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Does anybody go to Chinatown anymore?

or is it passe?

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  1. Well with probably 300 restaurants in Chinatown, there's always the prospect of a "find", which keeps me going. However, the truth is like I've said in the past, Manhattan Chinatown Chinese food is generally stuck in the 1990s when compared to other North American Chinese communities. Kind of like the macarena, I guess.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl

      In some regards yes. The dim sum train left quite some time ago and there is an abundance of mediocre dumpling joints.

      BUT in another, much more important regard no. For all the mediocre dumpling places there exist some stellar, otherworldly chinese "snack" joints. Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge has one of the single best hand foods I've ever had - the sesame pancake with beef. At $1.75! Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry has fantastic dumplings. There are also a bunch of great places to get pork noodle soup. Nha Trang on Centre has a bunch of group filling, soups. And as many people have said, if you know how to pick out the winners, chinatown is the BEST place to go to buy your produce, fish and meats.

      So no, it's not passe.

      -----
      Nha Trang
      148 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

      Tasty Dumpling
      54 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

      Prosperity Dumpling
      46 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

      1. re: mahjede

        where do you generally go for produce fish and meats?

    2. what a great question. i often wonder the same thing. haven't been there in years but remember as a child. would love to bring my 9 year old.

      11 Replies
      1. re: winebarb

        Bringing a 9 year old to Chinatown is a fantastic idea. I would recommend the same meal my girlfriend and I enjoy maybe 8 times a year. The restaurant is Shanghai Cafe at 100 Mott Street and the order is an order of "steamed tiny buns with pork" (soup dumplings), spicy cabbage, stewed pork with tofu skin in brown sauce, and shredded beef with pepper and dry bean curd. None of the flavors are too abrasive for a young palate but at the same time it will be truly different than what you are used to at a local chinese restaurant.

        -----
        Shanghai Cafe
        100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: AubWah

          Does their C health department rating concern you (I notice you often comment about your being put off by glove-less food handling) or is it probably not due to anything too gross like an infestation?

          1. re: Humbucker

            Its not due to anything gross, they are just giving a middle finger to health department because they are making so much money they could have an F in their window and still laugh all the way to the bank. If NY Noodletown can get an A, the system just may be flawed

            1. re: Humbucker

              Too much of the unappealing and unappetizing food service in Chinatown .... kept us from eating there since the early 90s.

              1. re: RCC

                you should give it another try they are very friendly these days its a different vibe

                1. re: RCC

                  I have to agree, Chinatown feels different. It's brighter, and more welcoming, while seeming as if it's serving a neighborhood rather than just tourists. There's more diversity, and more diamonds in the rough than ever before.

                  The only problem is it's hard to distinguish between reviews for cheap, and grizzly, and reviews for quality good food. Some highly recommended places are serving mediocre food. I don't know why low quality ingredients get a pass with Chinatown cuisine.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I have to make a plug for Lau. I usually like anyplace he recommends.

                      1. re: Lau

                        You're more than welcome.

                        By the way, I also am way behind in thanking more hounds for turning me on to restaurants I've had good meals at in the last couple of months. But they're outside of Chinatown, so not relevant in this thread. :-)

                      2. re: Pan

                        Lau did discover Great Sichuan, which was a really excellent recommendation when it first opened (not as good these days, but oh well) and put great effort into reporting the place... earned my trust for sure.

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                        Great Sichuan
                        363 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          thanks sugartoof

                          ive got a ton of reviews to write ive just been traveling and work has been super busy, but i just wrote one today and ive got a huge backlog to write about

            2. Only to buy specific pork products, shellfish and fruits.

              1. What's worth trying in Chinatown besides Amazing 66 and South China Garden?

                Our rotation includes Amazing, SCG, Congee Village on Allen St., Peking Duck House midtown, Szechuan Gourmet (both locations), and Legend. Have been meaning to try Oriental Garden. Any other recs? We're not huge fans of Shanghai cuisine but are willing to revisit that.

                -----
                South China Garden
                22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                Amazing 66
                66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Congee Village
                100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                Szechuan Gourmet
                21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                Oriental Garden
                14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                Peking Duck House
                28 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Legend
                88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                5 Replies
                1. re: fm1963

                  try famous sichuan on pell and pick a fish out of their fish tank. have it prepared with chili miso sauce ($17.95) the chef executes exquisitely.

                  -----
                  Famous Sichuan
                  10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: fm1963

                    Great NY Noodletown? Noodle Village?

                    -----
                    Great New York Noodletown
                    28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                    Noodle Village
                    13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: fm1963

                      I should have posted this before, but I will not go to or recommend South China Garden anymore. It has been my favorite Cantonese banquet place - until a few weeks ago. I got there around 9:40 or so and one of our party was going to be late. A bit before 10, I ordered a large soup. It hadn't come when, at around 10:10, I tried to order a full dinner. The waitress said that their crispy fried chicken with garlic was "sold out" - I think because they didn't want to take the time to wait for it to be made. She said it was so late and didn't want to take my order. She took it, though with bad grace and when I asked for the soup I had ordered from a waiter earlier, she said it was too late for them to make it, but grudgingly relented when I told her I had ordered it before anything else. We were given the most unfriendly, perfunctory, sullen service, although the restaurant closed at 11, according to her - and 11:30, according to the sign outside. I don't require extremely effusive service or anything, but this was ridiculous! The food was good as always, but after going to the restaurant for banquets repeatedly, you'd think they wouldn't be so annoyed at having our business instead of allowing them all to close up shop and leave 1 1/2 hours early. They've lost me, and I won't be coming back.

                      As for Oriental Garden, I've had problems there previously with overly aggressive attempts to turn tables (trying to grab a plate while I was picking up food with my chopsticks and had them on the plate!), but the last time I was there was for a retirement lunch for a colleague in late May or early June, at which the service was good and unrushed and the food was excellent and not too expensive. I think I'll be going there again.

                      Other recs? There are a couple of decent Sichuan-style restaurants, though I have to say I've been to both of these only once each, so far: Old Sichuan Gourmet on the former New Yeah Shanghai space on Bayard St. and Famous Sichuan on Pell St.

                      Shanghai Cafe is decent though not great. For noodle shops, I recommend New Chiu Chow, or whatever they're calling it now, on Mott between Canal and Hester, and Bo Ky. And of course New York Noodletown for barbecued items, dishes with yellow chives, pea leaves, or asparagus, congee, noodle soups, beef stew, ginger-scallion lo mein, etc. I've also enjoyed Noodle Village, but because I'm on a low-carb diet except for one day a week and they're strictly noodles and rice, I haven't been there in months.

                      For Malaysian food, I'm not as crazy about Skyway as I once was, but I find them mostly reliable, and they're very cheap. Given the slim pickings, they may be the most reliable Malaysian restaurant in Manhattan again, though that's not such a good thing. (Then again, as a former resident of Malaysia, my standards are very high, so keep that in mind.)

                      -----
                      South China Garden
                      22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                      Great New York Noodletown
                      28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                      Skyway
                      11 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                      New Bo Ky
                      80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                      New Chiu Chow
                      111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      Shanghai Cafe
                      100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      Noodle Village
                      13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      Oriental Garden
                      14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                      Famous Sichuan
                      10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                      Old Sichuan
                      65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                      1. re: Pan

                        geez too bad about the service at SCG, they're always really nice to me. that said one off service problems happen alot in chinatown and generally the people are really nice at SCG (a total anomaly, wait til i post about my multiple visits to best fuzhou) and the food has remained exactly the same quality which is also sort of rare in chinatown

                        1. re: Lau

                          There were people working there that night that surely recognized me, yet they didn't step in to help. It's no fun eating at a restaurant when everyone working there has made very clear to you they don't want to serve you because they just want to leave 1 1/2 hours before the scheduled closing time. The food was indeed still the same quality, but that kind of ridiculous service is something I won't forget for a long time. And this is the place I've had my birthday banquets for the last 2 years, at least.

                    2. I'm there several times a week. Mostly, I find myself at the bakeries for coffee and buns, and going for dim sum on the weekends. Bahn Mi is another favorite.

                      It's not the place I seek out for an "experience" or even a "find". I just really like it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        Is Banh Mi the name of a restaurant?

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Banh Mi Saigon Bakery is what iluvcookies is referring to, probably.

                          -----
                          Banh Mi Saigon
                          198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                          1. re: Pan

                            I meant Bahn Mi sandwiches in general, but Banh Mi Saigon Bakery does make very good ones.

                            -----
                            Banh Mi Saigon
                            198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                            1. re: iluvcookies

                              Also want to add the street cart that is front of the Chase Bank on Canal and Mott. $1.25 for a generous portion of vegetable mai fun or rice. Mmmm....