6, J, M, N, Q, R, W, Z at Canal St.
This subterranean standby has been serving seafood-centered Cantonese cuisine to groups of locals, Filipino families—and more recently Lower East Side partygoers—since 1968. And despite multiple revisions of the space, including one in April 2007 (after a wayward car crashed into and slightly damaged the eatery), Hop Kee feels suspended in time. The restaurant, outfitted with faux-wood paneling, red-vinyl booths, and mirrored walls, serves standard-issue Chinese dishes, such as fresh-vegetable-filled lo mein and satisfying chicken with cashew nuts, in family-style portions. The expansive menu, little altered in decades, also delivers lesser-known delicacies, such as hard-shell crabs slathered in a creamy egg-based sauce and whole, crispy pan-fried flounder, to a largely Filipino clientele—yet not a single dish derives from the Philippines. What attracts that crowd? The owner says it’s the reliable specialty fare and the BYOB policy. The late-night hours don’t hurt either.Recommended Dishes
Cantonese style crabs, $16.75; young sing mixed vegetables lo mein, $8.25