Have to agree, but man, that “water spinach,” a new one on me was really delicious.
The water spinach was my favorite, too – that and the garlic vermicelli, which, it so happened, also came with shrimp. And I do love a good squirrel fish (named for the presentation, not the species), but Jiang Nan’s rendition was way too heavy on the sauce (which I scooped up nonetheless). Compare the version below, from the Dongbei restaurant Xing Shun Da, in Flushing.
Last night’s company, of course, was the best reason of all to get together. Till next time!
I’m not even sure that my viewpoint on last night is shared with everyone that was there, let alone thinking that what I had last night wouldn’t be different on another night. Frankly, I’d rather think that ours was the exception & not yours. As nice as they were, it would be a pleasure going back.
Agree with all the comments so far, and with @SteveR on the service, atmosphere, and plating. Premium pricing for Chinatown, which we knew going in, and not dissimilar from other similar places, but a better setting and service for the premium than others.
It bears mention that our choices were skewed to seafood and vegetables, away from meat and spicy options (the exceptions were a pork belly starter with spicy garlic paste and Peking duck).
My favorites were probably the pork belly starter (cucumber aside, the spicy garlic paste was very good), the potatoes (texture was fine for me, a bite as one expects, but the shreds were skinnier), the water spinach, and the duck (moist meat, crisp skin, thin pancakes if a bit on the small side). None were AHA! versions that I feel the need to go back for, though.
The seafood rice and the fried tofu with seafood were major misses, both in terms of constitution (barely any seafood, sauce congealed quickly, rice was soggy) and flavor.
I’m not a sweet and sour fan, so I knew I wasn’t going to love the fish, but it was a good rendition for anyone who enjoys that flavor profile, and a dramatic presentation as with almost everything else.
I wasn’t expecting either the texture or sweetness in the lotus root (which I’ve eaten and enjoyed elsewhere, so it wasn’t newness), but that’s not their fault.
The vermicelli under the shrimp was flavorful from the sauce, but the shrimp itself was soft. Another lovely presentation, but perhaps made harder to eat than it needed to be.
There were things at other tables that looked tasty – whole fish in various preps, cauliflower, and so on, but our dishes looked great too, so that’s not anything to judge by.
All that said, it was a very fun evening with NYC Onions who make these gatherings enjoyable even with ups and downs on the food!
Adding to the pics:
Water spinach with fermented tofu sauce:
Seafood fried rice:
Fried tofu with mixed seafood sauce (steam from the sizzler plate in evidence):
Garlic shrimp over vermicelli:
Peking duck (half):
That water spinach with fermented tofu is one of my very favorites! Too few restaurants offer it these days. It looks like they are trying to keep prices down and skimping on expensive ingredients is their solution. Too bad!