30 May 2012

The Story of Hankow Gardens

Funny thing. The commenters who responded to my recent post about the bygone Times Square chop suey palace China Bowl didn't talk that much about China Bowl. They shared memories of another chop suey palace on 34th Street called Hankow's or  Hankow Gardens.

I had never heard of this place, so my curiosity was piqued. And so here is this week's second foray into lost New York Chinese restaurant lore.

Well, it was called the New Hankow Restaurant and was at 130-132 W. 34th Street. It was there in the 1950s, and in 1968, New York Times restaurant critic Craig Clairborne weighed in, saying "It is pure speculation, but at midday this may be the busiest Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. Customers queue up to await their turns at table, and you might suppose from the crowds that the food was wildly fantastic. It isn't, but it is more than adequate and the appetizers show considerable imagination."

There was a Hankow Restaurant at 124 W. 34th Street in the 1930s. According to a report in the Times on Sept. 8, 1937, it sustained considerable fire damage. I'm guessing this led to the birth of the New Hankow Restaurant.

According to one reader, "the chinese restaurant on the south side of 34th that was on the 2nd floor was in a building that was demolished when the building that Old Navy is in was built (10 or 15 years ago). They had classic chinese/american food and I remember going there as well. The food was quite good!" Almost right: it's a Sephora now, not an Old Navy.

Couldn't find a picture of it, but I did find this old matchbook.


Anne Phelan said...

I loved China Bowl, pre-Mamet movie. Used to eat lunch there at least once a week.

Stephanie said...

The signage for New Hankow lasted for years after it closed. I remember passing by the empty storefront all the time in the 1990s.

By the way, is it just me or are the Captchas getting really difficult to read?

Kevin7984232@yahoo.com said...

My partner used to work across the street at Macy's and every couple of weeks I would take the subway down from Rock Center and meet him at the Hankow for lunch. While true, the food was not the best, it was a fun place to eat. The owner, his wife and several managers were always running around tending to their guests, helping with drink orders and chasing the the busboys around if they thought they were slacking off. The decor of the place had a 40's early 50's vibe and we missed it after it was gone. Thank's for the memory jog.