Bo-Bo was a tiny restaurant located on Pell Street in New York’s Chinatown. No reservations. Often there was a 45 minute wait. Well worth it.
HG has forgotten the details of some of Bo-Bo’s best dishes, but one stands out. HG and BSK always ordered (and savored!) a big lobster roll. No, it was not the popular, New England lobster-and-mayonnaise on a hot dog roll. This was a giant sized egg roll stuffed with big chunks of lobster. To die for, as the cliche has it.
Bo-Bo was the first of Esther Eng’s five Manhattan restaurants and it set a new standard for Chinese food in New York. Curiously, Esther Eng was not just an enterprising restaurateur, but a groundbreaking figure in Chinese cinema. From 1936 to 1949 she produced, distributed and directed nine features and gave Bruce Lee his first screen debut. One result of her incarnation as a cinematic auteur was that Bo-Bo was often adorned with gorgeous Chinese actresses. When she passed away in 1970, the New York Times’ obituary simply read: “Theatrical director, producer, restaurateur, a great lady.”