Friday, April 23, 2010

Sixteenth Week

Monday, April 19, 2010
Something’s cooking at the courthouse and I don’t mean chop suey. Most of the portico is blocked off by plywood installed over the weekend. Behind the plywood barriers, I could see dozens of klieg lights with colored filters sitting on the ground as if a sound and light show were planned. Maybe Rudy Giuliani plans to announce his next divorce from the courthouse steps with appropriate dramatic effects.
Ken’s Asian Taste, 40 Bowery did not immediately attract me, the name, the location just off the heavily-trafficked intersection with Canal Street. But, I’m a man on a mission, so I entered this medium-sized restaurant and found some excellent dim sum. One side of the restaurant had round tables, where I was seated at one with a young Chinese couple, and the other rectangles for up to four people. There were only two or three women pushing carts (why is it always women?), so I considered ordering off the lunch special menu which had some interesting choices. However, the attractive array of dim sum dishes that the young (skinny) couple had enticed me. Also, when the young woman (closer to a girl) told the waiter to bring me a fork, I had to step up and show my facility with chopsticks handling all sorts of sizes and shapes of food from the carts.
I picked shrimp shu mei (4 pieces), steamed vegetable dumpling (3 pieces) and a flaky baked roast pork roll, close in size to an egg roll (3 pieces). I noticed two styles of chicken feet, but deferred. All the items were very good and, in the end, inexpensive, $7.15 tax included.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
A memo informed us that the courthouse is being decorated for the Vanity Fair/Tribeca Film Festival opening gala to be held tonight, not to set the stage for another Giuliani divorce announcement. We are not invited, which does not surprise us. Almost no one who works in this building is skinny enough to fit in with the VF/TFF crowd.
There was other excitement as I walked to Fuleen Seafood Restaurant, 11 Division Street. At 16 Bowery, Golden Manna, a new bakery, was opening and, apparently, giving out free food, not just fortune cookies and cupcakes. People were emerging with spareribs, chicken and stuff, which accounted for the long line of folks outside waiting to get in. Besides the people, a row of tall plants festooned with red ribbons stood in front of the restaurant. Since the line of people wasn’t moving much faster than the line of plants, I decided to skip the free lunch.
Fuleen is medium-sized, underdecorated except for the back wall almost entirely covered by a golden phoenix, a golden dragon and large golden Chinese letters on a dark red backdrop. The kitchen is downstairs with the dumbwaiter in constant motion bringing food packed for takeout to the main floor. I wondered if they weren’t catering to Golden Manna across the street. True to its name, the restaurant features the usual shrimp, scallops, crabs and fish of the sea along with frogs, turtles, snails, clams. Many pages of the menu had color photographs of the dishes which was helpful to me, although I was the only non-Chinese customer. I ordered shrimp and chicken with honey walnuts, stir-fried with celery, mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers and ginger ($11.95). A small bowl of murky but tasty soup was included; rice was $1 more. When the manager placed a fork at my place I proceeded to eat all the good food with chopsticks.
Fuleen is mentioned favorably in the Michelin Red guide to New York restaurants, but a housecleaning (or disinfecting) is needed to maintain its good standing. There was a distinct odor of mildew or dirty laundry or both where I sat, and I was not placed in a special section for round-eyes only. I was at a table with two very Chinese men.
On the way back, I saw about two dozen cameramen and reporters perched in front of the federal courthouse next door. They were waiting for the emergence of a big movie star who was attending his son’s sentencing on a serious drug rap. I was sorry that this talented actor and his family were enduring such difficulties, but I was at least equally sorry that two dozen graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism or the Connecticut School of Broadcasting were waiting on the sidewalk to produce 15 to 20 seconds of footage. O tempora, o mores.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
All traces of the decorations, lights, stage and other paraphernalia associated with last night’s gala were gone from the courthouse this morning when I arrived. That was pretty fast.
Grand Harmony Restaurant, 98 Mott Street is a big place, almost one half block square. On the back wall, a golden phoenix faced a golden dragon making me wonder if they had relocated from Fuleen overnight. They hung on a red backdrop with the Chinese word/sign/symbol for harmony between them. The restaurant was near full of Chinese folk and very noisy. While it was serving dim sum, I ordered from the lunch menu which listed only noodles, rice and soup. However, a full menu was available upon request. I avoided dim sum primarily to avoid over-stuffing myself (stuffing goes without saying), because I’m going to a work-related dinner tonight and want to get my money’s worth.
I ordered Ha Mon mei fun to determine how it differs from Singapore mei fun and because it uses every vowel in a very efficient fashion. It turned out to be identical to Singapore mei fun, very thin noodles, egg, pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, except lacking the curry taste. But, without the curry taste, the noodles had no taste until I splashed on some soy sauce. It was a very large portion for $9.95 (they didn’t add tax). Ordering dim sum might not have produced a better result if only because two carts seemed to be circling the very large room at any time serving a large crowd and I might still be waiting for my sticky rice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010
It’s take your child(ren) to work day at the courthouse, but I only realized it once I arrived. That simply did not afford me enough time to turn around and go to Astoria, round up Boaz, get him up to speed on promissory estoppel and arrive at work at a decent hour. So, I did without.
South China Garden Chinese Restaurant, 22 Elizabeth Street, occupies a long rectangular space with a mirror the length of one long wall and big, illuminated color photographs of the Li River facing it. The Li River lends itself to great photography; I’ll have to append a picture or two I took there 2 years ago. SCGCR was noisy and near full with Chinese customers, many at large round tables. I ordered from the lunch menu, $6.95 for all dishes with soup (a medium bowl of that same murky green soup I had yesterday, but thick with green leafy vegetables), white rice and tea, of course. My main course was Satay Beef which I imagined as or close to beef strips on a stick with a peanutty sauce, origins in Indonesia/Malaysia according to Instead,it was beef strips stir-fried in black-bean-less black bean sauce with green and red peppers, onions and pineapple chunks. I did not resort to, because this was a very tasty dish served in a large portion. The pineapple chunks, while from a can, had really been cooked into the dish blending with the other flavors. C U L8R SCGCR.

Friday, April 23, 2010
Wing Wong Restaurant, 111 Lafayette Street, may be related to Big Wing Wong on Mott Street, but not Big Wong on Mott Street. I'll explore this further. Wing Wong is small and cramped attracting regulars and tourists because it is 3 doors south of Canal Street. It doesn't look like much from the outside, where it has 32 life-size color photos of dishes pasted on the storefront and windows, and on the inside where you mostly see people sitting at 9 tables of varying sizes. It also seemed to be doing a big take-out business. I ordered beef with pan fried noodles (I knew we were having chicken for dinner). It was a large serving ($8.25) with very fine noodles lightly fried to a crisp, covered with slices of beef, carrots, green leafy vegetables. The sauce, not as tangy or salty as black bean sauce, softened the noodles as I stirred the plate around for a very nice effect.
I left work after lunch to attend a memorial service at Columbia University School of Public Health for Alan (The other Alan) Berkman, MD, who was vice chair of the department of epidemiology when he died last year. Alan had long struggles with different cancers for the last 25 years of his remarkable life. Over a third of that time, he was a high security prisoner in federal and state jails. I knew him since 1964. Read this if the FBI doesn't monitor your in-box: Read this if it does:

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