January 26, 2004 | Ask Gael
We’ve moved to Chinatown and crave variety.

        Once you’ve wallowed in the dumpling riches of your new turf, you’ll be desperate for a hit of vinaigrette and a pure haricot vert. Hike a few blocks east on Canal to funky Les Enfants Terribles, where the accents are French and Brazilian, the look is cozy do-it-yourself, and the music pleasantly eclectic (with DJ’s dropping by now and then). But what counts for us is chef Abdhul Traore’s obvious skills. He gives a Senegalese tweak to bacon-wrapped sea scallops, uses Côte d’Ivoire spices to flavor juicy sliced steak alongside cassava fries, and surrounds a luscious lamb shank with sensational root vegetables. The excellent duet of duck, its breast meaty as a steak, comes with shredded confit and fig-apricot-stuffed cabbage (all entrées $18.50 or less), perfect to pair with a $26 Côtes du Rhône. Finish up with spiced poached pear cloaked in a caramel Calvados sauce. It’s a rare interruption in Chinatown’s relentless spread that I’d treasure in my neighborhood.

37 Canal Street 212 777 7518