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Chinatown recs for Chinese parents?

I'm in Manhattan working for just a month, but my parents have decided to come visit me from semi-rural California for a few days. They're Chinese (dad is Cantonese and mom from Taiwan) and definitely not adventurous - they want Chinese food. I would like to take them to Chinatown for several dinners and let them have all sorts of regional cuisines since they can't get that at home, but I haven't gotten a chance to explore Manhattan Chinatown yet because of the job. Any suggestions? I'm planning on Joe Shanghai and Cantoon Garden from my reads here on the board, but would like to hear other possibilities (Congee Village? Great NY Noodle? Supertaste? Others?) The main issue here is that my mom is pretty fastidious, so although my dad and I have no problem eating great food in dirty little joints or roaming to different places to get a special dish here and there, my mom would hate it. I'm not able to take them to Flushing or any of the other boroughs. Addresses or intersections would help immensely - no "near (landmark building/bridge)" directions unless they get more specific. Thanks!

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  1. I'd skip Joes Shanghai and head to the Shanghai Cafe at 100 Mott Street. Joes does have its many admirers on this board though. Here are some other threads/recs:

    Amazing 66 at 66 Mott Street - Cantonese Family Style
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/340879

    Two "best Fuzhou" restaurants:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/483902

    These Fujian immigrants have also opened up 5-6 homemade hand-pulled noodle soup shops:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/492376
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504362

    Other favorites, in alphabetical order include:
    Big Wong King at 67 Mott Street, 10013. Best Cantonese style BBQ Roast Pork.

    Fuleen Seafood at 11 Division Street, 10002.

    New Chao Chao at 111 Mott Street, 10013.

    Yogee Restaurant at 85 Chrystie Street, 10002 Cantonese

    Favorites:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/54008

    Best dumplings:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/525768

    Jobee Taiwanese:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/5280

    Best Chinatown Restaurant:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/531040

    Szechuan Gourmet - I have to agree with Pan in that I think it is the best Chinese restaurant in Manhattan.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459240

    http://events.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/...

    5 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      Also if you're going to Shanghai Cafe go next door and check out Dining Room Management Group for Cantonese food at 102 Mott St. (Apparently these guys don't realize the restaurant can have a fictitious name.) Besides being one of the better Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown, they're open almost all day, from early in the morning for jook, noodles, etc. to extremely late at night (something like 3am). They're probably best known for their Cantonese chicken, but I like the fish cake with saifun and pumpkin.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        Right! Although their Cantonese style BBQ Roast Pork is not as good as Big ong or NY Noodletown. Although they say they open around 8 am they don't really get going until 8:30 or so. Also, on Wednesday's they are offering half price off on Shabu Shabu for ladies!

        1. re: Chandavkl

          What have you tried there for dinner? I'll probably go there soon.

          1. re: Pan

            I've only had breakfast or lunch there Pan. Huge menu, solid old-style Cantonese offerings. 4-5 booths otherwise communal tables. Not as good as Amazing 66 but the place still has its charms.

            1. re: Pan

              Try the stir fried fish cake with saifun and sliced squash.

        2. Golden Unicorn I think they would like for Dim Sum

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodwhisperer

            No please, don't do that. The dim sum has deteriorated so much that they don't even try to keep the dishes warm anymore. Cold Dim Sum? I loved Golden Unicorn, My first Wedding reception was held there many years ago but sadly, it's Dim Sum is now focused to Lo Fan tourist.

            1. re: currymouth

              Currymouth, If you go to Golden Unicorn you can count the "Lo Fan" on one hand. Seems like you havent been there in a long time. The dim sum is excellent. And Lo Fan is pretty derogatory a word to be throwing around

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Thanks for cluing me into that word. I never heard it before, and was curious to see what it meant so I looked it up. I had to scan through a ton of "J Lo" Fan sites 1st to find it!

          2. I was worried that some of these would have closed since some of the posts with these same recs were from more than a year ago, but I'm glad to hear that I can still get at them. Thanks!

            2 Replies
            1. re: meuri

              Most all of the places are hanging on. Just a couple of favorite places have changed hands (New Big Wang, HSF, Kam Chueh). Similar trend in LA and SF (knock on wood).

              1. re: meuri

                All of the recs in my earlier post are going strong.

              2. i'd recommend Amazing 66, Cantoon Garden, and Grand Sichuan Chelsea.

                i like NY Noodletown too, but it sounds like a place your mom wouldn't care for...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  hands down ..especially if they enjoy seafood...

                  Oriental Garden
                  14 Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10013
                  nr. Bayard St.
                  212-619-0085

                  talk to the waiter about what you would like as some of the best items arent listed on the menu...they are very nice..and like talking about the different options the restaurant offers..its not the cheapest chinatown experience but for us any way consistently the best

                  1. re: Simon

                    I agree about Great NY Noodletown. It's a consistently good restaurant, but it's also a continually shabby-looking place which often has water all over the floor in the bathroom.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Agree about the restroom. Thier Ladies room is one of the worst in CT.

                  2. so in manhattan, i agree with most of the posts above:
                    - cantonese seafood: Cantoon Garden, this is my favorite restaurant in manhattan ctown, i highly recommend (i think all chinese will appreciate this type of food); here is my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5894...
                    - cantonese (general): Amazing 66 as other posters suggested
                    - cantonese bbq: i personally like NY Noodletown (all bbq, flowering chive dishes, jook / zhou / congee and salt baked squid), but alot of people will go with big wong...either way you can't go wrong, but these are more quick lunch type places as opposed to a nice sit down dinner
                    - sichuan: I also agree that szechuan gourmet is definitely the best sichuan restaurant in manhattan; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459240
                    - cantonese snacks: stop by mei li wah for some steamed roast pork buns (cha siu / cha shao bao) and coconut buns (gai mei bao / ji wei bao) and also some coffee tea (yin yong / yuan yang cha
                    )- shanghainese: while I think the quality of manhattan shanghainese is low, I'd agree with other posters that you should go to shanghai cafe if you must go; i personally think their xiang gan rou si is excellent if you like that dish; here is a quick review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5600...
                    - dim sum: while I highly recommend going to flushing, in manhattan, I'd go to Dim Sum Go Go, Red Egg (recently tried and it was good) and 6 chatham square restaurant (it can be streaky, but its quite good when its on)....btw all 3 are off the menu ordering (which is how i prefer dim sum as its fresher

                    )

                    if you mom is a stickler about cleanliness, I'd generally stay away from the fuzhou places as they are rather unkept (although that doesnt mean the food is bad by any means)

                    Other than that, I REALLY recommend going to flushing (the LIRR takes 15 minutes) and you'll upgrade the quality of your chinese food immensly:
                    - cantonese seafood: Imperial Palace; this is my absolute favorite chinese restaurant in NY; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543625
                    - cantonese seafood / general: their garlic crab and garlic chicken is the best in NY and its generally an excellent restaurant; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/454983
                    - sichuan: spicy & tasty and xiao la jiao (little pepper) are both excellent, among the best sichuan food ive had in the US; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589204
                    - dim sum: id go to either Jade Asian or Perfect Team Corp (both are much better than manhattan dim sum); http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/496839

                    if you need more recs in flushing, feel free to ask and I can give more

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Lau

                      Nice report Lau, I don't get to hang out in Chinatown as much as I would like to and this comes in very handy.

                      1. re: Lau

                        I definitely agree that the quality of Shanghainese food in Manhattan is low.

                        meuri, I think you've gotten lots of excellent recommendations, so I really have nothing else to add at the moment.

                        1. re: Lau

                          Lau,

                          Glad you enjoyed Red Egg...i've only been there (repeatedly, addictively) for their 4-8pm dimsum happy hour (i've never gone on a Sat/Sunday nor have i sampled the regular menu -- except maybe for fried oysters one time when i was a little bit drunk)...but the happy hour dimsum has been consistently very very good...

                          Did you go for happy hour or at another time?

                          Simon

                          1. re: Simon

                            currymouth - glad I could be of help

                            Simon - i went around 12pm on a sunday (primetime dim sum); here's my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6101...

                            1. re: Simon

                              Simon, if you a fan of fried oysters . . . . trek out to andy's seafood and grille in rego park. you too Lau!

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6058...

                              1. re: bigjeff

                                Fried oysters would definitely be the main course of my personal/hypothetical last supper...the place sounds great...it's on my list!...

                          2. Hi everyone,

                            Once again, thanks for the recs. Although I agree Flushing would have been a great idea, as I mentioned in my OP, I didn't want to take them there, mainly because none of us have ever been to NYC on our own and getting lost in some borough isn't the best way to spend time with my aging parents (and my mom doesn't have a lot of patience nor stamina).

                            My parents ended up ditching for the first two days and went down to Chinatown for lunch. They ate both times at Shanghai Cafe, 100 Mott St. (the second time because they didn't know where else to go, which serves them right for not waiting for me!), so the following is what they told me. Interestingly, they got lost trying to find it since they didn't have the address the first time, and the locals they spoke to for directions kept directing them every which way (I'm not sure how this confusion happened, since between them my parents speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Fukienese). They finally reached their goal after about an hour of wandering up and down Canal, Walker, and assorted street branches. They very much liked both the pork and crab XLB, although the other dishes they felt were so-so. The first day they had, in addition to their pork XLB, the Shanghai wonton soup (eh) and jou cai sui jao, which my mom found pretty good but my dad felt was exactly as good as my mom's homemade ones, when he was hoping they'd be better. The second day with their crab XLB they got a plate of pig's ear, which my mom said wasn't particularly tender or delicate (she said that the pieces should have been cut more finely). They also got xiao nian gao, which was too salty and the nian gao "just not done well" (they couldn't clarify this part). They ended up not finishing the latter two, and the waiter was pretty brusque about it, demonstrating the long line of people in the store as in a "how could you finish it? Everyone else likes our food!" motion. So I think they would agree with the general board consensus that the quality of Shanghainese cuisine in Manhattan isn't that great.

                            I finally got to go with them to Chinatown this Saturday. We headed to Red Egg, 202 Centre St, for dim sum since my mom was interested in the "interesting" dishes that Red Egg was said to have. So curiously enough, when they discovered no carts, my parents proceeded to mark off exactly the same dishes they always get at Rice Bowl in Sacramento. At my urging, they decided to get a few more dishes that they've never tried in dim sum before. The resulting list of 9 included standouts such stuffed tofu (soft tofu cups filled with shrimp - we had expected deep-fried puffed tofu, so this was a very well-received surprise) and steamed fish ball (great texture and flavors with the cilantro). The other dishes, such as the chicken feet, shrimp dumpling, and dumpling with assorted seafood and dou miao, were pretty good, although the shrimp rice roll skin could have been more delicate and the filling in the"hometown style savory triangles" (ham sui gok - I don't know the Mandarin pinyin for it) should have been more salty to illustrate the salty-sweetness that makes this dish so great. The one miss was the scallop radish puff - the texture was pretty loose and sloppy, and the flavors were a muddle.

                            For dinner we ended up in Cantoon Garden, 22 Elizabeth St. I don't know if there is a super-secret Chinese menu here, but my parents didn't get one. We ordered the fish maw and egg drop soup (excellent!) as well as pea pod stems, walnut shrimp (I have a sweet tooth) and clay pot casserole with mixed seafood and tofu. The walnut shrimp was pretty good with great shrimp although a little heavy on the mayo. We were a little surprised with the rest, though - the stir-fried pea pod stems were literally just that, very little salt and no garlic which would have brought the flavor out more (is the use of garlic in stirfried pea pod stems not a given?) We were also taken aback by the clay pot casserole with the use of deep fried puffed tofu, when soft/silken tofu would have gone so much better with the seafood. The fish in the casserole was the best thing in it, but the squid was pretty tough. Perhaps we should have ordered something else?

                            So that's it. But I'm going to try to explore on my own a bit with the rest of your recommendations. Thanks so much!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: meuri

                              i havent ordered most of the dishes you ordered at cantoon garden (i dislike mayo, so i never order the walnut shrimp)....check out my post and it has the best dish recs (i eat here 1-2 times a month):
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5894...

                              1. re: meuri

                                At Cantoon Garden, I think some of the "secret Chinese menu" dishes are written in Chinese only and taped to the walls. You can check them out next time you are there.

                                There is a way of preparing pea pod stems (pea shoots) called "qing chao dou miao" (清炒豆苗) or "purely stir-fried pea shoots" where no garlic or seasoning (other than salt or maybe MSG) is used.. that's probably what you guys have ordered at Cantoon Garden. In Taiwan, we are more used to stir-frying vegetables with garlic but sometimes pea shoots can be prepared without any garlic for people who want to savor the scent of pea shoots. In other words, to taste the "original flavor" (原 味) as some Chinese say.

                              2. Noodle Village on Mott street is excellent for noodles and appetizers.