Friday, May 16, 2014

Three New Ones

Monday, May 12, 2014
I’ve spotted several new restaurants in my recent meanderings and I hope to get to two or three this week.  First is A Wah Restaurant II, 48B Bowery, at the entrance to the arcade connecting Bowery and Elizabeth Street.  It replaced Yummy Noodle, which was only half right.  A Wah II is bright with pale yellow walls only modestly decorated with large framed pictures.  It has three large round tables, all fully occupied when I arrived.  I noticed that all the occupants seemed to be in the same generation, in contrast to the three or four generations typically seen crowded around a big table in Chinatown.  In fact, all 24 or so customers seemed to belong together, but their common link eluded me.  There were also eight four-top tables where we unaffiliated folks were distributed.

Their picture menus are printed on stiff cardboard, like children’s books meant to be chewed as well as read.  I ordered fried shrimp & pork dumplings ($3.95) and salt-baked chicken over rice ($4.95).  Instead, I believe that I was served fried vegetable dumplings and soy roasted chicken over rice.  They were both very good and not radically different from what I thought I was getting.  I observed the discrepancy with the hostess, but not as a complaint.      

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Well, if there is an A Wah Restaurant II, there must be an A Wah Restaurant I.  Indeed, A-Wah Restaurant, 5 Catherine Street, is two short blocks from its progeny, which apparently lost its hyphen along the way.  This used to be QJ Restaurant and little has seemed to have changed since my visit on January 28, 2010.  The gloomy, boxy back room holds 6 four-tops and one small round table, occupied by five or six people spread out.  The open kitchen in front though, hung with chickens, ducks, sides of ribs, was busy with takeout orders. 

I ordered House fried chow fun ($8.95), which turned out to be Singapore chow fun, complete with bean sprouts, green peppers, red peppers, onions, scallions, egg, shrimp and slivers of three meats, the least appetizing part of the dish, with broad noodles with a mild curry taste.  For once, there was solid evidence of David Goldfarb’s theory of One Big Chinatown Kitchen.  The dish was effectively identical to what I had at Xing Wong BBQ Inc., 89 East Broadway, exactly one week ago, for almost $2 less.  That newer, brighter, cheaper place is obviously preferable, with the cardiovascular benefit of three extra blocks to walk.  Maybe it will become A Wah III.   

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 
The Anti-Defamation League, a vigilant defender of Jews worldwide, yesterday released a survey on anti-Semitic attitudes.  It collected responses from 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories.  More details at
.  Central to the survey were about a dozen questions about the respondent’s view of Jews, such as, “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars,” and “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”  The question that evoked the highest agreement was “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [your home country].”     

Some of the results were highly predictable, the West Bank and Gaza (together) display the most anti-Semitic attitudes.  I was a little surprised that immediately following was a group of countries that share two characteristics – almost Jew-free and Islamic – Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.  A nicer surprise came at the other end of the list, the least anti-Semitic countries – Laos, Philippines, Sweden, Netherlands and Vietnam – quite a hodge podge.  

One of the most bizarre results was Greece, with a score of 69% surveyed expressing anti-Semitic attitudes, far outstripping Germany for instance, at 27%, when Greek Jews suffered the highest death rate of any occupied country during WWII.  The current Jewish population of Greece is estimated at 4,500 to 7,000 (according to how Jews are defined), 0.042% to 0.056% of the population.  Apparently 99 and 44/100 percent pure ain’t pure enough.

Thursday, May 15, 2014
I felt that time traveled backwards today, when I went to my third new restaurant in one week, something that became very difficult as I moved beyond the first year of this (ad)venture.  Dumpling Cafe, 153D Centre Street, is a small joint in an excellent location just south of Canal Street.  Behind an all-glass front, there is a space about 8' x 12' in front of a kitchen.  There is no seating, but three ledges are attached to the walls for in-house dining.  

The menu, not yet printed, is limited, and drinks are pushed as much or more than food.  I had hibachi chicken ($7), a very good dish with a name that conveys little information about what to expect except that it’s chicken.  The cubes of white meat chicken are cooked in a mildly spicy brown sauce with onions, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, red pepper and sesame seeds.  It is served with freshly-cooked fried rice and a small dish of a tomatoey mayonnaise.  Quite enjoyable, but I wish that I could have ordered a chair.    

Friday, May 16, 2014
The anarchic Jews of West End Synagogue are taking to the woods for a weekend retreat.  For the third year, I am leading this effort at spiritual and community growth, armed with my own version of Holy Writ, several crossword puzzles.

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