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Another take on Chinatown Brasserie (long)

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Another take on Chinatown Brasserie (long)

Deenso | Jun 19, 2006 01:42 PM

We stopped in at Chinatown Brasserie for a dim sum lunch yesterday and had a pretty decent meal with a few screw-ups. We had no reservation, but walked in at about 12:30. No problem, we were seated immediately. Our waiter was very friendly - asked about our water preference and brought the requested tap water and a couple of non-alcoholic beers.

We ordered 1) Pork Potstickers; 2) Two kinds of dumplings – Pork & Shrimp Dumplings for my husband (I'm allergic to shrimp) and Roast Duck Dumplings for me; 3) Beef, Onion & Mushroom Triangles; 4) Sticky Rice with Pork in Lotus Leaves; and 5) a Vietnamese pork sandwich (something we’d never tried). It was going to be, basically, a porkfest.

We thought the potstickers were delicious – with a thin wrapper and a slightly spicy dipping sauce. The two kinds of dumplings came next and we each took a duck dumpling. I swallowed one mouthful and knew something was wrong. My husband took a bite and then I saw the problem in the uneaten half on his plate – there was shrimp in it. No immediate major reaction, but I obviously didn't eat anymore. Jimmy waved over the waiter, who asked if there was something wrong. When we told her about the shrimp in the duck dumpling, she apologized and asked if I'd like another dish. I picked the Rice Noodles with Peanut/Sesame Sauce and since, Jimmy didn't want anymore of the duck dumplings, she removed that plate.

Next came the beef, onion & mushroom triangles – crispy and hot from the fryer. And then the sticky rice. Again, after I'd taken a few bites, we discovered that there was shrimp in the stuffing. I stopped eating the rice (which had been really good) and concentrated on the sesame/peanut sauce rice noodles – also good, with a pleasant, kind of mushy texture – while my husband began looking for our waiter again.

This time the manager came over to see what was going on. By then, I was getting a bit itchy and my eyes were starting to puff up. She apologized and offered me a Benedryl, which I didn't take. The waiter asked if she could buy us another round of drinks and we each accepted another non-alcoholic beer. They also offered me another selection from the menu, so I picked another fried dim sum made of chicken. It came soon thereafter and was really delicious: kind of like a curried chicken stew, wrapped in a tiny dough roll and fried to a crisp. It was, we agreed, the best thing we had.

The pork sandwich arrived — we each took a bit and left it at that. Neither of us is big on lemongrass or cilantro, which played a key part in the mayonnaise, and the pork was a kind of dull sausage. Simply not to our personal liking, but we'd been feeling experimental when we ordered. Oh, well...

The manager came by several more times while we were still eating – I guess she making sure I wasn't about to go into anaphylactic shock. I assured her I was okay and that I had my own Benedryl with me (I'd be a fool to go anywhere without it), but suggested that their menu could use a little rewriting. None of the dishes that we'd ordered, except for the pork & shrimp dumplings of course, had any mention at all of shrimp as an ingredient. She agreed and admitted that she, herself, was allergic to shellfish, but I'm reasonably sure nothing will come of that.

By the time we were ready to get the check, I was feeling a little worse, so finally took a pill and then we had to cancel our afternoon plans, since Benadryl makes me so sleepy. When we got the check, the total amount owed was $0, so we tipped the waiter $20.

That’s two free meals we’ve had in a month! The first was at Ian, when the service was so incredibly abysmal that our dinner for four was comped. Now, despite the problems at Chinatown Brasserie, I have to say that we would go back again because most of what we had was tasty. I would just be sure to ask lots of questions and order more carefully.

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