Chinatown Brasserie Review: Chinatown Brasserie

Chinatown Brasserie Review: Chinatown Brasserie

If you google, “Food people together” you’ll get over ten million results. This is scientific proof that food is supposed to bring people together. If you don’t believe me, go ask a ninja about food. Much can be said about what kind of food is good enough to bring people together. Restaurants close all the time, and we can say their failing is the inability to bring people together (for their food). Conversely, if much can be said about the food, much can be said about the patrons as well. Those who visit hole-in-the-wall dumpling places like cheap, filling, and fast food. Those who sit down at Ko want creative, inspired, and delicious food. As a Chinese-American, I have only had non-PC opinions when I see supposedly good Chinese restaurant that is lacking in Chinese patrons. It just always bugs me.

I never understood how good (read: expensive) Chinese food in the U.S. fails to bring Chinese people together. If you believe Ed Levine then Chinatown Brasserie has the best dim sum in Manhattan. This past weekend I went, and I have to agree that Chinatown Brasserie serves great dim sum. But if you love dim sum at reasonable prices, this place will leave you greatly disappointed.

Yes, the food here is top notch. The turnip cake have a crisp exterior that almost no other dim sum place in NY achieves. The shrimp dumplings are delicate and the shrimp is flavorful. The roast pork buns were probably the best I’ve had in the city. But I will NEVER recommend anyone go here because you’re not supposed to be able to eat $30 dollars worth of dim sum and not feel full here. And you can eat 30 dollars worth of dim sum here because the cheapest dish is $6 dollars. No, that’s not a typo. SIX dollars. If food can bring people together, why doesn’t expensive dim sum bring Chinese people together here in NY?

There was an article in the WSJ about hipness of Chinesefood. And a subsequent discussion on Serious Eats In the article the reporter goes to places in Flushing that are frequented by other Asians. It seems that what qualifies as ‘good’ Chinese food mostly exist outside of Manhattan. And the best ones in Manhattan? They get no love. I’m not sure what hip Chinese food is really or whether that is possible. But what is ‘hip’ anyway?

Does ‘hip’ have to exist in a part of town that trendy people like to go? I think it’s great that we have neighborhoods like Flushing and neighborhoods like The Meatpacking District. This way, when I want good Chinese food (by NYC standards) I can go to one neighborhood. And when I want to see the highest per capita of silicon boobies + douchebags, then I can go to the other. See? New York works itself out. Different people choose where they want to go and whether they want to mingle with other groups.

Ed Levine loves Chinatown Brasserie and thinks Jin Fong is “less than mediocre” but where do Chinese people eat at? I’ve seen Chinatown Brasserie on a Sunday at 12 noon and Jin Fong Sunday at 12 noon… it ain’t even close. Of course the reason for the disparity in number of customers is mostly financial… $3 dollar dim sum somehow tastes better than $6 dollar dim sum if you aren’t rolling in it. So is CB more hip because they attract a higher yearly income demographic? Or is Jin Fong more hip because it’s PACKED every Sunday? Or is a restaurant hip when the likes of Bruni and Levine descend upon it and deem it ‘delicious’?

I would define a ‘hip’ Chinese restaurant as a busy Chinese restaurant in a trendy part of Manhattan that is frequented by ethnic Asians and Caucasians alike. If Joe Ng’s great dim sum cannot bring Chinese people together, and the mediocre dim sum at Jing Fong cannot bring foodies together, then maybe we should all just eat what we want and call it hip. And damn the WSJ to hell and back for saying the food of my people ain’t all that here in New York? Poopy pants on you WSJ and guess what? It is ON like Donkey Kong! Well, maybe not, but I need to go find some chicken feet…

Chinatown Brasserie380 Lafayette St .New York, NY 10003212-533-7000

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