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Aug 28, 2009 09:50 PM

Happy Garden Palace

My girlfriend and I had dinner at this Fuzhounese restaurant last night. It was quite busy with Chinese customers, and we were the only non-Chinese customers for the entire time we were there. We had Duck w. Fuzhou Style over rice, a recommendation by our waitress, and what was listed in the menu as Bok Choy in Fuzhou Vinegar but was actually napa cabbage. The duck consisted of various small duck parts, including feet, so it was a bit hard to eat but cooked in a delicious red sauce. I was expecting rice wine lees, but it tasted like red beans, hot pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and a bit of sugar. The vegetable, in long strips (be careful when you're eating the softer, lettuce-like ends of the vegetable, lest they lodge in your throat) came in a really tasty sweet-and-sour sauce of black vinegar and sugar, with a few little rectangles of ginger.

This very good meal came to $14 plus tip for both of us (not apiece). I will surely be coming back to try a bunch of other items.

Happy Garden Palace
54 East Broadway (between Catherine and Market)
(212) 925-9888
Open 9 AM - 2 AM every day

Happy Garden Palace
54 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

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  1. Pan, I notice you post a lot of helpful comments on Chinese cuisine. Could you give me your top 5 Chinese restaurants in Manhattan and your favorite dishes. I have yet to enjoy any Chinese food on my various trips to NYC, and we have another planned for next week. This might be the time for us.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Slob

      OK, I'll give this a shot:

      (1) Szechuan Gourmet - Get the special goat dish if they have it listed on a sign on the wall. Otherwise, get a few cold dishes, most any kind of Sichuan-style whole fish dish, etc. I think my favorite chicken dish there is called "Stir Fried Chicken with roasted chili peanuts." Get that, too. Basically, stick to spicy Sichuan-style food.

      (2) Cantoon Garden - This is a tough place for two people, because the portions tend to be very large. You will do much better if you get together a banquet of at least 5 people; 10 or more would be even better. Get soft shell crabs if still in season, sea bass in black bean sauce, tangerine beef, crispy fried chicken with garlic (called "house special chicken" at other restaurants), fried rice if you want it (it's something special there), etc.

      (3) Congee Village - Get the hot and sour soup (it's really hot and really sour), razor clams, Steamed Chicken with shitake mushroom (if that's the dish in the bamboo steamer that also includes ginger, red dates, lily buds, scallions, etc. - I think that's it) Sha Cha beef, Eggplant Vegetables with bean curd, etc. The House Special Chicken is also very good, though not as good as the wonderful, crispy-skinned version at Cantoon Garden, and I also like their Sauteed Lotus Root with special bean paste sauce. You might actually do better going to Cantoon Garden twice than going there once and to Congee Village once, and if you do go to Congee Village, you might want to go there first so that the experience doesn't risk being an anticlimax.

      (4) Great NY Noodletown - Get some noodle soup or/and congee (I like the congee at Congee Village, too, but Noodletown's is thicker and has more non-rice/broth ingredients), a dish with yellow chives or pea shoots, some barbecued item(s) (I love their roast duck), etc. If you want lo mein, the ones with ginger and scallion are my favorite. Go any time; their menu is the same all day and night until closing.

      (5) If you want dim sum and money is no object, I'd recommend Chinatown Brasserie, and in that case, get a couple of cocktails and whichever dim sum items appeal to you. Otherwise, I recommend Dim Sum Go Go. Stay away from buns there, but their other items are good, and some of the non-dim sum items are worth ordering, for example the Smoked Shredded Duck with young preserved ginger & fungus. Here are some of the dim sum items I like there: Turnip Cakes, Beef Tripe with black pepper sauce, Chives & Shrimp Dumplings, Duck Dumplings, Stuffed Mushroom, Chinese Parsley Dumplings, Mushroom Dumplings, Tapioca with egg yolk, Coconut Cake.

      1. re: Pan

        Thank you for taking the time to craft such a thoughtful response, Pan. I really appreciate it. My one and only venture into Chinatown was to Red Egg for dim sum, and I have to say we didn't love the place at all. There were a couple decent items, but the overall meal was mostly very forgettable.

        The tangerine beef and fried chicken at Cantoon Garden sounds like it might be right up our alley. We also love a really nice fried rice. Haven't had many great fried rices over the years, but a good one is really special.

        1. re: Slob

          You're very welcome.

          I went to Red Egg once and had very cheap dim sum ($40 for 4 people). It was definitely a good value, but the tastiness of the items was inconsistent, and I think the up side is probably a good deal higher at Dim Sum Go Go, while the increase in expense is moderate (you'll probably still spend under $20/person if you go before 4 PM) and definitely worth it. Whether I'm willing to go much further and pay up to $9 per dumpling order to experience Chinatown Brasserie is a harder issue for me. I've been there twice but simply have trouble justifying going more often, given my income and budget. Your mileage may vary, but it was a delicious experience both times I went.

    2. anyone been here more recently?

      2 Replies
      1. re: AubWah

        Yes, but I was in a vegetarian mood and had a giant plate of ong choy. Quite good.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          very interesting. for some reason this place gives off a vibe like they have a serious kitchen

      2. Grabbed a takeout menu from here. I have never seen such an exotic chinese menu printed in english. stir fried intestine over rice for $3.95 will probably be my first foray

        3 Replies
        1. re: AubWah

          i walked by it this weekend and was thinking about trying to get some friends to go although at the fujian restaurants i prefer having someone who can read very fluently (i can read, but at like probably a 1st or 2nd grade level) b/c there is alot of stuff that isn't translated or translated poorly and i hate having to ask them what every single dish is

          looked sort of promising though

          1. re: Lau

            yea looks so interesting and im usually not interested in fujian restaurants

            1. re: AubWah

              yah me neither although i have a feeling its possible that i just don't know enough about fujian cuisine b/c i pretty much like all the food from that region, so find it odd that i dont like that many of their dishes.

              fuzhou is just north of xiamen (like 150 miles) and chaozhou and i really like chao zhou food (chiu chow and teochew) and i really like hokkien food (taiwan and singapore). hokkien is just means fujian their dialect which is called minnan in mandarin. minnan people are from the southern part of the fujian province (xiamen, quanzhou) and you would have encountered their food knowing it as taiwanese food or in singapore the majority of the dishes are either hokkien cuisine or chao zhou cuisine. So it just seems odd to me that i could like food so much that is so close fuzhou and then not like fuzhou cuisine, it leads me to believe i just dont know what to order