Several months ago I lamented my dining experiences at Otto NYC. Still, this past week I found myself needing a place to go out for dinner in that neighborhood, so I somewhat reluctantly made a call to the AmEx concierge service to get a reservation. I was a bit surprised that they got it for the exact time I wanted only 4 hours before dinner, but I took it as a good omen and decided that maybe my luck was changing there. I sat at the bar and had a drink before dinner and had an interesting conversation with a woman there where I was lamenting the food but still willing to give it another go. We discussed some of the highlights of dining there (the cheese plates with preserves are quite good and fun) and then I made my way to the hostess to get our table. That’s when reality set in. As it turns out, I did not have a reservation for dinner at Otto. I later came to find out that I had a dinner reservation at Alta. In retrospect, Alta actually looks like a good menu to try, but at this point I was in a bit of a mental funk trying to figure out what was happening with AmEx and with dinner. Fortunately, when I called AmEx they were able to figure everything out and explain to me what had happened. And I asked them to get another reservation for me instead, at Chinatown Brasserie (caution, sound on that page). It was my first trip to Chinatown Brasserie, though my wife has been a few times for Sunday brunch, and i must say that I was quite impressed.
The menu focuses on dim sum, though there are also some main course options. And while some of the dim sum options are more traditional (shrimp/pork dumplings), there are some that are a bit more creative. That is where the deliciously trafe comes into play. One of the dim sum options is the Lobster-cream cheese sticks. They are basically wonton wrappers with a bit of melted cream cheese and lobster meat chunked in, rolled about a quarter to half in in diameter and then deep fried. They’re served with more cream cheese dipping sauce and scallions to perk up the flavor a bit. And they are delicious! They aren’t the most trafe delicious dinner option I’ve had – that would probably be the shrimp salad BLT sandwich – but they certainly were well on their way. The traditional dim sum stuff that we had was all OK, but certainly no better than random chinatown dim sum shops. Then again, this place was pretty clean and nice, so I guess that’s where the extra money is going. They also have regular entrees on the menu, if you don’t want the dim sum approach to dining, though this is certainly one of many meals we’ve had made up of appetizers/tapas/small plates that I think benefited from that approach.
We’ll be going back at some point, I’m sure, and we’ll definitely be getting the lobster-cream cheese sticks again when we do!
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