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Chinatown Brasserie (Review)

MMRuth Jan 24, 2008 05:49 AM

I've been wanting to try this place for awhile, despite the mixed reviews, so we went for lunch this weekend. Nice room - sort of evocative of 1920s Shanghai (in my mind at least!) and we were seated quickly after being shown to the bar area briefly. Our waiter seemed a bit clueless at first - took my husband's order for Lillet, and then when my husband asked if they keep it cold or not, he wanted to know what it was. So my husband put in a beer order just in case, which was good since they don't have Lillet. I was interested in the Blood Orange Martini but didn't know what "aperol", an ingredient, was - neither did the waiter, so I went with the Lychee one, which I enjoyed. We ordered a bottle of Sancerre and then started ordering dim sum. We ended up having:

Crabmeat and Pork Soup Dumplings
Tempura Shrimp Stuffed Chiles
Shrimp and Chinese Chive Dumplings
Rice Noodle Rolls with Peanut-Sesame Sauce - the only disappointment - as described, but not so interesting.
Fried Oysters with Sweet and Sour Sauce - not too sweet, which I liked
Barbequed Duck Spring Rolls
Malaysian Eggplant with Shrimp
Hoisin Pork in homemade Mandarin Pancakes

All except the rice noodle rolls were very good - the different sauces for each dish worked well with them and the flavors were very clean. I think the duck spring rolls, the oysters, and the soup dumplings were our favorites. The place isn't cheap - I think the total bill was about $200 - but we did eat a lot and I would go back. And, we warmed up to our waiter who was perfectly affable if a bit hesitant and the host came by our (and the other) tables on several occasions to check on things. The table next to us seemed to be having issues about waiting too long for their food, but we did not have that experience.

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Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

  1. MMRuth Mar 24, 2008 09:40 AM

    We went back yesterday for lunch - some visiting relatives called us on Saturday and I didn't want to have to do a lot of phoning around on Easter Sunday, and it met their location needs. I liked it a little less the second time - seemed a little tired - or maybe our choices the first time round were better.

    Shrimp & Peashoot dumplings - ok, and my SIL ordered a second portion, but much preferred the crabmeat soup dumplings
    Pan Fried Lamb dumplings - these were excellent, and we'd not tried them before
    Classic Egg Rolls - I didn't taste these, but my husband said dull, dull, dull
    Fried Oysters - the oysters weren't as nice this time - had a slightly odd flavor to them.
    Crispy Taro Root Shrimp - pretty good, not outstanding
    Chicken and Garlic rolls - came with a peanut sauce - decent, but a little dull

    We also had the peking duck this time which I did think was quite good - crispy skin, no fat, moist meat, very delicate small pancakes.

    Oh, and I did have the blood orange cocktail, light on the aperol, while waiting for our relatives and it was very enjoyable!

    Check $180 before tip - 4 glasses of wine, some ice teas, not including the drinks at the bar.

    45 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth
      r
      roze Mar 24, 2008 02:56 PM

      I went back recently as well. The crispy orange beef was pretty amazing but this time my soup dumplings kept ripping because they stuck to the bottom of the steamer. We kept losing all the soupy goodness:(

      http://nyctastes.blogspot.com/2008/03...

      1. re: roze
        MMRuth Mar 24, 2008 04:45 PM

        Actually - the bartender told us that her favorite dish was the crispy orange beef, but we didn't try it .... Bummer about the dumplings!

        1. re: MMRuth
          michele cindy Mar 25, 2008 06:31 AM

          That was my favorite dish out of the bunch we ordered too. I'd go back just for that dish.

          1. re: MMRuth
            MMRuth Apr 7, 2009 12:18 PM

            I had the crispy orange beef this time - thought it was delicious.

        2. re: MMRuth
          p
          Pan Apr 7, 2009 02:30 PM

          Party of 3?

          I'll have to check out the orange beef. A cousin of mine is on a quest for the apotheosis of orange flavor beef.

          1. re: Pan
            MMRuth Apr 8, 2009 04:23 AM

            We were four that day, if that is what you are asking.

            1. re: MMRuth
              p
              Pan Apr 8, 2009 10:48 AM

              Yes, that's what I was asking. It helps me to understand the price structure at Chinatown Brasserie at lunch.

              1. re: Pan
                MMRuth Apr 8, 2009 10:49 AM

                We were four on Saturday night as well, but our friends paid the bill, so I don't know how much it was. We did have three bottles of the $30 Cote du Rhone!

                1. re: MMRuth
                  MMRuth Apr 8, 2009 10:50 AM

                  Meant to add - the meal that I referred to above - my SIL eats like a tiny bird.

                  1. re: MMRuth
                    p
                    Pan Apr 8, 2009 10:51 AM

                    That's helpful. Thanks, Ruth. I've only ever been to Chinatown Brasserie for dinner and a party at night.

            2. re: Pan
              michele cindy Apr 8, 2009 06:39 AM

              Pan, for great orange flavor beef try Shanghai Cafe in CT. It was the best I've ever had. It's a dish I order a lot, but thier's was the best I've had so far. I liken the crunchiness of the beef to extra crispy KFC's crispiest sections of fried skin. Know what I mean? Kind of like the edges of a light lacey tempura, but a bit denser.

              1. re: michele cindy
                p
                Pan Apr 8, 2009 10:50 AM

                I've had their orange flavor chicken and liked it, but I thought the orange flavor beef at Cantoon Garden was better - in fact, the best I've had in New York in years. My cousin didn't find it ideal, though, somehow. I do plan on inviting him to have orange flavor beef and other stuff at Shanghai Cafe one of these days.

                1. re: Pan
                  pups224 Apr 19, 2009 04:24 AM

                  Had a good solid dinner at Chinatown Brasserie last night.
                  Memorable dim sum was the lamb, shrimp and peashoots and the scallop and shrimp with XO sauce. The lamb was outstanding.
                  Not outstanding, but okay were the ribs, taro cake and veggie spring rolls. The taro cake was a bit greasy.
                  Mains were the peking duck, orange beef (thanks to this board) and chinese broccoli with shitakes.
                  The duck was very good. Crispy skin, thin pancakes. Not the best in town.
                  The orange beef was quite good, not nearly as good as Shun Lee's which uses thicker pieces of beef and tastes beefier. The veggies vere poor and almost an afterthought.
                  The service was very attentive and friendly. The place had quite a few open tables when we left on a Saturday night at 9:30pm. Yikes!
                  I'd go again, but am not in a rush to do so.
                  Dim sum is better at DIm sum Go Go, but we wanted atmosphere as well.

                  1. re: pups224
                    f
                    foodwhisperer Apr 19, 2009 10:57 PM

                    i didnt find anything outstanding at chinatown brasserie, The prices i found to be high for what i can get in chinatown for much less , and much better,,I think it's a good place for tourists to eat.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      MMRuth Apr 20, 2009 05:12 AM

                      I know this discussion has come up before, but, while I agree that one can get dishes for much less in Chinatown, I don't think it's just a place for tourists. My husband just doesn't enjoy the ambiance of restaurants in Chinatown (and I've tried), and so this works for us. Plus they have great cocktails.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        b
                        bearmi Apr 20, 2009 05:54 PM

                        Sounds good to me! I eat in Chinatown but I like CB too. You made a good point about the ambiance. I think Chinatown isn't for everybody and CB offers an alternative for those who want to try dim sum and other dishes but not liking the rushed service and cramped seating arrangement in Chinatown.

                      2. re: foodwhisperer
                        s
                        Simon Apr 20, 2009 05:43 AM

                        i hated Chinatown Brasserie the one time i went there (back when they opened).

                        but i actually think it's a particularly bad call for tourists: if someone's visiting Manhattan, it'd be terribly lame for them to go to CB thinking they are getting a "Chinatown" experience when it's not even in that neighborhood...(comparable to visitors in Midtown going to that awful "Brooklyn Diner" in the W.50's and thinking they are checking "Brooklyn-experience" off on their list of things to do...

                        1. re: Simon
                          MMRuth Apr 20, 2009 05:49 AM

                          And that is kind of my point - it's not a Chinatown experience, and so I'm not inclined to compare it to places in Chinatown. I will say though, that having had amazing dumplings for a dollar for five in Chinatown, I'm rather more wary of paying a lot more for dumplings!

                          1. re: Simon
                            k
                            kathryn Apr 20, 2009 08:49 AM

                            I've taken tourists there, and I don't think ANY of them thought we were in the real Chinatown. Agree that the name is a misnomer, though.

                            1. re: kathryn
                              pups224 Apr 20, 2009 12:20 PM

                              I never went expecting a chinatown experience. In fact, I did not want one. I knew we would pay, the place had gotten a mixed buzz but I wanted decent dim sum with a non-chinatown vibe. None of us are tourists.
                              That's what I got and that is how I judged the place.

                              1. re: pups224
                                b
                                bearmi Apr 20, 2009 05:36 PM

                                Glad you liked it. I have read so many comments from people about this place and I guess it's a "polarizing" place... They either love it or hate it. I think for some of us who don't mind paying a little more and who do not want the "Chinatown" experience this place is great. I am happy to hear that the food is still good and I shall re-visit soon!

                              2. re: kathryn
                                scoopG Apr 20, 2009 12:31 PM

                                Yes the name is unfortunate I agree. The only connection to Chinatown is Lafayette Street which runs through Chinatown. And their prices have come down slightly from when they opened.

                              3. re: Simon
                                f
                                foodwhisperer Apr 21, 2009 01:24 AM

                                Simon i agree that thinking one got the chinatown experience with CB and the bklyn experience with Bk Diner would be a mistake.. But I do have to say , aside from brooklyn diner being way overpriced.. the pea soup with hot dogs in it is interesting and the mac n cheese isnt bad

                    2. re: MMRuth
                      b
                      bearmi May 18, 2009 07:35 PM

                      Ruth, I went back to Chinatown Brasserie yesterday and it was still good. Glad you shared your recent experience with us. I had the duck spring roll which was nice and crispy. I also liked the Scallops / shrimp dumplings with XO Sauce. It was composed of a slice of pan fried sea scallop on top of a steamed shrimp dumpling... looked good and tasted good too! The other items such as roast pork rice noodle roll and mango/smoked salmon summer roll were also delicious too. The bean sheet with enoki mushroom/ham and the corn egg drop/lobster soup were ok but overall I was very happy to return. My lunch came to almost $60 including tax and tip which is kind of steep but still within my budget. The waiter was really nice and friendly and I was very happy not to have to deal with the crowd in Chinatown (i.e. fighting with other diners for tables plus fighting for the last plate of a particular dimsum I like from the carts before folks from the next table snatch it.. plus a clean restroom that has paper towels). I hope to return in the near future!

                      1. re: bearmi
                        p
                        Pan May 18, 2009 09:05 PM

                        How does their dim sum compare to Red Egg, in your opinion?

                        1. re: Pan
                          f
                          foodwhisperer May 18, 2009 09:23 PM

                          I respect everyone's opinions on the board, but i'm astonished that so many like the CB,,, i thought of it as a tourist trap and had overpriced ( compared to Ctown) food and not as good as any place i've been to in Chinatown. Red Egg is better , definitely ,, and I dont like Red Egg much

                          1. re: foodwhisperer
                            p
                            Pan May 18, 2009 10:48 PM

                            Not as good as any place you've been to in Chinatown. Interesting. So you like Jing Fong better. You sure save a lot of money that way.

                            1. re: Pan
                              k
                              kobetobiko May 18, 2009 11:48 PM

                              Agree with you, Pan.

                            2. re: foodwhisperer
                              s
                              sugartoof May 19, 2009 12:32 AM

                              I too have been astonished by the reviews. I don't think they're serving high quality or flavorful food, and I'm puzzled this would hit the mark as Chinese food for so many others.

                              1. re: sugartoof
                                MMRuth May 19, 2009 04:45 AM

                                FWIW - I make no claims at being an expert on authentic Chinese food, and have only begun exploring Chinatown in the last year or so. However, most of the food that I've had at CB has been "flavourful" and I've felt as if the ingredients were "high quality". As I and others have said, part of going there, as opposed to Chinatown, is the ambiance (for example, my husband just isn't into going to a lot of places in Chinatown because he doesn't enjoy the ambiance), great cocktails, vibe etc. I don't think anyone has said that the place is the "be all, end all" of Chinese food. And, as I believe I've mentioned above, once I started getting dumplings at five pieces for a dollar in Chinatown, well, I've become a little more reluctant to order dumplings at higher end Americanized Chinese places - which doesn't mean that I don't do it if I'm there and want dumplings. Lastly, I think CB is more "accessible" to those who, as I was until recently, are somewhat intimidated by what they perceive to be the language/other barriers in Chinatown.

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  MMRuth May 19, 2009 04:47 AM

                                  Oh, and I meant to add, I don't know that anyone has said that it is great value etc. It is expensive.

                                  ETA: I had a sense of deja vu and went back and reread the thread, and now I know why. Basically, on both sides, we've all said the same things at least once! There are those who think CB, as compared to Chinatown, is overpriced and lousy, and those who, while they make no claims that CB is somehow "authentic", enjoy going there and generally like the food, which doesn't mean that they "think they are in Chinatown" but actually having some Walt Disney experience without knowing it. I have a feeling that is not going to change.

                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                    scoopG May 19, 2009 05:53 AM

                                    I agree. It does have the word Brasserie in its name so that is one clue I think that we are in for something different. It was unfortunate of them to use the word Chinatown I think because of what that denotes for many folks: inexpensive grub. I think for some people they just cannot unwrap themselves around the idea of paying a bigger tab for good Chinese food. I happen to like what Joe Ng does there. FWIW they also did the lower the prices from when they first opened.

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      s
                                      sugartoof May 19, 2009 01:12 PM

                                      I think we've gone in a circle because there are still people posting really happy reviews about the food - and others who like myself are shocked this place is surviving let alone satisfying customers. The Chinatown issue is a non-issue, it's just lends material to ridicule this place over.

                                      For the record I think most of the food in Chinatown is junky too, and if it's come down to a choice between dollar dumplings, or CB, I'd say find a new cuisine.

                                      re: paying a bigger tab....it's not like the concept of paying a premium for high end dim sum and Chinese is new. My favorite Chinese food has never been in Chinatown, or been the cheapest in town. For me, the food isn't good, and my associations for similar tasting food are watered down, non-Chinese attempts to mimic those dishes.

                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                        MMRuth May 19, 2009 02:49 PM

                                        Well, at least folks who are posting happy reviews are, well, enjoying the food. What are some suggestions for Chinese in Manhattan that would be a happy medium between five dumplings for a dollar and CB? Because I am completely open to branching out, whether it be to Chinatown or other parts of Manhattan.

                                        ETA - I'm still in the learning stages about a lot of Chinese food - regional, etc., so any tips are welcome.

                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                          s
                                          sugartoof May 19, 2009 05:04 PM

                                          I agree that if people are enjoying it, more power to them. Nothing should change how they feel about it. I think Chinese is a specific taste preference like pizza or steaks. When it's amazing, it's undeniable and universal, but after that, it has a lot to do with personal tastes.

                                          I can't say I have any solid suggestions for Chinese right now. My favorite places are no longer, or no longer dependable, so I think the Chinese food is on a decline city wide...and I think some of the more popular suggestions are some of the more overrated. I will say, my bench mark for Americanized Chinese (read, sweeter, a little greasy, but still tasty with fresh vegetables, hand made noodles and mostly good cuts of meat) was the old Sam's. I'm not sure I'm confident to offer up their remaining location Sammy's on 6th Ave. as a suggestion - reviews are very love hate - but I'll mention it to be constructive. Almost any clean, modern setting Chinese place using fresh ingredients would be superior to CB for me, personally, unless I was going strictly for the big room atmosphere.

                                          I still don't get the whole "if you dislike Chinatown, Chinatown Brasserie is second best" equation. It's barely the same approach, or taste.

                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                            b
                                            bearmi May 19, 2009 05:30 PM

                                            Ha.. I will probably get heckled again but I think Dim Sum Go Go is halfway between 5 dumplings for a dollar and CB.. maybe a little closer to CB in terms of price (~ $20 to $35 a person I would say). You might also want to try Red Egg too but I haven't been there. A lot of folks here seem to like it and I will check it out soon when I am in a better mood to deal with crowds.

                                            1. re: bearmi
                                              p
                                              Pan May 19, 2009 05:51 PM

                                              I don't think it's possible for one person to spend anything near $35 for dim sum lunch at Dim Sum Go Go. More like $20-25.

                                              1. re: Pan
                                                b
                                                bearmi May 19, 2009 06:15 PM

                                                Sounds good to me. Haha...I think I spent around $35 once (including tax/tip) but I was extremely stuffed. I usually go by myself and I wanted to try everything so I get a bunch of stuff but sometimes not finish them (I take them home). For people who go in groups, I aggree it will be more like $20 to $25 , sometimes even less.

                                            2. re: MMRuth
                                              p
                                              Pan May 19, 2009 06:14 PM

                                              Well, as I said, I haven't been there yet, but there's Red Egg:

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610102

                                              "What to order @ Dim Sum a Go Go":

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/521480

                                              (Caveat: My last time there, I found it mediocre, but previously, I've found it good to very good.

                                              )

                                              For general purposes, this is a great thread on Chinatown:

                                              "Chinatown recs for Chinese parents?"

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609907

                                              I've really enjoyed my 3 meals so far at Cantoon Garden, but it's a real banquet restaurant, so it might be tough to go as a couple. 4 people could share 2-3 dishes, depending on what you order.

                                              Outside of Chinatown - actually, including Chinatown - Szechuan Gourmet is my favorite Chinese restaurant in Manhattan (though more expensive and not as great as Spicy & Tasty in Flushing):

                                              "Szechuan Gourmet - latest trip" (thread with 102 replies!

                                              )

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459240

                                        2. re: MMRuth
                                          b
                                          bearmi May 19, 2009 03:07 PM

                                          I dont' really have much of a language barrier when I go to Chinatown since my first language is Chinese. However, after years of going there I am really getting sick and tired of the crowds and the rude service I get there (I still go to Flushing regularly but it's just a little better than Chinatown especially if you want to avoid the tourists because it's so out of the way.) Even my home town of Taipei isn't dirty and crowded like Chinatown, although Taipei is definitely not as prosperous as NYC.

                                          Chinatown Brasserie is definitely not cheap but everyone has different budget. I really don't mind paying more $ for a more civilized dining experience. It actually surprises me that a lot of non-Chinese enjoy going to Chinatown, even though they don't speak the language. I really admire their courage and curiosity and also their love for diversity. I doubt if I will set foot in Chinatown if I am not Chinese...honest, for me it is quite unpleasant.

                                          1. re: bearmi
                                            p
                                            Pan May 19, 2009 05:57 PM

                                            I think a lot of New Yorkers grew up going to Chinatown and are, therefore, comfortable with the experience. When I was growing up on the Upper West Side, it was a kind of festive excursion on the subway. Now that it's a short walk, it's my backyard.

                                            1. re: Pan
                                              r
                                              RCC May 19, 2009 06:12 PM

                                              Nope, Chinatown nowadays is much less a comfortable experience for me than it was when I was younger.

                                              1. re: RCC
                                                s
                                                sugartoof May 19, 2009 09:51 PM

                                                Interesting. Since I've lived in NYC it's seem to have become a lot more comfortable, especially in the last few years - a lot of places are remodeling to look hipper, with bright colors, and modernized interiors, and you can avoid the streets reeking of bad fish smell. The younger generation working usually speak perfect English too.

                                    2. re: Pan
                                      b
                                      bearmi May 19, 2009 02:45 PM

                                      Pan, I haven't been to Red Egg yet... I should check it out soon to compare. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                      1. re: bearmi
                                        p
                                        Pan May 19, 2009 05:52 PM

                                        I still haven't been there yet, either, but definitely plan on going.

                                2. michele cindy Feb 27, 2008 03:11 AM

                                  We went for lunch yesterday...
                                  BBQ duck spring rolls - good
                                  crispy taro root shrimp - a bit too greasy
                                  Shrimp and Chinese chive dumplings - average
                                  tempura shrimp and chilies - liked these
                                  Curried chicken dumplings - better then I expected, nice crispness, not greasy, you could taste the curry and it wasn't overpowering.
                                  Black bass with bbq sauce - excellent, would get this again.
                                  Sweet and sour shrimp - just ok, needed a bit more of a kick to the sauce.
                                  3 chili chicken with peanuts - super dumbed down
                                  Crispy orange beef - the best dish we ordered. I really enjoyed it.
                                  I thought we ordered a lobster dim sum, but I don't recall eating it?
                                  For dessert we had jasmine green tea, which was really nice, and the custard bao's which were served warm, with a hot and creamy custard filling, + a hint of sugar. I could have ate a dozen of these.
                                  Overall it was a good meal, and I would return, I have 2 complaints, some of the dishes were lacking in heat, or seemed to need more flavor, and the bus boys were way too eager to clear away plates when you weren't ready to have them cleared away. I had to tell them a few times I wasn't finished. Seeing Lou Reed at the table next to ours was an added distraction :).

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: michele cindy
                                    MMRuth Feb 27, 2008 03:35 AM

                                    No cocktails (grin)? My husband, as I recall, asked for some chili sauce as he loves heat.

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      michele cindy Feb 27, 2008 04:10 AM

                                      It was a business lunch, and I had a ton of work to come back too. Really would have like to try one. I had the hot chili oil on the side too. It was definitely needed. Their's was a good one too, lots of peppers in it.

                                  2. s
                                    sugartoof Jan 31, 2008 08:40 AM

                                    I liked their Fried Taro Cake, but the rest of my lunch there was pretty boring. I don't mind paying for fancy interpretations of Chinese dishes if they're executed with some style, or an interesting spin, but I personally left just feeling like a sucker. Of everything I ordered, the biggest disappointments were the generic mini pork buns (which reminded me of places that serve the frozen ones), and the Lo Mein and Fried Rice were more like Food Court quality. I also wondered if the wait staff had ever been trained, they were just so awkward. The room is really nice though, and if you're just looking for a leisurely group spot, or a place for a business meeting where you can sit a while, this would be a fine choice providing you have little expectations of the food. I really felt ripped off when I left though.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sugartoof
                                      c
                                      cimui Jan 31, 2008 09:04 AM

                                      I agree with you that the fried rice is nothing to write home about and didn't try the other dishes that you did. But in all honesty, the menu does include a few items that are pretty decent versions of the genuine article and not a fancy interpretation thereof. The shrimp & snow pea leaf dumplings, steamed lobster dumplings, and peking duck are all quite good. Of course, they're phenomenally overpriced by Chinatown standards, but you're paying, in part, for the nice digs (clean toilets! these mean a lot to me) and the dining experience.

                                      The service on the night I went wasn't too shoddy. They dealt with my large group pretty gracefully and were nice enough to split the check at the end.

                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                        MMRuth Jan 31, 2008 09:06 AM

                                        I must have been lucky and picked well, as almost everything we had was really very good. I agree about the fried rice - saw someone else's and it looked pretty ordinary.

                                      2. k
                                        KateMW Jan 29, 2008 06:42 AM

                                        On the topic of aperol...I had a drink made with it at Michael Mina in SF and it was great. That being said, I have no idea what it actually is. In the drink I had, it seemed to be in the place of gin, but I doubt that means anything. Thanks for the review. We really wanted to try a dim sum place when we come up in August, so it's nice to know that there is one good place. Nothing beats Yang Sing in SF though, but anything will be better than what we get down here (AL). You write great reviews, by the way. Thanks!

                                        1. LeahBaila Jan 29, 2008 04:46 AM

                                          Went last night and had the "Restaurant Week" menu. I thought that it was a great value for $35...lots of food. I was very impressed and adored my meal up until dessert, which I found to be lackluster and boring.

                                          www.thelunchbelle.com

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: LeahBaila
                                            rina_c Jan 30, 2008 06:41 AM

                                            leah,
                                            we are going there tomorrow night for restaurant week as well. what was the dessert you ordered??

                                            1. re: rina_c
                                              LeahBaila Jan 30, 2008 07:01 AM

                                              The lychee-chocolate molten cake. Was a really nasty combo of flavors. The cake was a bit dry, too.

                                              www.thelunchbelle.com

                                              1. re: LeahBaila
                                                rina_c Jan 30, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                dammit. the more i read reviews about the place, the more i think we made the wrong choice.

                                                1. re: rina_c
                                                  LeahBaila Jan 30, 2008 08:39 AM

                                                  No, you didn't...the RW menu here is fantastic. Great value and delicious offerings.

                                                  www.thelunchbelle.com

                                                  1. re: LeahBaila
                                                    rina_c Jan 30, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                    ok, good. i needed to hear that. thanks!

                                                    1. re: rina_c
                                                      LeahBaila Jan 30, 2008 09:35 AM

                                                      Sure. Please report back! If it helps any, the filet mignon and asparagus was divine, as were the ribs.

                                                      www.thelunchbelle.com

                                            2. re: LeahBaila
                                              j
                                              JS0720 Jan 30, 2008 02:32 PM

                                              I totally agree with you on the value! I went last night and my friends and I were shocked at how much variety we experienced on the RW menu. I especially liked the ribs appetizer and the 1/2 peking duck main course... the dim sum and dessert were hit or miss, to be honest.

                                              However, we glanced at the regular menu, and while the food was good, I was much happier paying $35 than the $75+ I think we would have racked up cobbling together a dinner a la carte. Definitely glad to be able to sample it on the cheap.

                                              1. re: JS0720
                                                LeahBaila Jan 31, 2008 05:22 AM

                                                AMEN! Agree with you 100%

                                                www.thelunchbelle.com

                                                1. re: JS0720
                                                  MMRuth Jan 31, 2008 05:24 AM

                                                  Glad it worked out for you and that you liked the peking duck - we didn't try it. I'm curious about the dim sum, b/c what I'd read in earlier reviews was that people who liked the place liked the dim sum, but not the main courses - so we only tried the dim sum. Do you recall which items you had?

                                                  Thanks!

                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                    MMRuth Apr 7, 2009 12:17 PM

                                                    I was there this weekend, and really enjoyed the Peking Duck. I felt as if we got more "duck for our money" that we often do elsewhere, and it was well prepared. Loved how thin the pancakes were. Yes, it is $48, but plenty of food. I was less impressed with the chicken fried rice that one of our party ordered - nothing wrong with it, but not so interesting either. We ordered a lot of the same dim sum items as we did the first time, and they were just as good, albeit much more expensive than they would be in Chinatown. We enjoyed several bottles of a well-priced Cote du Rhone.

                                              2. guttergourmet Jan 29, 2008 03:27 AM

                                                My take-www.chowhound.com/topics/374957

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: guttergourmet
                                                  MMRuth Jan 29, 2008 04:16 AM

                                                  Thanks - I'd remembered some ambivalent to negative posts on the place. I have to confess that I have not been at all adventuresome in trying out Chinese food in Chinatown. I have a vague recollection of going to a dim sum place years and years ago, and thinking that a lot of the offerings seemed to be very greasy, heavily fried ones, and one of the things I liked about CB is that that was not the case there. I guess I'm going to have to find someone knowledgeable to help me explore Chinatown's dim sum offerings - I'm a chicken, I know!

                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                    guttergourmet Apr 28, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                    My daughter loves the ribs. Mrs. GG had the coconut shrimp which she liked though it was more of a Thai curry dish. The orange beef was too "syrupy" for my taste. The shrimp in black bean sauce with pork and egg was pretty good. Think I'll stick to the dim sum though. Anyone compare to Red Egg which I hear is similar?

                                                2. c
                                                  cimui Jan 26, 2008 08:29 AM

                                                  Great review, MMRuth. Thank you. I went with a party of 10 people for dinner a few weeks ago and also enjoyed myself. I do think I've had better individual dim sum items in other places, but Chinatown Brasserie does a good job of bringing a lot of competently made items under one roof.

                                                  I had an almost completely different selection of items from yours. My favorites were the shrimp and chive dumplings (the only dish we had in common), Peking duck, and taro root shrimp. I think I remember the fish being fresh and well prepared, as well, but don't have a strong recollection of it because I was pretty stuffed to the gills (hoho) by the time that course came.

                                                  Again, I really appreciate your detailed review. Now I know what I want to try next time I go!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: cimui
                                                    MMRuth Jan 26, 2008 08:35 AM

                                                    Thanks - any thoughts of where we should go to lunch (not Brunch - husband hates brunch) today? Sitting here ruminating and searching!! Would like to try some place newish ... but not particularly formal - husband's foot in a bit of a brace, etc.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                      c
                                                      cimui Jan 26, 2008 10:01 AM

                                                      Hopefully this isn't too late for you! If it is, perhaps you can look into it some other time. My favorite lunch (and brunch) places in Manhattan are the Neptune Room on the UWS and Home in the W. Village (loooove the biscuits and gravy and the duck hash). Both do a good selection of lunch, as well as brunch, dishes on weekends. I'm not sure if either is convenient to you geographically, though (you eat out in midtown east more, no?). What are some of the places that you've tried and liked?

                                                      1. re: cimui
                                                        MMRuth Jan 26, 2008 01:30 PM

                                                        We ended up going to the new Blue Ribbon on W. 58th Street - will post fully, probably tomorrow. We actually live in Carnegie Hill, but are very flexible in terms of neighborhoods etc. My husband wasn't a big fan of Home on one visit w/o me - he's hard to convince to go back to a place. I'll have to look into Neptune. Thanks for replying!

                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                          c
                                                          cimui Jan 27, 2008 03:41 PM

                                                          I look forward to reading your review!

                                                          Fair enough about not liking Home. I think there are some "boring" items on the menu that are competently executed, but don't to me justify the prices (I always feel this way if I think I can make something at home just as well). But some things they really do well. I was at the Cornelia St. location last night and had a really well prepared grilled brook trout and tasty mulled hard cider.

                                                          Have you tried Aquavit for lunch / brunch? they have a lovely buffet with mostly savory (non-traditional brunch) items, including their wonderful smoked herring and Swedish meatballs. It takes a lot for me to voluntarily head to this area on weekends since I work there, weekdays. Aquavit's brunch is one of the only draws strong enough to get me there.

                                                          1. re: cimui
                                                            s
                                                            simetrias Jan 27, 2008 04:30 PM

                                                            Have you tried Perry St. for Sat or Sun lunch? It's a real food (not brunch) menu, bargain prices, great atmosphere, and people come dressed super casual all the way to more business-y.

                                                            1. re: simetrias
                                                              MMRuth Jan 28, 2008 03:02 AM

                                                              I haven't - and will add that to my list - thanks!

                                                  2. bigjeff Jan 26, 2008 07:45 AM

                                                    if your husband likes lillet, he may like aperol, a bitter (think campari but less sweet). there are some drinks that call for both.

                                                    your menu choices sound quite nice; seems you ordered well and were thusly rewarded.

                                                    1. s
                                                      simetrias Jan 25, 2008 04:27 PM

                                                      What a great report. How do you remember all the specific dishes??

                                                      I had lunch there a few weeks ago and liked the faux chino bordello look. $200 seems a lot for dim sum and a bottle of wine and 2 drinks! But I agree, the food is really good. I didn't try any of the other kitchen's chinese menu, just dim sum.

                                                      The downstairs party room, which is saw, looked like a hoot, too.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: simetrias
                                                        MMRuth Jan 26, 2008 07:12 AM

                                                        We did eat an awful lot, and skipped dinner that night ... didn't make it downstairs to check out the party room, though liked the fish in the pond. I checked the online menu to get the dish descriptions, btw.

                                                      2. m
                                                        MizYellowRose Jan 24, 2008 04:58 PM

                                                        I've been wanting to try Chinatown Brasserie. What is the dress code? Are reservations necessary? Thank you!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: MizYellowRose
                                                          MMRuth Jan 25, 2008 03:09 AM

                                                          We called around 12:30 on Saturday for lunch for two - they said just walk in - and the place was only about half full while we were there. Casual dress - - don't know if it gets spiffier at night - but can't imagine it in any way being formal.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                            m
                                                            MizYellowRose Jan 25, 2008 01:30 PM

                                                            Thank you, MMRuth. That was very helpful. I certainly will get there at some point.

                                                        2. b
                                                          Beau711 Jan 24, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                          Thanks for the review. I love Chinatown Brasserie - especially the room which I agree is like a movie set. The last time I was there, I saw a gorgeous woman with a man in one of the comfy banquettes who looked just like the beautiful actress Gong Li. Man, this room beats anything in Chinatown for ambiance.

                                                          Now to the food: everything I had was delicious and so fresh. I intend to go back.

                                                          Incidentally, lots of places don't know what the French aperitif Lillet is. It was a popular drink in the 80s but never really took off in the States so I wouldn't blame the waiter if they didn't have it.

                                                          Mmm, I think I'll make a reservation for Chinatown Brasserie. I need a little glitz with my dumplings!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Beau711
                                                            MMRuth Jan 24, 2008 08:05 AM

                                                            It wasn't so much that they didn't have it, it was that the waiter wrote something down as my husband said it, and only when my husband inquired further did the waiter "let on" that he didn't know what it was - not a big deal though! We actually find it quite often at restaurants in Manhattan.

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