Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer New York Trip: Cafe China

One of my favorite restaurants on my recent NY trip was Cafe China, a one Michelin-starred Szechuan/Shanghai-style restaurant in Midtown NYC. We were a little bit skeptical because a) it's not located in Chinatown and b) the could this possibly be authentic. But it was (surprisingly) -- the food was amazing and the vibe was something I hadn't experienced before.

The only word I can use to describe this place is... hipster Asian. Hanging chandeliers. Vintage art of Asian women in cotton qipao, smoking cigarettes. Prints of old school cameras. Asian waiters who spoke perfect Chinese and perfect English, and wore thick-rimmed glasses. This was the sexiest Chinese restaurant, if you can imagine such a thing.

Starters, clockwise from back: jellyfish in scallion pesto, mouth-watering chicken, and mung bean jelly. All of the dishes that we ordered were items that I've experienced before at other authentic restaurants, and Cafe China does it just as well. The mouth-watering chicken was my favorite starter and was truly mouth-watering (har har).

Chungking braised fish in red soup. This was really spicy and had a generous amount of fish. Check out how red it is...

Really good mapo tofu. It's a common and simple dish, so I'm glad that they did it right (would've been embarrassing if they didn't).

Spicy cumin lamb. The spice level on this was the highest of all the items that we ordered, almost to the point of unbearable. This was the only item that we had trouble finishing, but not because it wasn't good.

Lightly sauteed loofah. Apparently the English translation of this melon is loofah?? It's one of my favorite vegetarian dishes and it was the only dish that wasn't spicy from that night, so it was practically inhaled.

Everything was delicious, and the wall art was so sassy. Give them a try -- it's a new experience entirely from any other Chinese restaurant that I've visited. 

13 E. 37th St.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 213-2810

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