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"Manhattan’s Chinatown Renaissance"

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  • Pan May 23, 2013 04:04 PM

I was alerted to this article in the "NY Magazine's 'Sichuan Belt' in midtown Manhattan" thread: http://www.menuism.com/blog/manhattan...

Here's a list of the places mentioned:

Cha Chan Tang at 45 Mott Street

Mottzar Kitchen at 70 Mott St.

Full House Café at 97 Bowery

Lee Chung Café, located at 82 Madison St.

Noodle Village at 13 Mott St.

Cutting Board, 53 Bayard

Spicy Village at 68B Forsyth St. (formerly He Nan Flavor

)

Diamond Hill Café at 147 Canal St. (for want of a better description is the “Asian Chipotle,” and therefore probably not worth our attention)

85 Chinese Restaurant at 85 Chrystie St. (formerly Yogee)

Xi’an Famous Foods at 67 Bayard St.

Poon Kee at 39 Monroe St.

Xian has been covered extensively and doesn't need to be covered in this thread. Spicy Village/He Nan Flavor has also been covered pretty extensively and is a very good and worthwhile place to visit if you have a reason to be in the neighborhood.

I've been to Noodle Village, though not recently, and found it very good. I went to the old Yogee and was very underwhelmed. I haven't been to the rest of these and would love to hear your opinions on whether they were well picked for an article by this title.

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  1. Interesting article. I haven't been to most of these restaurants and so I'm adding them to my list.

    Another worthy addition is Cafe Hongkong from the owners of South China Garden.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7502...

    1. Haven't been go to C-Town in a while... looks like I'll have to pay a visit. I wish I could visit as frequently as I did so many years go

      But I'll always miss the long gone (like, more than 25 years gone) Lin's Garden. It was an 'old school' Cantonese place on Bayard Street. The food was simple, inexpensive, and quite good...I've not had truly great Chow Mei Fan...probably my very favorite noodle dish... since they closed. Even Paul Simon gave Lin's and their Chow Mei Fan a shout-out in one of his songs.

      The character of their food absolutely _defined_ "wok hee", that elusive "something" I grew to crave before I even finally learned that it had a name.

      1. Cha Chan Teng has been around for at least two years, so maybe not *that* new by NYC restaurant standards? I like their breakfast special, which costs something like $3.50 and comes with a hot drink. You can get a Chinese breakfast where you choose two of either congee, fried noodles, or cheung fun. They also have Western-style breakfasts with eggs and ham.
        They do a good strong HK-style milk tea and I like their house special fried rice; the rest of their menu that I've tried is so-so. Good place for a quick late night meal if you live in the area, and they have this cool monitor setup on the wall that loops video of a Hong Kong street.

        Cutting Board - I actually really like this place for what it is! They serve mostly Western food with a Chinese touch - pastas, hamburgers, katsu. It's really inexpensive - average entree around $6. Pasta tends to be a touch overcooked, but I like the place for a tasty, fast, and cheap meal and its unusual menu. They have a nice moules marinieres appetizer that we usually get.

        Also new in Chinatown is Aux Epices, a Malaysian restaurant on Baxter street. There's a thread about it on CH.

        4 Replies
        1. re: pravit

          Yeah, and it doesn't sound promising. Have you tried it?

          1. re: Pan

            Yes I have, and I like it! I think the food is better than the Malaysian place in the Bowery/Elizabeth tunnel, although it's a tad more expensive.

            This Lee Chung Cafe place sounds interesting. Has anyone tried the Myanmar fish noodles? I rarely get down to the part of Chinatown...

            1. re: Pan

              I don't usually post second-hand reactions, but Iron Frank, an original Chowhound who isn't active these days but whom I often eat with, tried it a couple of times and proclaimed it mediocre at best, so I've written it off as anything I plan to try anytime soon.

            2. re: pravit

              Note that my reference in the article was to restaurants that had opened in the past couple years. That was the time frame that I used.

            3. I noticed a new Malaysian restaurant on Division St.between Bowery and Market, "CM Malaysian Restaurant." Haven't tried it yet.

              In addition looks like two of the seafood restaurants on that stretch of Division St have been newly renovated - there's one at 31 Division with a big picture of a hotpot, and another further down the street at 49 Division.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pravit

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/901342

              2. interesting it is true that there have been alot of restaurants opening up recently

                re: ones that ive eaten at

                Noodle Village - i think its one of the better restaurants in chinatown. I need to write an updated review as I have more thoughts on this place after going here quite a few times.
                https://www.lauhound.com/2011/01/nood...

                Spicy Village - i like this place
                https://www.lauhound.com/2013/03/spic...

                Xi'an - still good, but has gone slightly downhill from the original in flushing

                85 - i need to go back, but Yogee had quite a bit downhill and even their beef noodle soup which is what they were famous for had gotten pretty mediocre

                Poon Kee - while obviously very limited menu, this is one of my favorite places in chinatown. It's not very different from what you get in HK
                https://www.lauhound.com/2011/03/poon...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Lau

                  Lau, I forget whether you've been to Mottzar. Is that a place you like?

                  1. re: Pan

                    i have not been to mottzar, i wanted to try it, just haven't gotten around to it...have you been?

                    1. re: Lau

                      Not yet.

                2. Another new Chinatown restaurant is Ninh Kieu on Christie, a Vietnamese place. The interior is completely renovated and a lot nicer than most Chinatown restaurants - I'm liking this trend.

                  Their menu almost seems like a photocopy of Nam Son on Grand Street. I'm not a Vietnamese food expert, but had hoped to see something on the menu I hadn't seen before ...

                  Food was OK, nothing amazing. About the same as Nam Son, but they were more generous with the lettuce and herbs. Did not try the pho, but I hope this place gives limes instead of lemons - don't know what's up with the lemon thing in NYC Vietnamese places...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pravit

                    I happened to go to this place the first day it opened, and have been back one more time since then. It is related to Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều on Jerome Ave in the Bronx, which is some of the best Vietnamese food I've had in NYC. If I understood the owner correctly, she owns a nail salon near Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều and opened the Chrystie St spot as partners with the owner of that place. This might not be correct - it's just what I imagined she might have said.
                    Unfortunately, although I was excited when I realized it was somehow related to the Bronx restaurant, I have been disappointed by most of the things I've tried. The pho seemed special with the first bite or two but then didn't hold my interest.
                    The Bronx restaurant's menu is small, but as @pravit says above, the menu on Chrystie St is gigantic. One dish that the owner recommended was unusual (to me) and tasty, although not run back and eat it again tasty. I *think* it was Bun Rieu Cua, although I might be misremembering, a noodle soup w/ crab, tomato, and fish cake.
                    Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/536/sets...

                  2. A few new reccomandations from my last few weeks

                    Division 31 (31 Division St, where Hua Du used to be) I have only really been here for "edge" takeout (soups and noodles, no main courses) (I found it late in the day and had already eaten) a few times But I have a few notes for that. One real suprise was the Ginger & Lo Mein. One would not expect a Division street seafood resto to make Hong Kong Lo mein especially one that, based on it's menu listings is heavily Fuzhou). But not only do they do it, they do it better than nearlly all of the LEGITAMATE noodle shops in C'Town I've been in. They don't give you the normal container of broth with them, but it really doesn't need it (they probably broth it for you in the kitchen, thogh since it isn't all that soupy so maybe they don't (or render the broth down so thick it coats without soaking). The Harmon Chow mai fun is ok took. It's a little too squishy but it is flavorful (which is more than I can say for the dish at a lot of places in the area) And OK West Lake Beef Soup (just skip the pork rice cakes).

                    Golden Sand (the new Dim Sum Hall on East Broadway) I didn't really have time to fully asses this place (I was in a hurry and fully vetting a hall takes a lot of time) The real star here is the scallion pancakes again, something you probably wouldn't expect to be on the menu of a Dim Sum hall. But they are incredible, if a little different from the standard version (theirs are more like a pan fried scallion glutinous rice pancake) but deeply satisfying.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jumpingmonk

                      Golden Sand? Where's that?

                      Funny that there's a new restaurant called Division 31. There was a restaurant there almost 20 years ago called 31 Division!

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Don't remember the exact adress on East Broadway, but it's in the half closer to Chatham Square (I think it's a door or two down from the bookstore) I's one of those places that's entierly second floor with only the stairs at ground level (I think it may be the same spot where Canton was before [or whatever that dim sum hall with the fish on it's sign was called) I'll try and get the street adress new week.
                        And as for the name, well it's the street adress. It's not all that much different than Noodles 28 (though that is no longer actually ON 28th st) or the two Chatham Squares (where I suspect, the fact that the adress is legit for both of them is the ONLY reason one hasn't sued the other to change it's name)

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          If it's where I'm thinking, the upstairs place (39-41 East Broadway) was known in recent years as Kings Seafood or J&B.

                          1. re: squid kun

                            yah thats where i was thinking too..hopefully its better than those places which were beyond awful

                            https://www.lauhound.com/2010/12/new-...

                            1. re: Lau

                              I can confirm that that is the place; the name has changed (and presumably the owners and chefs) but the overall arragement of the dining room is the same as what I saw (same placement of the stair case versus the room, same three walls of decorations in the back next to each other) So I know its the same building
                              And given your remarks I should point out that, while I thought the scallion pancakes were very good, I thought that the fried glutinous rice dumplings were very very bad.

                        2. re: jumpingmonk

                          Update 7/17/13

                          I think I'm going to have to withdraw my recommendation of Division 31. I went back there today as an "emergency" stop (the place I wanted to go to for lunch ran out of pretty much everything). I re-ordered the lo-mein (which I liked so much the last time) and decided to try the salt and pepper pork chops. In the case of the latter they completely screwed up the order; I have no clue what I actually got (at first I thought they had given me Peking pork chops by mistake (as well as giving me the lunch special form when I had ordered the regular sized one) but when I took a bite of whatever it was, I'm not 100% sure the dish they gave me was even meat (it was a little too soft and glutinous for that, it almost had the consistency of rubber cement).
                          The lo mein also fell short. This time the noodles I got were thin flat ones as opposed to the skinny yellow spaghetti like noodles one normally sees used for Hong Kong style lo mein. Nothing wrong with that per se (Grand street gourmet used to use that kind of noodle for their ginger scallion beef lo mein, and I had no quibbles with that.) but the seasoning was a bit off too; there was WAAY too much sesame oil used and an awful lot of celery used to stretch out the scallions. not to mention that the flat kind of noodles are a lot stickier than the "normal type" so getting the condiments distributed through them evenly is a lot harder.

                        3. They should have mentioned Shanghai Heping on Mott, which opened in the last year. Shanghai cuisine seldom gets the recognition it deserves...
                          The doufu skin-wrapped yellow fish there is just wonderful.

                           
                          2 Replies
                          1. re: buttertart

                            Actually I didn't mention Shanghai Heping in the article even though I was the first to mention this on Chowhound since it wasn't as distinctive (compared to what was already in Chinatown). A few other newer places fell into the same category and I was up against my word limit of a little over1,000 words.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              I see. I didn't realize this was your article.

                          2. New update

                            Mini Express-Chinatown Arcade (where Coluck used to be). Not all that impressed. The shredded pork rice cakes were OK (the pork itself was a little gamey) but the Amoy rice noodles were really bland Plus they added fish cake which I'm fairly sure Ha Moon Mai fun isn't supposed to have (Tai Pang Mai Fun sure, but not Ha Moon) which was REALLY fishy. I suppose there is also the fact that I am little sad Coluck is gone; while most of the items there weren't great some of their attempts at "fusion cuisine" were intruiging, like their rice cakes with Italian hot sausage and peppers.
                            Speaking of variations on classics, I have more sad news, Oriental Noodle Shop (the place on 45thst right below Lexington with the vaguely disturbing sign) is out of business and for rent. Again not a lot I loved on the menu, but their Hong Kong Style lo mein was a great riff on the dish (not to mention one of the few places I knew of to get Hong King lo mein WITHOUT going to one of the Chinatowns) and their bacon mai fun was pretty good too. (at least Phoenix Garden has that still, sort of)

                            1. And some more new Chinatown openings. Not one, but TWO new dessert places:

                              1) Indessert - 1 East Broadway, near the bend where it meets Bowery. They have various dessert soups, some traditional, some modern.

                              2) Mango Mango - 63 Bayard St. Lots of dessert soups and slushes, mostly the modern kind, and mango mochi cakes.

                              I've tried both and like Mango Mango better, but neither is as good as Manji in the New World Mall food court in Flushing. Still, they are welcome new additions to Chinatown.