At one point during the evening, which is recounted below, I said to my friend and dinnermate Brad: “My readership appreciates photos of food.” Brad called this the line of the night, and fittingly this post is filled with photos of food, better known as food porn. Enjoy the photograzing, as the food-bloggers call it.
After work today I took the subway down to Canal Street to meet Brad at a restaurant in Chinatown. My downtown excursions rarely take me south of SoHo, let alone beyond Canal Street, so this area was a bit out of my zone of familiarity. Also, the idea of eating dumplings in Chinatown really excited me, and I have been quivering with excitement since Thursday, when Brad mentioned the possibility of a Chinatown dumpling excursion. I’d been to Chinatown once before, with my family, when I was maybe 15. We ate at a fabulous restaurant whose name I cannot remember. We were the only white people there. We also bought some trinkets. It was a good time.
I get off the subway at Canal and Lafayette and it is a sea of people. A madhouse. Utter insanity. Maybe even worse than Times Square, because I was in totally unfamiliar surroundings and people kept asking me to buy handbags. Tons of tourists were wandering around, lost, and many locals as well. Luckily, Brad had given me excellent directions to the restaurant where we were meeting. I walked east on Canal and crossed Mulberry Street, which also holds the entrance to Little Italy.
Canal Street has the worst congestion of people and vendors and madness. I do not like. But I had to fight the people to get to Mott, so fight I did.
I turned right onto Mott St. and headed into the belly of Chinatown.
I then made a left onto Bayard Street where I met Brad at Nice Green Bo restaurant, which used to be called New Green Bo. The menu is huge but they are known for their appetizers, particularly their dumplings and scallion pancakes. Neither Brad nor I were fools, plus Brad had been here before, so we stuck to the safe bets. We ordered tiny pork and crab buns (essentially little fig-shaped dumplings), fried pork dumplings, and scallion pancakes.
The steamed buns arrived first, piping hot. Even though I waited a few minutes before popping my first one into my mouth–you eat them whole, so you can catch all the delicious trefy juices–I ended up slightly burning the tip of my tongue. Graphic food pornography here: the dumplings explode juice in your mouth and then there is a lot of chewing because there is a lot of dumpling. The dumpling was pleasantly salty, excellently hot, and extremely full of meat but I wish there’d been a little more crab flavor. Still, the shape of the dumpling was adorable, especially the little crab meat topping.
They then brought out the fried pork dumplings, which had a bit more flavor and texture than the steamed dumplings. I thought the dough casing was really excellent: crispy on the outside but very chewy on the ends, and the filling was flavorful and had more spices than the steamed dumplings. Still, the fried dumplings were hard to finish–dumplings are incredibly filling, evidently.
Lastly, the waiter brought out the scallion pancakes, which were awesome. Not too scallion-y but just scallion-y enough, the pancakes were fried dough that was neither too thick nor too greasy and I couldn’t stop eating it. I heart scallion pancakes. I could’ve made a meal out of them.
Nice Green Bo was a yummy intro into Chinatown dumpling eating. Maybe not the best dumplings I’ve ever had, but the scallion pancakes were super awesome and I would eat those again in a heartbeat. Also, one of the most inexpensive meals I’ve had since I’ve been up here. I cannot complain about that. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory was right across the street.
Despite being stuffed I decided to get some ice cream–I’d heard a lot about the shop and its unusual flavors, and I didn’t know when/if I’d return to this part of town. I got a small cup of taro and black sesame, both of which were unusual but not too unusual. Taro, which is basically a root, has a mellow sweetness and a purple color which I love, and the black sesame paste had a pleasantly crunchy texture and a nice nuttiness. It also looked a bit like oreo cookie ice cream.
Brad and I then trekked to Bleeker Street to go to a bar in the West Village. Bleeker Street, especially once you hit Macdougal and beyond, was extremely hopping: tons of restaurants and people and about five or six places I had read about on SeriousEats that I must must must try, including two ice cream places (Grom and Cones). Even though I had just had ice cream it took a great force of will not to have more ice cream. I am serious about my ice cream comparisons. One day, my friends, one day.
I love watching New York City night life. Tonight was the first non-rainy night in almost a week, so people were out in full force. Brad and I headed to the Bleeker Heights Tavern, which is located about a Five Guys Burgers shop (you actually have to walk through the restuarant to get to the bar) at the corner of Bleeker and 7th Avenue. The bar is a spacious, clean, well designed (exposed brick) and well lit (skylights! big windows!) sports bar with a relaxed crowd. Brad and I scored a table by a window, which allowed for ample people watching on the streets below. A few of Brad’s friends and Eddie Burgess, an old classmate from Pine View showed up. We had a few drinks, talked about stuff, reminisced about how awesome the first Mighty Ducks movie was, watched the Rays lose to the Mets, etc.
I left a little after 10:30, as a few people had already departed and I wanted to get a decent night’s sleep to prepare for my sister’s arrival tomorrow. I arrived home around 11:30 and now I am blogging for you lovely readers. Jessica arrives tomorrow afternoon, and I will proceed to spend the next few days in a theatre. Expect lots of reviews of shows over the next few days. In the meantime, I leave you with this image of one of my favorite drinking vessels of all time: The Delirium Tremens glass.