Friday, June 9, 2017

It's Not Chinatown, Jake

Monday, June 5, 2017
I'll leave it to others to describe West End Synagogue's annual retreat this past weekend, that is, if there is a market for such reporting.  However, Viviane Topp's photograph of the campgrounds on Sunday morning is of transcendent value.

After a weekend in the country, with fresh air and trees and grass, I sought to restore the natural order of things by heading to Pinch Chinese, 177 Prince Street, for lunch.  Once inside, I realized that I had been there less than two months ago, but I stayed because there is no other Chinese restaurant close by.  While Pinch offers a $19 three dish lunch special, I chose pan fried beef dumplings ($10) and sesame noodles with chicken ($15), because you get more dumplings and the noodles were not part of the set menu.

The noodle dish was carefully ordinary, with vermicelli (mei fun), bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and scallions in a timid sauce.  The 6 small dumplings were quite good by contrast, juicy, delicately pan fried.  In all, I'd rather be in Chinatown.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Today is David & Irit's wedding anniversary.  They have been leading a rich and happy life, so I hope that they will be able to celebrate today with dim sum for lunch.
. . . 

A number of local errands kept me from getting to Chinatown today, but I headed to The Cottage, a Chinese restaurant at 360 Amsterdam Avenue as a stopgap measure.  I am not sure if I have ever been there before, although it has been around for a long time.  I may have it confused with a place called Silk Road, which seems to have disappeared from the same neighborhood and also served free cheap white wine during dinner.  Since it was lunchtime, I was in no danger of having to deal with cheap white wine.  

It has about 20 two tops in a small space paneled with dark wood and beige wallpaper.  While it was busy at midday, I am sure that it keeps a fleet of bicyclists busy at night feeding every other person in a half-mile radius.

While The Cottage offers lunch specials, I strayed onto the regular menu and ordered egg drop soup ($2.60), scallion pancake ($3.95), and seafood dumplings with Szechuan sauce ($5.95).  I ultimately enjoyed my lunch, but the tiny bowl of soup was so overpriced that I almost lost my perspective.  The scallion pancake was deep-fried, but not overly greasy.  It suffered, however, from being accompanied by a sesame sauce rather than the normal rice wine/soy sauce blend.  Normally, I will lick sesame sauce off any table top in my reach, but it simply didn't work with this scallion pancake.  Still, I came away satisfied, because of the abundant quantity and quality of the dumplings, which sat in a spicy, soupy sauce loaded with crunchy little ringlets of green onions.  I can't vouch for whether the contents of the dumplings ever spent time in a body of water of any size, but the total effect was delightful.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Still yearning for the real thing, I headed downtown with Michael Ratner, but only got so far as Tim Ho Wan, 85 Fourth Avenue, the New York outlet of a very successful Hong Kong dim sum chain (January 31, 2017).  I had good reasons for stopping short of Chinatown: 
A) I enjoyed the food at Tim Ho Wan the last time I visited. B) Burt G. and Geri M. had generously given me a gift card as a birthday present.

The wait to get in was 45 minutes, 15 minutes less than last time, still allowing Michael and I time to walk over to the Strand Bookstore to browse.  Once seated, we dug in -- baked buns with BBQ pork, deep fried eggplant with shrimp, steamed rice with minced beef and fried egg, steamed dumplings in Chiu Chow style, steamed tofu stuffed with fish cake (actually, the fish cake sat atop the tofu), steamed shrimp and chives dumpling, and deep fried vegetable spring roll.  Each of these dishes, generally three pieces to a plate, cost $4.50 to $4.95, totaling $48 with tea, tax and tip.

The food and service were excellent, but we agreed that Tim Ho Wan does not replace Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, as our premier dim sum destination.  Jing Fong offers a far greater selection of dishes; its enormous space always exudes a party atmosphere; and, with the exception of one Chinese New Year, we have always been seated immediately.

Thursday, June 8, 2017
You remember Saudi Arabia, our BFF?  Consider this headline from a World Cup qualifying match in Australia: "Saudi Arabia footballers ignore minute's silence for London attack victims"
Maybe the guys were just unhappy that there was no commemoration of the 15 (of 19) 9/11 hijackers who were Saudi citizens.

Friday, June 9, 2017
In a letter to the New York Times today, a very famous lawyer writes: "With Mr. Comey, it is the word of the president of the United States against a disgruntled, fired federal employee."  I remember handling cases with this very famous lawyer while I was still in the court system, back when he had not yet lost his hearing.


  1. Did Roy Cohn come back from the grave to write that letter?

  2. I used to eat at the Cottage in law school. I liked their broccoli with tofu.