I have dragged my best bud through a spectrum of restaurants over the years. Hers is a thrifty nature and she has suffered some pretty expensive meals on my behalf, some wonderful, others not so hot. And she has been uncomplaining.
I think I may have made it up to her last week, finally, when I introduced her to No. 1 Dumpling House on Eldridge St. Even though it was just after noon, we were able to get 5 dumplings apiece in short order. A fellow who came in after us made eye contact and smiled at me, and I felt like it was a secret handshake, a Chowhound moment.
The tiny counter area in the back was full, though, so after a liberal squirt of Sriracha, we went back out onto the street to picnic on a nearby step. She kept saying over and over again, “Man! A DOLLAR!” We were dripping dumpling juice up to our elbows and having a lip smacking time of it. They were soooo hot and soooo good.
Of course, there are perils to such al fresco dining. A man walking along the sidewalk was working his sinuses for all he was worth, gagging and hawking and cuck--cuck-cucking. It kind of compromised the ambience. I started laughing helplessly, half of a scalding dumpling in a perilous place, almost losing it entirely. At least it didn’t come out my nose. And the step that looked deserted to us at first was crossed by no fewer than three uncomplaining people, who climbed over us matter-of-factly. I apologize to them formally and I thank them for their de facto hospitality.
We stopped at Funky Broome afterward (which is called something else now) for a beer and a good, old wash up, and, since we were nearby, we scored a couple of banh mie at Banh Mie So 1 on Broome Street to take home. After that it was on to Greater NY Noodletown for something to EAT. We had their excellent salt-baked soft shells with a liberal scattering of hot pepper sliced over all. They were enormous and we really had to struggle to finish them, but they were just so fine.
It was a mighty hot day, but, all things taken, a fine one.