Asian fusion of the recent kind, not the crab rangoons of yesteryear, reflects the trend of second generation Asian chefs reinterpreting traditional dishes by incorporating them with a multitude of multi-cultural flavors. They were just as at ease eating sisig at home and burgers at a takeout joint, so why not somehow mix the two together? Dale Talde of Top Chef fame reimagines the dim sum experience in this manner at his new restaurant Rice and Gold, located on the ground floor of Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown. The items on the dim sum cart might look familiar at first glance, but peel back the rice rolls and you’ll find bacon alongside lobster, and bite into that sesame ball to be surprised by a pb&j filling.
Like with all dim sum items, it’s always best when they haven’t been sitting around the cart for too long. At Rice and Gold, freshness was a bit of a mixed bag, and not everything aged well at room temperature. This meant that any type of steamed dumpling didn’t stand a chance, while the shrimp toast and chinese broccoli held up pretty well.
You could also supplement your dim sum with large platters from the brunch menu. The kimchi spam fried rice was one of the standouts, although it was slightly on the salty side, but that’s what happens when spam features prominently in your dish. I appreciated the creativity of the pho soup dumplings, but the broth was a little too strong in anise and again, the dumplings were a bit small and lukewarm. The thai fried chicken wings were crispy and tender, but it could have used a little more heat to live up to the thai in its name. The only real disaster was the orange beef, which arrived soggy underneath the duress of a mountain of cloying sauce, reminding you of all the bad takeout you’ve ever had.
If you want to avoid the lines and crowds at a traditional dim sum restaurant in Chinatown, then stopping by at Rice and Gold isn’t a bad option. The restaurant is spacious with a lot of seating and getting a table as a walk-in is pretty easy during prime weekend brunch hours. It’s decorated in that funky Fresh off the Boat aesthetic, where Chinese cats coexist with colorful, urban graffiti, so it makes for a good ambiance. Things won’t taste like your traditional shu mai or spring roll, and not all of the mash ups work, but the ones that do really stick.
Rice and Gold
50 Bowery (Ground Floor) (between Canal and Bayard St)
New York, NY 10013