Saturday, September 17, 2011

New is Old and Old is New

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wonton Noodle Garden, 56 Mott Street replaces New Wonton Garden (January 13, 2010). There is a bit of an identity crisis associated with the new restaurant. When New Wonton Garden closed, it was seemingly reborn as H.K. Wonton Garden at 79 Mulberry Street (March 1, 2011). However, Wonton Noodle Garden’s business card says "Since 1978." In any case, the premises have been entirely renovated, inside and out. The new interior is bright, clean and understated. The place is no more than a week old and the airconditioning is in fine shape. Unfortunately, the staff’s English was limited, a properly ethnocentric point of view, I might add. So, I was unable to learn if the dragon had come by yet, and what was the rural location depicted by the 5' x 8' mural painted on one wall. Was it a Kansas wheat field or a Kunming rice paddy?

I ordered pan fried Singapore noodles ($8.50), which turned out to be Singapore mei fun, a medium-sized portion generously laden with non-noodles ingredients: shrimp, eggs, pork, bean sprouts, green peppers, red peppers, green onions, and sesame seeds. The curry flavor of the dish was very mild, however. The price should have been about a buck less. Most of the large menu featured different noodles in interesting combinations, but usually in soup, uninviting on this warm, pleasant day.

The articles by Adam Gopnik and George Packer in the now-ancient September 12, 2011 issue of the New Yorker, with the shadowy World Trade Center cover, are compelling and disheartening. They would make good reading as you board a plane to New Zealand.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Carnation Food & Bakery, 145 Canal Street, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, is one of those places to avoid generally unless caught in a thunderstorm. While the weather was lovely, I went in because I was too lazy to roam any further. It has sticky gooey baked goods, a variety of teas, smoothies and slushes, and a few hot food items. It’s not the worst of its kind.

I accepted the offer of one of the nice young ladies to cook me chicken with rice and received a small tidy portion of white meat chicken in a light brown sauce over white rice, bright green broccoli on the side ($4). Not bad. To drink, I had a mango slush ($3.50). While there were some customers, it was relatively empty compared to the bakeries on or near Mott Street, and I was able to read Sunday’s book review in peace.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When we last looked in on the destruction work at the southern tip of Columbus Park, the basketball courts and the post-release exercise area had been all torn up. The surfaces have been repaved, or is it that pavement has been resurfaced? Either way, nothing else has happened, and the area remains blocked off. I hope the Parks Department isn’t waiting for really bad weather to resume work out of a fear of success.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I went for my annual physical examination and semi-annual haircut today, so I got no further south than 32nd Street. I joined the Feingold gang for lunch at the offices of a Prominent Law Firm. I brought in a lamb/chicken combo over rice, with an extra pita bread ($6), from a cart at the corner of 54th Street and Third Avenue. As usual, this makes for a satisfying meal, needed to balance some of the ideas I heard at lunch. In case you thought otherwise, not every CCNY graduate is devoted to humanistic values. What is more remarkable, however, is how many of my classmates, give or take a decade, have experienced success without turning into soulless aggregaters of material wealth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I don’t think I can be trusted today. I went to Nice Green Bo Restaurant, 66 Bayard Street (March 29, 2010), a leading source of Shanghai cooking, and ordered Cantonese, sweet and sour prawns ($12.95). Here’s my feeble excuse. I was headed to 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street, to report again on this reincarnation of an old favorite that used to be on Chatham Square decades ago. Several people have asked about it since the New York Times wrote about its return a few months ago. When I got there, it was full and people were waiting, which necessitated compliance with Grandpa Alan’s Rule 14 § II (D) (3) (a) (iv), which, after concatenation, reads: "When going out to eat alone, in Chinatown, for lunch, on a weekday, don’t wait on line." So, I walked around the corner. But, why did I order sweet and sour prawns, a very good version, by the way, although pricey, when I left one Shanghai restaurant for another? Because 456 harkens back to an earlier era, I simply associate it with Cantonese food, which is all we ate before we started talking to the Communists.

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