Hunan Manor (New York City, NY)
||339 Lexington Avenue,|
New York City, NY 10016
Reviewed by: Michael Gray
Summer Volume: 2012 Issue: 19(2) page: 28
Yes, Manhattan is now home to its first Hunanese restaurant, one owned by Nancy Xiao and Diana Liyou. This Hunan Manor is between 39th and 40th streets. One owner, Nancy is a cousin of Alan Li, the owner of Hunan House in Flushing; the other is Diana and his sister. They are all from Hengyang, the Hunan Province's second largest city. My suggestion: Yield to the Hunan dishes here and so you depart happy as king.
We know that because this Manor has some capital Hunanese dishes on its menu. If you stick to them you will do just fine. They have some of the essential Hunan smoked/preserved meats including beef, pork, and duck, also pork knuckle. There is but one lamb dish, no lotus root or smoked tofu dishes here.
The downside is plenty of American-Chinese clunkers like General Tso's with Chicken or Prawn, and Sesame Chicken, and Beef with Broccoli. Hunan Manor also has a handful of Sichuan dishes on their menu, perhaps a nod to Mapo Tofu across the street. Incidentally, the only Sichuan dish I know of that has migrated to Hunan is Mapo Doufu.
This House serves items from a special lunch menu that includes more than forty selections. All but three are seven dollars each; and every one of them includes soup or egg roll, and rice with about seventy percent of them are American-Chinese.
Here is what we had and what we think:
Pickled Cabbage Hunan Style is simple but virtuous, its fresh cabbage quickly pickled and topped with chilies. The Ox Tongue and Tripe with Spicy Peppery Sauce is first-rate, its tender pieces of tongue and tripe topped with cilantro.
Cold Bean Curd Hunan Style has sliced tofu pieces flavored with ginger and red peppers. The Wood Ears in Vinegar Sauce are very light and quite tasty with their bits of garlic and scallions.
Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork, shown on this page, is an irresistible version replete with juicy pork belly chunks, star anise, ginger, garlic, bay leaves and a few mushrooms. The Stir-fried Mustard Leaf, Hunan Style, comes with chopped greens sautéed with garlic and chili peppers.
Dried White Peppers with Preserved Beef are fully laden with dried peppers, smoked and dried beef, garlic and scallions. The Roasted Winter Melon is without the ground pork that usually accompanies it.
Sautéed Green Peppers with Eggs, a Hunan classic usually made with green bell peppers and scrambled eggs, here has half-dozen over-hard cooked eggs bathed in a piquant chili sauce; it is an earthy home-style creation. The Whole Steamed Fish with Chopped Chilies, also shown on this page, is fresh tilapia steamed with pickled and salted chilies. It has not a single defect.
This Hunan House opens Monday through Friday at 11:30 in the morning. On Saturdays and Sundays it opens at noon; and all seven days it closes at ten in the evening.