Wu’s Wonton King in Chinatown

Forget Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham. What you really want for the holidays is a family dinner at Wu’s Wonton King, a Cantonese restaurant deep in Chinatown. Not the Chinatown that’s near Canal Street and Lafayette, the one further east near East Broadway and Essex Street. You’ll see big family dinners in the works, sometimes three generations at a table, catching up over Peking duck and a bottle of wine. It’s also a popular place for birthday parties, because Wu’s Wonton King is byob, so people will bring their Veuve and a cake, no cutting fee involved. It doesn’t get any better than this, which is why Wu’s is my favorite Chinese restaurant in NYC and I’ve been here three times in the past month.

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Chinese BBQ at Hao Noodle in Chelsea

Certain Asian cultures are known for their bbq, but Chinese has never been one of them. Grilled skewered meat, however, is actually a very popular street food in many parts of China. The new outpost of Hao Noodle in Chelsea devotes a portion of its menu to this relatively unfamiliar but very tasty Chinese bbq tradition. The cuts of meat are small and delicate, but the flavors are anything but. The lamb with cumin explodes with heat, while the pork shimmers in a sweet marinade. Once in awhile the flavors venture too far out into the deep end, as was the unfortunate outcome with the gloppy eggplant in fish-flavor sauce, but in most instances, the boldness hung comfortably by a thread. The most successful dish, in my opinion, was the one with the most restraint, which in this meal was the grilled steak. There were minimal seasonings and the meat was accompanied by just a side of garlic and salt and pepper, a less is more approach that was very effective.Read More

Hop Kee in Chinatown

cantonese crab at hop kee

Hop Kee is one of those old school Chinatown restaurants that look like it hasn’t changed since the 70s. The fixtures are a little frayed from the years of wear and tear and the gray-haired staff looks like it hasn’t turned over since the day it first opened. The only thing that’s changed is the number of people who’ve stumbled upon this hole in the wall, including myself a few weeks ago.Read More

Fancy Peking Duck at DaDong NYC

Everyone knows the Chinese have all the money, so now a bunch of fancy Chinese restaurants are opening up in New York to cater to this clientele. These places are big and swanky, having more in common with a slick and clubby Hakkasan than humble little Hop Kee on Mott St. The latest, and perhaps most anticipated, addition is DaDong (the restaurant has been booked solid on Opentable for months), a famous Beijing chain renowned for its roast duck. Its splashy U.S. debut in Bryant Park leaves no doubt that this is clearly a high end restaurant where no expense was spared in its design and construction. Guests walk into a sleek lobby and are greeted by an attractive host who shows you to the elevator, as if you are going to the rooftop of a nice bar for bottle service, except in this case you’re either going to the second floor for a la carte dining or the third floor for the fancier tasting menu experience.Read More

Dim Sum at Rice and Gold

rice and gold in chinatown

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.Read More