Chinese · New York · Restaurants

New York – Cafe China

On the way to Café China, Beep Beep and I walked through High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. Still buzzing from the excitement of the morning’s revelation, we marveled at the odds of us being on Wendy’s show when she announced she is living in a sober house. For this post, let’s listen to to “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.

Beep Beep picked Café China because of its Michelin star and it’s inexpensive. She doesn’t like spicy food so I had a feeling this wouldn’t be her favourite restaurant. Café China only takes reservations for parties of four or larger.

When we arrived, we put our name on the list. We waited about 20 minutes. Beep Beep was irritated because customers who showed up after us got in sooner. There is seating at the counter and the moment someone was finished, the other waiting customers would request to sit there. I need to be more aggressive in New York.

Once we were seated, service was prompt. We ordered cold herbal tea – Wong Lo Kat ($3), a detoxifying beverage. I found the tea too sweet but Beep Beep said it refreshing.

We picked two of the most popular dishes – the Braised Fish Filet with Tofu ($13) and the Spicy Cumin Lamb ($16). Beep Beep asked for no cilantro so I could eat the food. I should have asked for less spice, because Beep Beep found the food too fiery. Our lunch specials included white or brown rice and a choice of hot and sour soup or a spring roll.

The lamb was juicy and tender. The cumin seasoning was strong and rich from the spicy oil. I can handle my spice and I could feel my cheeks flushing from the heat. Poor Beep Beep was not enjoying her lunch.

The fish was soft and blended in with the crumbled pieces of tofu. I liked the the topping of peanuts, which gave the dish some needed texture. I didn’t find the fish hot at all but Beep Beep said it burned her mouth.

The piece of spearmint gum we received at the end of our meal was much appreciated. After eating most of the cumin lamb, my breath needed some help.

If you like spicy northern Chinese food, Cafe China is worth a visit. The ingredients were top notch and the food was more skillfully cooked than what I can get back in Calgary.

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After our meal, we walked through the Upper East Side of Manhattan and then cut across Central Park to the Upper West Side to Milk Bar on Columbus.

Beep Beep wanted to try the crack cake at Milk Bar Bakery because she watched Christina Tosi on Chef’s Table. When the employee learned it was Beep Beep’s birthday, she gave her complimentary birthday truffles.

We took subway back to our hotel in Tribeca to change for the evening. Beep Beep told me how she loves taking the subway in New York because it’s convenient, cheap and gets you around the entire city. She even loves the dirty grittiness of the subway and the grinding noises of the trains on the track.

When we walked to our exit, I heard the sound of someone clearing their throat and then spitting. I felt droplets all over my hair. I turned around to see a tall homeless man with red eyes walking towards me, his arms extended and waving. Beep Beep pushed me forward and told me to keep walking.

Gee Beep Beep – you weren’t exaggerating when you said New York’s subway is gritty. In 2008, I surveyed residents and businesses in the Downtown Eastside, which includes the notorious East Hastings St. Not once did I feel threatened, nor did anyone spit or hustle money out of me. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Cafe China Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Chinese · Dim Sum · New York · Restaurants

New York – Tim Ho Wan (East Village)

For Beep Beep’s 40th birthday, we went to New York. This is my second time in the Big Apple. This visit around, I was scammed, spat on and subjected to pornographic language. For this post, let’s listen to JAY-Z and Alicia Keys – “Empire State of the Mind”.

As this was Beep Beep’s trip, I told her to pick all the restaurants and the itinerary. The restaurant she was most excited to try was Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in New York.

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We arrived just after 5:00 p.m. on a Monday. Even though there were plenty of seats, our server squished us in between other parties. Service was typical for a dim sum restaurant – indifferent and not around when you needed something.

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I read about Tim Ho Won’s famous Baked BBQ Pork Buns ($6). The top of the bun formed a crunchy sweet dome. The bread was warm and fluffy, filled with rich gravy and fatty pieces of char sui pork. Yummy, though I personally found the sugar topping overly sweet.

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Beep Beep and I enjoyed the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf ($6.80). I liked the variety of meats and vegetables. However, when the rice got cold, it became glue-like. I would order this again but eat it while it was hot.

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The Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($5.60) was delicious. The turnip cake was crunchy from the lacy crispness on the top and smokey from the grill. The turnip was shredded, soft and slippery.

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Beep Beep’s favourite dish was the Deep Fried Eggplant with Shrimp (5.80). This was my least favourite because of the cilantro. The eggplant was so soft, the flesh looked like it was melted when I picked it up with my chopsticks.

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The Steamed Rice Roll with Shrimp and Chinese Chives ($5.80) needed more sauce, as the noodles were dry.  The roll was a little too thick compared to the ratio of shrimp.  I would have preferred a thinner noodle or more shrimp filling. I wouldn’t order this again.

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Beep Beep least favourite dish was the chef’s special –  Almond Encrusted Shrimp Ball ($6.80). I liked this dish a lot. There was loads of delicately crunchy shrimp and I enjoyed the roasted almond crust.

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Beep Beep liked Tim Ho Wan more than I did. What I did like about the food at Tim Ho Wan was that everything came out hot and fresh. The savoury flavours from the pork bun, sticky rice and turnip cake oozed out. The prices were fair. I found the dim sum better than Calgary, but the shrimp dishes weren’t as good as some of the top dim sum restaurants in Richmond.

Tim Ho Wan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato