A Carroll Gardens art curator is putting on the hottest show in town — serving up steaming bowls of Hong Kong-style noodle soup from her Court Street gallery. The creatively-inclined cook said she started making the soups because none of the neighborhood’s many eateries could satisfy her cravings for the flavors of her early childhood in Hong Kong.
“It’s my comfort food and I couldn’t find it anywhere near me in Carroll Gardens,” said Amy Kar Yee, who is the co-founder of Court Tree Collective, an art space between Carroll Street and First Place.
So Kar Yee decided to create her own pop-up restaurant in the gallery to fill the bowl-shaped hole in the market.
“There’s really a gap in Carroll Gardens for good authentic Chinese food, more specifically good Hong Kong style food,” she said.
And it seems Carroll Gardeners are equally hungry for a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine. She sold out her first Kar Yee Noodle Shop in November last year, dishing up 143 bowls on her own from Court Tree Collective’s tiny kitchen. Kar Yee held another one in January, and will run her third on April 25.
Kar Yee said she spent the first six years of her life in Hong Kong, where she ate noodle soups from street market vendors. With Kar Yee Noodle Shop, she said she has tried to recreate the full experience — the aromas, the sounds, the plastic stools, and the self-serve condiments in the middle of the table. Kar Yee said the atmosphere invokes fond recollections of strangers bonding over simple but delicious fare.
“It’s happiness, casual and simple, that are my memories from Hong Kong,” she said
And then there is the food itself. Kar Yee makes three different variations of her family’s own noodle soup recipe — crispy pork, wonton and scallion, and a shiitake mushroom and tofu version. She buys Chinese herbs, spices, and vegetables from Brooklyn’s Chinatown and meat and fish from neighborhood shops, she said.
And Kar Yee isn’t the only homesick Hongkonger dining out on the nostalgia. She said she was thrilled when several customers complimented her on the authentic renditions of her hometown specialties.
“A few people came up to me after my second Kar Yee Noodle event and said that I got the crispy pork just right,” she said. “That’s a proud moment for me.”
Kar Yee Noodle Shop at Court Tree Collective [371 Court St. between Carroll Street and First Place in Carroll Gardens, (718) 422–7806, www.court