Chinatown’s diner-like Chatham Restaurant has long been a go-to spot for fresh, cheap bao, buns, dim sum, and other daytime bites. But hounds have been largely silent about the rest of the sprawling Cantonese menu, which offers rice plates, noodles, casseroles, meat and seafood entrees, and homey steamed dishes like minced pork with salted fish. Do not fear that menu! There’s good stuff in there, says Brian S, like fish head casserole that’s better than average (and bigger than average) for just $7.
As for the scene, well, that’s not what draws crowds of happy Chinese families. “It is a dump,” Brian concedes, “but a really nice dump, the kind a Hollywood set designer would come up with if the director said, ‘I want a place that looks like the REAL Chinatown.’”
A few blocks north, popular Shanghai specialist New Green Bo does a delicious version of Dongpo pork, says mrnyc. This version of the Hangzhou classic is simmered for hours in rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, and spice, and served with sauteed bok choy and an unconventional accompaniment: sweet steamed buns. You are encouraged to make little sandwiches, Peking duck style. The meat is sweet, luxurious, and meltingly tender, says mrnyc, but the sandwich thing doesn’t quite work: “After two messy attempts I just ate the rest separately. Afterwards you take a nap. Highly recommended.” Dissenters find New Green Bo’s version overly sweet and inconsistent in texture.
In other Chinatown news, a hound-endorsed sidewalk cart has gone brick-and-mortar on Chrystie Street. The best-known snack from this vendor, whose old turf was on Hester near Bowery, was fried vegetables–taro, tofu, eggplant, green pepper–in a light, tasty batter that incorporated ground fish. It’s still available toward the back of the new shop, Wah Fung, advises misora. Closer to the front, look for roast pork and poultry, fried noodles, and Fujian-leaning steam table dishes.
New Green Bo [Chinatown]
66 Bayard St., between Mott and Elizabeth, Manhattan
Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food [Chinatown]
79 Chrystie St., between Hester and Grand, Manhattan