I've made my stance on faux meat pretty clear in the past (hint: I don't like it) and I've never been to a Pan Asian restaurant I've liked. This made my choice of Wild Ginger, a vegan, pro-faux restaurant serving such enticing-sounding dishes as General Tsao's Soy Protein and Tofu Teriyaki Sizzling Platter a little suspect. What was I thinking? Luckily, turns out that amidst all that nonsense, there are some actually tasty lunch options.
'Chinese-American' on Serious Eats
When King Yum opened almost 60 years ago, Americans were in the midst of an affair with all things Polynesian. King Yum was deeply of the moment, a casually elegant destination restaurant, like a Queens version of Mad Men (Mad Mensch?). The menu has evolved some since then, and adults no longer dress for dinner in quite the same way, but the vibe feels essentially unchanged. In here, dinner is an event, white tablecloths are a matter of course, and too much familiarity with actual Chinese cooking would seem vaguely suspicious. Purists may sneer at the pu pu platter and General Tao's chicken, but dinner at King Yum is an authentically American experience.
High-end dim sum is what Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng do best. The former is the man behind Chinatown Brasserie, Shun Lee, and Shun Lee Palace; the latter, a dim sum chef Schoenfeld met in Sunset Park and brought on board at Chinatown Brasserie. Almost a year ago, the chef-restauteur pair launched the RedFarm stall in the upscale food court FoodParc, where we loved the dumplings and pastrami egg rolls and quite a bit else. And finally, after a number of delays and what seemed like weeks of preview dinners, they've opened their newest restaurant, also called RedFarm, in a townhouse in the West Village.
I had a friend, Stuie Bleckner, who died fifteen years ago. Stuie was a good soul, depressed and confused about a lot of things, but crystal clear on many others. He was one of those cabbie philosophers who could...