Friday, March 26, 2010

Halfway to Heaven

Eight is a lucky number to many Chinese. Addresses, hotel rooms, floors in buildings, dates with eights are prized. So, it is appropriate that I offer 8 half-time picks in the order experienced now (as of March 26, 2010) that I have been to 39 Chinese restaurants:

1. Wo Hop downstairs, 17 Mott Street is the quintessential Chinatown joint. Down a steep flight of stairs into a crowded space where you share a table with a stranger. Fabulous fried noodles with mustard and weak duck sauce (maybe you should bring your own) are given to nibble. The very standard Chinese food is just what you expected. And it’s cheap.

2. Peking Duck House, 28 Mott Street is the place to go for (you guessed it) Peking duck, but at lunch by myself I had beef with orange flavor, the single best main course I’ve eaten so far.

3. ABC Chinese Restaurant, 34 Pell Street had great beef chow fun. A large portion with lots of beef and that edgy, oily, smoky flavor to the wide noodles that places it second only to America’s Favorite Epidemiologist’s lukshen kugel as the Noodle Supreme.

4. Joe’s Ginger Restaurant, 25 Pell Street served a scallion pancake that left all others behind. After pan frying, it must have been deep-fried briefly to give it a little crunch. Yet, it wasn’t greasy, messy. It was really a treat.

5. Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway not only solves my dim sum dilemma, that is, how not to eat like a pig eating alone when they give you 4 things on a dish and you want to try several things and you grew up eating for the starving children of Europe, but offered a high-quality olio (very handy crossword word along with oleo and Oreo) of tastes, colors, and shapes.

6. Fried Dumpling, Mosco Street. You get more dumplings for one dollar then there are seats in this minuscule joint on a hidden street.

7. 69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street has its walls and part of its ceiling covered entirely by US dollar bills adding up to at least a thousand dollars. The food, classic Chinatown Cantonese Chinese is also very good.

8. Jing Fong Restaurant, 20 Elizabeth Street is enormous, a whole city block long able to hold several weddings or bar mitzvahs at once. 15 women roll dim sum carts around while you can get ten hot foods served from chafing dishes and/or order from the menu. I had very good dim sum, discounted Monday through Friday. Go with a lot of people even if you don’t intend to marry them.

Twelfth Week

Monday, March 22, 2010
After 5 days of beautiful weather, we reverted to cool and drizzly this morning. Columbus Park which teemed with people on Friday was empty when I passed by on my way to Jing Fong Restaurant, 20 Elizabeth Street. Only an open-sided pavilion at the north end of the park was populated with (Chinese) men squeezing their card games and real Chinese checkers onto the stone railing surrounding the pavilion. I was reminded of urban parks in Beijing and Shanghai that we saw almost 2 years ago. They were very popular, understandably given the population density. However, admission was charged, unlike Central Park or Prospect Park. So, I offer this tip to my Republican, freedom-loving friends: When the government starts charging plain folks to get into Obamaparks, we will be under the yoke of socialism. In other words, fight for freedom, fight for the public option.
Jing Fong is no ordinary Chinese beanery as you can tell immediately from the two-story escalator leading into the one-block long restaurant. It is huge, in the style of Hong Kong restaurants, with 3 enormous crystal chandeliers. The two ends and the middle of the restaurant, opposite the entrance, have large stages decorated in pink with 3-foot high entwined hearts made out of "pearls" the size of baseballs on the backdrops. It looks like the room can be broken up with sliding walls to hold up to three simchas at a time. In China, if fact, we went to one restaurant where two wedding parties were being held even while it remained open for lunch.
Jing Fong concentrates on dim sum at lunchtime; at least 15 women rolled carts through the vast interior. A menu was also on the table to order from the kitchen and, something I had not seen before, there was a 20-foot long table with 10 chafing dishes serving other items, buffet style. I thought, at first, that this was for the convenience of the waiters who operated apart from the cart brigade, but a host explained this option to me. However, by then, I, my imaginary playmate and my guilty conscience were stuffed with the 3 baked pork buns, 4 bacon-wrapped shrimp, 2 chicken mushroom blintzes and a plate of sticky rice that had come rolling up to me. This was a mere subset of the untold dozens of things on wheels.
Best of all, the host (my host) told me that Monday through Friday lunch has special prices not just for large-boned, secular Jews. The four dishes, all generous portions, cost $9.80 total including the Obamataxes that are being used to secretly fund libraries which will bar all works approved by the Texas State Board of Education.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Dunhuang Seafood Restaurant, 103-105 Mott Street.
I went in expecting, well, seafood, but found myself in another largish dim sum restaurant, at least through lunchtime. At night, Dunhuang Seafood Restaurant is a predominantly seafood restaurant. It was about 1/4 the size of Jing Fong with only 3 or 4 women rolling carts around at a time. However, they were quick and there was no lag between plates and baskets being thrust upon me. The room had 7 chandeliers, but they were only about 2 ½ feet across compared to the 2 behemoth and 1 leviathan lighting fixtures at Jing Fong. Three flat screen television sets were on the walls, all showing the same Chinese language program, Beijing Larry King, less than half his age, shirt and tie, no coat and dark red suspenders, appearing to interview one guy who might have been a relative of Tiger Woods on his mother’s side.
The tables were generally set for 4 people and were almost all taken with at least two people making for a noisy crowd, 90% Chinese. I joined a pleasant fellow who informed me, among other things, that one could request different teas rather than the house standard jasmine with lunch.
My first dish was fish balls which resembled both quenelles or gefilte fish (la même chose), followed by 5 fried shrimp rolls, 4 inches long and ½ inch diameter. For a moment, I forgot what I ate yesterday and accepted baked pork buns and sticky rice to complete my repast. Next time I’ll try the chicken feet.
Total $13 including tax.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I had lunch in midtown with the estimable Stanley Feingold and a group of CCNY alums who gather every few months. See

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Shanghai Kitchen, 67 Bayard Street is very small, not more than 10 feet wide, holding 7 tables with room for 4 people and 1 round table for 8. While I was there, 4 or 5 tables were occupied, but it felt almost empty possibly because the customers, Chinese and others in groups of two or four, were pretty quiet. The tables and chairs are blond wood (or a facsimile) and long mirrors on the walls give it a somewhat open feel. There are two signs made of bright-colored paper listing specials, but written in English as well as Chinese, a rarity. The kitchen is in the basement and the food arrives by dumbwaiter. Even a small kitchen would take about half the available space at ground level.
I ordered Shanghai chow fun, a dish I had not come across before. Shanghai, south of the Mai Song Dee San line, is considered rice country in contrast to the colder, drier northern noodle country. It turned out to be chow fun with mixed ingredients, shrimp, beef, tiny squid, vegetables. The good-sized portion had that near-burnt oil taste that I expect in my chow fun (except Singapore chow fun with its curry flavor) and was very good. Using only the red plastic chopsticks provided instead of the fork also available, I cleaned the plate. It cost $6 including tax.

Friday, March 26, 2010
Yee Li Restaurant, 1 Elizabeth Street
This is at the corner of Bayard Street, occupying a smallish medium space, you know, not a largish medium space or just a medium space. The kitchen was in the basement, allowing the most room for the 18-20 tables of all sizes. The food rode up on a dumbwaiter, the second day in a row that I saw this. It was busy with a mixed clientele, that is some of them and some of us. At the next table, I recognized several members of the court’s computer support staff, but I avoided hassling them. In fact, if Yee Li had a bar or desserts, I would have sent something over to them.
As you enter the restaurant, there is a collection of fish tanks holding lobsters, crabs and big swimming guys. I had no intention of disturbing any of them; I actually had beef in mind. However, the lunch menu focused on soup, congee, noodle and rice dishes, so I ordered Singapore chow mei fun, very fine noodles, with curry flavor, pork, egg, shrimp, onions, scallions. The portion was large and the dish tasty. A small bowl of hot and sour soup came with it, unasked. $7 covered it.
As I walked back to court, I couldn't help but feel the excitement as Chinatown prepares for Passover, which starts Monday night.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Eleventh Week

Monday, March 15, 2010
After a weekend of historic wind and rain, today is just murky, overcast, damp. A lot of "Law and Order" support vehicles are parked in the vicinity, but there is no sign of filming at the courthouse. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be discovered.
69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street, is a must for any visitor to Chinatown. First, it is a temple of classic Real Chinese Food. There’s nothing on the menu that a Brooklyn-born Chinese food eater hasn’t had many times before. Even without any fried noodles, the waiter put a dish of mustard and a dish of duck sauce in front of me just after he served me tea in a glass which was frequently refilled. Because of the weather, I wanted soup and I ordered a large bowl of Won Ton soup. The broth was rich and flavorful before I stirred in some mustard to give it a kick. And, this was really Won Ton soup with ten fat Won Tons floating in there. Regular utensils were provided on an occasion where that little soup ladle was needed. So, I had to switch between soup spoon and fork to deal with the Won Tons. Staying in the classic mode, my other dish was pork fried rice the way it’s supposed to be, that is fried. I had some regret that I didn’t order something to go with it, but the portion was enormous and I could not finish it even without adding sweet and sour chicken or shrimp egg foo yong. I paid $9.20 for an amount of food ample for two people at lunch.
However, that’s only half of it. While I have commented on the interior of restaurants, I have not used that as an incentive or disincentive to patronize them. Unlike a certain member of my family whom I esteem above all other humans, I am not lured into a restaurant because it appears "cute" from the outside. But, 69 Bayard Restaurant has an interior that you must see. All the walls, it is smallish, are covered with US dollar bills, many of them signed or even graffitied. That has to amount to hundreds of dollar bills, maybe a thousand or more. With all the vertical space taken, they are now being affixed to the ceiling. In some spots, foreign currency overlays George Washington. What a decor!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
America’s Favorite Epidemiologist made a presentation to the NYC Department of Health this morning located nearby. Then, we met for lunch at Duane Park Restaurant & Lounge, formerly Duane Park Café, but never Chinese, and then had a romantic interlude with Shelly Zorfas, our tax accountant.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
A beautiful day in the neighborhood. Temperature in the mid 60s and a clear, blue sky.
Shelly not only gave us good financial advice, but as a frequent follower of these writings, he had a restaurant recommendation, Big Wong Restaurant, 67 Mott Street. It is quite popular and not just with CPAs. The medium-sized space, divided between a front and a back room was very busy and most people were sharing tables of all sizes. The crowd was almost evenly divided as well, Chinese folk eating congee, the rice porridge that has never interested me, available in 12 varieties here, and us others. Aside from congee, there was a pretty conventional lunch menu to choose from. Dishes using the glazed ducks and ribs hanging in the window; noodle soups, lo-mein, chow fun and pork/beef/chicken/shrimp over rice. I had chicken with black bean garlic sauce over rice. It was a hearty portion, freshly cooked with onions, red and green peppers, but weak on the black bean and garlic tastes. Nevertheless, for $4.75 complete with a glass of tea, it was a good deal.

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Maybe even nicer weather than yesterday, so I strolled a bit before lunch and wound up north of Canal Street at Yong Gee, 104 Mott Street. I was attracted by its big, yellow awning touting Peking duck. The restaurant is large with cooks in the windows in large spaces on both sides of the entrance. The rest of the kitchen is either upstairs or downstairs, because the waiters were constantly fetching dishes from two dumbwaiters near the back of the restaurant. The absence of the main kitchen on the same level allowed the restaurant extra room. The customers were almost all Chinese seated at dark wood, highly polished tables in chairs that were entirely wrapped in yellow cloth, something you might expect at a mob-run catering hall.
Half a Peking duck was $15.95, not a bad deal, but I passed on it this time (although I forgot that today is my eighth anniversary of working in the court system and such a treat was deserved) and ordered crispy fried chicken with garlic sauce, a very good choice as it turned out. There was no actual garlic sauce, but the half chicken cut into one-inch pieces was covered with bits of toasted garlic, garlic, green onion, and red onion. I’d like to have seen the chicken while it was still alive, because it was almost all breast, white meat with a small polkie (drumstick or leg). Service was good, but I fault Yong Gee slightly for not giving me water and charging $.80 for a bowl of good-tasting white rice. The chicken itself was a good deal at $10.99, tea included of course, and really should be shared by two normal people.

Friday, March 19, 2010
To get to almost all locations in Chinatown from the courthouse, you have to go through, around, or by Columbus Park, a delightful spot I’ll write about another time. On this warm, clear day, the park was full of people from four generations and as many continents, but I quickly noticed a group of teenage girls wearing white-trimmed royal blue uniforms – shorts, singlets and high socks – bearing the name Stuyvesant in white. They were the girl’s lacrosse team to whom I volunteered, "In my days at Stuyvesant, we didn’t have girls or lacrosse." As Ken Klein pointed out to me the next day in shul, by remarkable coincidence, lacrosse was the answer to a particularly-obscure clue in the Friday crossword puzzle (New York Times).
Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant, 9 Pell Street, is related to Joe’s Ginger at 25 Pell Street or not. Shanghai’s business card lists several related restaurants from Flushing, Queens to Tokyo, Japan without mentioning Ginger. However, Ginger’s web site and New York Magazine indicate that Ginger is a spinoff of Shanghai. All agree that Shanghai in Flushing is the senior institution.
Shanghai on Pell Street is at least three times larger than Ginger down the block and was bustling with activity today. Almost all the tables were round with room for 8 or more people, occupied by random groups or singles seated as space became available. Although the famous soup-filled dumplings appeared on almost every table I skipped the dumplings, which I enjoyed at Ginger, but ordered a scallion pancake and cold sesame noodles. The scallion pancake at Ginger was a special treat and cold sesame noodles are a personal favorite. The results, however, were disappointing. The scallion pancake was ordinary, not in the same league as its brother/cousin/nephew up the block, and the noodles, served in a big portion, tasted slightly sour. The sesame sauce gave no hint of the nutty flavor that should be at its core. On the way back to work, I saw a girl with a hooded, red Stuyvesant cheerleading sweatshirt and I thought back to Steve Breitkopf, a cheerleader of my vintage, now a successful engineer. Mr. Gioberti, the fabled shop teacher, used to call him Dummkopf. In our days, Stuyvesant T-shirts and sweatshirts were generic, in other words, not specific to a sport or activity. A choice of color was as far as it went. Athletes received a Big S with their sport embroidered on it, but nothing more. Is that right, Gil?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tenth Week

Monday, March 8, 2010
I set out along East Broadway today to search for Little Shanghai, which, in days of yore, Jon Silverberg and I patronized frequently. (Actually, I forgot the name until Jon answered my e-mail query.) It is apparently long gone, possibly because of the foul rumor Jon spread that he had seen a rat the size of a cat traversing the dining room.
Happy Garden Palace, 54 East Broadway.
As I have admitted, most of my Chinatown lunches have been pretty ordinary. I have not explored regional specialities or mysterious delicacies, rather sticking to what Mama Ruth Gotthelf would call Real Chinese Food, the kind we all grew up with. Today, I crossed over.
Happy Garden Palace, with a big, bright sign across the front, carries out the decorating theme of more is more. The restaurant is smallish, holding 12 tables varying from small for 4 (or just right for me) to a large, roundtable easily fitting 10 or more people. One wall has an illuminated color photograph of a Chinese hillside where the yak and water buffalo play, roughly 4' x 8'. Opposite is a set of beveled mirrors. A flat screen TV straight ahead was showing Chinese language programs with subtitles in another Chinese dialect, probably Fuzhouese. There was a crystal chandelier and several red lanterns hung from the ceiling.
All the other customers were Chinese and the only English word I heard from staff or customers was "OK." Happy Garden Palace has a large menu, including Frog w. Mussel Soup, Pig Blood w. Chives, Goose Intestine w. King Mushroom and (that old standby) Dai Ching w. Fender Leek. While I momentarily considered Shrimp w. Lobster Sauce, a mainstay of Real Chinese Food, I chose Fish w. Fuzhou Style for $10.95. White rice and tea in a glass came with it, but first I waited longer for the dish than I had for any other in this (ad)venture. I kept busy with a copy of the New York Law Journal, but I considered whether pointing to # 134 while saying "fish, fish" was sufficient to indicate my preference or whether the chef simply was picking through his fish collection for the apt treat.
Fish w. Fuzhou Style doesn’t sound too exotic, too far off the path of Real Chinese Food, but once it arrived I knew I had elevated my game. First, only the appearance of a little fin indicated that the large slab on the plate before me was piscine rather than bovine, ovine, porcine, feline or even ursine. The skin was slightly crisp, as if it had been broiled briefly, and the whole dish was bathed in a dark red fluid which had a good taste as long as you banished the thought of its possible origins. Of course, the presence of many bones and the size of the portion were the reasons I ate only about one third of it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Chatham Sq Restaurant (sic), 6 Chatham Square
Its name aside, Chatham Sq is thoroughly Chinese, especially all the other customers in the crowded restaurant. It seemed rather new, nicely decorated, medium-sized with only round tables big enough for 8 or so. After I sat down at a partially-occupied table, people stood around waiting for space to open up. Although not obvious from the outside, Chatham Sq is devoted to dim sum at lunch. However, very few carts patrolled the aisles; most ordering was done from a list of 50 or so items presented instead of a menu. I did not see any carts at first and was examining the list to create a nutritionally balanced meal when eventually a cart came over to me. I chose a shrimp blintz and sticky rice. Later, when another cart came, I picked vegetable dumplings. Almost everyone else was getting items ordered from the list, filling in with food off the carts. I was relieved that only two carts showed up because, although the food was good, I wasn’t very hungry and America’s Favorite Epidemiologist was preparing dinner tonight. Since I has also forgotten to take anything to read during lunch, I did not linger to see what else might tempt me. The three dishes came to $11.70 with tax. Tea, of course, was included.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Hsin Wong Restaurant, 72 Bayard Street
It gives the appearance inside and out of having been around for a long time. Small and crowded with about a dozen tables of various sizes, often shared by random ones and twos. A plate with chopsticks is in front of each seat and a pail of silverware sits in the middle of the table along with soy sauce and hot sauce. A metal pot of tea comes with the menu. Much of the available wall space is occupied by colorful strips of paper, about 4" x 12", identifying special dishes in Chinese only.
The menu is full of soup, noodle and rice dishes, all moderately priced. I ordered spicy beef chow fun and got a large portion, modestly spiced, beef cut a little too thick, but cooked through. It was filling and worth the $7 tax included. By chance, Mark Jaffe, formerly my colleague throughout 2009, now, by coincidence, working for Judge Jaffe, walked into the restaurant right behind me. It’s one of his favorites and he ordered chicken in black bean sauce over rice, which I tasted and can recommend for under $5.

Thursday, March 11, 2010
The unfortunately-named Chanoodle Express is at 79 Mulberry Street. It deserves a better handle. There was nothing rushed or fast-foody about it. It is a relatively new place, square, with about 15 tables. Decorated in dark colors, bright lighting and a wall-length mirror along one side nevertheless made it feel open and airy. When I walked in, almost all the customers were non-Chinese, but the mix changed as I sat there. I had spare ribs, six 2" pieces bathed in a sticky sweet sauce which I ate with a soup spoon, and fried quail legs, a real treat. The six teeny tiny legs were coated in rice flour, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and deep fried. The plate also had red peppers and pieces of scallion to add more zing. Both dishes were $4.95 and that made the quail legs even better.
Before I finished, four non-Chinese women needed help settling their bill. Whether they were accountants or merely fans of Ayn Rand, they sought precision in their economic reckoning. So, the waitress gave them back a copy of the menu and a calculator in order to determine what sweet-and-sour chicken and a Coke cost with tax and tip as opposed to shrimp lo-mein and Won Ton soup and so forth.
The waitress brought tea in a glass after I asked for "Cha" which is not half a dance. That request in the Mama Loshen and my Hello in Chinese ("Nee How Ma" originally taught to me by John Langley Stanley) kept her hovering about my table admiring my vocabulary and refilling my glass after every sip of tea. As I learned in Beijing almost 2 years ago, Big Nose is a common appellation for Westerners in China and, I guess, she was impressed by the real thing.

Friday, March 12, 2010
The short stretch of Spring-like days with temperatures in the 50s this week ended today with chilly rain showers and the promise of heavier rain on the weekend. My plans to walk with Boaz, the Wonder Child, to the Moroccan falafel joint on Steinway Street tomorrow night (which is my version of babysitting), therefore, may not be realized.
Pell Street has been a classic Chinatown address for 100 years or so. It runs two blocks, roughly east-west, between Mott Street and Canal Street. Its restaurant population now is down to about a half dozen, but there are three times as many beauty parlors, barber shops and backrub/foot rub joints in that short distance. Maybe when I am finished eating, I’ll turn to relaxing and improving my appearance.
Famous Sichuan, 10 Pell Street, is better looking inside than out. The room, near square, holds 15 or so tables of varying sizes covered in pink linen with glass tops. The two walls perpendicular to the entrance are a light-colored, glossy knotty pine from waist level to ceiling hung with some pleasant photographs. The customers were mixed, homeboys and roundeyes.
The lunch menu was a great bargain. I had egg drop soup (hot and sour and Won Ton were the other choices), which came piping hot, shrimps in lobster sauce, white rice and tea, particularly flavorful and served in an ivory-colored pot with blue trim and a bamboo handle, for $5.50 including tax. The shrimps were served in a soup bowl which was needed because the abundant lobster sauce was very soupy. I kept spooning it unto my bowl of white rice evoking memories of my boyhood when all I would eat in a Chinese restaurant was the lobster sauce on the lobster Cantonese that my parents invariably ordered. This sauce was rich with egg and a touch of garlic; this was Real Chinese Food. I repeat $5.50 including tax.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ninth Week

Monday, March 1, 2010
I had one of the five best meals in my lifetime today at lunch, but I was at Taillevent (only 2 Michelin stars after losing its third in 2007) in Paris not Chinatown, so I’ll spare you the details. By the way, I’m not confusing memorable meals with great meals. Otherwise, I would have to include throwing a full plate of beef Stroganoff to the kitchen floor to punctuate a conversation with my (first) wife and getting hit in the face with mashed potatoes thrown by Dick Rothkopf.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We flew home today, Paris – Madrid – New York. The first hour over the Atlantic was violently turbulent and I swore never to dwell on food again should I survive.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I took one more day off to consider oaths made under duress.

Thursday, March 4, 2010
A crisis on my first day back to work and Chinatown. I found a winner, a place I want to go back to immediately, but I have to wait at least through the round of 72. Dim Sum Go Go (not an inspiring name) is at 5 East Broadway, right on Chatham Square. I really didn’t want to deal with the frustrations of solo dim sum today, but a few good clippings in the window, including a favorable review from the Michelin Red guide to New York City, lured me in. The rectangular room, about 15' x 23 ¼', is crowded with tables, but feels spacious because of a bright interior, white tablecloths, and a mirror running down one side. Every table has chopsticks and three small dishes of sauce to dress the dim sum, a green, a red and a brown, all tasty and mild. A metal pot of tea was quickly delivered.
Instead of a menu, you get a card with all of the 30 or more varieties of dim sum listed and a box to check off each item. In other words, no carts; no little ladies rushing at you or rushing to ignore you. You make your picks, and the best choice for me in my solitary splendor was the assorted plate of 10 dumplings (I counted 11) for $11.95. They were all steamed, but they differed in all other ways beyond contents. They were in an array of colors from yellow to green to pink to natural. The skin covering was crinkly or spiny or gathered at the top or bulbous. Many had tiny, edible, colorful flourishes on top, suggesting a cross-training sushi chef in the kitchen. O, lucky me, I ate 11 different things.
Other items carried from the kitchen, such as noodles, looked great as well, but I did not want to overindulge, so I stopped with the assorted plate.
When I paid the bill, the manager came over and I expressed my delight. He wanted to know my name, his is Paul, and encouraged me to return soon. I had to confess my (ad)venture to him. I would, normally, return within a week, but I told him that I’ll have to wait a couple of months at least to come back – he was only number 24 so far. In the meantime, you all should go there until I can get back.

Friday, March 5, 2010
Fried Dumpling on Mosco Street does not display a building number, but if you can find Mosco Street (running between Mott and Mulberry Streets near their southern end) you can find Fried Dumpling. It's tiny, but the entire commercial population of the street on both sides is a Thai grocery store, a florist and Fried Dumpling. Additionally, opposite is the door leading to the new, second floor bakery called Everything Frosted, nominally 105 1/2 Mosco Street, which I have had reason to visit.
On the right as you enter Fried Dumpling are three women forming, cooking and selling dumplings. On the left is a counter with only four stools, accounting for the large take-out volume of business. The menu on the wall is simple: soy bean juice, hot and sour soup, coffee/tea/milk, fried dumplings and fried pork buns. The dumplings, crescent-shaped, and the pork buns, spherical, are also sold frozen, 30 dumplings or 25 buns for $5. A cooler held Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, orange soda and bottled water; more choices of liquids than solids.
I had five fried dumplings, the basic order, and a Diet Coke (which, I confess, I missed in Paris) for a total of $2.25, the soda costing more than the dumplings, which were cooked even as I ordered them. Squeeze bottles of hot sauce and soy sauce cut with vinegar were on the sticky counter. Plastic utensils, napkins and straws were in a box next to the cash register.
I can't think of any other place in New York City where you can sit down (within the confines of the establishment) and have hot food and a beverage for $2.25. Ess-A-Bagel, 831 Third Avenue, which used to be an annex to my apartment on 46th Street when I lived the lonely life of a bachelor in Manhattan, charges $1.25 for a bagel with butter and $.90 for a cup of tea, for instance. But, you have to pay tax and who wants tea from a tea bag at any price. Of course, the confines of Fried Dumpling are pretty confined. Don't go with friends.