Friday, July 8, 2011

Some Tasty Lunches (food)

With no job taking me into the city, I tend to only eat in Manhattan when I'm catching up with friends. Here are some tasty Manhattan lunches I've had in the last couple of months.

Chinatown Brasserie:

I've written about Chinatown Brasserie before, and still think they are the only restaurant in NYC that makes dim sum close to hotel-quality dim sum in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, their prices are also comparable. For lunch, however, they have a decent prix fixe menu. For $17+t/t, you can get a small selection of 4 pieces of dim sum with an entree, or a full assortment of 8 pieces of dim sum with salad or noodles.

Cold Green Sesame Noodles.

An extra four pieces of dim sum for a $4 supplement.

Assortment of eight pieces, including some sticky rice in lotus leaf to help fill up.

Four pieces of dim sum preceding an entree.

Steamed bass with bok choy. A sizeable portion of fish and vegetables.

The dim sum was spot on as usual. The fried pieces were not greasy at all. The steamed pieces had delicate thin skins. The fillings were fresh and delicious, and had no random filler. I was most surprised by how big the portion of fish was, and think that it's a much better deal than the dim sum assortment.

Artichoke Pizza:

Still my favorite slice in Manhattan proper, the square slice ($4) at Artichoke (original EV location) is still the closest I've had to DiFara's square slice.

Luke's Lobster:

Lobster rolls have been kind of trendy lately, so I decided to give the well-reviewed Luke's Lobster a try.

Lobster roll. Good amount of meat, but it just doesn't fill me up at all. It was all right, but certainly not something I would crave. A combo including the lobster roll, soda, pickle, and a bag of chips cost $17.

Crab roll. Ordered the crab roll a la carte for $10. The crab roll was better as it had a sweeter flavor from the crab, although it did not feel as meaty.

Mary's Fish Camp:

A popular spot in the West Village focusing on fresh seafood. I can certainly understand its popularity, as a well-to-do neighborhood really should have a fresh, simple, seafood spot.

Fried Oysters and Clams with Fish Camp Tartar Sauce ($11). Nicely fried, plump and juicy bivalves. To me the clams were the standout, and much better than the majority of fried clam strips I got while up in Boston.

Fried Atlantic Cod Sandwich with French Fries ($18). The fish was fresh, although the serving felt a bit small. The bread was good and the sandwich as a whole was done well. The fries were ok.

Sardine Sandwich with Salad ($15). Enjoyed this a lot. The sardines had great flavor and the accompaniments worked really well together with the fish and the bread. The greens were ok.

Like I said, I don't get out into Manhattan much nowadays, so sometimes I will go for some good local food nearby. Uncle Zhou Restaurant, a relative newcomer in the Elmhurst area, has great Chowhound reviews which are well-deserved. It has replaced Lao Bei Fang down the street as my go-to place for delicious noodles and dumplings.

Dial Oil Hand Drawn Noodles ($5.25). That's the English name for this on their menu. Directly translated, it's hand-pulled noodles splashed in oil. In addition to the splash of chili oil, there's a bunch of raw garlic and some vinegar. It's quite strong and not for everyone. I don't know that I would eat this by itself, but rather with some other dishes to go with the strong flavors.

They offer a range of steamed dumplings. I've had the pork and celery ($3 for 10) and the lamb dumplings ($3 for 9). The lamb dumplings are really good. Strong lamb flavor, reflecting that "funk" that some people sense when eating lamb. If you really like lamb you should like this a lot. One morning when I visited, the owner refused delivery of pre-diced lamb, stating that they liked to get whole chunks and butcher it themselves. That's pretty awesome.

Nutritious stewed lamb noodles ($5.75) were also terrific. The lamb broth was full of stewed lamb flavor, and there were pieces of fresh looking diced lamb. The noodles were terrific, and more importantly for me, held up well in the soup through my 10+ block trek taking the bowl of noodles home.

The Chowhound thread on Uncle Zhou also discusses many dishes that I haven't tried, one of which is a Chinese version of turducken that needs to be pre-ordered. It's a quail stuffed in a squab stuffed in a chicken stuffed in a duck. I don't know how many people it would serve, but it certainly sounds intriguing. Who wants to go try it with me?