Cafe China. Location: Murray Hill. 37 and Madison. Scene: Big Groups. Clean. Crisp. Food: Authentic Chinese. Szechuan. Bang Bang Chicken. Duck Tongue. Steamed Soup Buns. Pickle and Fish Stew. Fish Blossom. Ma Po Tofu. Fried Rice with Tea Smoked Duck. Wonton Soup.
- Szechuan Pesto Chicken: Poached Chicken Sauteed with Scallion Pesto and Peppercorn (1st pic)
- Whole Fish in Miso Sauce: Whole Tilapia with Spicy Miso Sauce (2nd pic)
- Lightly Sauteed Chinese Broccoli (3rd pic)
Cafe China is probably the cleanest, freshest and best Chinese restaurant I’ve been to in NYC. Now I haven’t explored all of China Town, but I’ve been to the obvious Joe’s Shanghai, Joe’s Ginger, Great NY Noodle Town, Mission Chinese, Red Farm, etc. I have not seen or tasted anything like Cafe China. The service is kind, gracious and calm. The large square tables in the back are covered in big groups and families and smaller tables and booths populate towards the front. Nothing tastes oily, greasy or clammy, and there is no questionable meat which is sometimes the case at Chinese restaurants. The Pesto Chicken is a cold appetizer and the basil makes it taste like the dish came straight from a garden out back. It has a spicy kick after a few seconds, and there is a cold sensation that slams into your lip. The Whole Fish in Miso Sauce is incredible. The sauce covers the plate and fish from head to fin, however, it still tastes and feels lightweight after the indulgence. The bones in the fish can trip you up if you’re lazy or not a pro, but don’t be afraid to ask the chef to debone it. They are like ninjas in the kitchen and will have it back to you to devour in under 90 seconds. Definitely dump the fish in your rice bowl and douse some sauce over it for the perfect bite. The Sauteed Chinese Broccoli is sauce less, healthy and standing in a little puddle of water. When you like the taste of veggies this is how you want them prepared.
Cafe China is the spot to go for pre-theater dining. It’s a hop, skip and a jump away from Times Square and will only take about 10-15 minutes to walk to your Broadway Show. This is much better and well priced than anything you can find in Times Square or Hell’s Kitchen. They also deliver and have lunch specials so hit that up, too. It is this guilt-free and flavorful kind of Chinese food that you will crave and be loyal to. They know what you want here, play good music and even leave you with the gift of Wrigley’s gum when presenting the check. Who needs a fortune cookie anyway?