HONG KONG LOCATION IS NOW CLOSED – New York Fries still has an outlet nearby in Macao
New York Fries is as close as many Asians get to sampling poutine with real cheese curds. The curds are shipped halfway around the globe from Quebec, which means you don’t quite get that same-day squeaky freshness, but you still get some of the taste. This small fast-food empire started in the 1980s when two brothers from Ontario discovered the perfect fries in New York City. They liked the fries so much that they bought the company. The original New York outlet has since closed down. In fact there are no locations anywhere in the United States. However, New York Fries can be sampled in suburban shopping malls and movie theatres throughout Canada. Since I spend very little time in the suburbs, my first encounter with New York Fries was on top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. This scenic spot has been turned into a tourist trap with the construction of two malls, a Madame Tussauds’ museum, and a slew of unrelated kitsch. Midway between Gino’s Gelato’s and a “your-name-on-rice” stall is a 10 foot sign with the largest poutine I’ve ever seen. This is shockingly accompanied by the slogan “It’s a New York thing.”
The Poutine Pundit’s amiable assistant poses with Hong Kong poutine
There’s plenty of good Cantonese food to be had in Hong Kong, but the big sign was hard to resist. Christopher DeWolf told me that other places in Hong Kong sell poutine, but this is the only one that doesn’t serve it with grated mozzarella, so it was worth a try. Besides, I’d paid my dues to local culture the night before by eating something that looked like a shih-tzu (see photo).
Fries: I’m ashamed to admit it, but these are actually very good fries. The skin is still on but with no hint of earthy taste. The fries lack a bit of crisp but are otherwise spot on. 26/30.
Gravy: Despite the offputting colour, the gravy is also quite tasty. It’s not unlike the other Ontarian poutine gravy I had at the Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa. It’s slightly sweet with rich undertones, but a little too thick. Unfortunately, there’s not enough gravy and all of it is on top. 36/50.
Cheese: There’s not enough cheese. New York Fries uses ice cream scoops to dole out the cheese and you only get one scoop – not a heaping scoop, but a scant scoop. Since all of it is on top with the gravy, the first few bites of the poutine are good, but it’s just plain fries by the time you reach the end. Furtheremore, the cheese curds are too small, grainy at times. As expected, there’s no squeak, but what do you expect with a curd that has to travel halfway around the world before landing in your poutine. It is proper curd cheese, though, so kudos for getting it from Quebec to the top of Hong Kong peak. 9/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 71/100
Verdict: If you’re craving poutine in Asia, you could do a lot worse. As much as I hate to admit it, this Ontario chain pulls off an okay poutine but they need to be more generous on the sauce and cheese.
Value: Good, considering how far the cheese had to travel – $37HKD ($4.75)
Location: The Peak Galleria, Victoria Peak, Hong Kong, China