Joe Shanghai [Click the photo above to go to Joe Shanghai’s website]
24 W 56 Street (between 5 and 6 Avenue) New York, New York 10019
I decided to go for a nice Sunday dinner with my girls Sara and Caryn, but they live in the same building on the Upper East Side, and I live in Murray Hill, so we always try to go for middle of the road, because that’s what friends do. So I mean, we’re definitely doing Chinese, it’s Sunday, and it’s also the weekend of the Golden Globes/premiere of Girls, so let’s make it on the early side…
Final decision: Joe Shanghai in Midtown. a. I have never been b. I want to go c. that’s it.
Spoiler alert: I liked it. It’s not overrated. I’d eat it again (and again), and I liked our waiter.
So here’s how it all went down:
We were supposed to go to dinner at like 7, but I received a phone call at about 6:
“Caryn’s ready to go.”
“Ok, are you cabbing it there, or taking the subway so I know how much time I have.”
“I think I’m going to cab it.”
“If you’re going to cab it, then I’m going to cab it.”
Easy enough, except I was totally focused on Instagram, and didn’t realize that the cab driver dropped me off on 55th Street, and not 56th street.
“Oh, this is perfect. Thanks!” I say like an idiot, until I realize I’m on the wrong street, and have to walk , and guess what? Streets are longer in midtown than downtown. I just want my soup dumplings!
I walk in and tell the hostess my friends are already here, and they act like they have been waiting for the rest of the VIP party to arrive. They walk me up the stairs, through the dining area, to a private room with two empty tables, and a television set.
“Can you turn on the Golden Globe preshow?” we ask a waiter.
But I’m facing the wrong way to watch the television. Luckily though there’s a mirror so I watch the tv through the mirror during dinner.
What could be better? It’s like we were in someone’s living room (just with a lot of Chinese people serving us food – everyone stop acting like that was racist).
We decide on 2 orders of pork soup dumplings, and one order of crispy beef, and one order of tea for the table, oh and my friend ordered hot & sour soup.
Soup dumplings arrive, and our cutie waiter Sam, places one dump on each of our spoons, and does a bow of sort and says enjoy.
So this is what a LEGIT soup dumpling tastes like.
NOT date material, because the exterior of the dumpling is sort of sticky, so we were all licking our lips and the dumpling to make sure it didn’t stick to our face.
“You look weird.”
“What? It’s sticky.”
“Why do you have to make it look sexual?”
“I love slurping the soup. I love that part.”
“The [hot & sour] soup has shrimp in it.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
Crispy beef arrives.
I’ve had a lot of crispy beef in my lifetime (does that sound sexual? I don’t mean it to be), but this was some of the best crispy beef I’ve ever had.
“What is she wearing?”
“Jessica Alba looks good.”
“Kate Hudson looks amazing.”
“She just seems like a bitch.”
“You guys, when I got dropped off at the wrong spot in the cab I saw the LOVE sign, wanna take a picture after we finish eating?”
“Okay, but who will take it?”
“I don’t know.”
“We’ll ask someone, and then they’ll steal my phone.”
I had a bite. I liked it. It felt like it had more layers than the average soup. I Recommend.
Oh hello dumplings. No one warns you that they’re sticky on the outside, but I guess you look paste it once you bite into a legit soup dumpling. It’s all it’s cracked up to be. The dumpling doesn’t fall apart when you bite it, and there’s soup cradled at the bottom of the dumpling. They are pretty much little bundles of love.
Just the name is delicious, crispy beef. While other people my age are getting married (it’s lovely they’re in love blah blah blah), I’m busy making love to this crispy beef, so it’s pretty much the same thing. Sometimes crispy beef can be hard and crunchy, but this was cooked just right. Love ya crispy beef xoxo.
And here is how I watched the Golden Globes, in a Royal Caribbean t-shirt I got at a vintage store in Wisconsin (that a guy once told me I wore a lot, turns out I do), and through a mirror at a Chinese Restaurant. Too Legit.
Look, my phone didn’t get stolen, and look at the fab tourist photos I got from it!
Do you want to eat here?
Well that changes everything! So now we have to figure out a meal for 3, and also hold off on the ordering until she arrives, and the waiters were really pressuring us for some unknown reason. The restaurant had maybe 3 other parties present.
Ok so duck divided by 3 is like nothing right? I mean that’s the math that made sense to us.
“She said she wants beef and broccoli.”
“I think that’s a little heavy with duck.”
“Maybe chicken or shrimp?”
“How about shrimp?”
“Ok, but if we get the shrimp, maybe a different appetizer?”
“Wanna be crazy and get the pork dumplings?”
“Is that enough? The duck, the soup, shrimp, and dumplings (that’s two dumplings per person).”
“I don’t know.”
“The more food we order, the more I blog.”
The waiter comes over, and we put in our order.
“Do you want the dumplings steamed or pan fried.”
“Is that all?”
“And sesame noodles!” Game time decision.
We finished our soup before our friend arrives, and I start diving into the crunchy noodles they put on our table. I cannot remember the last time I had these (ok maybe I can but not at a restaurant, just when I get it for delivery). I miss it.
“I thought you brought leftovers.”
“I brought leftover pad thai.”
“When did you eat it that you’re so hungry now.”
“Well the plan was I’d eat lunch before work (her job starts at noon) and then I’d eat the pad thai later around 6.”
“So what time did you eat it?”
The waiter serves us the sesame noodles and dumplings, and he gives me a weird look as I begin snapping paparazzi photos of our meal.
After I take a picture of the noodles, the waiter starts mixing the sauce and the noodles together in front of us. He then looks at my friend with his tongs full of noodles and says something I can’t understand.
I assume he offered to serve us. I have vivid memories of my mom telling the waiter, “please don’t serve me. I’ll serve myself.”
And I hear my friend go, “I’m good with tea and water.”
Is she not going to eat sesame noodles now that we ordered a meal large enough to serve an army?
“You don’t want him to give you?” I ask.
The waiter looks confused and then serves all of us.
He walks away and my friend goes, “he asked me if I wanted something to drink.”
“Will you come look at the apartment I’m moving into after dinner? I am meeting the previous owner to buy furniture from her.” my friend asks me.
“But you’re so far away.”
“I’ll charge the cab to my mom’s credit card.” That is tempting.
“Yeah, but what about the cab back, you’re so far uptown?”
“It’s your only chance to see it.” Apparently this is my only invite ever to an apartment she hasn’t even moved into yet.
“I’ll think about it.”
The duck is wheeled out on a table and it is on the opposite end of where I am sitting. I get up, which is harder than you think, because I wore my tight jeans, and run around the oversize dining table to take a picture of a duck (it was my exercise for the day). I again get weird stares from the waiters as I snap photos of the duck.
This time the waiter serves us on purpose, because the duck gets mixed with sauce, scallions, and cucumbers in a pancake. I considered taking a picture of the waiter carving up the duck and serving it, but I didn’t want to risk another dirty look.
The shrimp is then also placed on the table with a heaping plate of white rice. We may or may not have over ordered.
As we all suffer to try and imitate the waiter’s technique with our next pancake my friend tells us how her dog is currently in the hospital.
“He had a tumor on his spleen.”
“How big was it?”
“The size of a golfball.”
“But he’s such a small dog.” (he’s a Yorkshire Terroir)
“Surgery is very expensive for dogs.”
“Yeah, we had the option of surgery for Snowy when he went blind, but we decided not to do it.” (Snowy is a 16 year old bijon who hasn’t been able to see the light of day since ’05)
“That’s a little mean.”
“Well he was gonna go blind again anyway.”
“I don’t think Snowy felt that way.”
I start noshing on a cucumber (who was I kidding? I just ate an entire animal), and my friend starts eating whatever is left of the duck, which is the crispy skin.
She takes a bite and goes, “Ooh yeah, look at that skin.” It looked like she was about to make love to the crispy duck skin.
“That’s going in the blog.”
We eventually get the check, and another waiter comes over to take the credit card and cash, but he seems pissed that he’ll have to do some math. He puts his glasses on, takes the check, comes back, but instead of leaving he just stands there.
“Thank you, thank you,” he says with a thick accent, and goes to grab the bill before I have even signed mine.
“Wait, I didn’t sign mine yet.”
“Thank you, thank you.”
Jesus, alright. I sign it and have to throw it at him so he won’t walk away without it.
“Thank you.” Alright already we get it!
I opt out of seeing my friend’s apartment, because I just want to get home, but no mother effing dice. As soon as I get in the cab, we completely stop moving. I am now sitting in a cab directly next to Turtle Bay Bar listening to bar music and drunk people.
Maybe I should have paid better attention to what’s going on, because Obama is in town, and there is now a 20 car procession blocking off Second Avenue for an unknown period of time.
I hear a drunk girl introduce herself to a group of guys, “hi I’m Lisa.”
Eff this, I now owe this cabdriver $6 and we have not moved an inch. I guess I’m taking the subway. Thank you President Obama, thank you!
Peking Duck House (cabbage)
This comes complimentary when you are seated. This is what I noshed on while we waited for my friend to arrive. She seemed to really want beef and broccoli if you can’t tell.
I think sometimes this comes over pickled with a funny taste, but this one didn’t! I kept eating it, because no one else at the table would, and because I liked it.
Peking Duck House (hot and sour soup)
Good way to start the meal off. They say that it’s healthier to fill up on soup in the beginning of the meal, because it helps you portion out the rest of your meal. Well I was definitely full.
Peking Duck House (crunchy noodles with spicy mustard and duck sauce)
I love these! I feel like Chinese restaurants get stingy sometimes with duck sauce, but not this time! This also just reminds me of going to dinner on Sundays with my family so it has a special place in my heart.
Peking Duck House (pan fried pork dumplings)
Some of the best dumplings I have ever had! They were absolutely delicious!
Peking Duck House (sesame noodles)
This is the sesame noodle cold appetizer how it served to you. The waiter then mixes the sauce and noodles together in front of you. It’s a classic Chinese dish, and it’s well prepared dish.
Peking Duck House (peking duck)
Here it is! The main event! This is how it is served to you.
Peking Duck House (duck) just
This is how the duck was served on the table after it was sliced in front of us. It looks like quite the spread right?
Peking Duck House (duck) just
This is how the duck was served on the table after it was sliced in front of us. It looks like quite the spread right?
Peking Duck House (duck)
Here is our lovely wrapped up pancake. The waiter did a lovely job. It was delicious, tender meat, crunchy cucumbers, scallions. It’s just so good!
Peking Duck House (white rice & shrimp with garlic sauce)
This was not the standout of the meal, however very good!
Peking Duck House
This is my completely understandable reaction to having to sit through traffic, not move, and then have to walk to the subway to then wait 10 minutes for the subway to arrive, just to get home from dinner on a Thursday night.
RedFarm [Click the photo above to go to Red Farm’s website]
529 Hudson Street (between 10th & Charles Street) New York, NY 10014
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of Red Farm, a Chinese restaurant in the West Village, with crazy good reviews, but does not take reservations, which just makes it that much harder to get a table. Thanks Red Farm! My friend and I hatched a plan to go to Red Farm Saturday night at around 7:30 to put our names down with an anticipated sitting time of around 8:30-8:45pm.
We were sadly mistaken.
We invited a third to our dinner date (girls night!), but we felt bad telling her we were going to dinner at 7:30 (get ready RIGHT NOW), so we told her we would put our names down, and for her to just take her time and get ready, and then meet us wherever we were when she was done (will she think we’re leaving her out? Do we sound mean? I don’t want her to feel rushed…thoughts coming from every angle. For the record she really didn’t care. It was entirely in our heads). Obviously there was miscommunication (when is it ever easy?), and I didn’t know if I was going with one, sharing a cab with another, meeting another down there…ALMOST a mess, but it was fine.
Ended up sticking to the original plan: I would go with one friend downtown to put our names down, and we would notify our other friend how long the wait was. When we arrived at Red Farm, we see a line.
“Is this the line to be seated?”
“No, this is the line to put your name down.”
I’m sorry what? Let’s talk about pushy New Yorkers on line at a trendy restaurant. Anxiety? Yes. Does this person know we’re on line? Are they cutting us? Are they being seated? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
We see a little girl scoot up to the front table. Maybe her table is ready. Nope, she is putting her name down.
“Excuse me, we have been waiting on line,” said a man in front of us.
“Oh, sorry,” the girl says, but she doesn’t look so sorry, and she remains standing by the host stand.
“Is she going to cut us?” my friend asks.
“I don’t know, say something to her.” Yeah, I was scared to say something! Judge me.
“Excuse me, we were on line too.”
This girl did not like that, but whatever. Back of the line street rat.
When we finally make it to the front, they tell us that they will text us when our table is ready, oh and that there is approximately a 2 ½ hour wait. GREAT.
“Excuse me, just out of curiosity, but how many people are in front of us?”
“In front of you? 30 different parties”
Shut the front door old man. Ok, are we still in? Yes. What do we do in the meantime? My stomach is already rumbling a little bit.
“Let’s walk around and find a place for drinks and some snacks before.”
Lets be real people, we weren’t NOT going to eat.
Luckily for us, Hudson Street is not short of trendy restaurants and bars. We end up stopping at a Caliu, a tapas bar two blocks down. We text our friend where we are, and she meets us there.
I would like to point out that my friend and I looked like street walkers strolling the boulevard in our heels, heavy make-up, and tight clothes at 7:45pm…the heels probably being the worst part because that means we would be in 4 inchers for at least another 5 hours. Uh oh.
“Where’s your bathroom?”
“Down those stairs.” Of course it is.
We get settled, and start perusing the drink and food menu.
“I want to get a margarita.”
“It’s not even 8 yet, maybe we should start off with sangria instead.”
“I think I want a margarita.” Lady can’t be swayed.
The waitress walks over. “Can I get your guys anything to drink, while you wait for your friend?”
“How is your mango margarita?”
“It’s basically pure tequila.”
“Ok, I’ll have that,” my friend says.
Shoot, I’m up, “yeah ok, one for me too.”
My friend looks at the wait staff all laughing and chatting and goes, “they look like they’re having so much fun.” (are they having more fun than us?)
Soon our other friend arrives, and the three of us are all slurping on our mango margaritas.
“So do you care if we still wait for Red Farm?”
“No, no it’s fine!” (oh, so you’re easy going)
“What should we get in the meanwhile?”
“Nibbles” I say. I pretty much said nibbles 30x throughout the night, and I am now truly weirded out by the word. I need to learn to be quiet sometimes.
What are nibbles may you ask? Just little bites to hold us over. Deciding was so easy. Boom. Boom. Boom.
“That was so easy, we should pat ourselves on the back for that.” Guess what? I actually did.
“We will have: the bacon wrapped dates, the meatballs, and the croquettes.”
“We are out of the croquettes.”
“We are??” Mango margarita has gone straight to my head, because now I think I work there.
Substitution time, butternut squash fritters are ordered in its place.
Verdict? Yum. The dishes came in sets of 3 or 4, which made it hard to overeat. We paced ourselves in the eating department, not so much in the drinking.
“I love the music here.”
“It’s Pandora,” says the waitress.
“Then how come we don’t hear any ads?” Are we testing her? We actually really liked her, and I think we thought we were already best friends, but we weren’t.
We left Caliu with 3 tapas in our stomachs as well as 2 mango margaritas. On to the next stop. 2 ½ hours is no joke.
No food this time, just drinks, off we go to Dublin bar for another round of margaritas. 2 guys I didn’t know came up to talk us (my friends knew them so whatever). All I know is that they invited themselves to Red Farm with us, and one had a digital watch on. No, no, no, no, no. Bye.
It’s a blur, but let me tell you, their bathroom was downstairs too. C’MON!
My friend called Red Farm and with the assurance that we would be seated in 20 minutes we high tailed it to the restaurant. I kid you not, I was fully inebriated by this point, so time ticked by slowly and quickly all at the same time. We asked the host what dishes he recommended, I mean hey, we were hovering over his host stand, might as well chat. By the time were seated, menus were completely unnecessary.
We decided to do small bites since it was technically our second dinner: soup dumplings, pacman dumpling (both were musts, since it’s all I read about in the reviews), BBQ’d porkbelly, and a Katz’s pastramic egg roll.
And lets not forget…another margarita! We all ordered the Le Club Hot (a spicy margarita).
“This is the best one by far!”
“Or are we just too drunk to notice at this point?”
Dumplings are served as we try to equally distribute.
“I can’t believe those guys asked if we were single, and then said good for you after I said yes.”
“He asked me if I was as an after thought.”
“He also made fun of where I live.”
“What do I write back to this text? I’m confused.”
“Just say you haven’t eaten dinner yet.”
Pork belly next, and last but not least is the egg roll.
“Are we going out after this?”
“Oh, no, did you bring an umbrella?”
So after all that? HOW WAS RED FARM????
The dumplings were forgettable. Yeah I said it, Red Farm! You’re just regular dumps. The pork belly, that’s code for spare ribs, not that I’m complaining, but they were boneless spare ribs. The most delicious part of the meal?? The egg roll. UNREAL.
“Would you go back here again?”
“I don’t think so. We did it.”
“I would go back here so I could try it sober.” (This was me. I’m pretty sure I was the drunkest out of all 3.)
and finally our meal at Red Farm!!
Red Farm (Le Club Hot)
A fancy pants margarita. It was delicious. If you like margaritas, go for it! Again, it was like my fifth of the night, so if I stear you wrong I apologize in advance.
Red Farm (pork and crab soup dumplings)
Sorry it’s blurry! I was drunk, and I think the steam sort of got in the way of a great picture. I will admitt I have NEVER had a soup dumpling before, so not too shabby to have my first one at Red Farm. They were good, but I have nothing to compare to.
Red Farm (‘Pac Man’ dumplings)
They’re so cute, but they are also SO overrated. They tasted like your standard set of dumplings. They just have smiley faces on them.
Red Farm (BBQ’d ‘Black Foot’ Berkshire Pork Belly)
AKA spare ribs. If you like spare ribs, then this is a done deal. They were juicy and sweet. If you’re not a big pork eater, obviously don’t get this.
Red Farm (Katz’s Pastrami egg roll)
Deep fried, fatty meat, with a dipping sauce. Why doesn’t anyone ever mention this in their reviews? A-mah-zing!