Although I had passed Chinatown's New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe innumerable times (as it is conveniently located just a few doors down from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, one of my most frequented ice cream shops), I never felt compelled to try it until pushed by my trusted food partner-in-crime, Kathy. We gathered together a group of six to get the most out of my inaugural meal, but I left still longing for certain dishes we didn't get to try. Here's a rundown of what we did manage to eat in one sitting.
We started with scallion pancakes, which are nothing like the breakfast variety, but more like a flatbread. The most delicious flatbread ever: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and harboring chopped scallions within its flaky layers. It's hard to resist immediately shoving a piping hot slice into your mouth—perhaps after dipping into the accompanying spicy soy sauce—but then you risk burning off some delicate inner-mouth skin cells. It's probably worth it though.
Even though the dough of the xiao long bao (soup dumpling) was too thick, I can't say I didn't enjoy it. It's a tiny dough pouch filled with pork swimming in pork juice; what's not to like? Just make sure you eat it while it's hot; when they're cool, they taste like a sadness that cannot be overcome by porky goodness.
The steamed whole fish looked somewhat gruesome with its pre-cut sections splayed out in some kind of sunburst of open fish cavity-carnage. Once I overlooked that and picked the tiny bones out of my mouth, I was rewarded with light, sweet, tender fish flesh flavored with a mix of chili, scallions, and soy sauce. Steamed is easily my most favorite form of fish (although fried doesn't lag far behind).
The spicy eggplant in garlic sauce wasn't my favorite rendition of the dish—that title belongs to Grand Sichuan—but there certainly wasn't anything wrong with this one. (Part of the reason I like Grand Sichuan's the most is because they leave the eggplant in ridiculously huge log-like chunks, while everywhere else I've been to has cut them into a more manageable size, for better or worse.) You barely have to chew through the pulp-ified eggplant slices; it kind of just melts in your mouth.
Pan fried noodles consisted of a thick base layer of browned, crispy fried egg noodles topped with sliced chicken and the standard Chinese vegetable mix of broccoli, baby corn, sliced carrots, snow peas, and water chestnut. And lots of cornstarch-enhanced soy sauce-flavored sauce! The thick sauce gives a nice sheen and brown color to everything it touches (this dish won't win any points for prettiness) and softens the noodles over time. I prefer my noodles crispy, but when it's at the stage between "getting mushy" and "still retaining crispiness," it presents an enjoyable mix of textures.
Lastly, my favorite fish of the night: thinly sliced pork belly with preserved vegetables. Of course, I was infinitely more interested in the blanket of sliced pork than the mound of preserved vegetables that lay underneath it, but the preserved vegetables and mixed mung bean sprouts, carrots, and green pepper on the side provided some sort of balance to the pork that appeared to be at least 75% fat, 25% tender pork flesh, and 150% heaven. Pork and vegetable matter shoved into the mouth of the accompanying buns made for some of the most awesome little four-bite sandwiches ever. Someone should make that into a full-sized sandwich.
I look forward to revisiting New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe and indulging in more fatty pork dishes.
New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe
Address: 65 Bayard Street, New York 10013 (near Mott Street)
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