Monday, November 15, 2010
There were Chinese restaurants in Quito, but we ate mostly Italian. So, I was prepared to jump right back into Chinatown upon returning to work. Jin Mei Dumpling, 25B Henry Street, is a bit larger than Tasty Dumpling, 54 Mulberry Street, or Fried Dumpling, Mosco Street, with three tables and 12 chairs, but otherwise quite similar. Five fried dumplings are $1 as are four steamed buns. With a Diet Coke, you’re set for the afternoon.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street, has just reopened after extensive and attractive renovations inside and out, and now calls itself New Mandarin Court Restaurant. I am comfortable counting it as the 106th Asian restaurant I’ve visited in Chinatown this year. For the sake of precision, I have eaten in 104, took out from one and walked out of one other.
New Mandarin Court offers dim sum on one or two carts at a time, but I ordered scallion pancakes ($2.95) and walnut jumbo shrimp ($5.95) from the menu. The hostess insisted that I also take a portion of stuffed eggplant ($2.95) and I’m glad I did, because they were delicious in a tangy brown sauce. The other items were also very good, but suffered from identification problems. The scallion pancake was listed on the menu as 2, but only one was served, although of a large diameter. It was thin and cracker-like, not like the slightly spongy crepe or pancake usually offered. The shrimp, gently fried in rice flour, served with bright green broccoli, candied walnuts and mayonnaise, were excellent, but nowhere near jumbo. Neither error was significant considering the quality of the food delivered.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Reach House, 88 Division Street, is a find. Behind an ordinary front, it’s a real joint inside. Small, 6 tables, rectangular and round. Chinese writing on flourescent pink paper covering the walls. For such a small space, it has a very large menu, featuring Foo Chow specialties, including duck’s tongue, pork stomach, "Lucky Intestinal," frog casserole and fried hao. Dictionary.com informs me that hao is "an aluminum coin and monetary unit of Vietnam, the tenth part of a dong." Is there a straight line there, or what?
When I walked in, the only other customers were a group of 4 women and 1 man, median age about 28, with a lot of food in front of them, which did not distract them from screeching at each other the whole time. They nattered on even as I left, having enjoyed a wonderful dish – Clams Fried Mei Yan ($6.95, no tax added), previously unknown to me. Mei Yan turns out to be spaghetti-like rice noodles, which were stir-fried with celery, watercress, egg and (shelled, or is it shucked?) clams. The large portion was cooked just right, the clams tasting like what’s underneath the breading in Howard Johnson’s fried clams. A bowl of clear, slightly salty broth came with it, unannounced.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Stanley Feingold was here for a periodic visit, so I went uptown to have lunch with him and 2 dozen others. We talked almost entirely about reviving the American economy. In spite of the bleatings of those who got us into this mess, I stand with Stanley in advocating public works programs to rebuild our infrastructure. Those are jobs the robber barons can’t outsource.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Ajisen Ramen, 14 Mott Street, is the only Japanese restaurant that I have found in Chinatown so far. Outside, it has a display case of plastic food, a typical promotional device of Japanese restaurants. The interior was authentic looking, with bamboo across the ceiling, original drawings along one wall, and ceramics mounted on the opposite wall. It was only about 1/4 full, with Japanese and others equally. The food was very good. I had beef sukiyaki ramen ($9.50 on the menu, no tax and they seemed to give me a shabbos discount of 25¢). The big bowl contained ramen noodles, thin, sliced beef, half a hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts and thin, black threads of something in an opaque broth. The menu included sushi, yakitori and other Japanese dishes. The only two reasons I can offer for the relative emptiness of the restaurant were the prices, a bit higher than similar dishes at a Chinese restaurant, and World War II.