Solo Dining in Chinese Restaurants
There are several restaurants I want to try, Hunan Homes, Bund Shanghai, Utopia, etc., but I can't always find company so we can order several dishes. What's the best way for someone eating alone to suss out the quality of a place? If time of day matters, it would be either late lunch or early dinner.
I eat alone in Chinatown semi-regularly when circumstances permit. I go during the day and have a soup or a noodle dish. These are often discounted during lunch and are a good indication of the relative quality level of the restaurant (rice plates on the other hand are not. I find they are often less interesting than the rest of the menu). Be prepared to share a table, usually the big round one, with other solo diners, often in complete silence.
If the lunch is good and the rest of the menu looks interesting, I will return for dinner.
This strategy worked well last week at the new House of Xian dumplings on Kearny. Lunch (dumplings and noodles in broth) was a tasty bargain. I'm looking forward to returning for dinner.