BROOKLYN: The Avenue U Mini Chinatown
- mark grossman
can anyone give me specific names and addresses of worthwhile chinese eateries in that nabe.
My family has been going to Ocean Palace for years, and I do love their crispy fried chicken (jah gee gai). We used to go to Yin Luck Seafood, but it's either not there anymore, or severely declined in quality.
That being said, there is a new restaurant across the street from Ocean Palace with a white awning and the word "Seafood" in its title. I have had takeout from there several times, and have eaten there, and it was all delicious. And not expensive. I love the spinach with fermented bean curd there.
My family tends to be creatures of habit, so after 25 years of visiting there, that's all I can offer. But I do like both places a lot. Ocean Palace I think is more expensive.
The best bang for your $ can be found on Ave U (betw. Ocean Ave and E. 19th Street). For dim sum items, there's a "bakery" called Century Cafe. Their dim sum is really good, and can be found towards the back of the cafe. Unfortunately, it's more of a take out spot. They have a few tables, but no table service. Their dim sum is very authentic and very fresh (I'm Chinese, so I know the real deal when I see it...plus, my parents live only 10 minutes away from the Ave U strip, so I usually hit the joints when i go to visit). They have a sticky rice dish wrapped and steamed in lotus leaves that's my favorite. Directly across the street is a great and inexpensive seafood restaurant (I can't think of the name off the top of my head, but it's the only one on the block). The jewels are their specials, which won't be listed on the "american" menus. Instead, they're posted in Chinese on the walls, and/or separately on the "chinese" menu...(yes, racial profiling is alive and thriving in the chinese restaurants!). Unfortunately, it's usually only the Chinese who are aware of these items. Just ask the waiters to describe them to you. Amongst my favorites, they'll often have sauteed twin lobsters; fresh oysters and/or scallops steamed w/ black beans, scallions & ginger on the halfshell; pea-shoots sauteed w/ garlic; crispy-skinned roasted chicken served w/ toasted salt; sauteed clams and/or razor clams in a spicy black bean sauce; and fresh fish (straight out of the tank). If they have fresh black fish, I recommend the fish "two ways." You can get a whole fish (or half if it is large), and what they do is fillet the fish and make 2 dishes out of it. They use the carcass/bones for making a delicious stock/soup simmered with watercress and tofu. With the fillet, they can either saute it w/ mixed vegetables, or "salt bake" it (it's actually fried, not baked, with a light coating of toasted salt, five-spice powder, and jalapeno or serrano chile). You get the soup and one of the two filleted dishes combined for around $15 (and it feeds many). In addition, if you like Vietnamese food, one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in NYC is on the same block as Century Cafe (again, the name escapes me). They have the best pho that I've tried in ny (and I've tried many). Their broth is outstanding. I usually go for pho #1 or #3 (big bowl or extra big bowl, respectively...i love their descriptions!).
If, you're looking for nicer decor (which isn't saying much when you're talking about Ave U), and willing to compromise a little on the food's execution, there's Ocean Palace (on Ave. U near E.15th St). They're more spacious and tend to be preferred by the less-adventurous americans (who would never be found on chowhound). Further down on Ave U is another restaurant that's good for dim sum (I haven't tried dinner there yet). I believe it's called Win Sing (near E. 12th St or so). If you're looking for a sit-down dim sum spot on Ave U, this is the best option.
Hope this info helps. Post a review if you wind up trying any of these spots. I'm curious as to what other's think.
>> "and willing to compromise a little on the food's execution, there's Ocean Palace (on Ave. U near E.15th St). They're more spacious and tend to be preferred by the less-adventurous americans (who would never be found on chowhound)."
Sorry dude, but I have to take exception with your post.
First of all, my Chinese family (including my 92-year old grandfather) has been taking me to Ocean Palace since I was 12, and we have all enjoyed their food for years. I can't tell you how many birthdays, engagements, and general family-togetherness occasions we have celebrated there. It was my late grandmother's favorite. The food is always good. And yes, I am a Chowhound regular.
And at Ocean Palace, there are "Americans" -- Russian-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and oh, of course -- lots of Chinese-Americans too. If by "American" you mean those of caucasian persuasion, well yes they are there too. Probably because they enjoy good food.
whoa. first, you said OP "is always good." thats quite a comment for me considering the usual lightning turnover of kitchen staff in big restaurants. wouldn't it have general ups&downs over so many years? just a guess i've only been to OP once.
also, i did not care for the "americans" comment either, but not in your way but that it came off in the haughty way speech the folks on a certain large european island are often known for. i did not in anyway get any of the racial-religion overtones you are suggesting from it at all. i'm sorry to see you did.
come to think of it, if you look in the window of PANERA or TGI FRIDAY'S you might think there may just be a category of "less-adventurous americans" after all.
I'm sorry that you took offense to my use of the word "american." In no way, shape, or form were there any racial implications to its usage. I'm sorry that you chose to define it in the narrow sense that you did. My use of the term "american" was all-inclusive, and not code for "those of the caucasian persuasion" as you seem to think. I, too, fall under the category of "american." The point I was making was that regardless of how great the food may be at a hole-in-the-wall establishment, there are those who would not be willing to give it a chance due to the restaurant's lack of decor. Instead, these individuals might be more comfortable in a setting that is more fit to their tastes. I've been to O.P. many times, and the food has always been ok, not great, but above average. If you re-read my original posting, i never ripped on O.P. My posting simply conveyed a preference for the other restaurants over O.P. If you and your family enjoy the food there, then great. I too have had some enjoyable meals there. The purpose of this board is to search for, and to share, pleasurable dining experiences.
The "great and inexpensive seafood restaurant" across the street from Century Cafe is called Rong Hua, I believe. I went there on Saturday with my wife and since neither of us is able to speak or read Chinese I asked our waiter to explain the specials posted on the walls. He looked surprised and said it was the same as what is in the menu. I told him we needed more time, after a while another waiter came by and I hopefully asked if he could explain the specials. Same story, and I was getting a bit frustrated at this point since it was obvious from some of the prices that not all the special items could possibly be listed in the regular menu. So anyway, we gave up and I ordered the twin lobsters with scallion and ginger. My wife ordered the black pepper shrimp from the menu. I pointed to an orange sign on the wall for an item with a price that was nowhere to be found on the menu, crossed my fingers and said I'd have one of those also. It turned out they had run out of that item
The food was good, and it was extremely busy so perhaps that's why the waiters were so brusque. Maybe we'll return on a slow night, or try and bring a translator. If anyone else has tried this place and has other dishes to recommend, please post!
By the way, there is another restaurant on the same side of the Ave. U closer to the subway that had "Shanghai" as part of the name - it was closed when we walked by, has anyone tried it or know if it is closed down for good?
My husband and I really like Wing Shing, which is on the north side of Avenue U, right after Homecrest (Avenue?) I believe. Homecrest is the name of this neighborhood, at least according to my Hagstrom map of Brooklyn.
It's hardly an adventurous new dish, but they have the BEST hot & sour soup I have ever tasted. Other good dishes include the paper-wrapped chicken, the fried rice with Chinese sauage, the sizzling steak...in fact everything I've had there is very good, save for a very weird dish of fried shrimp topped with walnuts and copiuos globs of honey-flavored mayonnaise. Who knows what we're missing on any additional Chinese-language menu.
They do a lot of live seafood too - the eels looked especially tasty last time I was there.
The whole area around there is worth checking out - a little further down Avenue U, at Coney Island Avenue, is an excellent Turkish place caled Veranda. Try whatever fish of the day they recommend. All the kebabs are amazing, really juicy and succulent. Amazing borek-style phyllo and feta parcels too, called cigara.