Saturday, April 15, 2006


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Columbia Cottage [1034 Amsterdam Ave. (at 111th St.) 212-662-1800]
The food is solid, but nothing to write home about. The real reason to visit this place is the free wine. Yes, that's right. You can get as much free wine as you like with your meal. I recommend a trip to nearby O'Connell's pub (formerly Cannon's at 108th and Broadway) after dinner for some darts and cheap Rolling Rock pitchers.

Dumpling Man [100 St. Mark's Pl. (bet. 1st Ave. and Ave. A) 212-505-2121]
A solid option if you don't want to go down to Chinatown, Dumpling Man serves up pretty tasty and filling dumplings for reasonable prices. For the standards, they offer pork, chicken, shrimp, and vegetable either steamed (my preference) or seared on one side. I tried all but the vegetable and I would say that chicken was my favorite. The standard dumpling sauce, along with some Sriracha should be all you need, but they do offer some special sauces if you like. Overall, it's a pretty good place for a late-night snack.

Flor de Mayo [484 Amsterdam Ave. (bet. 83rd and 84th Sts.) 212-787-3388 and 2651 Broadway (bet. 100th and 101st Sts.) 212-663-5520]
A unique dining experience (at least for me), this restaurant offers both Peruvian and Chinese fare (yes I am being a little lazy putting it in the Chinese category). Anyway, the food is very good, the prices are very low, and the portions are very big. This place is a great deal. I got a huge bowl of Egg Drop Soup for $1.50, half a chicken with yellow rice and a small salad for $7.50, and a side order of yuca for $3.50. Let's just say that was a huge meal. You could easily stuff yourself with just the chicken dish.

Fried Dumpling [99 Allen St. (bet. Broome St. and Delancey St.) 212-941-9975]
So cheap it's silly. $1 gets you 5 dumplings. Or 4 pork buns. Or two huge pieces of a Sesame Pancake. And so on and so forth. The dumplings are solid, but unspectacular. But did I mention that they cost $1 for 5?! If you really like them, you can bring 30 of them home for $5 and cook them yourself.

Great N.Y. Noodletown [28 1/2 Bowery (at Bayard Street) 212-349-0923]
My new Chinatown eatery after the sad closure of Win Hop, a Berger family staple for nearly 30 years. Try the Wonton Noodle Soup ($3.50) and any dish over rice. Beef with Broccoli is only $3.50. Typical authentic Chinatown atmosphere.

Joe's Shanghai [9 Pell St. (bet. Doyers St. and Bowery) 212-233-8888]
The line outside is usually long. Once inside, you sit at a big table with strangers (ours were from Sweden) and everyone is packed together. But the soup dumplings are very good. A Shanghai specialty, these treats filled with pork, or my preferred pork and crab, should make up the bulk of your meal. They are the main reason to come here, as opposed to other Chinatown restaurants. One caveat: don't eat the whole thing in one bite Tom, or you will burn your mouth. I also recommend the Shredded Turnip Shortcakes and the Shanghai Fried Flat Noodles, which were both tasty. And of course, as this is Chinatown, prices are very low.

Liberty View [21 South End Ave. 212-786-1888]
A solid downtown Chinese option with a separate menu of Chinese specialties. Lily says it's not the best, and she knows more than I do, but I would say that you will do pretty well here unless your parents own a Chinese restaurant. Besides you don't exactly have a lot of options in Battery Park City. And as a bonus you potentially get a great view of the Statue of Liberty. My favorite dish of the night was Sliced Duck with Scallions.

Mandarin Court [61 Mott St. (bet. Bayard and Canal Sts.) 212-608-3838]
It's all about the Dim Sum at this Chinatown joint. And for about $10, you can stuff your face full of some pretty tasty versions of all the classics. Make sure to get Char Siu Bao (steamed buns with BBQ pork), Shu Mai (shrimp or pork), Cheong Fun (rice noodles with meat fillings), Har Gau (crystal shrimp dumplings), and whatever else strikes your fancy. They have old Chinese women walking around with carts here, just the way it should be. And if you don't see something you want, don't hesitate to ask for it.

Mr. K's [570 Lexington Ave. (at 51st St.) 212-583-1668]
One of the top Chinese restaurants in the city. Expensive, and popular among celebrities (they keep personal chopsticks for the famous people who visit), Mr. K's is a great example of fine Chinese dining. Make your parents take you there.

New Green Bo [66 Bayard St. (bet. Mott and Elizabeth Sts.) 212-625-2359]
Another cheap Chinatown joint, you will have a lot of options here. Because it serves Shanghai-style cuisine, New Green Bo offers the classic Shanghai Dim Sum. Steamed Crab Meat and Pork Tiny Buns (soup dumplings) are the way to go in this regard. I recommend splitting an order of these with someone else and then each of you should get one dish "Over Rice." The Chicken with Broccoli is a solid choice. Do NOT get the Stewed Beef unless you know a lot about authentic Chinese cuisine!

Oriental Noodle Shop [135 E. 45th St. (bet. Lex. and 3rd Aves.) 212-697-2353]
I wasn't sure whether or not to include this place, but then I realized that I needed to provide the working classes of midtown with more lunch options. This place doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but it does provide solid, cheap Chinese food very quickly. So don't expect anything high class, but you should get your money's worth.

Our Place [1444 Third Ave. (at 82nd St.) 212-288-4888]
Good quality Chinese cuisine at not too terrible prices. I like the Chicken Corn Soup, Li Po Chicken, and Beef with Chinese Vegetables. There is also another location on East 55th St. bet. Third and Lex.

Peking Duck House [236 E. 53rd St. (bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves.) 212-759-8260 or 28 Mott St. (bet. Chatham Sq. and Pell St.) 212-227-1810]
The Peking Duck is excellent, the rest of the food is pedestrian. I tried the special dinner where you get one duck and two entrees for four people. You are better off with two ducks. Worth a trip to either location just for the delicious duck.

Shanghai Pavilion [1378 Third Ave. (bet. 78th and 79th Sts.) 212-585-3388]
This new Upper East Side restaurant serves excellent and distinctive Chinese cuisine at affordable prices. If you want to, you can create your own dishes, but I would recommend choosing from among the specialties, including Green Tea Chicken.

Shun Lee Palace [155 E. 55th St. (bet. Lexington and 3rd Aves.) 212-371-8844, also Shun Lee West at 43 W. 65th St. (bet. Columbus Ave. and Central Park West) 212-595-8895]
These two restaurants serve excellent Chinese food in classy settings. The prices are rather high though, so these can't be places that you visit regularly. I especially like starting with the Sizzling Rice Cake soup. Another good dish is Neptune's Net, and most of the beef dishes are delicious.

Silk Road Palace [447 Amsterdam Ave. (bet. 81st and 82nd Sts.) 212-580-3465]
The food here is mediocre to bad. But the wine is boxed, jugged, and free. Unfortunately, too many people know about this place and it is often crowded with a B and T crowd. I recommend Columbia Cottage instead, but Silk Road is more convenient for most people. The Road brunch will always be a dream of mine.

Tang Pavilion [65 W. 55th St. (bet. 5th and 6th Aves.) 212-956-6888]
For my money, the best deal on Chinese food in the city. Not only is the quality of the food arguably as good as anywhere else, but the prices are not too high. There is something for everyone here, although I usually start with the Egg Drop Soup with Crab Meat, before ordering Lamb with Broccoli in Hot Sauce, Beef with Shredded Peppers, and Shredded Chicken with Snow Pea Leaf. But almost every dish I have tried has been delicious.

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