More Than Just Noodles At Hung-Ry

Hung-Ry RestaurantSuzanne Rozdeba Hung-Ry, 55 Bond Street.

In the course of my first lunch at Hung-Ry, a neo-noodle restaurant at 55 Bond Street, I used my chopsticks to tweezer from my bowl a rather odd black wedge-shaped object, walked it over to the chef, Michael Hodgkins, who was standing behind the counter and said, “What’s this?”

“That’s the gizzard,” Mike explained. “It filters the soil which gets into the chicken’s system and gives it a. . .” He searched for the word.


“Earthy flavor.” A lot of people, Mike added, regard a gizzard with deep suspicion. I had, too. But by the time I had reached the bottom of my duck breast noodle soup, I was hunting everywhere for those cushy, earthy bits of innard.

When I say that Hung-Ry practices neo-noodle cuisine, I mean that Mike has adapted the Chinese convention of broth, noodle and meat for a different world, and a different palate. Mike’s own training is French — he says that he worked for people who worked for Alain Ducasse, which I suppose is something like jamming with someone who once jammed with Bono — and he has infused into this ancient and rather tired staple a thrilling intensity of flavor and a commitment to fresh and exotic products. The duck breast in my soup had been exquisitely grilled and layered atop a bed of thick noodles which Chen, the noodle-man, had just finished stretching and twisting and yanking and then chopping. The broth was so redolent of distilled essence of duck that I couldn’t bear to order a dessert for fear of dispersing the flavor.

Hung-Ry is a soigné kind of place. A sommelier is available on the premises even at lunch time. The tea served with my soup was so terribly refined that the teabag, which contained several grains of toasted rice, only ever so slightly discolored the water. But this is as it should be, because Hung-Ry is deeply serious about the essential task at hand, which is to say noodles, meat, vegetables and broth.

I went by the restaurant one morning, and found Mike, a rail-thin and rather saturnine character, perched at his station behind the counter with a large tray of gizzards in front of him. He then proceeded to trowel on a big white lump of duck fat. Then a yellow lump. I asked what kind of fat that was. “Uh, the Muslims wouldn’t like that,” Mike said cautiously. He then put the gizzards in the oven to poach in the duck and pork fat. Later he would sauté them, though Mike observed that whatever water remained inside had a nasty way of leaping up into his eyes. All this, just for gizzards.

Ascetically sipping water from a plastic container, Mike brought over two briskets which had marinated in Asian spices, a bucket of lobsters for broth, and then a platter of spices to be ground together — fennel, cinnamon, star anise. Mike combines Indian, Moroccan and Western spices, depending on the meat to be flavored and the spirit which moves him. He cut open a kabocha squash — a squat pumpkin with a brilliant orange flesh. “Very flavorful.” Everything is local, more or less. Mike grew up in Schenectady, in upstate New York, and says that he got his love of fresh produce from his mother, who somehow managed to scare up organic vegetables in that very inorganic neck of the woods.

Hung-Ry restaurantSuzanne Rozdeba The interior of Hung-Ry, where the chef’s favored seasonings include “Indian, Moroccan and Western spices, depending on the meat to be flavored and the spirit which moves him.”

Like so many fine chefs, Mike lets his imagination run riot on the starters. When I returned with friends, I ordered monkfish liver with loganberries and hen o’ the woods mushrooms. The liver was the color of foie gras, but this foie was not very gras — solid, clean and almost good-for-you-tasting. The little crenellated mushrooms had been sauteed until they turned crispy and almost dematerialized, like a grilled radicchio. We also got tiny raw shrimp, translucent, with a hint of acidity from a squeeze of Meyer lemon, served with thin discs of fennel, the whole thing topped with wafers of toasted kale.

As we made little noises of gustatory joy, I found that Mike had materialized at my elbow. “How was everything?” he asked. We raved, asked deep questions about shrimp preparation, raved some more. I looked up at Mike’s faintly stubbled chin and found that our taciturn and somewhat gloomy chef was actually. . .smiling. I was so moved that I had to turn away, lest he see that I was tearing up.

Hung-Ry, 55 Bond Street, 212-677-4864.