Hung Ry is a new organic noodle shop on the hottest eating corner of Bowery. Peels just opened up across the street; Il Buco and Mercat are next door; BONDST and The Smile are a few doorsteps down; Double Crown, DBGB, and Pulino’s just a couple blocks south. My good friend Lauren and I were initially drawn to it, before NYMag’s rave review, by word that some of the furniture (as it turns out, the chairs) was repurposed from the University of Pennsylvania’s library. Always nostalgic for our college days, we figured it was a must-try.
All I can say is, yes, it is a must-try. Hung Ry is pretty much a noodle shop revelation. Airy and stylish, with on-trend industrial decor, it defies cramped and crowded noodle shop expectations. Large plate-glass windows let in bright sunlight during the day and the soft flow of Bond Street’s streetlamps at night; each carefully curated element of the decor is refurbished and repurposed (read: “distressed chic”), mostly from ebay: church pew benches, library chairs, diner/cafe tables; napkins are hand-stitched and starched stiff; painted and gleaming pipes intersect in a maze across the ceiling; the open kitchen is sparkling steel, industrial, intimidating, professional. Chefs, dressed neatly, work purposefully and efficiently as a unit, eerily quiet in their work; it’s marvelous. Only in the old Bowery neighborhoods witnessing aggressive rejuvenation can you find such an intriguing space, turned, with vision, into a restaurant. Word of warning though: if you don’t like politics with your food, Hung Ry may not be your ideal spot. Leftist, organic, politically organic, and openly proclaiming everything from views on healthcare (on the website) to the benefits of reusing furniture (with the owner in person), Hung Ry is an establishment that isn’t afraid to let you know what it thinks about changing the way people eat.
…And the way people eat at Hung Ry is very very good. The star here are the hand-pulled noodles, made from organic flour in the tradition of Lanzhou cuisine in northwestern China. Chewy, silky, and with truly wonderful “mouth feel,” these noodles are the typical noodles you’d find in Chinatown; they’re just as satisfying and marvelously textured and yet turned ‘up a notch’ with expensive meats and vegetables from local purveyors. The duck breast and leg noodles, served with generous douses of Szechuan peppers, are a revelation: tender, juicy and high-quality meat, hot and spicy broth mercifully devoid of too much oil. The whole dish has a rich and salty body to it; though the servings are large, it’s virtually impossible not to lap up the whole bowl. Similarly, the beef brisket noodles are remarkable, loaded with melt-in-your-mouth beef, a perfectly-cooked egg, tripe for flavor, meaty roasted eggplant and an unusual dose of mustard oil; it is nothing short of complicated, playful, and delicious.
Hung Ry is mellow and sophisticated, friendly, and appealing to the do-gooder type (though, if you’re not political about your good, you should try the brisket noodles anyway). It has all the markings of a hot spot in the making, but not because of backing from a big name restauranteur, celebrity chef, or gold standard public relations team. Instead, it’s guaranteed to be popular simply because of it’s relaxed, hip, and delicious.
Perfect For: NYU journalism school students, noodles fans, quirky dates, locavores, lefties (in the political sense), hipsters and yupsters