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Economy Shrinks Portions, Swaps Ingredients; a Ko Reservation Fake-out

With food coasts soaring, high- and low-end kitchens are taking measure to reduce portions, swap out costly ingredients, and serve more dishes with higher profit margins. [WSJ] In related news, it doesn’t look like wheat prices will drop anytime soon: “Consumption has exceeded production in seven of the last eight years.” [NYT] The online reservation page for Ko was live for ten minutes on Friday, but now you need a password to enter it. Still, at least you can add the URL to your bookmarks and check it every hour. [Eater] Did you know that nine large feasts from Boston Market can add up to $1,800? A Queens woman found that out, but since she was using fake checks, she didn’t care too much. [NYP] The Times has a review/promotional article of their own city-beat reporter Jennifer 8. Lee’s exploration of Chinese cuisine, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. [NYT] Related: Jennifer 8. Lee Tackles Fortune Cookies

Joe Ng’s Rice Dough Steamer Takes Chung Fun to the Next Level

It’s a tricky business to make chung fun, or rice noodles. They're sticky and dense, and the dough is typically thicker than most Chinese noodle dough. Steaming it is problematic, but the ever-inventive Joe Ng at Chinatown Brasserie has come up with a streamlined solution: a customized dough cooker that’s a cross between a crêpe pan, a steamer, and a colander. “It works exactly like a steamer, except it’s flat,” says Ng. “We lay some very thin fabric in over the holes, and the dough is cooked very fast, like in 30 seconds. It takes up less space than an ordinary noodle cooker, and we change the fabric constantly.” For a machine that takes up so little space, it's very efficient, he says. “I designed it myself and gave it to the manufacturer to make. No one else has one like it.” As for how well it works, the only solution is to eat the rice noodles at Chinatown Brasserie and judge for yourself.

Chris Cheung’s Foie Gras Bao Resurface in Midtown East

When chef Chris Cheung told us “Chinese cooking is cloaked in secrecy. I know those traditional recipes, but I also have been trained in the new, cutting-edge techniques that a lot of Western chefs are using” after leaving his post at Almond Flower last July, he simultaneously had us pining over the loss of his modern Chinese dishes and anticipating his return to the city’s dining landscape. Well, the liquid–foie gras–squirting bao are back — along with sweet-chile baby back ribs — and now available at Cheung’s newest post, Monkey Bar. The Glazier Group hired the Nobu alum as a replacement for chef Patricia Yeo in hopes that he will have better luck revitalizing the chronically buzz-lacking restaurant. With the Chinese New Year starting tomorrow, Cheung informed Gothamist he'll be cooking dishes designed for prosperity, but his new permanent menu, which includes sliders in bao buns and wok-fried noodles with short ribs in house-made abalone oyster sauce, might just be all the luck he (and Monkey Bar) needs.—Alexandra Vallis

Monkey Bar Menu

King Yum Patriarch Jimmy Eng Dies at 87

Jimmy Eng, the owner and patriarch of Fresh Meadows' King Yum, died on New Year’s Eve, and something died with him. King Yum’s GM, Jimmy Chen, says you’ll be able to sing karaoke and drink mai tais for many years to come, but beyond the tiki statues, the unreconstructed Cantonese-American menu, and the waiters in red jackets toting spareribs under dragon lamps, the soul of the place was the ancient Eng.

Riding the V Line: The Life Aquatic at Ping’s

We're riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way. This far along the V, you can tempt death crossing Queens Boulevard, wander for blocks alone on the sidewalk, and pop into several houseware stores and travel agencies. Or you could go to Ping’s, a citadel of classic Cantonese food that makes even doubters delight and shout, “This is why I love Queens!”

Chris Cheung Looking to Bring ‘Evolutionary Asian Cuisine’ to Monkey Bar

We've always liked Chris Cheung, going back to the days when the young Long Island–born chef was trying to reinvent Asian fusion from the Chinese side at Almond Flower in Chinatown. (His exit from the place, and its epic aftermath, made some good Grub Street fodder.) Now that Cheung has taken over from Patricia Yeo at Monkey Bar, he’s trying to implement his style of “evolutionary Asian cuisine.” So what does that amount to?

Jennifer 8. Lee Tackles Fortune Cookies

The galleys for the The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee’s forthcoming book about Chinese food and restaurants, have flooded the city, and people are getting hungry. Since the mysterious, crowded world of Chinese food is something about which we can never get enough intel, a quick chat with Jennifer was in order.

Blind Item: Name That After-hours!

What Chinese restaurant by day sometimes operates as an after-hours club, complete with smoke machines and vest-wearing barkeeps? A couple of clues: It’s hidden away in the basement of a Financial District office building and LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy was spotted there late Saturday morning. Click on the headline and leave your suggestions in the comments.

West Coast Restaurant Pulls a Single White Female on Chinatown Brasserie

When former Chinatown Brasserie chef Tyson Wong caught the last train for the coast, we knew that his new employers wanted to draw on his experience. But from the look of Red Pearl Restaurant’s menu, they’re doing everything to replicate Chinatown Brasserie but cloning the waiters and cooks from pirated stem cells. This has to be one of the most naked ripoffs since David Coverdale decided to make a career of imitating Robert Plant.