The Chinatowns ~ Orderinny

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Chinatowns

Three consecutive meals at three different Chinatowns (two in NY, one in Boston) later, I've come to the conclusion that if you can stomach 1) a little bit of attitude from the servers, 2) sitting with others on the same table and 3) the insanity that’s called parking in Chinatown, you most definitely be able to find some excellent grub at hit me its so dirt cheap rock bottom prices. And have money to spare to eat dessert too!
Anyway, P and I hit Boston's Chinatown for Sunday brunch and both of us remembered a taiwanese restaurant (uncreatively named Taiwan Cafe) which we had been to and really liked 3 summers ago when visiting a friend at MIT. So we had the signature pork chop rice, not very suitable at 11 am, but very satisfying, with a huge pork chop deep fried in star anise-spiked batter laying atop a huge mound of rice, which was in turn drenched with dark, sweet and salty meat sauce. The plate of the rice also came with a hard boiled egg cooked in soy sauce and some pickled vegetables which helped balance the oily factor. We washed down the rice with a fresh bowl of sweet soy milk served in a bowl and picked up another plate of fried vermicelli, once again topped in the tasty meat sauce and also a big roll of baked chinese dough (烧饼)All that for under $15 bucks with a hefty tip!And the leftover dough served us well as an afternoon snack while stuck in traffic too! Parking was a crazy affair however, with hungry chinese eaters double parking, placing cars blatantly next to the fire hydrants etc, so if we do ever go back, we'll be taking the metro.
Almost 10 hours after our foray into Boston's ctown, we landed in Flushing, Queens. This time we headd to Shanghai Tide for what else? shanghainese food, including a steamer full of soup dumplings, which, while competently made did not wow us. We also had 2 not tt memorable dishes and a bowl of spicy dan dan noodle that stole the show. Its amazing how good a little bit of minced pork and a lot of chili oil mixed together with handfuls of scallions can taste. While we were there, we observed the bulk of the diners actually eating hotpot, which while did not seem like the best summer dish to us, was indeed a huge bargain, as $18.95 yielded an all you can eat buffet and as much beer you can drink. Again, we spent no more than $25 dollars, tips included. We blew the remainder of our cash on cantonese desserts at Sweet & Tart Cafe, where we had a hit in the doubled boiled ginger egg custard (姜汁炖奶)and a miss in the classic green bean soup (绿豆汤). Still at $6 dollars, the entire tab cost less than a frozen hot chocolate in a certain Manhattan eatery, which while satisfying, is definitely not worth its price.
Chinatown #3 is our very own sprawling Manhattan version, where littered amongst some serious duds like the (un)Yummy Noodles are several more worthy restaurants. We discovered a newfound favorite in Great NY Noodletown, where the minced beef congee is up to discerning standards, and the portions for the wonton soup are huge, with more than half a dozen wontons, all swollen with fresh, succulent shrimp. We liked that place so much we were there three times (once we didn't get seats because it was so darn crowded) in less than 2 weeks. Talk about an obsession. We ended our mad eating session that day with a superlative bowl of sweeten silken tofu (豆腐花) for a princely sum of $1 from Kong Kee Food Corp. This made our total lunch expense that day $10 including tips! Slap me now, I'm giddy with the realization that I fed me and my bf for the same cost of a salad in midtown! How much less I would be spending if the office was closer to ctown =(

Taiwan Cafe (34 Oxford St, Boston)
Shanghai Tide (135-20 40th Rd, Flushing)
Sweet & Tart Cafe (13611 38th Ave, Flushing)
Great NY Noodletown (28 Bowery, NY)
Kong Kee Food Corp (240 Grand Street)

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