An ever-growing demand for upscale Asian food in New York does great things for our dumpling scene, but it also ensures long lines. The acclaimed RedFarm restaurants, on the Upper West Side and in the West Village, are no exception. Since the power duo of Chef Joe Ng and restaurateur, Ed Schoenfeld teamed up in 2011, RedFarm has been a go-to source for playfully re-imagined and refined soup dumplings, fried rices noodles, and other takes on American-Chinese food eats.
But with only 42 seats downtown and 80 on the Upper West, you may be looking at a mult-hour wait for dinner. Where should you go if you need food sooner? Nearby restaurants may not have Pac Man dumplings, but they'll do you right.
The West Village
The Closest Call
If you want creative, pan-Asian cuisine done right, go to Wong, a quick eight-minute walk from RedFarm's West Village location. With an emphasis on fresh ingredients, Wong's menu includes highlights like shrimp fritters and scallops with duck tongue.
More Good Eating Nearby
For a more casual option, Niu Noodle House has an extensive menu of noodles and rice dishes. Soup dumplings, shao mei, and sticky rice round out dim sum options worth exploring. Or you could go Japanese at Hakata Ton Ton, which is all about creamy pork-enriched noodle broths and meaty hunks of pork foot. There's more refined fare as well, such as a pouch of fried tofu skin stuffed with sushi rice and foie gras.
Bars While You Wait
So, you just can't get RedFarm's dumplings off your mind? Here's a drink (or two) while you wait. Cocktails at Harold Dieterle's The Marrow are worth a stop, such as the updated French 75 shown above, or head to Orient Express Orient Express less than five minutes away. RedFarm also has a bar all its own downstairs from the restaurant called Decoy.
Upper West Side
The Closest Call
If RedFarm's Upper West Side location can't seat you and you need Chinese NOW, head to Upper West Sider Ed's nearest standby: Empire Szechuan. It's nothing stellar, but it'll get the job done. Willing to take a stroll or hop on the subway? Head north to Legend, the Upper West Side's best Chinese restaurant. It's not as fiery-delicious as the Chelsea original, but the subtler, less spicy dishes have a lot going for them.
More Good Food Nearby
If you can get there on the early side, Celeste turns out some of the neighborhood's most reliable red sauce Italian with solid pizza and wine to match. Greek spot Kefi is also a favorite of ours for easygoing food in the neighborhood. The burger will do you right, too.
Drinks While You Wait
If you're waiting out your meal, head to one of Amsterdam Avenue's many bars, such as Cava for wine or the Dead Poet pub for a quiet pint. For something more upscale (with some food to snack on), try Barley & Grain for whiskey cocktails and small plates.
Have any other low-key spots to recommend? Tell us in the comments.