Downhill alert!

So I have officially begun my adventures into the NYC Chinatown. When it comes to choosing ethnic restaurants, there isn't any source that is truly reliable. I have long given up on Citysearch, a website that seemed to have been sold to the other side. Zagat usually isn't very helpful, and can be outdated due to its long delay between its reviewing and publication times. Michelin, useless to say, is more geared towards fine cuisine. Chowhound is a pretty up-to-date and honest (though very subjective) information pool. But with the mind-boggling number of restaurants in NYC, the chance of finding current information on one particular small place is pretty slim. In Taiwan, going out to eat with this lack of information is often called "watching out for landmines (踩地雷)." The landmines refer to those restaurants with bad food that cannot be easily detected by a casual passerby.

Anyway, the downhill alert is not for a new place. I went to Joe Shanghai (鹿鳴春) for crab soupy buns and wonton soup with my friend Ada. Both were very bad dishes. I may have been spoiled by the soupy buns at Ding-Tai-Fung (鼎泰豐), a Taiwanese restaurant chain that arguably produces one of the finest soupy buns in the world. But still, I do not rememeber Joe Shanghai's soupy buns to be this terrible -- the soup was greasy with no obvious crab flavor; the buns too large; the wrapper too tough on the teeth but too elastic to hold its shape. The look and the taste of them were really bad. The wonton soup was also disappointing. The pork filling didn't seem to have been properly prepared -- it was too dry. And the soup was much just a colored MSG solution. Now, I don't have strong feelings against MSG. I think it can be used cleverly to bring up the flavors that are already in the dishes. But to use it as the main flavoring agent is every bit against the principles of cooking.

I tried Golden Bridge (金橋, 50 Bowery) for dim sum today with Mike. There was no wait at 2pm on a Sunday. We ordered Ju-Pu tea, chrysanthemum with Pu-Erh (菊普), which was decent. The food selection wasn't great, but we didn't go out of our way to chase down carts. Overall the fillings of most dumplings were good, especially the scallop dumpling and Chao-Chou Fen-Guo, but the dumpling wrappers were too thick. The turnip cake used too much rice flour and tasted pasty. Beef short ribs was pretty good. I will keep trying different dim sum places. Now if I can just find a decent Taiwanese breakfast place in Chinatown I would be really happy. Flushing is a crushingly long 40-min subway ride away, which is just way too much time for two empty stomachs on a weekend morning.

Comments

erica said…
I was in Chinatown on Saturday for lunch at Joe's Ginger, it's the one on Mott Street, not the original on Pell. We had the soupy buns, but not with crab because after a bad experience with crab in Shanghai back in 04, I no longer touch that stuff. Ours were pretty good, but I am from DC, so everything in NYC Chinatown is pretty good compare to DC.

We went to 蛋撻王 for dessert, their egg white custard is the BEST. Also I went to 大合誠 for carry-out dim sum like steamed BBQ pork buns and chicken buns, very cheap and my mom's favorite.

Next time I come up to NYC, I am going to try the Shanghainese restaurant on 100 Mott Street, it looked pretty good when we walked by, and they have 東坡肉。
charles said…
joe's shanghai is going straight down. they only became famous because of their soupy buns. their dishes were always subpar, even in their good days, and their prices are high for chinese food. it's a shame that even their saving grace -- soupy buns -- are betraying them now. all the real nyc chinese people i know no longer go there because there are cheaper and way better alternatives. but many americans and tourists still frequent the place due to the restaurant's heavy advertising in english media.

best taiwanese food has to be in flushing because that's where all the taiwanese people live. chinatown is mostly cantonese and fukinese people nowadays. i don't know any taiwanese people living there or in brooklyn. they're all in queens.
Albertitto said…
That is too bad. I wish I had known this!! *____*

I saw the egg custard tart King store. I've also heard good things about it. I can't imagine an egg white custard...because the yolk is supposed to make it all creamy and yummy. Hmm I'll give it a try! Where is 大合誠?
Erica said…
大合誠茶摟
9 Chatham Square
New York,NY 10038
212-267-0220

We like it because it's cheap and all the dim sum are like $1.70. It's not a lot of selection for dim sum, as it's main business is selling the buns and HK rice and noodles. It's a good lunch spot.
Albertitto said…
Thanks Erica! I can't tell you how many times Mike misses the BBQ pork buns at dim sum -- either the places didn't sell them, sold out, or we just always missed the right cart. We'll definitely give that a try.
geline said…
funny that i read this entry tonight. vic and i actually went to the new shanghainese restaurant tonight. it's called new shanghai, and it's on hudson street, across from the old golden leaf. i really don't know much about shanghainese food, but i liked joe shanghai's in flushing better (quality, selection, value). not sure if you'd wanna go all the way over there, but maybe when you're feeling adventurous :)
Albertitto said…
That's really funny -- my friend Vivian also went to New Shanghai recently. I have been to it long time ago. It's been there for a long time. It's original chef had been on Ming Tsai's show once making moo shoo pork. But it changed chefs/owners a few times. I remember when I was in Boston it was actually making cantonese dim sum on weekends.

I like what I have seen in Flushing. It's just so far!!! And stupid NY subway doesn't run the express 7 train on weekends!

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