Tag: Chinese food

Congee Bowery

Saturday, April 5th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Family

I’d been to the Congee Village on Allen Street several times now — the first visit most notable for our dish of duck tongues — but this was my first time to the smaller Bowery location, just a few blocks away at the edge of SoHo and up the street from BLVD. Similar gaudy-tacky decor as the original, with an emphasis on red and gold, faux-greenery, neon accents, and… well, you can see for yourself.

The website explains the design aesthetic thusly: “Built with all authentic materials imported from China, Congee Bowery presents itself with a gorgeous intricate play of wood and marble, decorated in traditional chinese style, with a fountain of stones, real plants and real gold fish, bamboo trees and original art from the great land of China.” Mmhmm.

The Cantonese food is well-prepared and authentic, though… a favorite of my family’s, though I’ve yet to introduce them to Amazing 66 on Mott, mostly because my parents don’t make it out to Manhattan’s Chinatown much these days. Two tables were gathered tonight to celebrate J’s birthday with a traditional Chinese banquet. The dishes were part of a pre-set special menu, and followed the usual progression, beginning with a platter of cold appetizers…

…and continuing with a tureen of seafood soup, fish fillets two ways (wok-tossed and battered/fried), a T-bone steak, a steamed whole fish… and of course, no birthday feast would be complete without a whole chicken — symbolic of the phoenix, that harbinger of good fortune. (Congee Bowery serves a very good one, crisp-skinned and topped with flakes of fried garlic.)

I lost track of the parade of dishes after a while. Here’s the Jumbo Shrimp with Walnut & Broccoli, coated in sweet mayonnaise sauce:

And a dish of what I thought was abalone, but which turned out to be a mix of mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, enoki) over vegetables:

One of my favorites of the evening: Pan Fried Bean Curd with Soy Sauce. A seemingly simple preparation: squares of tofu seared just enough to impart an outer texture, while keeping the insides soft and silky.

Lobsters with Ginger & Scallion. Congee Bowery also has a version made with Butter & Cheese… which may be good, but I’m too skeptical to find out.

The banquet ended with platters of E-Fu noodles and dried scallop fried rice studded with golden raisins, which I did not have, but heard was rather delicious.

For the more adventurous eaters among you, Congee Bowery’s menu (.pdf) is chock full of exotic-sounding items that push the limits of omnivorousness: Sea Cucumber & Goose Web, Roasted Young Pigeon, Duck’s Blood with Chives, and Baked Fish Intestine In Clay Pot, anyone? Anyone?

After dinner, several of us accompanied the out-of-towners for a night stroll through SoHo — with a pit stop for rice pudding at Rice to Riches — while the New Yorkers debated the relative merits of Eileen’s and Veniero’s. The latter, though far more touristy, maintains the edge at least in terms of operating hours… at 11PM this Saturday night, there was a twenty minute wait for take-out cheesecake.

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Dinner at Ocean Jewels

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family, Friends

M & LL were back in town after spending the holiday in Alexandria with the newlyweds, so the family gathered in Queens once again for a post-Christmas dinner with our visiting friends.

I never eat better in Chinese restaurants than when my parents or their Hong Kong compatriots take command of the ordering. I can’t even replicate the meals on my own if I try; half the time, those same dishes don’t seem to appear anywhere on the standard English menu to which I’m most often relegated.  This cold, wet evening we all met at Ocean Jewels Seafood Restaurant, located across 39th Avenue from the Flushing Mall. (One day I’ll have to devote an entire post to that kitsch and foodie paradise.)

The upscale Cantonese-style restaurant was previously known as Gum Tong Gung and before that, I think, East River… though it’s difficult to keep track among all the changes in downtown Flushing. I’ve seen it most often touted for its impeccably fresh seafood and beautiful assortment of dimsum, though the food is very good across the board; most peak meal times you’ll find Ocean Jewels jammed with a predominantly Chinese clientele, though of course, all are welcome.

Ocean Jewels

Tonight, we shared the restaurant with a wedding party in progress. The sounds of karaoke filtered in from the adjacent banquet room, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. (At least I’m pretty sure it was karaoke. Either karaoke, or a not-particularly-talented wedding singer.)

On to the food! Dried Scallops with Yellow Chives Soup:

Dried Scallops Yellow Chives Soup

I noticed that Ocean Jewels has a lotus-leaf-wrapped version of the sticky rice/Dungeness crab dish that I love of late, but tonight, our crustacean of choice was the Lobster with Ginger and Scallions:

Lobsters w. Ginger and Scallions

Sauteed Shrimps with Crystal Sauce:

Sauteed Shrimp

And because it seemed cruel to delay further everyone else’s meal with my obsessive photo-taking, here’s the rest of the spread, which included Crispy Fried Chicken (with Pringles, which nowadays seem to be the go-to stand-in for shrimp chips), House Special T-bone Steak and House Special Baked Sable Fish (or as it appears on Nobu’s menu: Black Cod.)

Ocean Jewels spread

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