If you're late to the scene, Chinatown restaurant week is going to end March 18th. This is the first ever Chinatown restaurant week and while the pickings are certainly slim, there are definitely some great deals out there. For any of the restaurants that you go to, there is an $18.88 prix-fixe menu that includes at least an appetizer, entree and dessert. Some places even offer a four-course dinner! If you've wanted to try out some restaurants in Chinatown but never knew where to go, this is the perfect opportunity to try out some good and maybe even not so good places (hey, better to know now than later!). Other participants for Chinatown restaurant week, surprisingly, are some spas that will offer discounts on their products. While we haven't been able to go to all the restaurants, here are two of our favorites!
Red Egg - 202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013
Red Egg takes Chinese food to the next level, above and beyond the standard fare of take out Chinese places that we are so familiar with. The decor is understated but still features very vibrant red colors (a lucky color in China). Everyone who worked there was very friendly and prompt. None of the brusque manners that you so often experience at other Chinese restaurants. The prix-fixe menu was a four-course and included a choice of soup, appetizer, entree and dessert. The wonton soup was delicious. The stock was meticulously prepared and wasn't just chicken stock with some roughly chopped scallions thrown in as an after thought, oh no. The scallion flavor melded with the broth and the wonton was perfectly prepared and very juicy. The appetizer - pan-fried pork dumpling and shrimp dumpling - were ok. The shrimp was very fresh, but there was no seasoning. The pork dumpling had an overwhelming flavor of just scallion and we were provided no dipping sauce. The entrees were quite good and were probably the highlight of the event. The flounder with olive sauce was perfectly made, the flounder didn't have too much batter and the olive sauce, while sometimes a bit sweet, was very tasty. The scallops in black bean sauce was also good though it fell more into the traditional Chinese takeout food, just prepared a bit better. The presentation wasn't great, but the food was good enough to make up for at. As for the dessert, it was pretty much a disappointment all around. The ginger creme brulee was made hastily. The eggs inside were heated to quickly so the whole dessert tasted like scrambled eggs and the sugar on top was not done properly. The sweet, creamy buns were overly sweet and had a strange nutty/honey flavor that took away from the meal. Still, the rest of the meal was good enough that we were able to leave happy and full.
Asia Roma - 40 Mulberry St, (between Mosco St & Bayard St), New York, NY 10013
When you walk into Asia Roma, you're not exactly sure what to expect. There's a karaoke lounge downstairs, a hipster looking bar, booth seating that is reminiscent of Chinese restaurants and Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart indicating the men's and women's bathrooms. Sure the restaurant is Asian fusion, but everything about it is a little...off. The food for the prix-fixe wasn't really that spectacular and was a four-course dinner. You start off with a boring mixed greens salad and then choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. The appetizer was lackluster from the clams casino to the spring rolls. The entrees were definitely the star, but for such a slow night (there were probably only 8 other people at in the whole restaurant) it took something like 20-30 minutes for salmon teriyaki and sesame steak. Still, they were delicious. The teriyaki sauce was not too overpowering or sweet like at many other places and while the sesame sauce was sweet and at times overwhelming, it balanced out nicely with the mashed potatoes and spinach. The dessert was simply not good and again took quite a long time for how slow the restaurant was. The flan didn't have the proper consistency and the caramelisation was off. The ice cream sundae, well, was just sliced up bananas, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, so you can't really go wrong. The server/bartender was nice enough, but everything else just didn't work.
There's not a huge laundry list of places to go, but there are still a couple more places that we're dying to try like Peking Duck House and Nha Trang One. While the prix-fixes are nice, we can't help but wonder if some of these places wouldn't be cheaper if you just order off the actual menu. Still, it's a great way to explore different restaurants in Chinatown and if this is successful this year, hopefully next year there will be even more places participating.