Chinatown tomorrow night (saturday)
I hate to admit it, but I have never eaten a sit down meal in Chinatown, so I need suggestions. I'm going with a couple of friends, and one of them is a very unadventurous eater, so fried pig gizzard probably won't fly. We'd love a place that isn't too expensive where we can sit down and have a good dinner and being able to read the menu would probably score higher than true authenticity. Any suggestions?
A place called Malaysia sitting in a mall at Bowery & Canal, unassuming and serving only Asian locals when I was there, is simply perfection. Chicken satay, coconut rice, pork with asparagus, each dish better than the last and the highest incarnation. We ordered probably 10 dishes, many at server's recommendation and were blown away by the consistency of quality. With beers and a dessert shared by the table (slush & jello& corn & milk & lychee nuts mixed -odd!) we paid less than $30 pp and happily left a massive tip.
Hope I'm not too late to weigh in here. As you may have read on this board, there are a LOT of opinions about C-town Chinese restaurants, and the holders of those opinions are vehement in defending them (including me).
Anyway, I'm of the persuasion that C-town in New York is a terrific asset and chock full of real chowhound finds, but you have to look. So let me tell you my thoughts.
First, my wife and I have always (well, mostly always) enjoyed Goody's (1 East Broadway). Order the steamed pork buns, which is their name for the soup dumplings that Joe's Shanghai is so renowned for. Only $2 per order (eight dumplings in the order), and they're as good as Joe's. The menu is in English and the other dishes are quite good, at least the ones we've tried. You won't have to hold up your local bank branch either.
Ping's (22 Mott, I think, or very close to that address) got a very good review from William Grimes in the Times. We've had good and bad experiences at Ping's, but the bad ones came soon after the two-star review. They may have returned to form by now. They specialize in seafood and are usually reliable.
Within a couple of doors proximity to Ping's is Sweet N Tart, a place that serves unusual Chinese food. When you are seated you will be given three separate menus, each emphasizing different types of cuisine. But the food (and beverages) at Sweet N Tart have always been quite good, at least for us. They have a tri-level setting, with two dining rooms upstairs (one above the other) and one downstairs. They range from very casual (on the bottom) to more upscale (at the top). We usually go up the one flight to the one in the middle.
New Green Bo is the current favorite among many chowhounders (myself included), and I don't think you would go wrong there. If you are lucky enough to have Liu (Leu? Lu? Lou?) as your waiter, you can ask him to explain the dishes. Great food and rock-bottom prices.
There are other places worthy of a visit as well, but the ones I mention above should suffice as a reasonable array for one visit.
Good luck. Hope you enjoy yourselves...