April 20, 2009 | Ask Gael

Chinese Moderne

 This Singapore slaw and raw fish from Shang is Chinese moderne. Photo: Steven Richter.
This Singapore slaw and raw fish from Shang is Chinese moderne. Photo: Steven Richter.

David S. writes:
      My wife and I cannot agree on any Chinese restaurant. She says they are all too greasy. Is there such a thing as “healthy” Chinese food that still tastes great?

Dear David S,

     Shang in the Thompson Hotel on the Lower East Side is a revelation, unlike any Chinese cooking you know. Susur Lee closed his highly-rated spot in Toronto to risk everything here. And as I wrote in BITE, last December, his food is unique, unlike anything I have tasted here, often thrilling, endlessly inventive, whimsical and traditional in the same dish, daring and delicious.

     And it can be light too. Try the Singapore slaw, seafood tofu, sashimi of madai (a mild white fish) with daikon and lobster-shrimp croquettes, fried but so very delicately.  The fragrant young garlic chicken is a dish to share. And while “light” is not the word for the potato dumplings under a crisp see-through veil, “greasy” will not occur to your wife either. 

        Enter at 190 Allen Street and take the elevator to the second floor. 212 260 7900 
Chinatown Brasserie’s chef Joe Ng keeps the dim sum elegant and light.  Photo: Steve Richter

      Chinatown Brasserie makes no health claims.  Indeed the food is elegant but fairly authentic.  Yet unlike most greasy dim sum you’ll find around town, the dumplings turned out by dim sum wizard Joe Ng do not have added pork fat. That is, if you avoid the sensational fried offerings (not that I can or would)) and just focus on everything steamed -- shrimp dumplings, baby bok choy and mushroom dumplings, crunchy vegetable and peanut dumplings, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings. Even the pork buns and watercress shrimp and pork dumplings do not have that heavy sensation of grease. And there are salads you don’t usually see elsewhere.  Surprise your wife.  Click here to read my review of Chinatown Brasserie.

        380 Lafayete at Great Jones Street. 212 533 7000

Patina Restaurant Group