Funky Broome report (thought it better than New Green Bo)
I just came back from Funky Broome for dinner tonight and I have to say that I prefer the food there over New Green Bo. Not only is the menu a little more eclectic, but the ingredients are fresher and the flavors a little more distinct.
Tonight, we ordered the razor clams in black bean sauce, the scallops with squash melon in XO sauce, the sliced fish with winter melon and dried scallops, and the sizzling beef (recommended by the waitress). The razor clams were excellent--perfectly cooked, slightly spicy, drizzed with sesame oil, and topped with scallions and cilantro. I was able to pick out each individual flavor despite recovering from a cold.
The scallops with squash melon and XO was good too. The squash melon was coin shaped, about the same size as the scallop, and provided nice textural interplay. The XO sauce could have been more flavorful though.
But the winner tonight was the sliced fish with winter melon and dried scallops (a soup). This was one of the best dishes that I've had in Chinatown in a while. The broth was rich and slightly smokey from the dried scallops, dried shrimp, and shitake mushrooms. The fish was perfectly cooked and the melon nicely picked up the flavor of the soup. It was served in a mini wok so you could sample the melon at different degrees of cooking. Awesome.
As for the sizzling beef, it was tender, had a good smokey flavor to it, and there were about 8 large slices. Nothing stunning, but very tasty.
To be fair, I have to admit that a previous visit to Funky Broome was hit and miss. That time, we ordered the salt and pepper pork chops (excellent), the beef with ginger and scallions (nothing special), frog bamboo rice (sounded better than it tasted), and sauteed fish and squid strips (excellent). The fish and squid strips were fried and then sauteed with chinese chives and several other shredded vegetables. Excellent texture and flavor.
I was dissappointed by New Green Bo though. I asked the waitress (in Chinese) to recommend a few dishes. She suggested the fish in spicy brown sauce, the braised pork in brown sauce, and the clams in black bean sauce. The fish was prefectly cooked (which came as 2 whole fish) but surprisingly, the brown sauce had little flavor and never imparted its flavor to the fish. The braised pork was excellent but the portion was a little precious. The clams were just sauteed with onions and came in this sea of black bean sauce. It was not a pretty sight and the clams were not the freshest of clams. We also had the soup dumplings. Those were very good and you could taste the freshness of the dough. They weren't nearly as oily as the ones at Joe's either.
I know I didn't try the signature yellow fish wrapped with seaweed, but the waitress didn't recommend it for some odd reason. The menu at New Green Bo did not really jump out at me. Meanwhile, the menu at Funky Broome teases me with interesting combinations of ingredients and solid cooking. I took a take-out menu and I'm already pouring over it to plan my next visit there.
Funky Broome IS great, but the two are apples and oranges. Totally different intents.
New Green Bo doesn't aim for excitement, innovation, interesting touches, anything new. It's something New York City screams out for: an old-fashioned, straight-down-the-middle Shanghai greatest hits place. Shanghai food is, to me, an extremely friendly cuisine (I don't mean unchallenging, I mean inviting and soulful), and New Green Bo is a very friendly place with a great big friendly menu (with impressive breadth if little creativity) and not a whit of ambition to be anything other than what they are.
Funky Broome is more ambitious, more challenging, more creative, more of a unique experience. Though it ain't the Chinese Nobu or anywhere close.
I love both.
Thank you for your funky broome tips (I've noted them for next time), but the waitress at new green bo did not recco the best stuff. All Shanghai restaurants are proud of their brown sauce dishes...it's like whole fish dishes in a Cantonese, it's what the kitchen is automatically proudest of. Brown sauce stuff is pretty good at New Green Bo, but not great. The pork shoulder's been a bit dry everytime, and the whole fish in brown has never totally persuaded me.
Better to gather tips from this message board; trust the chowhounds, not the waiters. Here are a few New Green Bo ideas to get you started:
mushroom with puff
ham/winter melon soup (really elemental)
the soup dumplings you liked (best in town, IMO)
yellowfish with dried seaweed
rice cakes with shredded pork and preserved cabbage
foo yee bok choy (you've got to lobby for the foo yee, which isn't on the menu)
a dish that's off-menu: sort of a block of fried rice (literally "fried rice", not "Fried Rice")
another off-menu dish: bean curd sheets with soybeans (very shanghai)
I'd love to recco the crispy eel appetizer, but it disappointed last time (sauce too sweet, eels too chewy) and I've heard another recent bad report. But when they're good, oh god...
if you're nice to the staff, you might get an exquisite black bean-stuffed pastry (I keep calling them siao bings, but that's not really the name). I think this might be likely on weekends, but basically it's pastry roulette.
re: Jim Leff
One thing...as has been noted by someone else a few weeks ago, the yellowfish with dried seaweed does NOT do well as an entree at meals of 3 or fewer people. It's best as a banquet adjunct dish where everyone at the table gets one or two. You don't want to make a dinner out of it.
also, FYI, the woman waitress is perfectly fine, but the older guy with the glasses is the best waiter in Chinatown (and the younger male is nearly as good). They'd have steered you better, but, whatever language you speak, you have to emphasize that you want the serious Shanghai stuff. They'll recommend the brown sauce stuff, too, of course, but go beyond with them.
re: Jim Leff
I would like to point out one of the cheapest and most filling lunches in Chinatown: New Green Bo's Spicy Beef Noodles - $3.50! Whenever I'm in the area around lunchtime I get that, and sometimes an order of soup dumplings.
I always like how the waiter-with-glasses (anybody get this guy's name yet?) tells me "that's the soup with the thick noodles, you know..." The stewed beef is usually falling apart, but kept together just enough by a nice piece of fat running along the edge.
I totally agree with Jim - N.G.B. is one of the most homey, down-to-earth places you can go to these days. Funky Broome is good when I feel like, well, "funky", and I want to push the edge a bit.
re: Jim Leff
"Though it ain't the Chinese Nobu"
I wonder when that's ever going to happen, or if it even CAN happen.
You mentioned that the pork shoulder was dry. We might be talking about different pork dishes. The one I got was about 60% fat, 40% meat. It came with dried fish (not really edible but essential to the brown sauce). The pork was melt in your mouth soft and the brown sauce brought me back to my childhood--it reminded me of something my mother made. That dish was very good.
Since New Green Bo comes with such high praise, I feel obligated to go back and give it another shot...after I try out the pan fried flounder and the fried tofu stuffed with shrimp paste at Funky Broome though.