Bo Bo Poultry Market: A Chicken in Every Pot

Anita Lee of Bo Bo Poultry

Chinese take-out often gets a bad rap, but those concerns can be forgotten when dining in Chinatown, where Bo Bo Poultry Market supplies every seven out of ten chickens to restaurants and shops. Bo Bo Poultry processes its chickens “Buddhist style,” meaning that the feet and heads must remain on eviscerated chickens.

“Having the whole chicken completely intact is very important to the Chinese,” says Anita Lee, who runs Bo Bo Poultry in Brooklyn, New York. “We have customers who feel the neck of a chicken before buying it to make sure it’s ok.”

Lee’s father Richard bought his first egg-laying farm by the Catskills Mountains in 1978 and opened a live poultry market under the Williamsburg Bridge seven years later. Instead of raising the type of chickens raised by most American poultry farmers, Lee and his brother David wanted chickens that would taste more like those they ate growing up in Hong Kong. They decided to raise breeds that are more popular among the Chinese immigrant community, like the Barred Silver Cross and the Cornish Cross.

When they first opened, Bo Bo sold less than 80 chickens a day to local patrons, but the business grew quickly. In 1998, the company built a 35,000 square foot processing plant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to keep up with demand. The plant was the first in the nation that could handle Chinese-style poultry production.

The company eventually increased its offerings to include roosters, partridges, guinea hens, silky bantams, quail eggs and rabbits, based upon season and availability. Today, Bo Bo ships nearly 7,000 birds to stores and restaurants across the nation every day.

The chickens are fed only soybeans and corn and roam freely for 13 weeks – more than twice as long as typical supermarket chickens – resulting in a leaner, but much more flavorful bird.

Lee says that looking at the bird’s eyes is the best way to tell if it’s fresh. But with Bo Bo, freshness is never a problem; they kill the chickens the day before they are delivered. It’s like having a farm in your backyard.

Restaurants that serve Bo Bo chickens:

Oriental Garden
14 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10013

New Malaysia
Located inside the Chinatown Arcade
48 Bowery St.
New York, NY 10013

Kien Tuong
83 Chrystie St.
New York, NY 10002

To purchase your own Bo Bo chicken, you can visit:

Jeffrey’s Meat Market
Located in the Essex Street Market
120 Essex St.
New York, NY 10002

Tai Chong Meat Market
128 Mott St.
New York, NY 10013

Cheong Charn
135 Mott St.
New York, NY 10013

For more locations, visit Bo Bo Poultry’s website.

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