Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back to the Future

Monday, November 28, 2011

Michael Ratner, one of the good guys, joined me for lunch. He recently visited Turkey and I expect to see 800 or so photographs when we next meet, which is not as bad as it sounds because Michael is a very talented photographer.

America’s Loveliest Nephrologist left the Palazzo di Gotthelf, where she had been visiting us all week, at about three o’clock Sunday afternoon in order to return to San Francisco. As far as we know, 24 hours later, she has not yet gotten out of New York State. Her anticipated non-stop flight to San Francisco turned into a non-stop flight to Buffalo where the airplane landed because of mechanical problems. Buffalo’s inventory of parts, tools and/or experience proved inadequate to resolve the problem promptly and she and her 147 new friends were put up overnight. Her mother regrets that she simply did not spend the extra day here shopping.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Go Cafe (eschewing the accent), 67A East Broadway, is brand new. Even though it is operating without benefit of dragons, drummers or tall, potted plants, it was very busy with young Chinese customers, with one notable exception. There are about a dozen small tables surrounded by knee-high stools. You order at a counter, behind which the food is prepared. A couple of young women deliver to your spot. There was an active take-out business as well.

The menu focuses on soup and noodles, although I don’t know how to characterize “Ox Tail in Can,” “Lamb in Can” or “Duck in Can.” I had, somewhat redundantly, Fuzhou wonton soup ($2) and dumplings (6 for $2). I asked for the dumplings fried, but apparently they are out of season, so I had them steamed. They were very good, accompanied by a small schissel of sauce containing chopped peanuts. The medium-sized bowl of soup was very good as well, the clear broth hinting at fish rather than chicken. The dozen tiny wontons had near-translucent wrappers. The only problem was that, in an exercise of conscience, I could not linger to read the Sunday Times Magazine while so many customers were bustling about.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yesterday, overcoming my normal shyness and modesty, I applied to Guinness World Records for recognition of this (ad)venture, that is, eating lunch in 191 (to date) Asian restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown. It may be a dubious distinction, at best, but it is mine, unless of course someone has done better. It will take several weeks for proper recognition to be bestowed.

Two spots on Mott Street, near Canal Street, have been closed for awhile and I was hoping to find a new restaurant operating at one or the other location to add to my count. However, the doors remain shut, so I returned to Royal Seafood Restaurant, 103-105 Mott Street (May 7, 2010), and found it jammed with Chinese folk attacking dim sum. There seemed to be about 10 or more carts wheeling around with an interesting variety of dumplings, buns, noodles, chicken feet, and more. I had shrimp dumplings (4 pieces), vegetable dumplings (3 pieces), sticky chicken buns (3 pieces) and an item that crossed between a bun and a dumpling – shredded cabbage and pork stuffed into a fat hockey puck, gently baked (3 of them). Total bill was $9.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I did not recognize Mott Pho Banc Restaurant, 157 Mott Street, from the outside, but I remembered it as I looked at the menu (January 6, 2011). This is a busy Vietnamese restaurant with about 18 tables in a rectangular space. I ordered curry chicken over rice noodle ($6.50). I got a plate of vermicelli, a Friday night soup bowl with 4 pieces of chicken (2 big wings divided) in a curry sauce and an empty bowl in which to combine them. Taking steps to protect the nice tie I was wearing, I ate it all up, refilling the original empty bowl four times. I wanted to spice up the curry a bit, but by the time I decided among the four bottled sauces on the table (characteristic of Vietnamese restaurants around here), I finished the food.

I stopped smoking cigarettes in December 1979. I quit cold turkey and never smoked again, a display of self control that I have always failed to exercise around chocolate chip cookies. says that the average US price of a pack of cigarettes in 1979 was 65 cents, while the average US price of a gallon of gasoline in 1979 was 90 cents, unadjusted for inflation. Today, according to signs that I have seen in local candy stores, a pack of cigarettes costs about $12. Gasoline in Manhattan is not easy to find, but right now a gallon costs about $4. So, what happened? The price of cigarettes has gone up, for the sake of this exercise, some 18 times, while the price of gasoline has quadrupled. We know that most of the cigarette price increase results from taxation, and smoking has declined significantly in this period. Extrapolating from the chart below, the percentage of our population who smoke has declined from about 34% to about 20%.

So, what if gasoline prices had increased maybe 10 times in this period because of excise taxes instead of 4? Cleaner air? Less dependence on foreign oil? More tax revenue? Stimulus to gas-saving technology? Stimulus to alternate energy sources? More mass transit? Reduction in growth of suburbs? Decline in employment in gasoline refining and distribution businesses? Makes you stop and think?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ming’s Caffe, 28 Canal Street, is the closest restaurant of any kind to 13 Essex Street, where Mother Ruth Gotthelf was born 102 years and six days ago, and that means born right there without benefit of hospital. This is good feng shui since she has always favored Chinese food when dining out. Ming's has 10 small square aluminum tables and has an active takeout business, especially in drinks, smoothies, bubble tea and the like, which it features along with a surprisingly long food menu. I had fried pearl noodle ($7.95) which contained bean sprouts, green pepper, several meats, shrimp, and chicken with noodles I had never seen before. They range from one to two inches long, 1/4 inch or so at their thickest, sharply tapered at each end. Some quick Internet research informs me that pearl noodles are typically found in Malaysian restaurants under the name loh shee fun, but are familiarly called “rat’s tails.” They were fried only to the extent of being sauteed in a wok. I drank mango with pineapple ice ($3), a tasty brew that consisted of the three named ingredients.

Certainly, Ming’s Caffe did not sit at the corner of Canal Street and Essex Street in 1909. If it did, the Goldenbergs would never have patronized it anyway for two good reasons. First, their disposable income was disposed even before they got out the door of their tenement. Second, as traditional Jews, they would not have considered such a non-kosher cuisine. Today, five generations later, we’ve progressed to this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo Alan again....Our world with $15 per gallon gas would indeed be quite different on almost every level imaginable. Do you think you could get elected on that platform?