Since Full Kee is closed for renovations, we decided to check out Chinatown Express (the place where the person makes noodles and dumplings in the window). Incidentally, the place was packed, even at an off-time (around 3:30 in the afternoon).
I ordered the soup dumplings
(a.k.a. steamed pork buns)
and oyster ginger casserole.
SO ordered the fresh-made dumplings
(vegetable, seafood, leek and pork)
and the soft shell crabs.
Aside from watching the guy make the noodles and dumplings, the best thing about Chinatown Express is the condiment selection on the table, particularly the garlic paste. Wow, that stuff is good.
The dumplings were good (particularly the vegetable variety). The pork-filled steamed soup dumplings were even better--very juicy with a nice flavor. I'd rank them higher than the regular dumplings at Full Kee (which are nothing special), though they were entirely different from the delicate and unparalleled Full Kee shrimp dumplings. I think these are called pork buns on the menu. Once I tried to order these and got regular dumplings in soup.
The soft-shell crabs were crunchy and quite good. They were battered and fried and then tossed with green onions, garlic, chili peppers and salt. Might be a little salty for some folks (definitely not for those on a restricted diet), but we liked them.
The oyster ginger casserole was an incredible disappointment. I love the version at Full Kee, which has a very flavorful caramel-like ginger sauce and perfectly cooked oysters (though varying amounts of oil depending on who is making it). The Chinatown Express version has huge chunks of ginger and scallions, but a surprising lack of (good) flavor. And the oysters were gritty, tasted overcooked and were in a watery broth. Just writing about it is making me feel a little queasy and dejected!
As we were leaving, we saw a table of people eating congee that looked promising. I'd definitely like to go back and explore that part of the menu a bit more. I also thought I saw some people eating soups that I didn't see on the menu...