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LES/chinatown border

I;m moving to clinton and east broadway, and am wondering if anyone knows the hood and good food there. I am looking forward to exploring myself but recs would be nice. Late night is preferable cause I'm a sous chef and work late.

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  1. Malaysian - Skyway at Allen between Division and Canal

    Cantonese - New York Noodle Town on Bayard and Bowery (open late)

    - Congee Village on Allen just south of Delancey

    - Fried Dumpling across the street from Congee Village

    Of course there's WD-50, if you have that kind of money.

    I've found the Clinton Restaurant, a Dominican steam tray place at Clinton and Houston, to be a pretty good value, though it's been a while since I've been there (I usually get my Dominican fix on the Upper West Side at El Malecon, which is close to my parents' place). I've liked their mondongo, which they make in a red tomatoey sauce.

    It won't be open late, but perhaps you'd want to stop at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery (Mott between Grand and Hester) for breakfast or lunch some day.

    I just had another thought: Punjab restaurant on 1st St. between A and 1st is open all night to serve taxi drivers. It's really cheap vegetarian Punjabi food that you order and then get microwaved. I've found their food OK and filling.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Thanks. I actually go to that dominican restaurant for drinks with some friends alot. i have yet to try the 49 dollar paella

      1. re: Pan

        Tried Skyway last week. I wasn't very impresses. Most of the food tasted like it was reheated in a microwave. The flavors were not bright either, in fact they were quite muddled. Maybe I went on a bad day.

        1. re: josh L

          Very surprising. What did you order?

          For the record, I lived in Malaysia for two years plus another summer and know good Malaysian food when I eat it, and I think that some of Skyway's bigger dishes would probably be considered good if the restaurant were in Malaysia. Many of the other dishes would be just OK if the restaurant were in Malaysia. I think the only dish I've had that tasted kind of weird was their rendition of Rojak. So that overall, for New York, this is an excellent Malaysian restaurant and probably without question the best I've eaten at in New York.

          Which other New York Malaysian restaurants have you liked?

          1. re: Pan

            I tried most of the dishes mentioned on this board. To be honest, and your not going to like this I enjoyed the food at fatty crab more. I've had better meals at Sentosa, as well. Just wasn't very impressed, didn't seem like the food was prepared with much care.

            1. re: josh L

              I've never been to Fatty Crab, so I have no reason to like or dislike that part of your comment.

              The best dishes I've had at Skyway are the big plates, such as the Squid with Aromatic Sauce (I think it was called).

              When you speak of Sentosa, do you mean the restaurant as it was in Manhattan, or as it is in Flushing?

              1. re: josh L

                I ordered shrimp with the aromatic sauce which wasn't bad but it lacked some complexity. I thought the flavors were flat. Maybe it was an off day. If you try fatty crab, please post. gracias

              2. re: Pan

                Is Malaysia in the arcade off Elizabeth still going?

                  1. re: Marco

                    Thanks Wilfrid. Haven't been there in awhile. Their crispy orange chicken was pretty hot, good and ample. I don't have any yardstick to gauge the authenticity, but the food was good. Hope it still is.

            2. Welcome to the 'hood! Hope you enjoy Seward Park. My local faves include:

              1) Barrio Chino on Broome for enchiladas verde; it gets hipster/UES slumming crazy-full at normal dining times--likely open on the later side.
              2) Little Giant on Broome is good food, though the wine list is suprisingly expensive and mediocre.
              3) Bocadito on Orchard has nice small plates Mex-style and tasty fancy drinks.
              4) There's a Chinese place on E. Bway & Essex (Maybe at Allen? it's the SE side of the intersection) with terrific fried flounder.
              5) I second Congee Village--the good cosmos are way cheap, though be warned: they don't honor reservations they make (I've experienced it twice. Very frustrating!).
              6) New French bistro, Casani's, on Broome & Ludlow, is a good basic neighborhood joint--not spectacular enough to get on the subway for, but worth a 10-minute walk, IMHO.

              Also: Two Boots just got OK'd by the community board to open a new spot w/ liquor license on Grand at about Suffolk or Norfolk--it's a dilapidated white brick building with 2 shuttered businesses, a bodega and the "Mister Man" barber shop. Very welcome for those of us on the waaaaaay East end of Grand at the FDR where there's basically nowhere nearby.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hot Dish

                I've never had a problem with Congee Village not honoring reservations. Then again, it's fair to mention that I'm a longtime regular and the receptionist knows my voice.

                The Cantonese place you're thinking of, I believe (courtesy of menupages.com):

                Wing Shoon Restaurant
                165 E Broadway, Btwn Essex & Canal St

                It's on the little triangle across the street from the park, and if you cross Essex, you're on East Broadway.

                I think I had flounder with ginger there. In two trips, I get the sense that it is probably not as good as either Congee Village or New York Noodletown - at least for an individual diner (they seem most geared to larger groups who order a bunch of dishes, banquet-style), but it is certainly worth checking out if you live nearby.

                1. re: Pan

                  Thanks Pan, Wing Shoon is the spot I was thinking of for flounder with ginger, which I have had with 3+ people. Thanks also for the mention of N Y Noodletown--I'm curious to try it.

                  Glad you've done better w/Congee Village. I'm not a regular, but I am very fond of the "village" decor.

              2. East Broadway (and its cross streets) is my favorite part of Chinatown for culinary exploration for several reasons. First of all it's totally authentic with no tourist influences at all. It is also the center of the portion of Chinatown referred to as Little Fuzhou (basically Chinatown east of the Bowery), home to Chinese who come from this coastal province rather than the historic Cantonese who established Chinatown. This lets you sample Fuzhou specialties (e.g., Fuzhou fish ball soup, which look like ordinary Chinese fish balls, but are rather filled with ground pork in the center--often $2 for an order) that you don't see anywhere else. Lastly, the area of Chinatown under the Manhattan bridge is the center of an incredible national job market where Chinese service workers will come in from some far flung location (e.g., Youngstown, OH) to find a job at another equally far flung location (e.g., Durham, NC), staying just long enough to visit one of the many job agencies and get a new job and taste some authentic cooking. Consequently there's more cheap food and late night eating opportunities in this part of Chinatown. Of course cheap food has a downside if it's too cheap, but given the reverence of Chinese for good food, even working class folk feel they are entitled to satisfying meals. If I were you, I would just scout out the area and see what looks interesting. A couple of suggestions just to get you started would be East Corner Wonton, 70 East Broadway; Yung Sun, 47 East Broadway; and Happy Joy, 25 Canal St. (specializing in Malaysian Street Hawker food).

                5 Replies
                1. re: Chandavkl

                  East Corner Wonton is dependable and very cheap.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    how is happy joy? any specific dishes you recommend? I've never heard of happy joy and i'm always looking for new places

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      So after reading the post, I decided to try Happy Joy. The food was very good. I got roti canai, squid with kang kung, rice noodles with oyster sauce and nasi lemak.

                      The nasi lemak was excellent it had the usual: coconut rice, curry chicken, pickled vegetables, dried fish, peanuts, hard boiled eggs and dried fish with onions in that sweet sauce. The rice noodles and roti canai were very good in fact the rice noodles were surprisingly good, thick sliced very soft rice noodles with crispy dried shrimp and sesame seeds on top covered with some oil, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Roti Canai was great. The squid was mediocre though, sauce wasn't bad, but the squid was too chewy.

                      I need to try Skyway, but I think it was probably the best malay I've had in manhattan so far

                      1. re: Lau

                        Thanks for the report on the Malaysian side of the menu which I had never tried. One other noteworthy point about Happy Joy is their extensive menu (I think I counted over 300 items, I guess in part because they do both Malaysian and Cantonese) ranging from cheap rice plates for the locals to pricier seafood dishes.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          We discovered Happy Joy when Wing Shoon was closed (for refurb?) last year. We really like it, Malaysian and Chinese dishes. I recommend the bbq pig.

                    2. There's a great dim sum restaurant in Chatham Sq. near Mott St. (can't recall the name at the moment but it has a bright red sign on it). The atmosphere is like a greasy spoon but their roast pork buns are to die for! Their other dishes are great too and it's cheap.

                      1. There is also La Esquina- on Kenmare and Layfayette

                        1. I live in the nabe too, on Rutgers. Late night is hard, but anywhere, here are some of my suggestions:

                          Flowers Cafe at Grand and Essex: good salads & sandwiches. The food is very fresh.

                          Kossar's Bialys on Grand bt Essex and I think Norfolk: bialys, bagels & really good cream cheese.

                          The Doughnut Plant, also on Grand: aside from their doughnuts, they often have lovely freshly made fruit juice.

                          Full City Coffee on Grand bt Suffolk and Clinton.

                          Pizza Shack, 525 Grand St 212 477 3367 is my favorite pizza delivery joint in the neighborhood.

                          G&M on Essex between Grand and Hester has great Jewish food.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tamasha

                            Also I really like Alias on Clinton.

                          2. Just wanted to mention Kuma Inn on Ludlow between Delancey and Rivington and Falai on Clinton. And I second the recommendation for Casanis: the menu (and the interior) are uninspiringly generic, but the food is really well-executed (or at least was when I last was there a few weeks ago).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: LESismore

                              I went to Kuma Inn recently with a bunch of people, tried about half the menu, and was singularly unimpressed. Nice-looking space, with artwork by the sous chef from Cendrillon, but disappointing food.

                              1. re: Peter Cuce

                                Sadly, I have to agree with you on the Kuma Inn front. The chef, who came to our table more than once, was incredibly warm and the space itself was cool but the food just wasn't working. If you do end up going I’d suggest ordering the Sauteed Chinese Sausage, but beyond that you’re on your own.

                                Also, while I haven't eaten downstairs at La Esquina I've picked up tacos from their stand on two occasions and have been disappointed both times. They weren't awful, they just didn't compare with the real, authentic tacos that can be had at some of the more out of the way joints in the city (Tehuitzingo leaps to mind). Their corn tortillas were incredibly dry and tasteless to a degree I hadn’t experienced before.

                            2. Great thread everyone...

                              I've lived at canal/essex for 10 years. So have some experience I can add...Couple things. Golden Forest on Grand...for cheap good fast-food (chinese)..they have brown rice and will customize your order.

                              Tiny's Giant Sandwich shop delivers as far south as E. Bway. Really good sandwiches. Sure, Flowers does okay too. But. Tiny's. Wow.

                              There's a whole ton of bar-bistro's right around ludlow and canal that have sprung up in the last 5 years. Good World, Les Enfants, and Brown. Brown definetly has the best food. Service at GoodWorld is appaling. Les Enfant balances the two.

                              For late night. Tricky. Delivery there's 24 hr. Rush Hour. Pretty horrid actually, but hey, at 4am...falafel delivery can be a lifesaver. There's a bunch of chinese places that are extremely hit or miss that do 24 hr. Avoid Zengs Family Garden at 151E. Broadway. They've been shut down by the health board pretty much anually.

                              Jeeb is another one that delivers pretty late. Really nice people, but mediocre food.

                              The best fries in New York is Zozo's. They're open pretty late on weekends too. Really pretty dull everything except those fries... Although..Shillers has amazing fries as well..they're more traditional, and no delivery to me.

                              Two Boots in the LES..that's pretty awesome. There's a new coal oven pizza place on Orchard near Hester. Forget the name. I've been in a couple times, and its good, but feels extremely UES in every way.

                              keep the reviews coming...love hearing what people are discovering in the LES.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nybelly

                                Zozo's used to have some really good miniature donuts, but I haven't been in a while.

                                1. re: Peter Cuce

                                  my recent experience at zozo's was enough to totally sour me on it. we stopped in for what we thought would be a cheapish, quick lunch and ended up paying over $15/each for really bad sandwiches/fries served by VERY rude and VERY slow counter staff.

                              2. can't help you on the late part, but you live pretty close to happy shabu shabu, which for me, especially in the winter time, just hits the spot. i think they might close on the earlier side though, around 10? super cheap though. beef with a bunch of veggies and fish cakes and noodles is like $9.50. they have a great sauce station (much better than quickly shabu on grand) and you can order extras like tofu, udon noodles, wontons or mushrooms. the windows fog up in the winter from all the hot pots goin at once.. the only downfall is that they play either j lo in concert dvd's (projected) or chinese pop music concerts all the time. sometimes entertaining though.

                                1. "shabu shabu" means boiled meat, which you do yourself. For me, not so appetizing. However, I totally agree that the Happy Shabu Shabu on canal and allen is the best of the Shabu. Its a nice atmosphere, and yea, the sauce station. Wow. So good. They have nice 100% fruit drinks as well for pretty cheap.

                                  And the building its in, one of the coolest in the neighborhood. Seems like a matter of minutes until it goes the way of the Forward though, with condos pushing out the sweat shops.

                                  1. literally the name "shabu shabu" comes from a japanese onomotapaeia (i know i spelled that wrong) for the time it takes to cook the thinly sliced beef. the japanese say you stick the beef in the boiling broth with your chopsticks and say "shabu shabu" and you can take it out and its done.

                                    i agree with nybelly, what is up with all the new condos? they're an eyesore.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jungirl

                                      I've heard "shabu shabu" is a true onomatopoeia, not derived from the cooking time but instead actually suggested by the sound of meat being swished around in the simmering broth.