Monday, May 10, 2010
Faisal Shahzad, you are so last week. There was exactly one television truck outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse at lunch time and no one carrying a camera for a living was anywhere in the vicinity. So, Mr. Shahzad, unless you were brought up on 75th Street and West End Avenue you might as well be squatting in a cave in Tora Bora.
Noodle King Restaurant, 19 Henry Street, sits at the corner of Catherine Street. Now, Mother Ruth Gotthelf moved to 121 Henry Street, between Essex Street and Pike Street, after she was born at 13 Essex Street and that means born at 13 Essex Street, not brought home there from the maternity ward. And, you should know that 121 Henry Street wasn’t just your ordinary decrepit lower East Side tenement. No sir. As she is quick to remind you, next door, 119 Henry Street, had an elevator, which makes a big difference when 6 kids, parents and an occasional boarder lived in an apartment with the bathroom in the hall.
Noodle King is a small square room; if every seat were filled there would be a 50 uncomfortable people in the restaurant. Instead, there were 5 to 8 people eating there with me. However, there was a very active take-out business. Mirrors lined two interior walls and about 60 3" wide fluorescent papers strips were pasted to the top edge of the mirrors advertising specials in one of the many languages that I cannot comprehend.
While Noodle King advertises Hong Kong cuisine, I chose chicken egg foo yong ($5.25), which I doubt ever crossed the Pacific Ocean. It was a good choice, with a large portion of white rice and a fragrant broth included. Much of the food preparation was done in the front window by two men, but there was a kitchen in back as well. Tea was in a glass and service was attentive, which you had to expect with so few people at tables. I had enough time and space to make headway on the Sunday crossword puzzle before returning to do justice.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Hoy Wong, 81 Mott Street, is the first restaurant you reach when turning off Canal Street onto Mott Street, but it was near empty when I walked a little after 1 PM. It’s small, with 4 round tables and 6 rectangular tables. It only had one chef standing in the window amid the hanging ducks, chickens and pork. The near-omnipresent illuminated color photograph on the wall was only 3' x 4' and showed the Great Wall from an uninteresting angle.
I ordered roast duck chow fun ($7.25) and it was all right. Duck in Chinatown, though widely served, is often iffy. Peking Duck House and other top end joints serving Peking duck usually do a fine job of cooking off the fat, then trimming before serving. The regular restaurants, which are likely to serve roast duck over rice or in soup, take less pains. Maybe fatty duck is a delicacy and that’s what you are going to get. The many small pieces of duck in Hoy Wong’s chow fun were tasty and not particularly fatty.
The high spot of lunch was the next table, where 4 Chinese people, two couples seemingly, sat down and spent many minutes discussing the menu (in Chinese) before asking the waiter over for advice, just like four women from Scarsdale.
Meanwhile, it seems that Faisal (Mr. Parking Space Terrorist) Shahzad is not headed to Larry King when the FBI is through with him, because only a CNN truck remains near the federal courthouse which would be unnecessary if he was going to their studios for a respite after answering tough questions.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
J & B Seafood Restaurant, 39-41 East Broadway, also called Jing Bin Seafood Restaurant on its business card, is up one flight of stairs. It is medium large, with chandeliers of almost every size on the ceiling. The chairs are draped in a tangerine-colored brocade cloth. It was near full today; I saw only Chinese people including several handfuls of children, a rare sight in a restaurant on a school day. One of the managers suggested they were new immigrants to which I countered that it was Chairman Mao’s birthday.
Along with almost every other Chinatown restaurant with seafood in its name, it serves dim sum at lunch. It also had a table in the center where two women cooked a variety of dishes to order, including sauteed greens, omelets, clams and periwinkles (snails). After getting sticky buns and shrimp dumplings from a cart, I went over to the table to inspect the offerings. While trying to decide, a cart wheeled by with chicken feet and I directed the driver over to my table. I had committed to chicken feet several restaurants ago and now was the time. They were braised in a mild brownish tomatoish sauce which I spooned over the sticky rice I added to the table while eating the chicken feet. I finished off with beef rolls, three large, steamed rice noodles rolled around chopped meat. The bill was $10.75; no one mentioned weekday discounts, but the pricing was in line with other comparable establishments.
As I went by, one still photographer from the Boston Herald took a few pictures of the inactive front door of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse and then walked away, leaving the sidewalks completely empty of terrorists and the people who love them.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Several dear readers have expressed health concerns over my ingestion of oil and salt-ridden Chinese food virtually every week day at lunch. As LeBron James said, I don’t want to be cavalier, but where would that leave French fries?
Others want to know what I will do when I reach the heavenly goal of 72 Chinese restaurants. I’ve considered expanding into Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malaysian venues, which are found in varying numbers in Chinatown. Or, return to some of the more impressive establishments and start digging deeper into their menus.
America’s Favorite Epidemiologist fears expansion, but of my waistline, not my inventory of cuisines. I’m considering my alternatives with D-Day about 2 weeks away.
Excellent Pork Chop House, 3 Doyers Street, is a relatively small, characterless joint where today I had a bowl of fish ball noodle soup ($4.95 including tax or ignoring tax). Doyers Street itself is much more interesting. It starts at a right angle to Canal Street, just above Chatham Square. It runs about 100 feet and then makes a crooked 90 degree turn to the right (north) and ends another 80 feet away at Pell Street. Because of this bend, Doyers Street was supposedly at the center of tong warfare in the late 19th century, because of the ability to ambush the enemy coming around the corner. Now, the local post office is on Doyers Street as is Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest dim sum house in Chinatown having opened in 1920. What’s fascinating is that the short leg of Doyers Street leading to Pell Street has 7 barber/beauty shops and, on Pell Street clustered around the intersection with Doyers Street, there are at least 9 more barber/beauty shops. Should this be my next obsession? Every month or so, get a haircut in a different shop. It would probably be better for my health unless they put MSG in the hair tonic.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Our dear friends, David and Kathleen Mervin, are here from the north of England to meet their new-born granddaughter, Charlotte Gloria, resident of Brooklyn. America's Favorite Epidemiologist and I met the proud grandparents for lunch at a café in Brooklyn Heights, joined by Kathleen's sister Judy and her husband Henry, a delightful couple themselves. Lack of time, unfortunately, prevented us ending a lovely afternoon with a walk on the Promenade.