Tag Archives: chinatown

Rabbit House

My wife picked up a Pulsd deal for this place that got us a six course omakase with three glasses of sake each for $89.

We opted to share six different glasses, one to pair with each course.

Yes, they do serve rabbit, and the theme of the restaurant definitely involves rabbits.

Before the omakase began, we were served a delicious, warm wedge of country bread with olive oil and pepper.

Prior to eating rabbit, we ate rabbit food. The first course was miniature crudite with a blob of miso paste, and an oyster shooter with wine jelly.

Next up, beautiful and delicious tuna tartare with fried lotus root.

Then we had this trio of beef tartare, cheeses and pork spare ribs.

After that, a yellowtail preparation that included both cooked and raw styles.

Then came the star of the show – the “trapped rabbit.”

This was pretty nice, and similar to a porchetta of sorts (rolled whole muscle cuts that are cooked, then sliced). It came with a side of dressed greens, colorful carrots and mushrooms.

Last was the black sesame custard. This was a tasty but not overly sweet way to end the meal. I enjoyed.

Over all this was good but not great. The Pulsd deal is definitely worth it, though, if it’s still available.

RABBIT HOUSE
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002

Phobar

This spot just took over the Char House location, which was an asian steakhouse (there’s another location by Washington Square Park too). The concept here is customizable bowls of pho with tableside boilers. You can even choose how rich your broth is, like some ramen joints offer; 8hrs, 16hrs, etc. My wife and I skipped that gimmicky stuff and went with some regular menu items instead.

For starters, we tried (1) the chili and tamarind sauce chicken wings; (2) the spicy chili oil pork knuckles; and (3) the spring rolls.

All three were great. The spring rolls were pretty standard in style and format (wrap them in lettuce with herbs and veg, then dip into fish sauce). The wings were delicious and crisp, with fried shallots on top. The pig knuckles were the stars of the starters though. Fork tender, jiggly, juicy, flavorful and spicy. I loved them. They reminded me of oxtail or braised chuck stew meat.

I had the surf and turf pho, which is beef broth with a half lobster and a nice big short rib on the bone. This is hefty at $25 for a bowl, but it really satisfies. Great broth and both the lobster and the short rib were perfect.

My wife had the bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass pork and beef soup. It was delicious, and contained a ton of different meats within.

All in, this was $85 including tax and tip. High, but very tasty.

PHOBAR
43 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Le Turtle

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.

We started with the following:

Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.

Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.

Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.

Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.

Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.

Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.

Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.

Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.

This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.

90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:

And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:

This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.

There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.

There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.

Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.

Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.

Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.

Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.

I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.

LE TURTLE
177 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002

Sing Kee

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

A food friend of ours organized a massive 18-person, multi-course Chinese Thanksgiving meal on the weekend before turkey day as a way to celebrate our love of food.

We started with a house soup that contained dry winter melon and shredded pork.

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These clams were served in a bean sauce that really popped. Super flavorful and clams were cooked perfectly.

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These fried pork chops were incredibly tender and juicy. Definitely one of my favorite courses.

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I’m not usually into full veggie dishes, but this mushroom platter was really incredible and satisfying. Those things at the bottom are little tofu skin crepes that are filled with a variety of mushrooms.

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This whole fish (flounder, I believe) was another top dish of the day.

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The meat was succulent and tender, and the veggies were a nice vehicle to deliver the sauce that they sponged up.

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Fried and chopped lobster with some sort of Cheetos-like cheese coating. Incredibly unique for a Chinese joint. These were gobbled up almost instantly.

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Beef! Yes! This was likely either flank or strip, but it came out on a sizzling skillet and was served in a really delicious brown sauce. Very tender.

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Also a winning dish, this chicken was basically deconstructed and then re-assembled with the meat having been replaced by mixed-protein sticky rice. That rice was then coated and blanketed with extremely crisp chicken skin. So awesome, and so labor intensive.

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Another hit dish was this dungeoness crab on a bef of flat, wide noodles (think chow fun style).

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This was a very photogenic dish, and the crab meat was delicious.

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The noodles could have used a bit more of a flavorful sauce, but otherwise this was really good.

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On the side we enjoyed some stir fried and garlicky pea shoots.

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And for dessert was a warm bowl of sweet bean porridge, of which I did not get a good shot.

All in, this meal only cost $45pp with tax and tip included. I definitely recommend giving this place a try. Especially for the chicken/sticky rice, fried pork chops and whole fish.

SING KEE
42 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

Mr. Taka

Mr. Taka is easily one of the best bowls of tonkotsu I’ve had in NYC. The thick, rich pork broth manages to be full of porky flavor without going overboard with the salt content or overpowering you with too much garlic. It’s velvety smooth – no off-putting textures, which can sometimes happen with thickened broths.

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The meat quality is awesome. Super soft with a good char on the outside of each slab. It falls apart between your chopsticks. So good. I recommend getting an additional slab, since your bowl will only come with one if you don’t.

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The noodles are the straight kind, not wavy, and if you order the spicy version you get a soft boiled egg and a normal sized blob of spicy paste that won’t overrun the entire eating experience with heat.

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I highly recommend this joint for all your slurping needs. It really is as close to perfect as you’re going to get.

MR. TAKA
170 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

Flaming Kitchen

This joint offers a legitimately awesome Chinese food experience in the heart of Chinatown. The owner contacted me for a press meal, and I was quick to jump at it.

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The interior is very bright, pretty, spacious and clean. The dining room was a cool and comfortable, with plenty of elbow room.

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My wife and I turned over all control of our meal to our waiter, Griffin, after we poured ourselves some oolong tea.

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Griffin asked a few questions, like “do you like spicy foods,” and “do you have any food allergies.” Yes, and no. “We are willing to try anything.” He was happy about that, as he was planning to feature some of their more signature dishes for us. And then we were off…

The first thing that came out was this plate of thinly sliced conch with spicy chili sauce.

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The conch was cooked perfectly. It was tender enough to make you think you were eating chow fun noodles, but it still had snap to it, like you might associate with nicely cooked squid. My wife referred to this dish as “protein noodles.” I thought that was pretty clever, so we did a “lift” photo for all of you Instagram whores out there.

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And the spicy chili oil with lemongrass was the perfect sauce to deliver all of this deliciousness. I can’t wait to go back and order more of this. $12.95.

Next up were these pan fried mini pork buns. Say what? Steamed pork buns that are also fried? Yup. Take a look:

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They’re steamed first, and then one side is pan fried to give it a nice flat and golden brown crisp. I’ve never seen this before.

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Inside was tender and lemongrass-spiced pork meat with scallions.

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They were great. The bun was soft but not sticky and gummy, and the pan fried side gave them a nice texture mix that kept my taste buds interested from the first bite to the last. $5.95.

We tried four entrees! The first, and our most favorite, was the braised whole tilapia in spicy chili broth with peppercorns.

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It may LOOK like a nightmare of spices for you heat pussies out there, but I assure you, this broth is drinkable. I love spicy foods, and I can handle a lot of heat, but my opinion is that this dish is accessible to all in terms of spice levels, so long as you don’t actually eat the dried red chilies. The peppercorns within are very herbal and only slightly numbing, like a milder version of the kind you might encounter in spicy hot pot. This was so addicting that we brought home whatever was left of this dish so that we could have at that broth again and again. It almost had a Thai tom yum flavor, but without the lemongrass.

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But back to the actual fish: the meat was extremely tender and flavorful. Braised means it is fall-apart tender, and with some fresh cilantro on top, you feel like you are eating so fresh and healthy. Tilapia is a light fish to begin with, so this was a very good entree to start with. $24.95.

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We even got some of the cheek meat out of the head. Mmm.

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Next up was sauteed frog with spicy peppers.

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The frog itself was mainly leg meat, with some occasional other parts mixed in, but chopped up coarsely so you had to be deft with not swallowing any bones. I found that eating in the front of my mouth, with my front teeth, was the trick to maneuvering the bones with ease. The meat was awesome. If you haven’t had frog, to me it tastes like a cross between tender chicken and a scallop, both in texture and flavor.

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This was the spiciest dish of the day, too, as the chopped dried red chilies added a nice kick in the balls for heat. The green peppers aren’t that spicy but they have a great aroma and flavor. I even tasted traditional black pepper in there as well. $22.95.

The next dish was salt and pepper jumbo shrimp. These were presented butterflied, but with the shells and heads still on, on a bed of lettuce, peppers, sliced garlic and scallions.

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While a few were slightly overcooked, the salt and pepper batter was delicious and crunchy. We dipped these into the sauce that came with the frog dish as well, for a little more spice. $21.95.

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We treated the fourth entree as a side, since it came out alongside our fish dish. This was sauteed pumpkin with celery and artichoke.

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The pumpkin was tender and slightly sweet, which went well with the fresh braised celery flavor. The artichoke added a bit of starchiness to the dish, so if you are not a meat eater, this will be nice and filling for you, and unique to boot. Not bad for vegetarian! $14.95.

We will definitely be back here, again and again. For a long time my wife and I were hunting for a good Chinese and spicy Szechuan joint in the area. This place will give us our fix, every time. When you come here, I highly recommend the pan fried mini pork buns, the braised whole fish and the sliced conch dishes. All three were amazing. I realize that frog is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoyed it. If you are up for trying something different, then go for it because I recommend that as well. They also serve dim sum, so if that’s your thing, I suggest doing that as well. Oh, and upstairs is a karaoke joint. So you can go up and sing your ass off after dinner.

FLAMING KITCHEN
97 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Bite of Hong Kong

My wife and I have been on the prowl for a good Chinese place for quite some time. We were always in search of something more – something simultaneously unique and seemingly authentic, serving up good quality food without breaking the bank. Our criteria were numerous: (1) It had to be in Chinatown, but (2) not overrun by tourists (Wo Hop). (3) It couldn’t be some cheap, dirty and shitty joint (China Red), or (4) some gigantic dim sum warehouse dining room or buffet (Golden Unicorn). (5) We also had no room in our hearts for more than one visit to an overpriced and super trendy joint (Red Farm). (6) Finally, the menu couldn’t solely consist of Americanized Chinese dishes as the signature items (every other takeout/delivery Chinese joint in the city).

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good General Tso’s chicken from time to time. But like I said above, we wanted something more. I know that list above may seem like a diva’s demands, or the asinine pre-performance requests of a big Broadway star, but in NYC, where Chinese food is insanely abundant, one can start to become very picky and particular about what they want to eat.

So where to go? Enter Bite of Hong Kong.

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This joint contacted me to come in for a press meal. When I read the detail sheet, I was instantly excited. This place seemed to meet all of our criteria in one fell swoop, perhaps because the menu contains more than just standard Chinese/Cantonese fare. There are lots of Hong Kong style dishes in there, of which I am, admittedly, not fully familiar. But my and my wife’s eyes and appetites naturally wandered to those things, because they were different from what we typically see at Americanized joints. They were more authentic, and, in turn, more unique for us.

Take this trio of appetizers that we munched on, for example. Jellyfish, duck tongue, and crispy pig intestines. I’ve had jellyfish before, and the best way to describe it is this: a cold salad made of slightly crunchier/snappier noodles.

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The shit is delicious, so don’t let the “ickiness” of the actual protein fool you. If I gave it to you without telling you what it was, you’d think it was a kind of noodle or unique vegetable.

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I found myself jumping back and forth between that and the crispy pork intestines pretty regularly.

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These were crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside, kind of like pork skin with some meat attached, only halved in the crisp and succulence factors. These make for a great snack. As far as intestines go, and offal in general, these are pretty top notch!

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The duck tongues were a bit more tricky. I popped one into my mouth and started to chew, thereby pulverizing the small bone that is attached. This was my first time having them, so I had no idea. Our host, Mike, then explained that you eat the meat off and around the small bone, kind of like how you would take down a chicken wing.

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These had more juicy fat content to them than I expected from a muscle like the tongue. When I say fat content, I mean the edible, flavorful kind – like in the marbling of a steak. Up front is the meaty part, and in the back, around the bone, is the fatty part. Cooked with soy sauce and spices, this is a fairly simple dish, and the portion size is large for an appetizer.

I’m a huge fan of chow fun, the long, wide, broad noodle dish. Here, we went with the dry preparation, which is simply hit with heat in a wok and tossed with veggies and protein. We chose beef.

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The beef was incredibly tender and flavorful, and the noodles were cooked perfectly. This dry version, when executed properly, leaves pretty much no oil in the dish, and leaves behind no greasy texture whatsoever.

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That was certainly the case here, because Chef Fei is a master on the wok. This chow fun ranks among the best I’ve had.

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Speaking of bests, our next dish was hands-down the best crab dish I’ve had in NYC. That shot of Fei above was taken as he was plating.

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This is fried Dungeness crab. The legs are separated from the body and each part is coated with a light and puffy batter before hitting the wok.

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That batter is amazing, by the way. It reminded me of the batter you sometimes get around Chinese fried shrimp, or shrimp toast. Perhaps a beer batter?

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In any case, you can put the shell in your mouth and pull the crunchy batter off with your teeth for a nice hit of savory with each bite of juicy crab meat.

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I seriously couldn’t believe it when it came to the table. Not only was it stunning to look at, but the method of cooking preserved so much of that rich crab flavor in each bite of meat. As you can see, the final product gets topped with crispy fried shallots, scallions, egg, and shredded carrot.

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Even the super flavorful gutsy bits were left in the shell and fried. I passed those off to my wife, because she loves that stuff.

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A crab of this caliber will run you about $50 here, as the market price is in the $20’s per pound.

I should note here that all of their seafood is pulled right from these tanks, which are situated between the front dining room and the rear dining room.

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Rear dining room:

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The seafood selection here is truly incredible, by the way.

Dungeness crabs:

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Coral shrimp:

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In addition to those critters, they also have fresh lobster and a variety of live fish, which they serve whole in various cooking preparations. We saw one coming out to another table and were blown away by the presentation.

And instead of the standard orange at dessert time, Bite of Hong Kong brings over some slices of fresh watermelon. Nice touch.

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So long story short: it seems that my wife and I found our ideal place for good Chinese food that meets our demanding list of criteria. I highly recommend this place. I wish I had discovered it sooner, as it opened in March 2015. I’ve missed out on over a year of this delicious shit! And if you happen to live in the area, you should pop in to try one of their lunch special meals for under $6. That is an insane bargain!

BITE OF HONG KONG
81 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002

Joy Luck Palace

Joy Luck Palace is a new dim sum mega-hall in Chinatown that took over the space from older dim sum mega-halls Grand Harmony and 98 Crystal Palace.

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In classic dim sum style, carts are pushed around the restaurant offering delicious bites of dumplings. Confusing wafts of hot sterno and crystal shrimp shumai overwhelm you when you enter the large space. But soon, your nose settles in and your stomach takes over.

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There really isn’t a bad item here. There are just some that are way more successful than others. Some seem like they are purely for affectation or Instagram fodder, while others are truly inspired culinary genius. In addition to those fun items, there are plenty of tried and true dim sum classics. And everything is cheap!

Since we came here with a big group of food bloggers and high-traction Instagrammers, we were able to sample almost every item on the dim sum menu. As such, I’m going to hit you with a photo-dump style review, where I highlight my favorites here and there with extra words other than the identity of the dish. I will say that this is one of the better dim sum joints I have been to, so I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Shrimp and pork:

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Stewed pork meat:

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Sticky sweet rice inside these leaves:

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Veggie dumplings:

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Beef rolled up in wide, flat noodles:

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Same thing with shrimp here – both were good:

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Another shot of the shrimp and pork:

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One of my favorites is next: a fried pastry cruller wrapped in a wide rice noodle and then topped with soy dumpling sauce, green onion and cilantro. The play of different textures here was awesome.

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These doughy pig buns are deceiving. They look like they might be porky and savory, but they were very sweet with an egg filling; more like a dessert. Very nice for Instagram posting.

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That was a kiss of death:

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Savory yet sweet pork bun:

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There’s BBQ pork inside this flaky dough:

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Assorted shrimp dim sum:

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I’m a huge fan of tofu skin. Below is tofu skin wrapped around chicken. Very nice as well.

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Assorted shrimp dim sum:

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Beef meatballs:

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Dim sum for days:

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The tripe was a bit rubbery for my liking:

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Savory filling inside this noodle nest:

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These had a savory filling inside as well, not the expected sweet red bean paste that you often see in Asian pastry shops and bakeries. The outside “shell” is more like that gummy rice flour dough:

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This noodle dish just needed a bit more salt, otherwise the texture and flavors were great:

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Another favorite here. This is called “Buddhist’s Paradise.” Inside the noodle wrapper is a fried vegetable spring roll. Another awesome texture combination with winning flavors.

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Veggie dumplings:

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Another home run was this shrimp roll. Chopped shrimp, shrimp paste “sausage” and veggies are wrapped up in tofu skin and then fried. At first I thought the tofu skin might have been an egg pancake or crepe, but I was mistaken. Absolutely awesome.

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More Instagram fodder here. This carrot-shaped cake/bun is filled with a sweet mashed taro or lotus root type of filling. The outside “shell” is more that same gummy rice flour dough I mentioned in another dish above. But perhaps a savory rabbit meat filling would be a nicer play instead?

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Here’s that carrot with The Hungry Rabbit in the background:

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These short ribs were a bit too chewy/fatty and lacked a grilled or charred flavor, but the sauce and meaty bits were actually pretty tasty. A slight tweak here and there would make them great:

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Shrimp ball ala Trump toupee noodle nest:

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Curried cuttlefish:

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Deep fried bacon wrapped around a shrimp ball with mayo? SURE! These were excellent with chili oil too, instead of the mayo:

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Chicken feet:

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Egg custard tarts:

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Durian fruit pastries:

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So I think that’s a good guide to this joint. If you stick with the basics, and try a few flourishes that I highlighted here and there, with any LUCK you will come away overJOYed… KNEESLAP!

JOY LUCK PALACE
98 Mott St
New York, NY 10013

New Tu Do

My wife and I stopped in here for a quick Vietnamese fix.

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I had the small bowl of Pho Tai (eye round beef only). The broth had good flavor. It was a bit salty, but overall it really hit the spot. The meat was good quality, and the herbs were fresh.

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My wife tried this version of bun bo hue (another hearty type of beef stew) but with added pork as well. The broth had a shrimp paste flavor to it that really threw us off. We weren’t happy with it.

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We also tried these flattened rice noodle cakes that were topped with dried shrimp powder, mung bean paste, scallions, fried onions and fish sauce. These were okay. Though I am not a fan of the dried shrimp powder in general, that flavor made much more sense here than in the paste form in the bun bo hue soup.

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My wife also had a durian fruit shake. I’m not a huge fan of durian (smells like rotting garbage), but if you can get past the smell then this was actually pretty tasty.

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NEW TU DO
102 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

Sau Voi Corp

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

This little corner Vietnamese bodega was a staple spot for me and my wife when we lived nearby.

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They sell everything from Vietnamese variety show VCDs to music CDs, over the counter meds to dry goods and trinkets.

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But they also sell banh mi sandwiches.

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I grabbed two on my way home from jury duty, which brought me back into my old stomping grounds.

The classic: ham, pate and slices of pork roll with pickled veggies, cilantro, mayo and sri racha.

The spicy BBQ pork: BBQ pork with pickled veggies, cilantro, mayo, BBQ sauce and sri racha.

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Both were really tasty and flavorful. The bread here is likely made early in the morning. When I arrived it was still being kept warm in a toaster oven type thing, but it may have dried out a bit in the hours it was there. The French bread was crispy and flaky, so much so that the roof of your mouth gets raped pretty hard, but the sandwich flavors make it worth the pain. These sandwiches are pretty solid for a cheap Chinatown deli shop. Stop in if you’re nearby.

SAU VOI CORP.
101 Lafayette St #3
New York, NY 10013