Cafe China

I am on a Chinese roll these days.  I went on a hiatus for so many years that the desire for Thai and Chinese is coming on fast and furious.  I am a fan of all the new restaurants that are taking old school dishes and giving them a new look.  

We went to Cafe China for dinner this past week.  The restaurant is located on East 37th Street. The concept behind the decor is Shanghai 1930 where western influences are just beginning to take place in the east.  The result is a very kitschy funky place with delicious food and a good noise level.  Two winners in my book.  

Surprisingly the garlic use is minimal if it is not a dish that says garlic.  Love that.  The glasses for cocktails are old school and fun.  Here is the glass I had with my scotch and the dishes at the table.

We started with Dan Dan noodles. Just the right size portions.  Minced pork, chili sauce, scallions and super thin noodles.  The right amount of spice and just delicious.

Soup dumplings were so good we ordered a second round.  

Tea smoked duck on the bone with hoisin sauce on the side.  Perfectly cooked with super crispy skin.

Ma Po Tofu. Soft cubes of tofu that melt in your mouth before getting assaulted with the spicy chili sauce it is served with.  The sauce is so good that I mixed it up with rice just to make sure we got every last drop.

Kung Pao chicken with just the right kick.  Peanuts, ginger and chili peppers mixed in a really tasty sauce.  Chicken was cooked to perfection.

Love lotus root.  Lightly sauteed lotus root that went with each of the dishes we ate.

We had ginger and green tea ice cream for dessert.  

For dessert we also had a sweet deep fried sweet potato pancake.  Really good and went well with the ice cream.  Although dessert has never been the highlight at Chinese restaurants.  We used to go to the ice cream store afterward which I still think is the way to go.

Love the cup with a few pieces of gum served at the end with your bill.  

I believe that China Cafe is Michelin rated.  I am definitely going back and certainly checking out the latest place, China Blue, they opened in Tribeca.  

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    tea smoked duck. yum.

  2. AG

    Sounds perfect for curing a Chinese food hankering. The pics came out well, too.

  3. Rachel Mount Hofstetter

    LOVE cafe china–it’s my go-to lunch spot! Lunch is great–for $10, you get one of the great entrees + soup +the gum +the lovely atmosphere. Next time try the green beans–one of my favorite vegetable dishes in all of New York.

  4. kathryn jones

    OMG! You’re killing me! (And for a low end cash only infusion of chinese spectacular – have you been to any of the Xi’An Famous Food’s outposts yet? Spicy cumin lamb burger, Spicy and Tingly Beef noodles, stewed oxtail, tiger vegetable salad, spicy cucumber salad… oh… I could go on and on and on and on and on – though you have to like spicy – and you skip the lamb face salad (!). In case you haven’t been yet –

    1. Gotham Gal

      spicy cumin lamb burger sounds amazing

      1. kjl

        i just happened upon this discussion! I was in the same position… OD’d on Chinese and more into Thai, Indian, etc. for years. Until friends took me to – one of the restos- amazing!!! I find that the trek to Queens v. the city outposts are well worth your while. Also checkout a newbie from Philly – Han Dynasty, which my hubby and I kindly refer to as handy nasty because of their url… Yum and have fun! P.S.- I live right around the corner from Cafe China!

        1. Gotham Gal

          Han Dynasty is really excellent.

        2. kathryn jones

          Been dying to go to Biang – but can’t convince my husband to trek to Queens!!! (It’s become an almost weekly debate) – Will look out for Han Dynasty!

  5. LE

    Discovery is a big problem with chinese food.I tend to order the same thing over and over again.I told the owner of the chinese restaurant that she should be slipping in a sample of other dishes for her regular takeout customers to get them hooked on new and different things.One day I came in get Yaki Udon shrimp and they were out. She suggested Chow fun (flat noodle) and now I’m hooked on that.Other idea would be to have small portions that you could add just to give you a taste. Or maybe $7 for a surprise offering.One of the reasons I like dim sum is that they dishes roll by you and you can pick what looks good (for example from your pictures I can definitely tell what I would like..) But there is no dim sum where I am, only in Chinatown (in Philly).

  6. Brandon Burns

    drool! did you get a new phone / camera? these food pics are looking considerably more appetizing. or maybe its just the food itself. guess i’ll have to make a visit!

    1. Gotham Gal

      I used a real camera. Pocket sizes

      1. Brandon Burns

        you can tell. a very welcomed upgrade!