Ask the Experts: The Best Delis and Chinese Food in Town

Last night at a party for Save the Deli, the Feed asked author David Sax to name his top-five deli dishes. Sax listed the pastrami at Katz’s, chopped liver at 2nd Avenue Deli, cabbage rolls at Ben’s Best, matzo-ball soup at Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen, and hush puppies at Liebman’s. Meanwhile,
The New Yorker has a lively chat with Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, who says that when American traders first sampled the food in China, they compared Chinese seasoning to “the repose of putrefied garlic upon a much-used blanket.”

Coe says Americans didn’t really go for Chinese food until the late nineteenth century, when bohemians began haunting Mott Street and discovered the joys of chop suey. Back then, Coe believes, it was an authentic Chinese dish (a hashlike stir fry made from chicken giblets, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, tripe, and the like), but as it became popular it evolved to Western palates — of course it’s hard to come by now, though Coe singles out the version at Hop Kee.

As for his other favorite spots in town, he likes Szechuan Gourmet and Spicy & Tasty for Sichuan, Oriental Garden for dim sum, and, in general, Golden Palace, a newcomer recently praised by Sietsema. Coe says, “It serves the cuisine of Dongbei, the northeasternmost region of China, including Korean-influenced spicy salads, top-flight boiled dumplings, excellent offal, and a menu full of surprises.”

The Exchange: Chop Suey [NYer]

Ask the Experts: The Best Delis and Chinese Food in Town