Sam Sifton today weighs in on Chin Chin, an old guard of white tablecloth Chinese on the East Side. It doesn't quite deserve the two stars it earned over two decades ago, but Chin Chin still has its place in the dining fabric of this city. It gets one star:
Chin Chin is as American as pork dumplings and sticky spareribs, cold noodles with sesame sauce, three-glass chicken and fried rice...The walls behind the sepia-tone photographs of Mr. Chin’s family in the dining room have acquired something of a sepia tone of their own, and the rest of the restaurant has aged along with them. It’s a dowager now. But don’t let this stop you, or anyone else, from going. Two stars is not the point of a restaurant like Chin Chin, nearly a quarter-century into its run.
The point is garlicky minced squab in a lettuce pocket, the sweet of the green neatly extinguishing the barest hint of fire in the fowl. The point is fat pork dumplings fried golden on one side, and a tangle of noodles doused in sesame sauce that is both sweet and salty, fiery and rich.
And then there's the service: "At Chin Chin, family style food doesn’t mean the dishes sit in the middle of the table for all to enjoy. It means the servers give everyone a little bit of something, like servants in a Beacon Hill town house before Mother says grace...It’s quiet and polite, a wonderful place to eat." [NYT]
Agreeing with Sifton's assessment, Ryan Sutton calls Colicchio & Sons the most exciting place to eat in New York right now: "The tasting menu knocks you out with a scallop, its wallop tripled by the addition of foie gras. The warm liver mirrors the mollusk’s Jell-O-like texture. Octopus surrounds pork belly as if it were a ship in a Jules Verne novel. The pig is silky. The tentacles collapse in the mouth." [Bloomberg]
After whining about the wait and the fact that she can't skip the line, Gael Greene enjoys herself at Pies 'n' Thighs: "It’s the kind of meal that makes you grateful you thrive on the three main food groups: fat, salt and sugar. It’s the Fourth of July - in March - as the table top fills up...And slices of juicy brisket slathered with mayo inside thick slices of toast is an astonishment?an ohmygod moment." [Insatiable Critic]
Robert Sietsema finds some misses at LES newcomer Meatball Shop (see the salmon balls), but overall it's a win: "The world has never known a more perfect meatball hero. The bread is...crusty without being so tough that the ingredients squirt out the sides. The cheese is excellent fresh mozzarella...Chunky and bright red, the sauce has a bit of zip to it...And what about the meatballs? They're of small circumference, beefy, and slightly herbal-tasting." [VV]
While Plattypants takes another week off, the Robs file on two sandwich shops, Saltie in Williamsburg and Cheeky on the LES. The rough and quaint Cheeky earns two UG stars, the ultracasual Saltie gets four: "These two...stand out from the pack, mostly because they deliver something distinctive and delicious, in modest surroundings that are still imbued with their owners’ personality and passion." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Alan Richman checks in on chef Christian Delouvrier at his new gig at 34 year-old Midtown bistro La Mangeoire, Ligaya Mishan has a rave for the Cuban dishes at Clinton Hill's Pilar Cuban Eatery, Tables for Two deems A Voce Columbus corporate and safe (though that's not a bad thing), Metromix advises to stick to anything with a crust at newcomer Ovest, Time Out New York gives its stamp of approval to Brooklyn deli Mile End, and Sarah DiGregorio highlights a unique compound Bangladeshi/Nepalese restaurant in Jackson Heights called Merit Kabob and Dumpling Palace.
THE BLOGS: The Girl Who Ate Everything gets some ramen and cupcakes at Minca and Butter Lane in the East Village, Word of Mouth deems the sandwich at Mile End "the best damn deli sandwich is Brooklyn", Life with Food in Drink is still happy with the pizza at Keste, The Pink Pig has a delicious snack at East Village sushi spot Kanoyama, NY Journal finds almost all hits at Faustina, A Life Worth Eating is put off by the cold service but finds bursts of genius in the food at Momofuku Ko, and Ed Levine gives an A- to the breakfast pizza at Pulino's.