The Other Critics

Sifton Finds Old-School Chinatown at 456 Shanghai Cuisine; Shockey Mixed on Salinas

For those mourning old-school Chinatown, Sam Sifton writes in his one-star review, 456 Shanghai Cuisine “is a sign of [its] health.” It resembles “nothing so much as a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown” serving “outstanding soup dumplings [called steamed juicy pork puns] and fried fish, cold noodles and stir fries” in a “dropped-ceiling bland” room with corn plants and red trim. He raves about the fried tiny buns with pork as another “worthy starter” and the pork shoulder in honey sauce as a “poor man’s bo ssam dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar.” [NYT]

Lauren Shockey feels mixed about Salinas, where “decent enough” food is marred by a “nightclubby vibe” and unacceptably unprofessional service. The “textbook tapas” like grilled bread with tomatoes and fried shishito peppers are “spot-on” and the rosejat rápida is a “Spanish Rice-A-Roni”-like “must order,” but the head-on shrimp are “mushy” and the striped bass “lacks flavor.” [VV]

Robert Sietsema enjoys “some of the best Uzbek fare in the city” at Cupola Samarkanda II in Brooklyn. He favors the lamb rib and luyla kebabs of the twelve offered, and writes the accompanying carmine dipping sauce is so good, “you’ll be drinking the excess out of the gravy boat.” In a room that “resembles the kind of glitzy Italian restaurant mobsters used to frequent,” Sietsema delights in the “fist-sized manti dumplings,” two kinds of plov, and “utterly delicious” fish Korean style. [VV]

In “Tables for Two,” Leo Carrey praises the kaiseki at David Bouley’s Brushstroke. He writes of the two elaborate set menus, the artful presentations of the fish “are on balance more interesting than the meat,” and “a star of the menu is an unbelievably delicate chawanmushi custard with crab and truffles.” [NYer]

Rating two glatt-kosher steak houses, Ryan Sutton awards one (seemingly generous) star to the “mediocre” Prime Grill with an overcooked fillet that “tastes like airline food and has the mouth feel of shoe leather,” and two stars to the “often excellent” French bistro fare at Le Marais, featuring an impressive cote de boeuf and “shockingly marbled but rarely fatty” rib cap. [Bloomberg]

Steve Cuozzo writes that Andrew Carmellini’s “The Dutch is about fun food done seriously by a chef at the top of his game.” He discerns that “its genius lies in” serving modern-American “crowd pleasers,” like “Manhattan-style” seafood pot pie and fried oyster sliders, that “taste brand-new” in a McNally-like setting that “seems to have been there forever.” [NYP]

Ed Levine admires Epicerie Boulud’s “downright revelatory” sandwiches, pastries, and ice cream. He writes, “this place is different — it’s filled with Boulud-like touches that make the food thoroughly grounded in both French technique and New York food sensibilities.” [Serious Eats NY]

Sifton Finds Old-School Chinatown at 456 Shanghai Cuisine; Shockey Mixed on