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.


  1. Fried Dumpling is a great (and hidden) convenience. I've straggled from a group of friends walking from Mulberry to Mott to sneak a fix of couldn't-be-fresher dumplings, then scurried back to rejoin my group, now barely past the Transfiguration Church, as I eat my dumplings from a bag, the juices running down my rapturous face.

    But for the best in great-things-come-in-small-packages, you have to try North Dumpling on 27a Essex Street. I think the establishment and menu are just slightly larger than Fried Dumpling, but it's like comparing a neutron to a proton: we're still at the subatomic level. And the dumplings, the noodles--oy. Everything is either just made, or else you need to wait three minutes. So fresh, and oh so good.

  2. Alan,

    My computer at work somehow allows me to read your blog but doesn’t allow me to put in comments. What I would have written, starting with oaths made under duress, was:

    The rabbis who composed the Kol Nidrei prayer for Yom Kippur clearly had your exact situation in mind. On the other hand, what the great medieval sages thought about dim sum isn’t recorded. In fact, however, there are many midrashim that describe unique items that God created after the close of the sixth day but right before the first Shabbat, e.g., the leviathan that swallowed Jonah. One of these midrashim, ascribed to the saintly Rav Izzy of Tzalkow (The “Ritz”—after whom the cracker is named) included in this list the egg rolls at Manny’s, a local diner outside of Pinsk. But I digress.


  3. Laughing that the room is "about 15 x 23 1/4 " - do you carry a measuring tape?

    And insisting that despite the Chinese theme of your blog you describe the meal in Paris. If not here, then in an e-mail!