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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Chinatown Update: Amazing 66 and Other Cantonese Tips

Amazing 66, a Cantonese newcomer in Chinatown, is already drawing crowds with clean, clear flavors and inventive preparations. Braised and steamed dishes are smart picks, advises Brian S. “Braised duck with eight precious” is a generous portion of boneless duck breast topped with squid, shrimp, scallops, pork, chicken, pea pods, carrots, and mushrooms, and served with rich, ducky broth. Frog, deftly stir-fried with lily bulbs then steamed with rice, is a deservedly popular order, reports designerboy01. He senses a sure hand in the kitchen and an interest in introducing New Yorkers to less familiar dishes.

Other hits from Amazing 66’s first month in business: lobster over pan-fried noodles, baby bok choy with garlic, crisp chicken with pickled cabbage, five-spice-scented braised duck with brown mushrooms, spoon-tender beefsteak in a rich garlicky casserole, and steamed chicken with ham, broccoli, and mushroom in velvety, intensely chicken-y sauce. Portions are large, at least for now–steamed sliced salmon in black bean sauce is actually two huge salmon steaks, served in a deep bowl with dark savory broth. And you just might receive an order of soup on the house.

Rare miscues include overly chewy pork belly with squid and occasional overcooking and under-seasoning. Stick to Cantonese dishes; Miss Needle warns of leaden soup dumplings, disappointingly short on soup.

Three blocks north, a past Cantonese favorite appears to be on its game. 213 Grand Street Gourmet, which at first glance is a barbecued-meat house with a steam table, also has full English and Chinese menus. Two casseroles from the Chinese menu stand out, says Brian S: meaty chicken and mushrooms in rich brown broth, and fried fish with roast pork, mushrooms, and bean curd–both fresh and generously portioned. Past reports praise 213 Grand’s lo mein, chow fun, roast pork, and dim sum.

On Lafayette, next to the hit-or-miss Excellent Dumpling House, humble lunch spot New Wing Wong has re-emerged as humble lunch spot Wing Huang. Locals crowd in from morning till early evening for solid, cheap soup noodles, congees, barbecued meats, and rice plates. Duck gizzards over rice are an off-menu highlight, advises Pan.

Amazing 66 Restaurant [Chinatown]

formerly Eastern Villa

66 Mott St., between Bayard and Canal, Manhattan

212-334-0099
Locater

213 Grand Street Gourmet [Chinatown]

213 Grand St., between Mott and Elizabeth, Manhattan

212-226-4231

Locater

Wing Huang [Chinatown]

formerly New Wing Wong

111 Lafayette St., between Canal and Walker, Manhattan

212-274-0690

Locater

Board Links

Amazing 66 —new in Chinatown
213 Grand Street Gourmet Restaurant —Chinatown

Another Izakaya Favorite: Kan Yuzen

It’s not cheap, but Kan Yuzen is the best izakaya around, says gachimai, who places it miles ahead of places like Honda-ya. The restaurant is nice and clean, service is great, and food awesome. Waitresses in kimonos and wooden platform sandals, though, could be either nice and traditional or weirdly kitschy.


Kan Izakaya Yuzen [South Bay]
2755A Pacific Coast Hwy., Torrance

310-530-7888
Locater

Izakaya Kan Yuzen

Homemade Irish Cream

It’s easy to replicate the popular flavor of Bailey’s Irish Cream at home for a fraction of the cost. Susan627 uses Jameson whiskey in this recipe, which she gives as gifts:

1 cup light cream
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 2 months. Shake before using.

blue room notes that it’s important to serve this very cold, as pouring it over ice makes it watery.

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Homemade Baileys

Russian Tea with Vodka and Hot Rum Cows for Cold Winter Nights

kittyfood learned this recipe from a Russian instructor several decades ago:

3 1/2 quarts water
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
12 tea bags
1 quart unsweetened orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
vodka

Place cloves in water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags; let stand until tea is strong, then remove tea bags. Add orange and lemon juices and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Add vodka to taste, and serve hot. Better if made in advance and aged 24 hours, then reheated (add vodka just before serving).

JK Grence the Cosmic Jester says the Hot Rum Cow is “perfect for when you’re cold and wet, and all you want to do is curl up in a big thick blanket and fall asleep”: It’s an ounce of rum, a cup of milk, a couple teaspoons of sugar, and a dash or two of Angostura bitters, heated.

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Hot alcoholic beverage

Lou Malnatti’s Chicago Pizza

Lou Malnatti’s in Chicago makes the quintessential version of the deep-dish pizza. It’s a favorite of denizens of the Windy City.

OneJaneDoe has ordered the pizzas for home and while traveling. They’ve always arrived in good shape. Bake on a pizza stone, or directly on the oven rack. They’re expensive, at $38 for a 9-inch pie. If you order in quantity, it’ll bring the shipping cost down on each pie. Buy a gift card for a special pizza-loving someone, or ask for one for yourself!

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I’m thinking about ordering a Lou Malnati’s Pizza [Moved from Chains board]

Potatoes

One thing we can all agree on is that potatoes are always fairly “potato-ish”. Like rice, they’re a relatively bland starchy staple that shines as a vehicle for the flavors provided by the addition of meat drippings, butter, or seasonings.

Different varieties will have subtle differences in texture and flavor. Yukon Golds provide a sweet backdrop to a dish of mashed potatoes. Very new potatoes will have a faint metallic taste, offers GDSwamp.

Peruvian and Bolivian potatoes are available in many varieties, even in the U.S. Das Ubergeek explains that the potato is to Peruvians what rice is to the Japanese. Peru is, after all, the ancestral home of this tuber.

There are blue, red, and purple potatoes, potatoes shaped like a thumb (fingerlings), waxy types for boiling (round white or red), and mealy types for baking (Russets). Look for organic potatoes and heirloom varieties; they are so many out there.

Here’s an excellent resource, listing 547 varieties.

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The unbearable sameness of potatoes

D.C. Restaurant Declares: “Credit Only”

Oh boy—it’s the End Times, everybody! The Christian Broadcasting Network’s “news” division reports that a D.C. restaurant has stopped taking cash. Other restaurants will no doubt follow its lead. Next up: no food sales to anyone lacking the Visa/MasterCard/United Nations Mark of the Beast!

In a shocking inversion of the all-too-familiar “our earthy breakfast place is too popular/too much of a drug front to take your lousy credit card” scheme, the owner of Snap Crepes has decided to cut out the awkward fumbling-for-change part of the dining experience and go to a no-cash policy.

“I know exactly how many sales we had—and I don’t have to go to the bank,” said the eatery’s owner, who added that Kofi Annan had promised her a place by his side in the luxurious eighth layer of Pandemonium after the thwarting of the Second Coming.

Also quoth CBN’s article (in sentence-fragmenty manner):

Although she’s well aware of online bloggers, some of whom say her policy discriminates against those who can’t afford a credit or debit card.

The offline bloggers—who typically use ink and vellum, signal rockets, or Morse code to create their “posts”—are, by contrast, largely in favor of the restaurant’s decision. HoratioHornblower23 of the offline semaphore flag blog Flag It!, wrote: “Cafe. Good. Efficient.”

Either that, or he signaled that his frigate was taking on water.

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The Obesity Germ

Obese people have more “super-digesting” intestinal bacteria, which are extremely good at extracting calories from food, and fewer of another kind of gut microbe than non-obese folks, say two studies released today in Nature. As the A.P. reports, the researchers aren’t sure yet whether having more of the calorie-loving germ actually makes you fat, or if people who are obese just produce more of that bacteria for some reason. Still, growing evidence (registration required) of this link between microbes and body mass has scientists excited about potential new treatments for obesity.

But other recent research and media reports have focused on food cravings and compared seriously overweight people to drug addicts. A small study
released in October found that obese people have the same brain responses to food (or even the idea of food) that junkies do to drugs. Even when the “hunger center” of their brains indicated that they were physically full, obese people had their memory and reward centers activated—the same parts of the brain that “light up” for drug addicts when they get an irrepressible craving for their next fix.

Can both theories be right? Well, sure; it’s entirely possible that, say, some people do have addict-like cravings for food that lead them to overeat, become obese, and consequently grow more super-digesting bacteria. But a look at other research into food cravings makes the drug-addict comparison look a whole lot less compelling and more sensationalized: Researchers have known for a while that food cravings activate the same brain areas as drug joneses, not just in obese people but in everyone. And since 100 percent of young women and 70 percent of young men report food cravings, it’s not just the obese who are affected.

Are there any studies of these issues that you’re more inclined to believe than others? Or is viewing obesity as a disease just an invitation for Big Pharma to develop more drugs that we don’t really need?

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