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May 2, 2014 12:51 PM

Upscale Chinese in Chinatown??

My Chinese vendors are in town next week and need a place for dinner on weds night. Is there any upscale Chinese in downtown Chinatown? Flushing is not an option.

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  1. They are visiting from China? Are you sure they will even want to have chinese food here....? I know I wouldn't seek american food in china..
    What's the budget for "upscale" per person for food only? And how many people will it be for.

    1. Is there any reason it needs to be in Chinatown? The more upscale places are in other parts of Manhattan so if you don't need to be in Chinatown, that'd make things easier.

      1. They're from China, that's why they want to eat Chinese food. Some guys who don't like bread or plain spaghetti or the steamed rice in Korea. We'll get a steak at Lugers but for the other meals it will be Chinese.

        Re. Up scale I was thinking Shun Lee, at least something a little different and at the same time familiar. Not worried about price, a swankier vibe is what I'm looking for.

        They're staying at that new Hotel on Bowery in Chinatown so was thinking if there's something nice it'd be convenient, could go elsewhere in Manhattan but dont want to head to outerboroughs.

        10 Replies
        1. re: 2slices

          As far as Chinese food in NYC, I think your best bet is Hakkasan, the food is better than Shun Lee and the room is more impressive.

          Both Shun Lees (West) have become long in the tooth and I find the service brusque, the food lazy like the kitchen isn't trying.

          Another option is China Blue, it's not upscale but the food is very good and very Chinese 口味, the flavors very similar to what you'd get in Shanghai.

          1. re: Pookipichu

            I am no expert when it comes to chinese food but i have had several disappointing meals at shun lee west at the uws location.

            1. re: Pookipichu

              Hakkasan is probably the most upscale and best choice. I also recommend the Uptown Peking Duck House, I know many Chinese people who have enjoyed dinners at this place, the service is excellent.
              As for China Blue, the service is so erratic, the menu is very limited. I gave up on that place. Although the atmosphere is great.

            2. re: 2slices

              Mr chow in tribeca certainly has the swanky vibe you are looking for.... I haven't eaten there in several years though.

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                omg i forgot about that place. used to go to the one in midtown as a kid didnt know its around.

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  No, No No. Mr. Chow is one of the worst restaurant experiences I've ever had. It's not Chinese food either. The waiters try to rip you off , especially if you allow them to order for you .Stay away from Mr. Chow

                      1. re: Simon

                        Great review of the place. I agree with the rating of no stars. His comments of a fiery buffalo dish, with no buffalo and wasn't fiery , reminds me of the scallop dish i had that had no scallop but tofu shaped like a scallop. The waiters uptown were all Albanian or Romanian I don't recall seeing any Chinese waiters. Anyway, a place to be avoided or to go for a laugh

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          I wouldn't go to Mr. Chow if you payed me

              2. Red Farm
                Decoy for duck
                Wong for duck dinner (it's Singaporean/Malaysian-ish)

                4 Replies
                1. re: avial

                  Decoy hasn't started their Peking duck service yet.

                  Red Farm has a feel that's more rustic and casual than upscale. But the food might be interesting for them.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Just saw that Decoy starts their duck service next Tuesday, reservations are required

                    The peking duck at Chinatown Brasserie was very good so I'm optimistic.

                      1. re: Rmis32

                        I think he's referring to the lineage, rather than saying Chinatown Brasserie is still open.

                2. What region in China are they from? you know more of their specific preferences? friends from Zhejiang have very different palates than my friends from Chengdu...if they enjoy spicy food then Szechuan Gourmet or Wu Liang Ye might be an option...

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Simon

                    The older guy is from a small town off the coast in Jiangsu. The food there sucks by all standards, I'm trying to accommodate him, As long as the staff speak Chinese he can get something he likes. the other guys are young and from Suzhou they love everything.

                    Hakkasan looks perfect. Last time I was at Shun Lee it did feel like a relic.

                    1. re: 2slices

                      The menu at Hakkasan is quite good, the duck dishes are very strong (peking duck, pipa duck and duck salad), jasmine ribs, salt and pepper squid, seabass, cod, prawns, sanbei chicken, pork belly, seafood toban, steamed dim sum platter. Desserts are exceptional.

                      Avoid the veal short ribs, grilled lamb chops and brazilian lobster tail. Probably the weakest dishes.

                      1. re: 2slices

                        If they are from Jiangsu and Suzhou, you might want to take them to Shanghainess for familiarity, though I could not point out any upscale shanghainess restaurants in NYC. Some decent ones, Shanghai Heping Restaurant in Chinatown.

                        1. re: nomadmanhattan

                          China Blue is the closest we have to upscale Shanghainese

                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            But their dish were not very authentic...and the services, are spotty. Heping is no fancy, but at least the food delivers what the price tag says and more authenticity.

                            1. re: nomadmanhattan

                              Have you eaten at China Blue? A large part of my family is Shanghainese, the dishes are authentic per my experience (in Shanghai and home cooking). The service is spotty I agree.

                              If you did eat at China Blue, what did you find inauthentic?

                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                Yes, I did. Twice, once by myself, second time with a friend. And although I am not shanghainese, but I am originally from HK where many shanghainese migrated to during and post WW II. So there are quite decent shanghainese restaurants in Hk and I have been to Shanghai couple times.

                                Onto the food. Firstly, if you look at the menu, it is actually mostly SuXi cuisine (苏锡菜), not traditional Shanghai cuisine (沪菜)。 the two regional cuisines are close due to geo proximity, but not the same. For example, the West Lake Fish in Vinegar Sauce is actually Su dish. Crispy Eel Wuxi Style is Xi dish.

                                The few items that are actually Shanghainese, say the drunken chicken had two flaws: not using chicken thigh, which is a must; secondly, clearly it had not been soaked in the ice water cuz the chicken skin did not deliver the right texture - slightly crispy.

                                I also tried the Crab Flavored Lion Head meatball 蟹粉狮子头. Well this is actually a dish from Jiangsu area. Anyway, the problem with this one was that it should use marbled meat (not sure the proper English for 五花肉, basically partially fat/lean meat) but it didn't. Hence the texture came out too firm; lack of crab flavor. Also, water chestnuts were missing.

                                All in all, China Blue failed me as a Shanghainese restaurant, though a decent Chinese restaurant that I would not mind dining by myself there, comparing to many other Chinese restaurants in NY.

                                1. re: nomadmanhattan

                                  With respect, I disagree with some of your points, and concede others. You're splitting hairs.

                                  Yes many of the dishes are Jiangsu based, some of the dishes are from Suzhou and Wuxi. Are they accurate flavor-wise, well executed, I say yes.

                                  Since you've been to Shanghai you should know that Jiangsu and Zhejiang cuisines are both predominant influences. Considering my Shanghainese relatives and friends have said that China Blue tastes of home, I'd say from my experiences, that I would have no hesitation in suggesting China Blue based on cuisine (although the service is maddeningly inconsistent, or perhaps, consistently spotty).

                                  The drunken chicken is not ONLY made with chicken thigh, though dark meat is much more popular in China. The flavor of the drunken chicken is spot on. So I concede that dark meat is de facto for many recipes, but that's not the only way that drunken chicken is made. Also, I don't know what drunken chicken you've been eating but I've never had crispy drunken chicken.

                                  The lion head meatball without crab, does have water chestnuts. China Blue has two distinct preparations and I have had both, and I have had both in Shanghai, with and without chestnuts. Both versions I've tried at China Blue have been pillowy, no complaints, although American pork is leaner.

                                  If you're going to be picayune, Chinese pigs have a different flavor than American breeds. But like I said, in my opinion, you're splitting hairs to advance your point.

                                  If you think that China Blue is not an accurate representation of a Shanghainese restaurant, do you feel that Shanghai Heping is and that it offers better food than China Blue? Because if so, then I will eat there based on your recommendation. I have thus far been disappointed by Shanghainese restaurants in Chinatown, finding them less "authentic", and the cooking with a skill less than what is offered at China Blue.

                        2. re: 2slices

                          One last note, judging the fact that your guest are coming from Jiangsu and Suzhou area, where cuisine is milder and skewed towards sweetness, I would not recommend taking them to Szechuan restaurants. Might be too spicy for their taste.