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Where to take an 8-year-old budding foodie?

In a few weeks, my wife and older daughter are going to be away at music camp, and I want to take my 8-year old daughter into NYC for a weekend adventure.

Last year, I took my 10-year old to Jean-Georges and had dinner at the bar: we had a great time, talking with the bartenders and the patrons around us, and she enjoyed the food.

Does anyone have any suggestions of other places to take a well-behaved 8-year old to have a memorable dinner? Ideally somewhere that has unusual or dramatic or classy decor, non-snooty service that might welcome a child, and interesting food.

Jul 19, 2010
Tartuffo in Manhattan

Chinatown Pork Bun Tour

Last time I was in San Francisco, I turned my kids onto char siu bao (steamed bbq pork buns) by taking them for the buns at the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building, which are probably the best pork buns I've had in my life. And I've had more than a few (mostly from SF Chinatown, but also in NYC and Hong Kong).

So yesterday, after doing a fair amount of research on places that sell pork buns in Manhattan's Chinatown, I took the kids in for a walking tasting tour of four pork bun places. Being kind of type-A, I even made a map of our itinerary: http://www.communitywalk.com/new_york...

Here is the quick recap, from favorite to least favorite:

Mei Li Wah Bakery, 64 Bayard St: the steamed buns were pretty good. Steamed bun: the buns are large and enclosed, and while the dough was very tasty and had nice texture, but there was a little too much of it for my taste, too thick. The filling was tasty, I'd have preferred it it if was juicier. Since their baked bun was frequently raved about in reviews, we tried this too, and it was excellent. I preferred it to their steamed bun. The filling was juicier and tastier, and the thin baked dough had a really nice texture, flavor, and aroma. I often find baked bun dough to be leathery or papery, this was neither.

Golden Unicorn,18 E Broadway. These buns were pretty good. These were the smallest of the ones sampled, but that was not a negative. The dough had nice texture and good flavor. The filling was tasty, but a bit on the sweet side.

Hop Shing Restaurant, 9 Chatham Square: this place was really crowded, many people in line for take out, so I had high hopes. The dough was good, but filling was not that appealing: not great flavor, and had a lot of gelatin in it.

New Wonton Garden, 56 Mott at Bayard: very disappointing. The buns were served up from a large plastic bag in a warmer, and the dough was starting to disintegrate from the moisture. The filling was bland.

We didn't make it to the Golden Steamer.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the steamed pork buns on our tour. If anyone has ideas of other places to try for great pork buns, please let me know!

Nick

PS, I've tried and enjoyed the pork belly buns at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, which are delicious but different from char siu bao. I also recently tried the buns at Ippudo, and they are also delicious, more like char siu bao, if a bit "deconstructed", and spicier than typical. I might have to take my kids there next time. :-

)

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New Wonton Garden
56 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

Ippudo
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

Chatham Restaurant
9 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

Apr 03, 2010
Tartuffo in Manhattan

Like Napa & Co, but not Napa

I thought Ferrante was "ho-hum".

Aria I like a lot. My wife and I take our two (well behaved) daughters there. The food is, in general, excellent. Fantastic gnocchi.

I also like Emme of Capri, which is in that area. Much smaller, tighter confines, but good food.

Feb 03, 2010
Tartuffo in Southern New England

Like Napa & Co, but not Napa

Re "Someone mentioned Jean Pierre, jfood currently has on the gotta try list."

Don't bother, IMO. It is not in the same class (in terms of food quality or ambiance) as the other restaurants on your list.

I think Napa is quite good, I just wish they'd ease up on the salt sometimes. Market is cut below, IMO.

Thomas Henkelmann in Greenwich used to be our "special event" dinner place, but it seems to have gone down in quality in the last few years.

I second Bistro Bonne Nuit, great place. Only been to Harvest Supper once, it was excellent.

Feb 03, 2010
Tartuffo in Southern New England

Chinatown-style Chinese near Stamford?

Thanks for the welcome!

Now that you mention it, the filling did seem different last time I was there (maybe 3 or 4 months ago). The filling as a little firmer, and less aromatic. I don't think I enjoyed it as much, but I put it down to an off night. Now I need to go back and have them again, for testing purposes. :-)

Feb 03, 2010
Tartuffo in Southern New England

Chinatown-style Chinese near Stamford?

It is not exactly what you asked for ... but I think the most satisfying pan-Asian food in the area is at Ching's Table in New Canaan. Unlike most Chinese in the area, they have bold flavors and, good ingredients, and no gratuitous gummy sauces. I really like their Sichuan Dumplings, Wok Beef Tenderloin, and their Crisp Red Snapper .

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Ching's Table
64 Main St Ste 3, New Canaan, CT 06840

Feb 03, 2010
Tartuffo in Southern New England

Best Burger in CT

The Wagyu beef burger at Napa and Co. in Stamford is fantastic. Comes with red onion jam, aged gouda, black pepper mayo, and a side of rosemary fries. The meat is nicely charred on the outside, just right medium-rare reddish-pink on the inside, it is very moist, succulent. But the toppings really make it: savory, smokey, rich: delicious. Yeah, expensive at $26, but worth it IMO.

Feb 02, 2010
Tartuffo in Southern New England