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Hoping that New York chowhounds are using discretion with their recommendations

  • f

This might be true in many places, but it strikes me as a particularly aggravating problem in Manhattan. In my family, you were supposed to be judicious and chary with restaurant recommendations, most especially with small Chinese places, not only because you selfishly hope they're not over-run, but because an inundation of customers often ends badly as the overall quality often takes a nosedive.

And this would seem to be a particular danger in NYC, because not only do we have a lot of foodies, but we're always flooded by tourists.

The immediate reason for my fuming is that while I've noticed the line for Prosperity Dumplings grow longer, and I seethe when I see it mentioned in print, most recently the line was the longest I've ever seen it. And just as I was turning away in exasperation, I heard someone say that it had gotten 2000(!) recommendations online.

So, while I love that we come to share here, I kind of hope that when we make discoveries Chowhounds don't share them promiscuously with Yelp and every other places, as if there's a need to brag. Okay, now you can all yell at me for sounding elitist. But it's really the same in other aspects of life - you don't want your charming vacation village to become a crude tourist trap, you don't want your scholarly seminar crowded with ignoramuses. You know what I mean.

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  1. Really?
    If I owned a restaurant I'm pretty sure I would be relying on people who LIKE it to tell their friends; not keep it a secret.

    Just like ANY business that relies on numbers.

    1. "So, while I love that we come to share here, I kind of hope that when we make discoveries Chowhounds don't share them promiscuously with Yelp and every other places, as if there's a need to brag."

      I doubt that is happening--we've seen multiple times in the past that NYC publications like Eater, NYT and Village Voice use CH as a *source* to find new places to write about. Especially on the Outer Boroughs board.

      Once you tip off your fellow 'hounds, you've basically tipped off the rest of the Internet.

      In this age of blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. nothing stays a secret for long. Also CH appears pretty prominently in Google search results.

      1. Secret's out on dollar dumplings. Has been for a while now.

        Anyway, it's an educated tourist that reads Chowhound. Others rely on Yelp and Trip Advisor, but most don't even bother researching restaurants, at all. Why not reward those that dig deeper? They're not the ignoramuses you hope to avoid.

        1. I understand your point and suspect those nyc walking tours, bus tours, and tourism industry websites and guides are a more likely source for spilling these so called secrets...

          And at the same time i can only be supportive and thrilled for these small businesses that are individually owned- especially with the continual onslaught of national chains that often put these places out of business. I would rather see a huge line at prosperity than at the new Denny's

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            Well said, Ttrockwood.

            By the way, Denny's opens at 5 am tomorrow.

            Sadly, I just learned Fulton closed.

          2. You should be glad that little places are doing well. It means they'll stay in business. Look how many very good, even great restaurants go under every year. I'd love to be able to go back in time and find, say, Falai packed to where I couldn't get a table. Might still be there.

            So if the line at Prosperity is long, go to Lam Zhou. Or Vanessa's. Or wherever you like that has decent dumplings within three blocks.

            2 Replies
              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Was one of the saddest closings of all time for me. Last I spoke to him he was back in Florence, don't know if that's permanent.

                Some of his former staff opened Ciccio over on 6th. It's more in the Caffe Falai vein - straightforward house-made pastas, nothing as modernist as his flagship was - but a solid little joint nonetheless.

            1. So you're against good restaurants prospering?

              Huh, how charitable of you.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Agreed.

                When I have a really great meal at a "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant, my first thought is, "Man, I need to get more people in here!" No small business owner wants to be empty. A packed house is a good problem to have.

                So, no, I don't know what you mean. No line the last time I went to Prosperity, either.

              2. The word that jumps out at me in your post is "selfishly." A selfish person wouldn't take the time to post on Chowhound. If I were a jealous guarder of my discoveries, I wouldn't be here in the first place. So you're barking up a tree that doesn't even exist. Why not be grateful that the places you like are popular? It means they'll be around a while and you can keep liking them.

                PS: I walked by Prosperity two days ago, and there was no line. You just got unlucky.

                1. Man, I don't agree with this at all. Imagine if people only discussed having discovered hidden gems within the confines of our relatively small Chowhounding world. We'd all know less and would enjoy far fewer dining pleasures. If the price of sharing our finds is longer waits and a few places not being able to maintain quality after getting popular, so be it.

                  1. I can think of a few places in Hell's Kitchen alone that can use more business, and for Selfish reasons perhaps I would like to spread the word before they shut down like the businesses they replaced. Hows that for selfish

                    On the other hand, there are places like Pure Thai which used to be fairly easy to get into but those days are long gone. Even seeing tourists there these days. Should I stop recommending them? Not a chance. I got plenty of other options when a table is not available. Something I learned the past 14 years of raising kids.. Sharing is Caring!

                    1. Funny, in my family we always shared our favorite restaurants with visiting family and friends. I feel like Chowhound is just an extension of that, but reaching a broader audience. I was brought up to share and not keep all the good things to myself. :)

                      1. I understand your plaint, Fida, but you've raised it decades upon decades too late; since long before Winchell, anyway. One of the primary joys of urban living is discovering places you think no one else knows (vide Y.Berra's "nobody goes there anymore ..."). And yet that exclusivity is a myth; the world grows more crowded -Dumbo as much as Positano as much as Macao- and the web makes our places more crowded still. Unless you can buy your way out of the welter, you're stuck with the rest of us, and the restaurateurs who serve us so faithfully and so well.

                        1. Very few restaurants are hoping to be a hidden gem, neighborhood secret in this food market. It's a strange idea to think you're being conscious by not sharing tips, in an era where there are very to no food secrets left. More often, people are just lazy until the reviews are too hard to ignore, and places like Prosperity eventually catch on, but the reviews start before places even open. Prosperity Dumpling hasn't been a secret for many years. Don't they have a second location now?

                          As mentioned there are also less popular dumpling places you can go to instead... luckily people have done the research and spread the info so you can find them.

                          1. Well, I guess I'm just going to pile on here. Yes, I miss the days when the Red Hook Ballfields were undiscovered. And I miss just popping in to DiFara's for a slice. But, really… why would I be on CH if I didn't intend to tell others about these places &, in turn, be told about other places? And, do you really think that anything on CH won't find its way elsewhere even if we didn't cross post on Yelp or other boards? As others have said, that ship has sailed. Just live with it and find new, interesting places to go. It's a big city.

                            1. Thanks for all the interesting articulate replies.

                              I agree with Coast that most Hounds are educated and more serious about their food, and to me the problem is that Yelp brings people who really aren't particularly discriminating. (I won't go into the issue that Yelp itself seems to be corrupt and unreliable.)

                              And, yes, of course we want small, independent, good businesses to prosper. But, Ipsedixit, it's like...you may want your child to prosper in the world, but you don't want him/her to be overwhelmed and driven to the point of being an ulcer-ridden cocaine addict that ends up collapsing into a nervous breakdown. Some restaurants collapse in one way or another as a result of becoming over-popular.

                              It occurred to me that the trick for a restaurant is really to manage to retain their base, no matter their momentary buzz. The tourist who zip in for a one-off, so that regs like me get exasperated and go elsewhere...that's not so good. The only reason I discovered Prosperity, for instance, was because I go fed up (metaphorically) with another place, Vanessa, when it reincarnated with a new name. And, by the way, in this example, Prosperity was already doing a brisk business; it wasn't unknown locally.

                              Thanks also to those who reassured me that maybe the last few times I just got unlucky. It just now strikes me - maybe some of it is due to tourist season right now?

                              And to Phil Ogelos, love your reminder and reference to the Berra quip.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Fida

                                Do you think Prosperity has declined, or is prone to turning out lower quality food when they get busy?

                                I think that's a valid concern with some places. Maybe not with fast food dollar dumpling joints though.

                                1. re: Fida

                                  I know a great place, amazing food, cheap, no lines. But my lips are sealed.

                                2. Fida, your choice of words are somewhat offensive and rather arrogant. I consider tourists, who visit the charming village, where I reside, more courteous than the insensitive impression you have set forth, above.

                                  The rental space for restaurants have sky-rocketed to unbelievable levels; it's a wonder they can survive at all. So, if we are enthusiastic and happy with a place, why not pass the word and share the joy!

                                  Enthusiasm & generosity are positive traits I hope you can appreciate as the years go by.

                                  1. Yeah, and I disagree. If I feel like recommending a place because it's good and I like it, I'll damn well recommend it. Why? Because I respect other hounds and appreciate when they recommend great places to me.

                                    1. I find the OP's post a cross between humorous and offensive. The purpose of the CH boards is to share information about restaurants/food with like-minded people. If the OP doesn't want to share info with us or feels the need to admonish us not to share info, CH may not be the correct forum for her. BTW, I cross-post my reports on other forums such as Yelp, OpenTable, Trip Advisor (actually happy to help the "tourists").

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ellenost

                                        When I'm walking the dog, it's my pleasure to escort tourists to a cherished spot. I get them to the right place to ensure a positive visit to NY, and they no longer look lost.

                                        What harm can be done by an adventure through a maze of streets that sometimes leads to a restaurant with an opening (especially during the month of August)?

                                      2. How great would your charming vacation village be if the locals had that attitude. Chowhound is about sharing, if you don't like it don't read it and don't share. I'm sure you hope that midwestern 'hicks' like myself stick to the chains, but some of travel to get experiences we can't at home.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                          Corneygirl: On behalf of most New Yorkers I know we welcome you and other visitors to our wonderful city. It's personally satisfying and lots of fun to share favorites with visitors while keeping establishments thriving. I always ask locals for advice when I travel and it should work both ways.

                                        2. Fida, it certainly is a "catch-22," isn't it?

                                          We used to go to Pylos (Greek/EV) often. Now it's usually too challenging to get a reservation. That said, their success has benefited other restaurants. Now we head to Periyali or Astoria.

                                          I love having choices.