a chinatown excursion
can someone reccommend a restaurant in chinatown that is:1. inexpensive2. exceptionally tasty3. msg free4. will cater to the kids, who rarely venture beyond chicken and bread, and to other family members who have various allergies and are also picky eaters???i would be deeply indebted to you for a trip to chinatown would not be complete without a trip to the dancing chicken arcade or a good, tasty meal.
not a restaurant recommendation, but if your children can handle the bones, many Cantonese restaurants have something along the lines of "crispy fried (or roasted) chicken". It often comes with a little dish of a special salt that you can dip the chicken pieces in. My kids tend to like that a lot. Noodle dishes might work, too.
Fuleen Seafood Restaurant on 11 Division Street (212) 941-6888 turned out to be a real treat when we tried it several weeks ago--after seeing it mentioned here.
Although it's called "seafood" and does specialize in fish, the menu is filled with other choices.
Unlike some of Chinatown's cavernous, crazed emporiums, Fuleen, 'tho fairly large, offers you more of a dining experience than some of the frantic places I've been to--where seeking a table and sampling a meal can be more like plunging into a rugby scrum, rather than a social occasion!
Fuleen appears to like children (lots of Chinese families seemed pretty happy.) In fact, we were the only Westerners.
I know that kids can be culinarily-impaired--but there were plenty of chicken dishes on the menu that might tempt them. And the old stand-bys of course. Kids always like THOSE!
The environment is actually almost pretty. And soothing. Pink tablecloths. Carpeting. Fuleen seems to get a more laid-back family clientele--people who want to enjoy the meal. Not eat and run.
Service was unfailingly polite and our waiter seemed pleased as punch that we were ordering one of the more exotic dishes (1000 year old eggs and preserved vegetables.) When we gave him our order, he was kind enough to try to make sure we knew what we were ordering--but did not try to discourage us. Next time, we'll try some of the other specials, too.
We were eating a very early lunch--so tried a few lunch specials. Soft, delicious scrambled eggs with shrimp (wonderfully seasoned), and a steamed chicken dish with chinese sausage and black mushrooms (excellent.) And, of course, we had the preserved egg dish with garlicky greens, which was on their special menu. An unusual clear soup with beans and veg. came with the meal. Light and delicious.
I would think that Fuleen will pay attention when you discuss allergy problems with them. They certainly took note of what WE ordered--and made sure they wrote it down correctly.
The cost of the meal was very reasonable. Our lunches were $4.95 each! And the special dish was, I think, around $10. Dinner, of course, would be more.
Best of all, Fuleen was just the kind of Chinatown excursion I always hope for--high quality ingredients, authentic Cantonese dishes on offer, along with the "tried-and-true"--and a comfortable place to sit and chat with friends and family without being treated like just another ignorant tourist clogging up the table. (I've learned to avoid the "new, hip" places, except at off-peak!)
There are several other Chinese restaurants I go to--Tindo, by the bridge,(but they are pretty small), Mandarin Court on Mott Street, Big Wong for congee and rice noodles, 69 Mott St for "roast pig," and a new place off Bayard St--that for the life of me I can't remember! But the crab in egg sauce was memorable. I tend to troll the area and take out different favorite dishes from different locations, including some of the carts.
However, for the kind of family outing you're planning, I think Fuleen might be nice. I've only been there that once, but they made a mighty good first impression.
(Gee, Chowhound is going to accuse me of advertising---but I promise I'm not. I'm just an over-enthusiastic foodie, always looking, always hoping...and always willing to "share." If anyone else has an opinion on Fuleen, I'd love to hear it just to make sure it wasn't a "one-off" illusion.)
so glad you liked Fuleen - I suspect I was the original tout. Those vegetables and eggs are dynamite. Their salt baked squid, steamed fish (even the cheapest, tench, is delicious if you can deal with bones) are also particularly good,as is most everything else on the menu weve tried except for the roast duck and wintermelon soup. Just go good and early or make a reservation - its not a big restaurants and the last two times we have tried (8 or 9ish) on a Saturday night we have not gotten in.
Upstairs at Tindo could be a good place with kids - the last time we went there were two Chinese families with small children at the big tables up there- and our group of 6 occupied the only other table.
With picky children, we have had good luck at various times in Chinatown with stir fried broccoli, those great stir-fried string beans, beef chow fun or sliced beef steak and plain rice. Sometimes you just have to settle for their not eating much and enjoy your own meal. Warning, if kids are used to eating chinese takeout lo-mein, fried rice, gen. Tso's chicken or such
they might not like the renditions of these dishes found in a "real" Chinese restaurant.
I suspect you want Chinese but if this is kid driven, Vietnamese food can also be popular with kids - they like the noodles, delicious soups-beef and chicken- the finger food (grilled meats wrapped in lettuce leaves) and some of the desserts. There are lots of recommendations on the board for these but we like New Pasteur and Pho tu Do a lot. Both are formica, very casual places, not really for a leisurely meal.