>> Good Hope Restaurant | Eat the World NYC

02 July 2019

Good Hope Restaurant


Talk long enough with people from Guyana, and the topic of conversation will likely somehow come to a point of pride they have with their ability to drink you under the table. There may be cultures we more stereotypically associate with alcohol consumption, but there may be no people more enthusiastic about this "gift." While cricket is the sport on TV, drinking is such a culture in the country that "sporting" has become slang for the act.

In the capital Georgetown, before it gets late and parties move to places like Original Palm Court, a lot of drinking takes place in Chinese restaurants. These offer the best of both worlds, plenty to drink and Indo-Caribbean style Chinese food which is fabulously popular. These habits have directly transplanted themselves with the Guyanese population in and around Ozone Park and Richmond Hill as well, as thoroughfares like Liberty Avenue are densely packed with establishments just like back home.

As far as a casual visitor is concerned, Good Hope Restaurant is always full of "sporting," and seemingly near or over capacity at all times of day and night. It was a place to seek refuge on the night of a blizzard last winter, but even then not even a stool at the bar could be found to rest weary (and wet) feet.

But stand around for a bit after ordering a beer and something will open up. Grab a dirt cheap beer from the bar and tip a couple bucks and the ladies here will immediately start taking care of you. The scene is raucous and might spin at first with the soundtrack of Bollywood and its Caribbean offshoot chutney at volumes that make everyone have to raise their voices, but give it a few minutes for your body to find its rhythm within the walls here and the music will eventually seem ideal.

By the time your first order arrives, a booth or at least a seat at someone else's will have most likely opened up and you can sit and enjoy plates like pepper chicken lo mein (above). Lo mein of course has its own section on the menu at any reputable Indo-Caribbean Chinese restaurant, and you can get it topped with all manner of jerked and barbecued meats, gizzards and livers, and seafoods. The pepper chicken is always nice because it brings the heat and creates a certain pleasure mixed with the sweetness of the noodles below.

As the first dish was just about finished, the first point of contact brought a bill since she was about to leave. The damage for the plate and a Becks beer: $10. But on this occasion there was no feeling of wanting to leave, and plenty of other tables were snacking on plates of fried wonton ($5.25, above) so another tab was started. These small nuggets come with a side of sweet dipping sauce but are better alone or with a slight drizzle of the vinegar they bring to the table in clear or mustard squeeze bottles.

There are usually no female customers here, but every once in a while a confident pair will come in and meet up with friends, immediately becoming the center of attention of everyone. The community is quite large in this part of Queens but you get the sense everyone knows each other already and certainly the patrons of this restaurant are all on a first name basis.

If you are not in the mood for the spicy chicken gizzards and liver appetizer, another safe option is the cha che kai chicken ($7.50), on not just Guyanese-Chinese menus but all throughout the region. These spicy morsels are fried to a strong crisp with the skin still on. While most of it can be popped in your mouth directly, do be aware that this is bone-in chicken and you will find them here and there.

The spicy oil and peppers shine through brilliantly in the dish, which of course is best washed down with bottles of light beer readily available. In an informal poll during many trips here, Heineken is by far and away the most popular beer of the Guyanese diaspora, followed by Coors Light and Corona. You may find a Guyanese Banks Lager at some establishments up and down the strip but not here, and as you may recall from previous posts the Trini beer Carib has been sold and is awful now, worth avoiding.

Follow the "locals" and drink what they're drinking. On a most recent visit the highlights from the Cricket World Cup were showing on the restaurant's TVs but the "sporting" going on this evening was definitely more about emptying those bottles.

Good Hope Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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