MY TASTEFUL OPINION: If you like to take risks, and you need something that’s just a couple notches above Top Ramen, then go for it.
Have I mentioned my OCD? Have I mentioned my weak stomach? So what do I do when I walk up to Grand Bo Ky and encounter a “B” rating on the front window? Say, “oh boy” to JM and walk in, of course!
Let me shed some light on this new NYC rating system. A “B” rating means anywhere from 14-27 violations. I didn’t realize it was this bad until my good friend JH actually frighteningly talked about it just a few days before this outing. Anything lower than an “A” for him was a huge no-no. And, in the case of Grand Bo Ky, the New York health inspectors cited 22 whopping violations (so a B-), which have only improved by two since February 2010. Here are their violations (those in red are “critical”):
1) Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations.
2) Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
If you didn’t think I was dedicated to this soup journey before, do you believe me now? Sure, I’ve eaten at plenty of unsavory-looking Chinese restaurants before, even various food carts, but being told up front that you might get food poisoning makes it impossible for me to blame the restaurant later. ;o)
One thing to know about me right off the bat is that I don’t really gravitate towards seafood, especially if it isn’t accompanied by or cooked in some sauce, isn’t fried or isn’t raw oysters. Big, plain chunks of seafood in broth? Not my thing.
Grand Bo Ky's Seafood Flat Noodle Soup
So, as much as I didn’t want to order the Seafood Flat Noodle Soup ($5.25), it turned out better than I expected. In general, I looooove flat, wide chow fun noodles, and these were cooked just right. The broth was nice and light. The white and black pepper gave it a nice kick. The three measly shrimp were just sad, and their long pooplines didn’t help their look. The big, curly squid seemed fresh enough and were as chewy and tasteless as chewy and tasteless can be. The fish balls were, well, most likely fish balls from a frozen package, which I don’t mind. And the bean sprouts were M.I.A. until I was almost done the bowl. Lots more cilantro would’ve been nice, and even some green veggies (scallions don’t count).
So did I finish the bowl? I finished all except for a piece of squid. I was hungry!!
Did my stomach pay for it later? Yes, it was playing a sad little tune afterwards. And I wish it was just my sensitive tummy, but JM’s was playing its own little dramatic tune after his bowl of wonton noodle soup (which was even less tasty than mine). Could it be some bad, bad roaches made their way into our bowls?
Here’s what I think – seafood lovers may enjoy this, but, if you’re looking for bold flavors, go elsewhere. And, unless you’re really strapped for money and need something just a few notes above Top Ramen, easily wobbly stomachs like mine should find fulfillment in A-grade restaurants only.
Grand Bo Ky
216 Grand St. (btwn Mott St & Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013
Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.
$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.
Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!