Our family was standing on canal st, wolfing down warm pork , combination and sticky rice buns while debating where to head for an early dinner. As you might expect, our chowkids, 13, 11 and 9, are pretty adventurous eaters and we were debating the merits of Cantonese vs. Shanghainese vs. Vietnamese food. After some lively debate we found ourselves deadlocked 2,2,1. I slipped into the oft assumed role of benevolent despot and led the way to a new restaurant for us, Amazing 66.
The kids will try anything once but it helps when dishes have a hint of sweetness. (Except for my oldest, who is reading this over my shoulder, and insists I let you know that despite the red blotches that checker his body, he is happy to eat thai-style level of spice at Sriprapai.) With that in mind we ordered a couple of kid-friendly dishes, namely the honey spare ribs appetizer, the house special honey chicken and half a roast duck. With a couple of safe dishes ordered, we ventured to the oyster/ginger/scallion casserole, fried butter fish w black bean and e-fu noodles with shrimp to round our meal.
The spare ribs were very good. I occasionally judge bbq contests and these would have garnered middle of the road scores from me...which puts them ahead of about 99% of other restaurant ribs. They were not complex but I found the glaze delicious, the fat well rendered and they had a nice bite.
Its always interesting to see what the kids grab first when the main dishes arrive. To my surprise they each grabbed a whole butter fish with black bean and, after an admonition from my wife to watch the bones, picked their fish clean. The fish was cooked so perfectly it was hard to tell they'd been fried. A couple of black beans adhered to the skin of the fish adding a delicate rather than overpowering flavor. The incredible pile of fish was quickly consumed and we moved on to other dishes.
We thought the roast duck very, very good, in some ways superior to what we've found at big wong, ny noodletown etc. The main difference was that the layer of fat we often find just below the skin had been rendered, producing a more flavorful, less fatty duck.
After making a decent dent in the duck, the kids discovered the honey chicken. I risked life and limb trying to get a piece off the serving plate and found perfectly roasted chicken with honey and ginger glazed skin surrounded by round slices of candied ginger and a sweet sauce. It was a little too sweet for me but in a couple of minutes a fight broke out over the last piece.
I thought the e-fu noodles with shrimp and egg would be a big hit but it was a little too gloopy for us. It was certainly well made but next time we'll stick to a crispy noodle dish or chow fun.
The kids love fried oysters and were interested in the oyster with ginger/scallion casserole but couldn't quite get over the look of the giant, gelatinous looking oysters. We could have pushed them to try it but they had so much other food to eat, my wife and I decided to let it go. The sizzling casserole both glazed the oysters and provided a rich, earthy sauce for our rice. I've never seen such big oysters. They were a little uneven but for most part delicious. IMO, best dish of the day.
The $100 tab (the restaurant included a service charge) for an appetizer, five sodas and five main dishes seemed very reasonable given the number, size and quality of the dishes.
We walked around chinatown a bit before heading to our old neighborhood, brooklyn heights. There we walked from the promenade to cobble hill, ending our day at arguably the best italian bakery in the city, court pastry. The kids didn't stray from their usual pick, giant lobster claws, my wife had the best canoli of her life (she declares every canoli as the best of her life) and I opted for a half pistachio and half chocolate italian ice. I love the pastry but its impossible to find Italian ice with real pistachio nuts in our small, beautiful but white-bread northern westchester town.
My wife and I chatted companionably on the way home., enjoying the fall foliage, the sounds of sleeping kids and the aroma of almonds and lemon that filled the car from the box of fresh biscotti and sfogliatelle we purchased at court pastry. Sunday breakfast is looking promising.
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