Since Hao Noodle opened, people who write for The Infatuation have eaten at least seven meals there. For the most part, that's because the food is really delicious.
Hao Noodle serves Chinese food that is both very tasty and which stands apart from any other Chinese food we've been able to eat in New York. From the claypot dumplings that are basically mini omelettes swimming in the best chicken soup broth you've ever had to the salty baby clams over greens to the perfectly fried shrimp hanging out in a huge bowl of chiles, this is the kind of food that you tell all your coworkers about the next day at work. We've eaten our way through a big portion of the menu, and while we have favorites, we can honestly say almost nothing is a real miss. Writing about the dishes here makes us want to eat them all again. The space is lovely as well - lovely in the sense that it could be repurposed as an Anthropologie store in about six minutes. It's a nice, bright place to eat nice, bright food. In these respects, Hao Noodle is a complete winner.
But there's another reason we've been back here so many times - we were hoping that with some time, this place would figure out what, precisely, the f*ck is going on. On various separate occasions, we've had food that never showed up, dishes we learned the kitchen was out of thirty minutes into the meal, and once, we we were even told how sorry the kitchen was that they had just run out of a dish… which we already had on our table. The servers, who seem to have been cast from the same agency that finds the guys who stand in front of the Hollister store, often appear confused. Let us not forget the guy who recommended the Dan Dan Noodles, citing the fact that New York Magazine said they were good. Or the other, who when we asked about the tofu sorbet dessert, described it as "good and cold." (It was indeed VERY cold.) Each of these servers has been nothing but polite, but they also don't seem to have much of a sense of anything relating to the kitchen, aside from the fact that it's somewhere near the back. The resulting experience isn't insulting or snooty - if anything, it makes you want to take Hao Noodle into the private conference room and ask if everything is OK.
We're careful about calling out shoddy service - running a restaurant is hard, people have bad days, and whining about service is a great way to make everyone think you have a spiky pole up your butt. But the experiences here have been uniquely odd enough, time and time again, that we need to tell you about them before we send you here.
That said, we will still send you here, because the food is also uniquely really, really good.
Tender bits of chicken mixed up in chili oil, soy, ginger, sesame, and a couple other ingredients that generally make things taste delicious.
Sitting in a similar mix of delicious Sichuan-style sauce, the Mung Bean Jelly is a strongly recommended order. If you're unfamiliar or the word "jelly" makes you raise an eyebrow, know that Mung Bean Jelly is more of a chewy brick of dough than it is a "jelly." If this is your first time trying it, do it here.
Do you like strong seafood flavors? Are you the kind of person who thinks meals should start with "something green"? If so, you should order this. Turns out cold baby clams taste pretty good.
Not your typical dumplings. Unless your typical dumplings come wrapped in an egg crepe in an incredible chicken soup with glass noodles. If your typical dumplings come that way, let's talk. And also order these.
As our server told us, these are really popular, but we think you can skip them. They aren't at the spice level you'd expect, and we'd order the Le Shan Chicken and the Mung Bean Jelly first and foremost when it comes to getting Things In Chili Oil.
There are some more traditional not-in-a-soup dim sum dumpling options here, and these are our favorite. Quality crispy pork dumplings, nothing more and definitely nothing less.
A very tempting order, but one of the few things we'd skip next time around. Really dense, and a reminder that just because something has the word "bacon" in it, you don't HAVE to order it.
Another of the dim sum options, these are perfectly solid pork-filled steamed buns, but if you're not sure what to order, you have our blessing to skip these in favor of some other more unusual dishes.
This is a dish of perfectly fried, very fresh shrimp mixed up with peanuts and dried chiles. The shrimp are fantastic, and you should definitely get them. If you're not sure whether you are supposed to eat the big red chiles that come in this dish, know that your mouth will be burning and tingling for quite some time if you do (we're your guinea pigs for this kind of thing).