Tuesday, June 2, 2009

China 1

China 1
50 Avenue B

After being shutout from China 1 on a busy Saturday night, I had always thought of China 1 as more of a party space than a dining establishment, but after hearing about their weekday drink specials and subsequently reviewing their menu, I reached out to the restaurant to find out more about their chef and cuisine. *Full disclosure: We received a small discount on our food tab but received the same drink specials.

$2 well drinks, sake and beers meant a lot of drinks. The catch was that each person had to buy $15 worth of food. I think of it as 2 drinks and $15 of food for $20. Not a bad deal. The food at China 1 is meant to be shared, and for the five of us we ordered just enough to hit the $15pp minimum.

After placing our order, we were offered a chicken lollipop amuse bouche which was covered in crispy noodles. Love when I get an amuse bouche, but wasn't too thrilled with the taste. The noodles had the "I just grabbed a bag of em off the shelf and through them on some chicken," though the rest of the group enjoyed them.

Chicken lollipop:

We started off with a couple of "dragon soup dumplings" filled with hot and sour soup ($2 each). While it was a pretty good soup dumpling, my expectations were probably unrealistic. Hot and sour soup sounded crazy awesome and it didn't hit that mark. The rest of the food, however, was on target.

Soup dumpling:

The Shanghai belly fried rice ($10) was served with pork belly and a fried quail egg. It was perfect for sharing, with lots of food, garlicky and not greasy. The pan roasted chicken breast with coconut curry ($14) felt clean and refreshing. Cantonese BBQ crispy duck ($22), probably the winner of the entire evening, holds its own with any other top notch peking duck spot. For me, the key is the skin and managing the amount of fat. China 1 got that right. Crispy skin with tender pieces of duck sat atop pancakes (a la Momofuku pork bun?) for sandwiches. If you only order one thing, it's this.

Shanghai fried rice:


The only dishes that weren't really memorable were the yellow flower fish with noodles ($17). It's just difficult to share a noodle soup, and even if I was eating it myself, I would have liked some spicyness to add some punch. Sure, the fortune cookie sundae was good ($8). It's difficult for chocolate and vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge and fortune cookie not to be good, but I was expecting something more.

Yellow flower fish soup:

Fortune cookie sundae:

The verdict? $2 drinks is obviously a good deal. If you go with one other person, each get 2 drinks, the duck and the Shanghai rice, that's $40 for 2. Pretty good deal if you ask me. Definitely will go check it out again. Been to China 1? Want to go with me next time? Post a comment!

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