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Oct 10, 2000 11:18 PM

Sweet & Tart Cafe

  • p

Oh, Sweet & Tart Cafe, where have you been in my life??? I've seen this place on Mott St. for the past couple of years, of course (and aren't they a branch of a place in Queens?) but have always had a policy of avoiding the nouvelle young hipster Chinese joints...

Definitely the best dim sum I've had in ages. Beats anything at Golden Unicorn, Triple Eight, Nice Restaurant, Jing Fong or Silver Palace... certainly way better than KB Barbecue in Flushing, Captain King (at its best) in Elmhurst or Jade Plaza in Sunset Park.

every dish was perfectly fresh... the best turnip cakes I've ever had, one of my fave dim sum dishes... wonderful minced pork congee, FRIED shanghai buns that were light and crisp beyond belief, an assortment of dumplings that mixed shrimp, pork and crunchy bitter greens, steamed pork buns that had the non-sweet pork filling I used to love in the old Mei Lai Wah "combination buns" (pork, hard-boiled egg and hot dog, sadly no longer available) WITH mustard greens in a small and light steamed wrapping completely differenet from anything you get in any of the bakeries or coffee shops.

I was so thrilled with my Saturday morning meal that I was ready to go back Sunday morning. Normally I insist on the atmospheric magic of dim sum on carts, but after experiencing the devastating freshness of dim sum ordered off the menu, I think I'm gonna convert.


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  1. Get ye to Queens (where they have a much, much better branch). You'll float the whole way back to Manhattan.

    I strongly disagree, though, that Manhattan Sweet and Tart (or the Queens one, too, for that matter) beats Captain King "at its best". Captain King has been doing some chef juggling, and I have had some inferior meals on bad days. Are you sure you've experienced this restaurant "at its best"? How many times have you been?

    13 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      I've been to Captain King three times, all in first few weeks after you identified Kim's presence there.

      Don't get me wrong -- it was superb. Sweet & Tart, at least yesterday, was better.


      1. re: Patrick A.

        I actually concur. Captain King does (did) an acceptable version of Taiwanese deli food that is easy to find better versions of in several West Coast cities at least. Sweet & Tart's formula is fairly unique, and you will not find better tong shui anywhere in the U.S.

        1. re: Pepper

          Actually, Captain King is just as Shanghai as Taiwanese, and their blend of the two cuisines is, in my opinion, highly distinctive. Also, there are two completely different menus/chefs/deals...the Taiwanese dim sum and the dinners. Both fantastic, and both deserving of complete inquiry...again, in my opinion.

          But I'm not sure what you mean by "deli" food...?

          1. re: Jim Leff

            On the West Coast, or maybe specifically in Southern California, cafes in the Captain King vein have taken to calling themselves ``delis,'' and the word deli usually signifies: 1. Taiwanese/northern Chinese origin, although there are Chiu Chow delis; 2. a certain emphasis on noodles and dumplings, but definitely including small simmered appetizers and stir-fried dishes; and 3. informality and low prices.

            Deli is no perjorative: the Mandarin Deli chain is the basic benchmark of quality in Los Angeles (and has the best pan-fried dumplings you can imagine), and Los Angeles chowhounds still mourn the brief, cometlike appearance of the magnificent Deli World Cafe, an unparalleled showcase of Taiwanese-Shanghainese street food whose chefs were almost instantly poached by the owners of a dozen other restaurants.

            Captain King isn't precisely in the deli mold, but it is close enough (there is also a distinct strain of meal-deal Chinese cooking running through it), and while solid, tends to be less than transformative.

            Unless it's gotten better, in which case...flog me with a wet noodle.

            1. re: Pepper

              Mandarin Deli! I hadn't realized they'd expanded... I've been to the downtown location several times over the years, and yes, I agree, their pan-fried dumplings are heaven.

              Interesting about the "deli" thing in Southern California. I'd always wondered about Mandarin Deli's name... seemed strange for a Chinese restaurant. Now I know it's a thing. Thank you.


              1. re: Pepper

                Have you ever been to Yong He (sorry, don't know the english name)? It's in San Gabriel off of New Ave. Amazing stuff. Almost as good as the stuff back in Taiwan. The "fermented tofu" is very good. Unfortunately, the Taiwanese food here (yes, even the handful in Flushing) pales in comparison.

                1. re: Dumas

                  Almost certainly--that's a neighborhood I eat my way around a lot. Could you be talking about Yong Ho Tou Chiang, also known for its Taiwanese breakfasts, in the little mini-mall at Valley and New?

                  1. re: Pepper

                    Yep. Exactly. They have a "cleaner branch, but the yiu tiao tends to be greasier. Do you live in NYC or LA? I can't find anything like that in NY. There's supposed to be something near Times Square (caught a glimpse of it in a cab) but I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble.

                    1. re: Dumas

                      As far as I know, there is nothing like it in NY, although I would be more than happy to be corrected. Where approximately was the Times Square apparition?

                      1. re: Pepper

                        I was in a cab so we were going at breakneck speed, but I thought I saw "Taiwanese Food". Could have been halucinating, but I want to say to the east side of the Olive Garden building. Between that and 50th. Even if it was true, it might not amount to much. I was suckered into a place in Chinatown that claimed to have Taiwanese food. Nope. They had fried tofu that had gone bad but alas it was no "stinky tofu". Good thing I didn't get sick.

                        1. re: Dumas

                          I was in times square the other day and the place is only a chinese fast-food joint with "taipei" in the name. Bogus...

                    2. re: Pepper

                      HI i just wanna know how do the cafe and resturaunt serve dim sum? on carts?

                      1. re: robbie

                        No, you order off a menu.