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Chinatown Brasserie

380 Lafayette (at Great Jones St.)
New York, NY 10003
Chinatown Brasserie

TYPE: Cantonese-style Chinese
China chic
OCCASION:  Any – Besides, dim sum’s the new brunch
GO WITH: A date or a group (Chinese is Chinese for sharing)
DON’T MISS DISH: Mushroom dumplings with sweet corn
DON’T BOTHER DISH: Ginger Dragon cocktail
PRICE: $35 & up (Dim sum is less expensive)
HOURS: Monday-Friday, lunch 11 AM-5 PM, Dinner 5 PM-1 AM
Saturday & Sunday, dim sum, 10 AM-5 PM, dinner 5 PM-1 AM

INSIDE SCOOP: Dining lounge open until 2 AM every night

FINAL WORD: Chinese that’s too damn good for a take-out box

Nothing like Chinatown, this dramatically vibrant space possesses more opulence than all of the gritty Canal Street haunts stacked together.  Set in a generous space (formerly Time Cafe), the latest Asian-inspired bistro arrives on New York’s restaurant scene
with all of the mammoth-sized Chinese trimmings – red Chinese lanterns, antique mirrors,
red & black leather banquettes, painted screens, a swanky downstairs dining lounge & a koi pond.  Despite the hoopla and eery similarity to countless other Asian newbies, Chinatown Brasserie succeeds, where the others have failed, to elevate Chinese to new culinary heights with market-driven twists on Cantonese classics. 
What Keith McNally has done for French fare (Balthazar & Pastis), John McDonald & Josh Pickard (Lever House & Lure) are about to do for Chinese cuisine. 

Dim sum is elevated to an art form at Chinatown Brasserie as chef, Joe Ng, masterfully dreams up an inventive dim sum menu – 40 items prepared fresh daily. Wrapped in handmade leek-stained purses, the steamed mushroom dumplings with sweet corn came replete with sauce mysteriously already inside. 
Out of habit, I nearly dipped, but was
relieved to catch myself at the last minute – each was impeccably dressed in a delicately toothsome soy-based sauce and packed a delicate “off the husk” corn crunch
.  Ditto on 

the plump shrimp dumplings, which I was permitted to dip in soy sauce, a unique Thai soy offering with sweeter notes than your typical soy sauce.

The Peking duck was more tender and civilized than any I’d had the pleasure to eat in Manhattan.  A shiny, yet slightly crispy-skinned duck arrived with an entourage of impressive accessories in tote – cucumber, leeks, hoisin sauce & mandarin pancakes which were a curious cross between a traditional pancake & a Mexican tortilla.

Wading in a shallow pool of savory brown sauce, the moist black cod was simply tossed with superior quality shitake mushrooms and crisp green asparagus.

Though I’m reluctant to cast even a shadow of negativity on this otherwise outstanding  though somewhat fusion-oriented menu, I’d refrain from ordering the Ginger Dragon
cocktail – vodka, ginger, lime juice & simple syrup – until at least after dinner.  Its overly saccharine character (I hate to point fingers at the simple syrup) stand to threaten any of the earthy food flavors.

For dessert, I dabbled in a caramelized banana-topped peanut butter parfait surrounded on all sides by peanut brittle and a gentle ginger syrup – officially my new all-time favorite dessert dangerously available until 1 AM seven nights a week – though I’m suspect about its Chinese origin.

If you close your eyes and click your heels together, you might just find yourself in Beijing.  Hell, if you open them and you’re still at the table, Chinatown Brasserie can taste like Oz. 

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl

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One Comment

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