christy, the place is good-not-great, but it's a whacky hang, utterly unlike anything else. It's also quite crowded (young Chinese hipsters, older Chinatown residents looking for "a change of pace", and the Ludlow Street bohemian crowd), so go at off times.
I like the hot pots ok, but the flavors don't really all come together. Congee's good (it's the newer kind, where ingredients are added last minute), there may be treasure I haven't discovered yet.
re: jim leff
I thought the place was quite good when I went there recently. I like the idea of the "buffet style" congee, and I would be happy with the extensive congee list along, since congee is one of the world's great comfort foods. One of the secrets about the place is that there's also a secret Malaysian place in there somewhere trying to get out. The deep-fried, shell-on, head-on shrimp are sublime, and you get a shit load of them sprinkled with a salty dried-shrimp condiment. They are irresistible and really cheap when you consider how many you get for the price (somewhere in the $10 range). The Malaysian tip-off comes from the decor, which is along the lines of the Penang Malaysia chain and its relatives and imitators. Same bamboo village motif with the damned little bridges and walkways, and fake foliage so you feel like you're about to get Malaria. Just drink a gin and tonic and everything will be OK.
re: robert sietsema
I've obviously never been to the place, but
isn't the tradition of congee buffets more
typically Taiwanese than Malaysian? If the
stuff is the kind riddled with yams
(big Taiwanese eats during the Japanese
occupation), it's Taiwanese for sure--the
Malay equivalent tends to revolve around
plates of rice instead of porridge.
Of course, I could just be talking out of