The fact is, you will never find me in Chinatown or Koreatown in Manhattan. Of course I’ve hung out and noshed there many times in my adventurous youth, but as I get older, I refuse to eat at restaurants that are surrounded by funkiness—dirty, smelly, unruly crowds— and my rule of thumb is, if you would rather use Penn Station’s bathroom then the restaurant’s— run out—unapologetically and fast.
This leaves my husband and I to minute choices when it comes to our occasional craving for Chinese food. Mr. Chow’s décor will take you back to the head-scratching weirdness of the late 80’s (or is it the early 90’s?) and his portraits is hung spookily large and centered resembling the “dear leader” time of dictatorship. The crowd is a mélange of TriBeCa residents with bunch of toddlers, with poised yummy mummies coolly feeding the kids while conversing with their fatigued banker husband, then there are parade of bridge and tunnel date nights meets the special occasion nights and often peppered with The Real Housewives of New Jersey types. Being the live spectator to this reality show is jaw droopingly hilarious.
Their prices are atrociously expensive, my husband laughs out loud and grunts at their ridiculous wine list, but the excellent soup dumplings and their out-of-this-world “Gamblers Duck” is the crispiest I have ever tasted in NYC. It lures me back in cold winter nights—oh—and their hand-pulled noodles are despicably addictive. Live Dungeness crab with folded in eggs whites and I—we’re in a imitate relationship that may lead to something serious and significant.
The friendly staff is extremely accommodating and they will try to make you order all sorts of extra dishes, but be stern and stick to your decisions. Take an advantage of their early dinning hours prix fixe menu. Their bathroom is clean with fresh flowers and it’s peaceful and civil, with none of the chaos one might associate with the exotic and ethnic parts of this island of Manhattan.