This restaurant was the only one we chose with the travel guide, my travel companion: I usually have a good flair and we don't rely on travel guides for food. I had a bit of a bad feeling in the entrance as there was an escalator, for some reason an escalator in the entrance of restaurant sounds wrong (you need the exercise when you come out!) Anyway, inside the restaurant, the space was huge, seemingly the place is used for big family events. The dishes were similar to those I can get in the UK, only they were presented differently on the menu, with complicated formula. The waiters found it difficult to understand us as their English was not too good, although I don't find this an issue. A glance in the room told me that nobody amongst the customers was chinese. Huh ho... The place was well lit at least..
Anyway, we order some duck tongues: We’d expected the tongues to be pan fried but they came in a thick batter which spoiled it a bit for us.
My companion ordered hairy taro balls which she liked although they weren't the best she'd ever eaten. I am not very much into deep fried so again that was a bit heavy for me.
Then we got the steamed scallop dumpling I'd order which were rather nice and fresh.
Of course I'd asked the waiter if they had Xiao long bao, and they did! They were ok, but definitely not freshly made, and the dough was to thick, with not enough soup inside.
The shark fin dumplings were quite interesting, i'd never seen them made that way. Not my favorite, but good.
There was no egg tarts for dessert (ohhhhh noooo!) so I ordered the only dessert that seemed healthy enough, which turned out to be coconut jelly with canned fruits, not very exciting really.
I suppose the fun bit came at the end since in Britain, we rarely get a fortune cookie at the end of the meal; orange quarter and mini desserts during the new year, but no cookie indeed, for it's an american invention. I must say I rather like it (the message, not the biscuit!)
It was interesting to note that in American restaurants, you don't need to order water, tea, they are brought to the table automatically as part of the service. The odd bit come with the bill, as you never know what you will have to pay: you have to calculate the tax on top then the service from 15-20% upwards. I don't like counting so I found that rather painful, and remain attached to the European way where everything is included and you don't have to worry about it. Also, the dollars come in small bills so you have to put plenty of them!
So the verdict: we should have followed our instinct and gone to the little restaurant at the corner of Elisabeth and Pell Street with all the pigs heads and ducks hanging in the window which emitted such a gorgeous smell. The standard in Manchester Chinese restaurants is rather high as I discovered when I went to HongKong, so I am a bit demanding. However, we don't have any Vietnamese restaurant and I was very pleased to find many of them in New York, even though they -again - tasted different frrom the ones in France. The other funny thing is New York is that when you come out of restaurants in the evenings, the pavement is full of bin bags! which conforted us in our thoughts we hadn't expressed them till then: the meal had been a bit rubbish really... (it might well be a British expression hum...).
But well, that was the only failed food experience in NY, the rest was awesome, I just wanted say like everywhere else, after all, it's a lot down to how one choses the restaurant. And our lesson that night was: do not believe the travel guides for food!!