Chinatown Brasserie is not in Chinatown but in-between SoHo and NoHo, located at 380 Lafayette Street (212) 533-7000. I was there today and was very impressed by their dumplings. I literally wanted to try just about everything. The dumplings were so delicious, with a delicate outside dough and very fresh tasting ingredients.
I had already had lunch but decided to stop in anyway because the room caught my eye. It is a set designer's dream. It reminded me of something that might have existed in 1930s Shanghai. Of course for purists they will scoff because I understand the restaurant is owned by the people of the former Time Cafe. Well, to that I say Keith McNally still does beautiful brasseries such as Balthazar and Pastis so we can have a fantasy-style Chinese restaurant.
There are many comfortable circular booths and large round tables; perfect for sharing food and good conversation. The decor is beautiful in a kitschy elegant manner. Downstairs is a large pond holding happy looking fish (not for eating) and also a cocktail lounge which was not open.
The dim sum is not served on floating carts and ordered by menu. Since I already had lunch I ordered Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings (4 for $6) I took one bite of this delicate morsel and heard myself swoon. Me! Who just recently posted how I dislike Chinese restaurants because they use too much gloppy sauces!
I also had Crab & Meat soup dumplings (5 for $10) and thought they were better than Shanghai Joe's. These dumplings tasted more delicate and did not have that geletinous buttery texture that I'm not crazy about. A+ at Chinatown Brasserie. I also had fried vegetable Pot Stickers (4 for $6) and a pot of delicious tea. The bill with tax came to $30 and worth every penny.
I don't know how this place is for dinner (a bigger menu, higher prices) but I can heartily recommend it for a group, a couple, all celebrations. It's just a fun place. They also have full entrees and roasted meats. I'm going back with a few people so we can sample more food.