If you’re in the mood for a quick, casual sit-down meal or for some take-out, here are two spots that you might consider. The first is Baby Brasa, a Peruvian restaurant in the LES run by Franco Noriega, a male model-turned-chef. It specializes in Peruvian rotisserie chicken and also offers a small selection of healthy salads, sandwiches and seasonal sides. The male model angle initially piqued my interest, but by the end of the meal I only had eyes for the chicken. The meat is tender and extremely flavorful, and prepared in a clean and healthy way, so that you can preserve your abs the way Noriega preserves his six (or eight?) pack. My only complaint is that the quarter chicken is way too small. Spring for the half chicken, which is more than double the size, order a side of the arroz con choclo, an addicting mix of jasmine rice and white peruvian corn, and you’ll have a solid meal.
Another option is the new Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings restaurant in Nolita. This is also run by a good looking crew, a duo of two cute Taiwanese sisters who wanted to make dumplings like the ones their mom made. The branding and aesthetics of this place is great, but unfortunately, I think their mom kept some secrets from them in sharing her recipe. The fillings lacked flavor and the dumpling skins were thick and leathery. Part of the problem was that they didn’t make the dumplings fresh to order, so by the time they reach your plate they are lukewarm and chewy.
We also tried the bento boxes, which are lunch sets that come with your choice of 4 dumplings and sides like scallion pancakes and seasonal greens, but they were not particularly well executed. The scallion pancakes tasted stale (again, the issue of not making things fresh to order), the homemade pickles were big, clumsy raw radishes, and the taiwanese greens were nothing to write home about. It also hurts that you are paying $8.45 for 6 mediocre dumplings when you can get much better ones at Prosperity and so many other places. I get that you’re paying up for better ingredients and real estate, but at the end of the day it should taste really good, and it’s not quite there. Save your money and go across the street for the better dumplings and dim sum at Nom Wah Nolita.
129 Allen St (Rivington St and Delancey St)
New York, NY 10002
Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings (between Mulberry and Mott St)
380 Broome St
New York, NY 10013