha

Im originally taiwanese too and Im surprised nyc doesnt have more authentic porkchop over rice :( i like it more fried with cornstarch or whatever breading they usually have on it. MSG doesnt make everything better, DEEP FRYING DOES!

Nicholas said...

Danny - I like May Wah because of their sauce (which I guess shouldn't be my primary criteria for pork chops?), but also because they're OG. They're cheap, and they have that bian dang feel ya know? EPH feels too "corporate" hahaha, and equivalent products tend to have very different effects when placed in different environments. For me, EPH fails to deliver up to the standard of their shop. It's def still good... but not like MW's ghetto-vibe or Hua Ji's dope-ass stuff.

Katie - people want to believe what they want to believe. Seriously, MSG makes things taste good. If someone wants to make it out to be the villain, that's fine... it's just cheaper that way lol.

Patrick - you wack son. I'm usually pretty open to opinions and shit, but EPH vs. Hua Ji isn't even close for me.

NYC has plenty of pork chops over rice... they're in the outer boroughs. I'm just too lazy to go haha.

thefattyreader said...

The 乾麵 / dry noodle dish at this place is pretty good. But you're right about the pork chop lacking that perfect crust. btw sorry I'm going a little comment crazy. I just found your blog and I really like it!

Nicholas said...

thefattyreader - I've never ordered anything aside from the pork chop/chicken leg from here. I'll try the dry noodles next time :)

and comment crazy is chill, better that people read my shit eh? Haha.

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