Those who know Wiv and I, know we have a bit of a black is white, up is down, you really like Little Three Happiness kind of relationship. In fact once again, we were at it today, arguing over whence came the delicious bread at Tufano's (which I will comment on in another post, but in a word, fab-freakin-tastic). Anyways, I come here not to agree with Wiv on Tufano's, but on Phoenix Dumpling House and its soup dumplings (a/k/a steamed juicy dumpling w/minced pork and ginger). He says refined and intense. I say, yes. Actually, his only quibble, about the ginger, was happily devoid tonight. Perfectly fresh slivered ginger to accent the dumplings. Enough ginger that we each got to put a few slivers in our individual condiment bowls.
Shanghai food is all about the carbs, and we did the anti-Atkins tonight. All the white flour Dad and the chowhounditatas could stomach (and adore). Stir fried shanghai noodles; noodles (a different kind of noodle) in a spicy broth with chunks of brisket (Nanking style); special spicy noodle with peanut sauce, steamed and fried Shanghai buns--served with condensed milk for extra deliciousness! won ton in a spicy sauce; another dumpling (pan fried Shanghai bun) that consisted of the excellent slightly sweet Shanghai bread, and finely minced pork filing evocative of pierogi; deep fried dough (c'mon Hot Doug, is not deep fried dough two nicer words than encased meat?) and of course hot soy milk to dunk our donuts in. It was surely the most food the kids have ever eaten in Chinatown in one meal.
OK, we got a few bits of protein, crispy spicy salted tofu, which the kids gobbled up before I could even try and grilled eel, very rich, if perhaps too fatty for most taste. The only detour, at all was Chinese brocoli with oyster sauce.
Wiv mentioned a bit of gringo-izing on his visit, but we escaped that treatment. The menu is fully translated, easy to understand, and they pretty much left us to our own devices. You just check off what you want. The nice woman who manages the show, came around after a while and asked if we had any questions. I showed her our order, and she said, "excellent", which is perhaps why I liked her.
While we were eating, a couple of families with kids entered, sat down, but soon left, maybe expecting kung pao chicken to be on the menu. Too bad they did not stay. We were there with another family not wholly familiar with the ins and outs of Chinatown, and surely not hip to all the discussion of soup dumplings, yet they fully enjoyed the works at Phoenix Dumpling House. It may not be what you expect as "Chinese" food, but very satisfying Chinese food indeed.
In conclusion, I feel a bit RST like, during our post dinner stroll, I saw how wonderful our Chinatown has become. Spring World, Ken Kee, Happy Chef, Lao Sze Chuan, Shiu Wah were all crowded and on all the tables, everything looked so damn good. Phoenix Dumpling House could not match the bustle of these other places, but they were serving up just as well.