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Chatham is back

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iraperelson Jan 14, 2011 06:12 PM

The Chatham is back! Today, January 14th 2011, should go down in the history of Chinatown as a Day of Resurrection, the Second Coming of the Chatham. How often does something like this happen? I had passed by the shuttered facade of the Chatham a number of times in the past few months and looked in sadly, yearning for another cha shew bao and a coffee with light cream. I wondered about all the people who had worked there and the many people who hung out there. One of the signs in Chinese in the window talked about a "renovation". But with all the news about rising rents and stores going out of business, it seemed unlikely that a restaurant with simple, affordable food serving mainly to locals in Chinatown had much of a chance. Especially with the closing of the OTB parlor right next door which provided a lot of customers.

However, it is true. The Chatham has been renovated, really just spruced up a bit: the tables in the front removed, a new counter, more tables in the back. Many of the staff are still there, too. A customers told me that the former owner who was in this eighties retired and the workers bought the restaurant from him.

The char shew bao (roast pork buns) are the best. No place in any of New York's many Chinatowns offers a more freshly baked version. Dim sum are served from carts every day at lunch. The food is very reasonably priced. And where can you still get good old school Cantonese food? The atmosphere is also very warm and neighborly.

Go soon and celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Best wishes to all the staff of the Chatham. Best Wishes for a prosperous future for the Chatham Restaurant.

-----
Hop Shing
9 Chatham Square, New York, NY 10038

 
 
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  1. Chandavkl RE: iraperelson Jan 15, 2011 09:15 AM

    Thanks for the pics!

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      foodie9 RE: iraperelson Jan 15, 2011 01:38 PM

      Great News.Did you try the cha siu bao? Is it the same as the old version before they closed? What about prices? Thanks

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodie9
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        iraperelson RE: foodie9 Jan 15, 2011 05:57 PM

        I tried them right away on Friday the day of reopening. They are the same as before. I was so elated that I didn't notice the individual prices. I had two cups of coffee, three char siu bao (of which one was to take out), an order of turnip cakes and an order of shrimp and chive dumplings. The bill came to $7.50.

      2. s
        SomeRandomIdiot RE: iraperelson Jan 16, 2011 05:27 AM

        What I like is they're keeping the dim sum at 1.70 and the wait for tables should be shorter since the OTB people won't be there any more.

        1. f
          foodie9 RE: iraperelson Jan 16, 2011 07:34 AM

          I though sure prices would go up. How much for cha siu bao now?

          1. b
            bkiley RE: iraperelson Jan 16, 2011 01:44 PM

            Yes it is back and some of the staff is the same. Two of our favorite waitresses are gone, but we still recognized some of the other faces. We changed other dinner plans for Saturday night, because we got a call on Thursday from one of the waitresses that the place was opening on Friday. Even though it's just opened, word of mouth is traveling fast - each table was full. Our group shared, Wor Wonton, Broad Noodles with Fresh Pork, Lobster Cantonese Chinese Style; Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger & Scallions, Beef & Bitter Melon, Steamed Minced Pork with Canton Vegetables and Salt & Pepper Squid. Each dish was terrific. Since they closed back in June we have been trying different restaurants, even making the ltrip to Flushing, for a replacement favorite. We found lots of resturants with a few good dishes,but we couldn't find one that met the standards set by the food at the Chatham. We have missed this place and am happy they are back in force. We're going back next week for the dim sum which we always felt outclassed even the bigger dim sum houses.
            Oh yeah, it's been all cleaned up and the kitchen is brand new.

            7 Replies
            1. re: bkiley
              penthouse pup RE: bkiley Jan 16, 2011 03:48 PM

              "...because we got a call on Thursday from one of the waitresses that the place was opening on Friday,,,"

              Perhaps you could expand--this seems rather unusual...are you related to said waitress?

              1. re: penthouse pup
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                bkiley RE: penthouse pup Jan 17, 2011 06:59 AM

                No, not related, not even Chinese, just friendly. We have been going to the Chatham since it's first opened many years ago. We became friendly with three of the waitresses, I guess because they saw us there so often and because we're fairly adventurous and would take their suggestions on what to order. The waitresses usually leave by 6:00 PM and we tried to get to the place before then because their English and pateience level was better than most of the waiters. A few times we were delayed and had trouble ordering the special dishes we wanted. When we mentioned that to our favorite waitress she said that we should call her before 6 and she'd put our order in before we got there. And so that's how we got her phone number; When they first closed in June we called her to find out the story and have been calling for updates during the year. Although she's not one of the women who returned to work there, she did us the favor of calling as soon as she heard that they were reopening for sure. Pays to be friendly - it isn't as if the NJ shore newspapers were going to report the reopening.

                1. re: bkiley
                  penthouse pup RE: bkiley Jan 17, 2011 08:40 AM

                  Really interesting--and unusual!

                  1. re: penthouse pup
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                    diprey11 RE: penthouse pup Jan 17, 2011 11:11 AM

                    A standard Chinese table service, if you ask me. They won't run to you when you snap your fingers, but they somehow remember all your kids' anniversaries and your grandchildren names (let alone your food preferences). Don't have to be Chinese, just thoughtful, patient--and a patron.

              2. re: bkiley
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                Lau RE: bkiley Jan 18, 2011 10:24 AM

                interesting, ill have to go back and try it soon

                i always liked their cha siu bao (roast pork bun) and they had decent gai mei bao (cock tail bun), but i remember their dim sum to be heavy and oily (albeit extremely cheap) and their dishes were decent, but not amazing. Certainly better was available in flushing at Imperial Palace or Canton Gourmet for dinner (or Cantoon Garden in the city) and Jade Asian / Guang Zhou for dim sum.

                It would be nice to have another good cantonese restaurant in the mix though!

                1. re: Lau
                  b
                  bkiley RE: Lau Jan 24, 2011 05:24 AM

                  Lau - we went for the dim sum this weekend and I think you should give it another try. A;though someone on the other Chatham is back discussion mentioned that you had to order from the steam cabinet, we were happy to see the carts being pushed around by the same old staff. We sampled the tripe, chicken feet, duck feet, fish balls, turnip cake, the little spareribs in black bean sauce, pork and shrimp siu mai, chive dumplings, shrimp rice roll, the deep fried taro balls and of course the cha siu bao which is not on the carts and has to be ordered from the front case.

                  The only negative vote was for the chicken feet - the black bean sauce just wasn't great and the chicken feet bordered on oily. The duck feet was incredible though and almost made up for the lack of flavor on the chicken feet.

                  Someone else also mentioned that they had made the cha siu boa smaller, but the size seemed fine to us - and the flavor was up there with the best. And, best of all, they still brew the tea instead of relying on tea bags, and you can request Jasmine if you want it instead of the regular brew.

                  We expected the place to be a little less busy because the OTB isn't around, but the place was jammed and stayed jammed for the time we were there. So, try it again and hopefully you'll find the dim sum to your taste.

                  1. re: bkiley
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                    Lau RE: bkiley Jan 24, 2011 05:55 AM

                    hmm ok, ill give it a try soon

              3. n
                nooyawka RE: iraperelson Jun 14, 2011 03:03 PM

                Didn't their roast pork buns used to contain onions? If so, they changed. The buns are also less sweet than I remember.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nooyawka
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                  chocokitty RE: nooyawka Jul 5, 2011 05:26 PM

                  I tried their pork buns and dai bao (the large steamed bun that's pretty much packed with ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, hard boiled egg, etc.) last Friday for myself and my parents. The prices went up prior to its closing/renovation. If I recalled correctly it used to cost 70 cents and $1.30, respectively, and now it's 90 cents and $1.80, respectively.

                  As for the taste, the pork buns look like the same but it's mediocre. Way too much bread. It didn't have that quasi-sweet maltose glaze that it used to have. The filling tasted pretty one-note to me even though it's still filled with onions.

                  The dai bao it tastes fine (not the same but fared better than the pork bun) except the cake-like bun doesn't have any structure. It falls apart when you touch it or bite into it.

                  For me, this is a major loss. (My parents were very disappointed, too, especially when they had both of these buns as teenagers and shared this love of Hop Sing back then.) I need to get my butt to Chinatown more often and search for a pork bun that Hop Sing used to serve.

                  Tina
                  http://thewanderingeater.com/

                  -----
                  Hop Shing
                  9 Chatham Square, New York, NY 10038

                  1. re: chocokitty
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                    nooyawka RE: chocokitty Jul 8, 2011 04:57 PM

                    Thanks, chocokitty!

                    I still like Hop Shing because of some of the old faces. But I'm constantly getting there too late in the day for their fried taro/shrimp fritters! D'oh!

                    New Mei Li Wah and the Sun Say Kai don't cut it in the roast pork bun department either. :(

                    -----
                    Sun Say Gai
                    220 Canal St, New York, NY 10013

                    Hop Shing
                    9 Chatham Square, New York, NY 10038

                    Mei Li Wah
                    64 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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