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Midtown East / Land of Plenty / Yu Mi Zhi Xiang

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  • avial Dec 5, 2011 03:11 PM
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Anyone hear about this place taking over the Mia Dona space? Who's the chef, related to any of the other places? Signage and what not just popped up maybe last week. Spoke to one of the construction workers or maybe a boss yesterday on the way home and it's going to be Sichuan restaurant, opens today supposedly.

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  1. more sichuan in midtown?

    14 Replies
    1. re: AubWah

      my thought exactly...me, i'm perfectly happy w/ Cafe China these days as my go-to Sichuan place (as since they sometimes deliver to me in Gramercy/UnionSq on slow night and since it's BYOB for now and since it works vibe-wise for a variety of dinners, it's rather perfect for me)...but the more the merrier, maybe?...

      1. re: Simon

        My midtown chinese lunch has progressed to hunan manor. why dont one of these places open on uws?

        1. re: AubWah

          Because unfortunately the UWS is a culinary Bermuda-Triangle where no good restaurants can exist.

        2. re: Simon

          Meh, do we reallly need another Sichuan restaurant? There are so many under-represented Chinese cuisines that deserve better exposure in New York. Sichuan cuisine already has a vibrant scene in the city, this one barely gets me excited anymore.

          Of course, it probably makes business sense to open a restaurant of a popular cuisine. Eventually, New York is going to be over-saturated with Sichuan restaurants. Or maybe, it already is over-saturated. I imagine ads on the Chinese equivalent of Craiglist: Looking for cooks trained in Sichuan cuisine. Come to New York, America. Make $$$$$$$$.

          I, however, look forward to Lotus Blue. Yunnan cuisine is something new and different this city needs.

          1. re: Cheeryvisage

            I'd like to see an actual Hunan place open up somewhere in Manhattan. Spicy, but without being that mala junk Sichuan and Chongqing are known for.

            Side question: It's very rare for me to eat (any) Chinese in the US, but if I requested to have a certain dish made (say, 擂辣椒茄子- mashed eggplant and peppers), would the restaurant roll with it? Have any chowhoundists made requests before (not at a take-out place, that is)?

            1. re: BuildingMyBento

              "... that mala junk Sichuan and Chongqing are known for. "

              A Chowhound first. You've made my day.

              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                There is one in Manhattan, Hunan Manor:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804061

                1. re: scoopG

                  and Mapo Tofu across the street from Hunan Manor. Both excellent a different from one another.

                  1. re: Motosport

                    Mapo Tofu was only so-so at best, when I visited. There are much better Sichuan options.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Just had dinner there Saturday and it was outstanding. We vwere the only non-Asians in the place if that means anything.

                      1. re: Motosport

                        I think it is the only Sichuan restaurant in NYC that you frequent, no?

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710598

                        1. re: scoopG

                          We regularly go Hunan Manor across Lexington. They are both only 2 blocks from our home.
                          We do hit C Town regularly but mostly for Fukien or Cantonese.
                          What is "So-so" about Mapo?

                          1. re: Motosport

                            Comments in linked CH thread in reply above. I found it paled in comparison to Szechuan Gourmet or Little Pepper....

                2. re: BuildingMyBento

                  Ordering off-menu in a Chinese restaurant is common, especially if you can explain what you want exactly. No idea about that particular restaurant.

          2. Walked by and grabbed a menu on the way home, prices are exorbitant but I guess that's what you get for Sichuan by bloomie's. $10 for ox tongue & tripe app but portions are supposed to be large. Manager/owner said that the chef is fresh off the boat from Sichuan. I ended up ordering delivery when the SO didn't feel like cooking:

            Got the seafood hot and sour soup, mouth watering chicken and beef chow fun. Soup was not so much hot and sour but more of a egg white drop soup with a balanced white pepper seasoning thing going on, decent amount of tender white fish filets of unknown origin, small shrimp that tasted a bit off, and slices of scallop that tasted and looked fresh. Throw in mushrooms, peas, carrots to round out the soup.

            Mouth watering chicken was $10, came in a larger round takeout container - 9" diameter maybe - 10-12 slices of chicken, dark meat I think because pieces were bone-in, the ma la sauce was effective and kept the burn/numbing going for quite some time and made for a great additive to the soup.

            Beef chow fun was typical, also $10, take out container was stuffed to the gills, noodles were just a pinch drier than I prefer you could taste maybe such a hint of the cooking wine that was used which I found appealing, gave it an extra dimension and I think is an indication of good wok hay or whatever it's called.

            Menu has a good array of fish dishes so will have to muster group of people to try them out at some point.

            -----
            Land of Plenty
            208 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

            1. Reviewed in the Village Voice today:
              http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-01-1...

              1 Reply
              1. re: scoopG

                As usual, the review has a strong opinion but lacks substance. I guess this is because you never reviewed that restaurant. ;-) So what's the newspaper to do?

                Calling Chengdu TianFu proletarian is, excuse me, idiotic because their chef is one of the finest Sichuan cooks in the tri-state area and, IMHO, has no rivals in Manhattan. But of course they don't have a fish tank, so if you want a whole fish you would have to arrange that in advance.

              2. I work about 4 blocks away so I went in for lunch with a coworker and ordered Spicy fish filet with silky tofu and shredded pork with asian celery which were part of lunch specials. we also ordered dan dan noodle to taste.
                I really liked the food. They were fresh and seasoned well. The portions were big. I especially loved the service which was a pleasant surprise.
                We are actually going back there for lunch again but I can't wait until I try their regular menu.
                I am hoping to try a few exotic stuff off their appetizer menu.

                -----
                Land of Plenty
                208 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                2 Replies
                1. re: Monica

                  I just came back and wow, I really really like this place. We ordered Ox tongue and tripe with roasted chili and peanut dressing appetizer and Szechuan Pork Dumpling with roast chili soy and Shredded Pork with smoked tofu & asian celery lunch special.
                  The pork dumplings were SO SO good, chewy and thin skin with flavorful pork diced pork meat drenched in hot and sweet chilli sauce oil...I couldn't believe how good they were and the ox tongue and tripe appetizer was also very very good. In fact, i liked it so much I ordered an extra to take it home. Shredded pork with smoke tofu wasn't as good as the shredded pork i had the other day but still very good. On top of that, out waiter was extremely nice. He even gave us extra hot soup.

                  -----
                  Land of Plenty
                  208 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                  1. re: Monica

                    Thanks for the review. We have also walked by the spot and it looks good. We will have to try it. Yet, cant anyone open a new good Cantonese spot in midtown...?

                2. I was here for dinner 3 days ago. Everything was delicious. The service was also surprisingly excellent! I don't think they renovated the original Mia Dona space much. The interior decor is pleasant and tasteful. I know I said that Sichuan cuisine is starting to be over-represented (especially in Midtown), but judging from this one meal, I admit that Land of Plenty appears to be an excellent Sichuan restaurant.

                  I'd be happy to return.

                  Photos of our meal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

                  1. The hits keep on coming.

                    People have remarked on the number of new BBQ places that keep opening all around the city. The same is true with Sichuan restaurants and the overall quality level is pleasingly high.

                    Land of Plenty had been touted to me by Cheeryvisage. My tastes and hers don’t always coincide but I respect her opinions. In this case I was glad I gave LOP a try.

                    First I had to overcome my long standing and deep seated aversion to eastern midtown. At best I find it uninteresting; at worst, soulless. The restaurant sits in the Nexus of Evil, East 58th St. just east of 2nd Ave,. It took awhile but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was really narrow minded of me to avoid a place simply because of its location. Last Saturday night we finally went.

                    As Chinese restaurants go the décor here is on the upper end of the scale. Faux marble walls, no doubt a concession to the midtown zeitgeist.

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8353/82...

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8341/82...

                    I liked our waiter, a middle aged world weary type who at the same time was thoroughly professional and quite friendly. We ordered some familiar dishes and a couple of things on the spicier side.

                    “You like this spicy?”

                    “That’s why we’re here.”

                    “OK!” He gave us a nice smile.

                    Here we go.

                    Dan Dan noodles.

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8494/82...

                    A nice version. Not the best we’ve had but certainly in the top tier. There was some depth of flavor under the heat. There’s no reason to order this here but there’s also no reason not to if you’re in the mood.

                    118 - Slice Poached Beef Shank in Five Spiced Soy

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8219/82...

                    This dish makes occasional appearances on the menus of the better Sichuan restaurants around town. It’s a bit one note in a way that’s paradoxically pleasing as long as you like that note. We do. The beef is thinly sliced and quite tender and the five spice flavor predominates as you’d expect. The best version of this we’ve had is at Little Pepper in College Point, full flavored and big enough to serve 4 big eaters. LOP’s rendition is smaller to match delicate midtown appetites and the spicing was a bit less assertive. On the positive side it was served on a bed of shredded lettuce which added some welcome crunch and was a nice counterpoint to the beef.

                    Mains:

                    P41 - Smoky Wok Tossed Diced Chicken w. Thousand Crispy Chili

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8361/82...

                    What this actually was was our old friend Chong Qing Spicy Chicken. I was hoping for a dish that would be new to us but this was a fine version of an old favorite. Yes, it was smoky and the heat level was muscular, a true 10 out of 10. In fact, I would have preferred an 8 or 9. I thought the heat level came within an ace of overwhelming the other flavors. My GF, OTOH, thought it was perfect. So there you go.

                    P33 - Crispy Lamb Filets w. Roasted Chili – Cumin

                    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8200/82...

                    This was just wonderful. Suitably lamby but not to an overwhelming degree. The red chilis, cumin, and bits of green pepper were in perfect harmony. There was heat, sure, but it was in balance with all the other ingredients. My only complaint? It wasn’t particularly crispy but there were so many good things going on that I didn’t miss the crispiness at all. My GF liked this dish well enough but thought it came in 2nd behind the chicken. Just so you know.

                    A few quick words about the crowd and then I’ll wrap things up. The smart young sophisticated Asian crowd that I’ve spoken of many times before was in full attendance. These people miss nothing. I should probably just follow them around from restaurant to restaurant. It would save me from having to do a lot of research.

                    There’s an old Borscht Belt joke about the Curse of the Klopman Diamond.

                    A businessman boarded a plane to find, sitting next to him, an elegant woman wearing the largest, most stunning diamond ring he had ever seen. He asked her about it.

                    "This is the Klopman diamond," she said. "It is beautiful, but it's like the Hope diamond; there is a terrible curse that goes with it."

                    "What's the curse?" the man asked.

                    "Mr. Klopman."

                    Well, Land of Plenty comes with the Curse of Midtown – some of the people who live in the neighborhood show up and eat there. Rich and uncurious. On the night of our visit we were seated next to an aging Tom Wolfe "Master of the Universe" type, his trophy wife, and their bored daughter who scanned her iPhone through the entire meal. And who could blame her? Her father did all the talking. He was the type of guy whose last moment of uncertainty came 30 years ago. He’s got everything figured out and he freely dispensed his wisdom in a slow, ponderous, deep voice

                    There’s a reason I stay out of midtown.

                    But all of that isn’t reason enough to stay away from LOP. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. It’s too early to say if this is a great restaurant but it certainly shows promise. We’ll be back.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Thanks for the great report. I have occasion to be in that neighborhood not too infrequently, so though I frequent Szechuan Gourmet (I ate lunch there again today), Hot Kitchen, and Grand Sichuan St Marks, I may try this establishment as well. I do like that thin-sliced beef in 5-spiced soy dish and indeed cannot get it everywhere.

                      1. re: Pan

                        I am about to do something terrible to you. Here's the version of Five Spiced Beef they serve at Little Pepper in College Point.

                        http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8175/78...

                        Yes, that's a massive pile of red pepper off to the side which you can sprinkle over your massive portion of beef. It's a terrific dish. The price?

                        $8.00.

                        If you have a friend with a car get them to drive you there on a Saturday. You'll be able to treat them to lunch.

                      2. re: Bob Martinez

                        Bob, I don't always agree with you. But you've perfectly described why I don't ever want to go to LOP, and why I should. Thanks!

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          I guess it would be silly to ask if you've tried the new Szechuan Gourmet branch on east 72nd and 2nd?

                          1. re: H Manning

                            I like the 39th St. branch of Szechuan Gourmet a lot but I rarely get to the upper East side. It's nice to know that there's a branch of SG there.

                          2. re: Bob Martinez

                            Did you happen to notice if they offered hot pot?

                            1. re: kathryn

                              I didn't see anyone eating it but it's on the menu.

                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                Excellent, thanks!

                              2. re: kathryn

                                kathryn - I did not notice hot pot on the menu last night but I also wasn't looking for it.

                                edit - Ooops, I typed my response before reading Bob's. Guess I just missed seeing the hot pot.

                              3. re: Bob Martinez

                                It's just east of 3rd ave not 2nd ave, easy to get to from the 4/5/6/N/R/Q/E/M trains, followed by a M15 bus trip down to the EV for drinks.

                              4. I actually just ate here last night after doing some shopping in the area. Definitely a good addition to the Sichuan restaurant scene.

                                Food was very good. We had ox tongue and tripe, double-cooked pork, and braised whole fish with picked chili & thousand garlic. Every dish was well-prepared and portions were huge.

                                As Bob said above, decor is nicer than the average Sichuan restaurant in the city and it looks like they have a full bar (we just had beer).

                                Service was also above average. The restaurant was about half full when we got there around 7pm, and they were nice enough to seat the two of us at a 4-person table. The wait staff was very friendly and refilled our water glasses often. One little hiccup - when our fish dish was brought out, the waiter gave us some small plates and told us it was for the fish bones. A couple of minutes later, another waiter came by and took the plates away (I think in an effort to clear some stuff off our crowded table). Not a big deal, but we found it amusing.

                                This was my second meal here. The first time was takeout in late Oct/early Nov when Hurricane Sandy knocked out power at our local Sichuan spots in the 30s (Lan Sheng, Cafe China, Szechuan Gourmet). The food was also good then - we had Szechuan pork dumplings (okay but skin was a little too thick), mapo tofu, and I think braised fish filets with napa cabbage.

                                Overall, I think Land of Plenty is a great option if you're in the area or if you need a Sichuan place with above average service and decor. I will say though that on both my visits, while the flavors were very good, the food was just slightly below that of my neighborhood spots. It seemed like each dish could have used a little more salt or maybe something else. But all in all, I think Land of Plenty is worth a try and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: churros

                                  Which are your neighborhood spots?

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    I rotate between Lan Sheng, Cafe China, and Szechuan Gourmet depending on what dishes I'm in the mood for. And while it's not Sichuan, I also like Hunan Manor a lot.

                                2. I'm still looking for good szechuan in midtown west (in the 50s) ever since the one on 9th/51st closed (currently Basera indian bistro).
                                  Had lunch at Gourmet szechuan on 56th not too long ago and liked it enough to come back. Maybe this is the one?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Ziggy41

                                    RIP the Grand Sichuan on 9th and 51st! Used to get Chong Qing Chicken there with my coworkers. :(

                                    Here's a discussion thread just on that SG branch:
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760484

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      kathryn - that was by far the best sichuan food in manhattan, their fresh killed chicken dishes were excellent...i think it was actually better than the sichuan restaurants in flushing as well (with the exception of Little Pepper)

                                    2. re: Ziggy41

                                      It is the one, you will not find better in the west 50s.

                                      1. re: Alan Henderson

                                        A lot of great info in that link.. glad I asked. Thanks Kathryn.
                                        I'll sub half of the thai on 9th for the old GS.
                                        btw, don't want to change subjects but after trying half a dozen of them, is there better Thai than Pure on 9th? After discovering Pure I pretty much stopped trying new ones.

                                        1. re: Ziggy41

                                          Are you looking for a Thai restaurant or Sichuan? I don't think you can find a restaurant that cooks both well.

                                          1. re: diprey11

                                            I was talking about Thai but never mind that. Thats another discussion I suppose. I was just making an observation on how 9th (and 10th) has all these wonderful Thai, but I would substitute most of them for one decent Sichuan option

                                            Edited: This reply is for diprey11 comment. The replies nesting thing is not workinf properly

                                      2. re: Ziggy41

                                        In my opinion, most of their Sichuan-style dishes are very good to great. Stick to that part of their menu, and enjoy!