A +/- Look at NYC Food

Chinatown Brasserie

A lot has been made about whether or not this place is “good” or “bad”, “worth the price” or not.  But these are all silly arguments, because in the end- it all depends on the diner.  Can you get a cheaper meal in Chinatown?  Of course you can.  You can get a cheaper chinese meal on almost every street corner in New York City… and some of them might have General Tso’s Chicken that tastes better then the one at Chinatown Brasserie- but that doesn’t mean it deserves to dismissed outright.  If you want to have a fancy meal out, at a destination restaurant- and you want the food to be straight up Chinese, well then, Chinatown Brasserie would be the perfect place for you.  If you are a Dim Sum nut looking for an authentic (and cheap) Chinese food experience, then steer clear of this place.

I’m a huge fan of Chinese food.  I love Dim Sum, and have eaten at Dim Sum in many Chinatowns (including NYC, San Francisco, Boston & Los Angeles).  When I lived in Boston we practically lived at a place called China Pearl every Saturday for a year.  My girlfriend indulged me (and it’s one of the reasons we’re married today!).  I also love cheap Chinese food.  The take out kind, and the kind you find at crappy buffets.  I like it all.  In my mind, Chinese food is already perfect… not a lot of room for improvement- so with that in mind, I went into my meal at Chinatown Brasserie, expecting exactly what I got.  Decent Chinese food, in an upscale setting that would appeal to any eater… something I can’t say about any of the places I’ve been in Chinatown.  And for that… you pay a price.

Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings ($9)

How could you not want to eat a dumpling that has eyes?  All the Dim Sum we ordered was very tasty.  My personal favorite were the Shrimp and Chinese Chive Dumplings… but that’s because I’m partial to chive dumplings.

Shrimp & Chinese Chive Dumplings ($8)

Roast Pork Bun ($8)

It says Roast Pork Bun on the menu, but I think that’s a typo… you get three.  And they were very good.  One of the people I was with had never had a steamed pork bun, and he enjoyed it.

Shanghai Style Soup Dumplings ($10)

If you never had a soup dumplings, they’re exactly what they sound like.  Dumplings that are filled with soup.  They should be eaten with a big spoon, so that when you take a bite, the soup fills the spoon rather then your lap.  They may not be the cheapest or best soup dumplings in Manhattan- but they’re very good, and none of the people I was with had ever had soup dumplings before, and they were pretty much everyone’s favorites.

Chicken & Garlic Rolls ($8)

It is very difficult to improve immensely on the concept of a spring roll.  Most things you fry taste good.  These were fine… nothing extraordinary.

Entree food porn and the +/- after the jump… Continue reading


July 23, 2006 Posted by | Food: Chinese, Location: East Village, Price: Expensive, Price: Moderate | 18 Comments

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Before heading to Trader Joe’s I stopped in to Vanessa’s Dumplings for a little lunch the other day…  Only a block away, it’s a great, cheap stop in the East Village if you’re looking for some dumplings.  YOu can get a four or five pieces order of dumplings for $1.99, or and 8 pieces order for $3.49 to $4.49 depending on the type of dumpling. 

I went for the four piece Chive and Pork Dumplings (show below).  They might not have been the best dumpling I’ve ever had… but for the price they are a great option if you’re in that neighborhood.

I also decided to try the Sesame Pancake Sandwich with roast pork… a sandwich made from chopped roast pork, lettuce, carrots and cilantro all stuffed between two pieces of this fluffy scallion bread/pancake kind of thing.  It was very tasty… but also pretty greasy.  Definetely a bargain at $2.99.

They also have frozen dumplings in packs of 30… a great option if you are every throwing a party.  $7.00 to $11.00 depending on the dumpling.

THE + (what people who like this place would say)

  • Super good dumplings in the East Village
  • Quick and easy and really cheap
  • Great lunch option if you work in the area

THE – (what people who don’t like this place would say)

  • There are much better and cheaper dumplings to be had in NYC (most them in Chinatown)
  • Too Greasy
  • Decor is really dingy

Vanessa’s Dumplings, 220 E. 14th St. btw. 2nd & 3rd Ave., 212-529-1329

July 11, 2006 Posted by | Food: Dumplings, Location: East Village, Price: Cheap Eats | 1 Comment