Of course I forgot my carefully compiled list of chow spots at home, but somehow I found my way to a few of them purely by accident. The first was Jing Fong (after mixed reviews, yes - I tried Ping's on my last visit.) I loved taking the escalator up and seeing the huge room. The steam table and "dumpling bar" right near the front proved important as the carts slowed to a near crawl about 1/2 way through our meal. The dumplings were made right there and so were nice and hot. Ordered taro cakes (so-so), various dumplings (shrimp and green onion were the favorite), pork short ribs were the best I've ever had at dim sum, my two companions agreed. Stuffed eggplant was a bit tough, greasy and somewhat bland. I forget what they're called - those long soft noodles wrapped around whole shrimp or ground beef - those were terribly cold. In general, I thought some things seemed a bit fresher from other dim sum experiences, but the variety certainly wasn't here.
I stay in the East Village with friends and we decided to try the Japanese place on East 9th - Otafuku - that sells takoyaki, the octopus balls. They were originally described to me as fritters, which they most certainly are not. They're a big ball of dough, hollow inside with a big ol' chunk of octopus. This was a bit odd for me, I had two and then kind of got "gross out" and decided I didn't need any more. The ginger flavor with the dough and octopus was tasty, I'd definitely pass on the generous topping of dried fish (bonita?) flakes next time. The okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) looked fabulous and I will certainly try those next time. Anyone had them?
Castillo de Jagua. Two of us got the pernil (roast pork) with yellow rice and beans, the other got pork ribs with rice and beans. They actually serve different beans with the two dishes. Seasoned differently and both delicious, the ribs were probably the stand out, very soft and saucy and full of flavor, not too fatty. Great comfort food. Meat was very well seasoned, they served the pork with a bit of the skin and hint of the drippings. The saltiness reminds me of the Brazilian and Portuguese food that you can find everywhere in East Cambridge, MA. The price of 3 lunch entrees (huge with leftovers - we could have shared 2 dishes) with 2 coffees was $21.
Deluxe Food Market in Chinatown (on Elizabeth?) was a delight! A man in front of the food counter explained to us what everything was. Grabbed a huge scallion pancake for $2 for the bus ride back to Beantown and an amazing fatty pork dish (pork belly perhaps?) Got the last peking duck roll - thought they'd be more the size of a spring roll for the $1 price tag, but no, they were more the size of a small burrito - Hooray! From the bakery counter: friend got some roast pork buns to steam at home. I tried two pastries - one roast pork and one curried beef. They're like egg-y turnovers. Didn't like either, but that might be an aquired taste. Then grabbed a quick bite at a little joint on Bowery (around 185 - can't remember the name) before getting on the bus. Shared shrimp and scrambled eggs and roast pork and scrambled eggs over rice (why is this always sooo good?) plus had some wonderful pork ribs. The best thing about the Boston - New York Chinatown bus sure is location, location, location!
I'll be back next month and hope to try HSF and/or Dim Sum Go Go (I'm newly obsessed) and I'm hoping to try some of the dumpling places I've read about here, plus New Green Bo, never mind all the bahn mi.... So many places, so little time! And there's always Brooklyn to sample some Middle Eastern food....
Big up, shout out to everyone for their suggestions and feedback here. I'll be back!