From the street, 213 Grand Street Gourmet Restaurant looks like the kind of place no gourmet would ever enter, even if he were starving. A few cooked chickens hang forlornly in a window, a sign in English proudly announces "BBQ and Homecooked Dishes", a dingy takeout counter offers chow mein and fried rice. But walk in, past that counter, and you'll see a back room with red wall hangings and chandeliers. There's a long English menu, another menu only in Chinese, and waiters fluent in English.
I went in, the only customer, though I did see a guy walk in and buy a soda. I ordered chicken casserole from the Chinese menu. I've had this dish many times before, and what I got was one of the best I've had. Not quite the best, but the best in quite a while. Lots of meaty chicken chunks, mushrooms, a few onions and scallions, all in a rich brown bubbling broth.
I ate every bit and walked into the warm November night. Over on Mulberry Street, the outdoor tables were full. "Is this New York or Miami?" exulted one shirtsleeved diner. Five minutes ago, I thought, I was in Hong Kong.
213 Grand Street Restaurant
213 Grand St. (that's where they got the name)