Happy 8-8-08! Like everyone else, we are rounding up for you the best Olympics and/or China-related things for you to do today. You could go with the city’s most-publicized Olympics kickoff event over at Ben Pao, where Tsingtaos are only 88¢, apps are free, and you can compete in feats of gastronomic strength to win, in their words, “the best prize of all: Cold, hard cash!” It runs from 5:30 until 8:08pm, after which point you’re back to paying full price for your sesame chicken.
If you’re up for a little bit less of a glossy Chinese food experience, here are our picks for the top 8 Chinese restaurants at which to get your 8-8-08 fix (though good luck getting a table):
• Moon Palace Restaurant is where we went as a small tiny little child with our parents. Climbing the narrow stairs to a room lined with fish tanks and where drinks came with umbrellas was just about heaven. It’s changed quite a bit over the years, but the Shanghainese food is still more or less flawless. Try the xiao ling bao to start, and whatever the daily special happens to be.
• The original Three Happiness is classic for dim sum or, outside of weekend mornings, what one of our friends likes to call “jank dim sum”: ordering like seven dumpling dishes off the regular menu, and making a meal of it.
• If you’d rather be eating in the comfort of your own living room, we can’t recommend China Hut highly enough. The ginger beef just might change your life. And, trust us on this, the spicy salt smelt.
• Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop — the original one — is located in the kind of eh-looking Chinatown Mall. BUT. Oh man, those noodles. Winter was invented so that we would have perfect context for consuming a bowl of Rare Beef & Beef Tripe Noodle Soup. Also stellar: Chap Chae made with eel. Also more appropriate for August : the vast selection of smoothies and milk teas.
• For a little bit more of a swanky experience, may we suggest you take your lady love (or your gentleman friend) to Opera? Total swish. Hold off until Sunday if you’re watching your wallet: the $25 prix fixe knocks it out of the park.
• The dim-sum-only Happy Chef Dim Sum House is another great find, and it’s thrillingly inexpensive. You can get roll-yourself-home full for under a tenner, if you play it right.
• The mini-chain BBQ King House has three locations in Chinatown. Ridiculously bright flavors, top-notch ingredients, and expert barbecued meats (try the duck, the crispy baby pig, or the chicken liver) await you, as well as an extensive menu of authentic Chinese food: squid with bitter melon, lo hon vegetables, and abalone congee (swoon!), among others.
• And finally, the famous Sun Wah Bar-B-Q. You basically can’t go wrong with anything here (though we’ve yet to build up the nerve to order the congee with pork stomach, kidney, and intestine), but we would do unspeakable things for the stir-fried pea pod green (pea shoots), the watercress and fish ball soup, and a quarter of a roast duck. Unspeakable things.
[Photo: Barbecued meats at Sun Wah, via mjkmjk’s Flickr]