On the recommendation of my girlfriend, who is Chinese, we discovered an unlikely gem in midtown on 39th st. bet. Madison and 5th. The name is kinda confusing. It's either called Heavenly Bamboo or Asia Culture inc. or both. From the looks of the place I wasn't expecting much, although the decor is certainly more pleasant than most Chinatown restaurants. They do serve the usual American Chinese and lunch specials, but much to my surprise they also serve authentic and excellent Shanghai cuisine.
First off, they had great dim sum including the best soup dumplings I've had in NYC which is saying something. Who'd imagine great soup dumplings in a generic looking Chinese restaurant in Midtown?Wonderful vegetable dumplings as well, with delicate dough and lots of veggie filling. The appetizers we tried were excellent including smoked fish, bean curd with parsley and Kao Fu, which is like a marinated tofu that tastes both sweet and and smoky.
For the main courses we had a sea bass with the special spicy house sauce, Wu Xi spare ribs, baby shrimp with white wine sauce and satin loofah (a delicate and tasty cucumber like veggie in a light sauce. Everything was, once again, fantastic. We also had the Crsipy Duck which we thought was tasty but a little fatty. Otherwise me and my girlfriend loved everything, and she knows her shanghai cuisine.
Another big plus was the warm and gracious and knowledgeable host, who suggested what to order and explained each dish to us in detail when we asked. She also emphasized that everything is fresh and not frozen and no msg.
Forgive me if I'm gushing, but it's the best Chinese food I've had in a long time, and we will definitely be going back for more. I highly recommend this gem of a restaurant on a somewhat desolate stretch of 39th st.