To conclude the fifteen day celebration of Chinese New Year, let's talk about another amazing restaurant and another amazing group of folks that I have the please of celebrating with. Every year, I join my Aunt Carolyn and Holman and their gaggle of friends and friends' kids for a Chinese New Year celebration in the heart of Chinatown. I think this year may have been our biggest crowd yet, fourteen of us in all. Though this means that we have to wait for what seems like forever for a table at a restaurant that doesn't take reservations, the good food and the even better company make it all worth it.
So this past Saturday night we all met up at Carolyn and Holman's place down on the LES for some snacks and pre-supper cocktails and catch-up conversations. Lucky New Year's gifts of Powerball tickets were handed out with the promise that any winnings would be split 14 ways. (I ended up winning $4 with the Quick Pick which means we all get a whopping $.28 to put towards those around-the-world vacations, yachts and beach houses. Hooray!) Soon after our stomachs started grumbling and it was time to parade down Pell Street to Joe's Shanghai.
This tiny restaurant isn't exactly hidden, but you do have to know your way around the winding streets of lower Manhattan and not be afraid of getting lost in order to get there. All of the food at this is spot on delicious but what you're really gonna want to go for is the soup dumpling. These are tender ittle bits of meat swimming in hot, brothy goodness and wrapped up in a little jacket of noodley love. Mmmmm they are to die for! So much good food and absolutely worth the wait. I'm not going to review every entree I've ever had there but I will give you a list of everything I've ever ordered there and trust me when I say this list is totally safe to order from because everything on it is out of this world!
Scallion Pancakes - get these!!! best scallion pancakes ever!
Soup Dumplings - shrimp and pork
General Tso's Chicken - generally a favorite among all
Beef with Broccoli - never too saucy and always tender
the Seasonal Vegetables never fail, especially when it's pea leaves
Singapore Noodles - they sound like they should be spicy, but they're more curry-licios
Lo Mein & Fried Rice - duh! beef, chicken, pork, shrimp... pick your yummy poison
Salt & Pepper Shrimp - just a tad crispy and so full of flavor
Fried Sweet & Sour Whole Yellowfish - the idea of getting a whole fish can be intimidating, but it's worth it because there is sooo much flavor and the meat just falls of the bone
Crispy Pepper Skin Duckling - one word. yum!
Black Mushroom with Cabbage Heart - the earthiness of this dish is so good
Vegetable with Bean Curd - vegetarian delight
And if you're lucky, after your meal you'll get special Chinese doughnut things alongside a creamy dipping sauce and orange slices. Beats a boring old fortune cookie any day of the week!
Whether it's the New Year or not, Joe's Shanghai is definitely a trip worth taking because this Chinese food is oh so much better than the kind you have to order through bullet-proof glass on the corner, next to the bodega. And if the wait is horrifically long, there's a secret little margarita speakeasy joint just around the corner. But you'll have to find that on your own. I can't share all my secret spots with you. But we can always grab a drink and some soup dumplings together... new friends are a great way to start the new year don't you think?
吉慶有餘 - May your happiness be without limit!
Happy Year of the Dragon!