Okay, sign me up for the the NGB bandwagon--went least night and was made very, very happy.
First of all: yes, that guy with the glasses really -is- the best waiter in Chinatown. A few glowing smiles and some good suggestions, and I knew I would be willing to follow this man anywhere.
A couple more recommendations. The crispy eel appetizer is great. A tangle of thin crunchy strands covered with a sweet-but-not-too sweet glaze (much like Chinese honey walnut coating, actually), slivered ginger, and cilantro. With a subtle underlying smokiness, this stuff tasted like...bacon. Really good, slightly fishy bacon.
The other wonderful appetizer was Shanghai Kau Fu, recommended when told they were out of the tofu puffs and mushrooms. I guess this is some sort of gluten product, and the plate of brown lumps brought to the table looked slightly off-putting. One bite, though, and it felt like I've been eating this all my life. The lumps had soaked up a great deal of rice wine (again, just slightly sweet), but still had an incredibly pleasant springy texture. Beautiful big shiitake caps mixed in. (An idea: maybe the haimishness Jim noted in Shanghai food has something to do with a Jewish-food-like sweetness...some obscure tzimmes connection?)
They were also out of ham & turnip pastries (my Platonic turnip pastry, BTW, was Goody's in Rego Park, but haven't been in years and years), so got some crab soup dumplings. Really good--lovely, delicate wrappers--though not the sort of mind-blowingly rich crab filling I've had in other versions. (This seemed like a choice, rather than a failing, though, and not necessarily a bad choice.) Haven't done enough earnest soup bun eating lately to put them head-to-head with anybody else's.
Oh yeah...and the seaweed-wrapped yellowfish. As good as advertised, though in the future it might be better to share these among a larger group of people as an extra dish, than to plow through the heaping stack of friedness as a duo. Not that we had much trouble.
I look forward to more menu exploration.
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