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Lunar New Year in Chinatown with a mixed group: Go Safe or Adventurous?

NYCKim Jan 12, 2012 12:28 PM

I am in a quandary that only a NYC foodie would encounter. Although I am not of Asian heritage I usually acknowledge the Lunar New Year in Chinatown. I worked a block from there for most of my career so I am really spoiled in terms of options and have not been able to eat what I like to call “Plexiglas Chinese Food” for many years now. I love the little hidden places in the neighborhood where all you can really do is point and hope you get something tasty.

BUT I need to decide on a place where I can take a group of about 10 budget minded people for dim sum brunch (so no $50-100 feast thankyouverymuch) who are at varying levels of food appreciation. While I think that having the dim sum the carts adds fun to the process, some of the cart places that I know may seem to dingy and grimy to a few people.

I introduced them to Dim Sum GoGo last year and it was a big hit. Clean and bright without any feet or fins sticking up from the dishes. Not the cheapest, or the most authentic though. The staff was friendly and accommodating and I know the group would be fine with returning there. But like many of you, I’m a food proselytizer. I feel like I need to bring them a little closer to the real experience.

I was considering Golden Unicorn. They do have the carts and the place is done up in bright colors. So I figured that would add to the festive atmosphere of the brunch. They also have duck on the main menu, which was an ingredient in a favorite dim sum cited by one of last year’s participants.(Only Dim Sum GoGo seems to have duck dim sum!)

What do you foodies think? Get off my high dragon and just give the people what they want and take them back to the same place that they already know? Or let them try something new and even cheaper this year even though I know there will be chicken feet in the room & half the group will get lost finding the place?

If you have other Chinatown suggestions I’d also love to hear them. I will do reconnaissance tomorrow and Saturday on any place I don’t already know from a recent experience. THANKS

Dim Sum Go Go
5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

Golden Unicorn
18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

  1. JungMann Jan 12, 2012 01:18 PM

    We were at New Shanghai last year, introducing a group of people to dim sum. They were admittedly wary of anything that wasn't a chicken dumpling or lo mein, but once we got a visit from the lion dancers, everyone was that much more excited about their meal. We got them eating fuqi feipian and xiaolongbao before long. We had a similar experience terrific experience with the happy hour crowd at Red Egg and lion dancers the year prior. Getting your diners involved in the revelry can definitely make even plexiglass a lot easier on them.

    Old Shanghai Deluxe
    50 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    3 Replies
    1. re: JungMann
      NYCKim Jan 12, 2012 01:33 PM

      Thanks, JungMann. No, Plexiglas is not an option. That isn't even real food! Just grease on a conveyance device! LOL

      New Shanghai sounds like a winner in terms of crowd pleasing. But I do not see one in NYC, Just Boston.

      I am surprised that Red Egg is having a lion. I'll be sure to ask them about that when I call about the menu prices.

      1. re: NYCKim
        JungMann Jan 12, 2012 01:48 PM

        Sorry, the restaurant was actually called Old Shanghai Deluxe. My mistake.

        1. re: JungMann
          NYCKim Jan 12, 2012 02:38 PM

          Oh. :) Thanks.
          OK - Old Shanghai Deluxe
          It looks good. I will check them out during lunch tomorrow!
          I love good xiaolongbao!

          (I was a little scared that you were recommending the New Joe's Shanghai. Whew!)

          Old Shanghai Deluxe
          50 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    2. c
      Chandavkl Jan 12, 2012 01:05 PM

      I wouldn't call Dim Sum GoGo inauthentic--I think modern might be a better term. A similar choice would be Red Egg--modern dim sum, off the menu, modern and clean, and more expensive than average. There's also Full House Cafe on Bowery, but dim sum is only a segment of their menu.
      All of the other dim sum places in Chinatown have just been around too long, and in Chinese food longevity usually results in complacency.

      Dim Sum Go Go
      5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

      Red Egg
      202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

      Full House Cafe
      97 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chandavkl
        NYCKim Jan 12, 2012 01:15 PM

        That's quite fair, Chandavki. "Modern".
        I know that Red Egg is doing a $56 Prix-Fixe but I will check back to see if that is mandatory, I think the hipper, funkier space at Red Egg will make that one guest forget about her duck requirements. (Yes, I checked. No duck).

        Sad but true about the big hall spots. But I am hoping that someone here will have had a recent positive experience at an old-school-style place that won't freak out TGIF fans.

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