Sunday, February 7, 2010

Places that suck



There are very few places that suck so bad I will put them on blast, but these restaurants upset me so much because they parade around like they offer quality products, but they have to know their food sucks. These are the restaurants/people that perpetuate shitty stereotypes and make restaurant owners look bad.

1) Rickshaw Dumplings - you can tell this was the brain child of some scheming b-school grad. The dumplings are horrible and the kitschy Chinese branding is offensive. I'm not even going to break down why the dumplings are so bad because we'll be here forever. Watching Anita Lo teach Bobby Flay how to make dumplings made me not want to be Asian or at least excommunicate Anita Lo from the tribe. Bitch, you're fired.

2) Baoguette/Pho Sure/and all the other shitty spin-offs - There's no balance of flavor with Bao's sandwiches. They're all either too salty, too one-note spicy, or too one-note sweet. I hate using big vocab words, but you always get palette fatigue eating this guy's food. And the corny show he put on at the Mikey's Opening teaching people how to flip burgers was retarded. We know how to flip a burger, but do you know how to make a real pho? All you taste is anise in this dude's broth.

3) Joe's Shanghai - these soup dumplings are horrible. dark, salty, unrefined soup dumpling gelatin. people like them simply because soup dumplings are the shit and most people have their first soup dumpling at this hell hole. put one of joe's shanghai dumplings next to one from nanxiang xiao long bao and taste the difference yourself.

4) Rice - this place is just stupid. the combinations don't sound good on paper, taste good in practice, and should never be replicated again. the focus of the restaurant is to sell gimmicky fusion pairings from different regions instead of focusing on delivering honest food that is fused simply to taste good.

5) Republic - this place is always packed and it is hilarious to hear the union square lunch crowd rave about it. i can understand if you got dragged there by some B&T girl/guy you want to smash, but otherwise you have no excuse to be there.

6) Wo Hop/Hop Kee - people, stop acting like this place is good. Yes, I eat here late night. Yes, Bourdain came here with some fool, but the food sucks. Its only cool cause its open late and fun to watch drunk people fall down the stairs. The food is so bad I've refused it after taking giant rips of headband. That never happens.

I'm tired, this list is constantly growing. Please feel free to add your own horrible restaurants.

34 comments:

  1. Anytime someone recommends Rickshaw to me I cross them off the list of people I listen to for food recs. I can get a bag of 50 of the best frozen dumplings on Eldridge for 8 bucks. Why would I ever waste my time here?

    I think Rice may have closed. Is that the place in Murray Hill?

    I've got no problem with Baoguette. It's better than a lot of other banh mi I've had, but not as good as the place in the back of the jewelry store on Mott.

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  2. Eddie - there are MANY MANY places like the ones you describe in San Francisco/Oakland. Glad to know we are not alone, here. Keep up the good Bao work!

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  3. Yes, the classic banh mi they have is above average and reasonably priced. Can't argue with that.

    But, the rest of the menu is a trainwreck. There is this thing amongst "foodies" where spicy is always better. I love spicy, but in my book, there is a technique. I'm not trying to cook Adam Richman style. You can't just add a bunch of chilis or hot sauce. At baohaus, we "tiao" our chilis, mix it with a bunch of herbal vegetables, sugar, other peppers, etc and sear them to get a more whole spicy flavor. If I make spicy dumpling sauce, i take fresh chilis, tiao with vinegar, oils, and sometimes sugar. There is a art to hot sauce. You don't just chop up spicy shit and throw it in. The sloppy bao at baoguette is just one-note spicy and its lazy. His chinese sausage dishes are way too sweet, you need a balance. And, the pho is not all that.

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  4. I haven't tried the sloppy bao, only the classic.

    I really love heat in my food, but never at the expense of flavor. I went to Xi'an the other day and got the spicy and tingly noodle soup. I asked for it extra spicy, and they dumped in a bunch of chile oil, but the flat broth tasted like it needed to be simmered longer. No amount of heat could make up for a thin broth.

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  5. I totally agree with you about Rickshaws. My parents would die knowing people are paying $8 for 6 dumplings. I have to give Joe's Shanghai some slack only because they are the only xiaolongbao place IN nyc!!! Until they open up a dintaifong in NYC... then Joe's doesn't "suck" in my book.

    Please add PEKING DUCK HOUSE. Thank you! Da Dong reigns supreme!

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  6. Hey Eddie, I'm looking forward to trying your place. Some might say as a restaurateur you should keep mum about sucky restaurants, but more power to you. One of the greatest abominations in the Asian scene is the mind-bogglingly popular Lemongrass Grill chain and its related restaurants, though I'm told that Jaya is decent because the guy (who's Malaysian-Chinese) knows his audience.

    On the other hand, I think Ratha Chau does great things with his num pang, even if they're not "authentic."

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  7. where can i find Nanxiang xiao long bao?

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  8. prince st in flushing next to 66

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  9. 19 out of the 20 hand pulled noodle shops in town are just greasy and disgusting joints. Then, of course, the two big dimsum houses in Chinatown: Jin Fong and Golden Unicorn. These two places truly suck.

    I wholly agree with Joe's Shanghai. Everything is coarse at the place.

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  10. I'm looking forward to the the day when Rickshaw's doors shutter for the last time. Pathetic attempt at a dumpling joint.

    Does anyone have contact info/a contact at Din Tai Fung? We need one here in NYC.

    Would anyone else hit up Da Dong regularly if we had one in NYC? How big would it need to be? 200+ seats? A huge open kitchen so patrons know what peking duck is all about...

    If NYC wants to remain one of the premier culinary cities of the world we need step it up with some legit Chinese offerings...

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  11. The "foodie" culture of the City also perpetuates mediocrity as most are rather ignorant of Asian cuisine. Just look at the reviews of some of those knowitall idiots on Yelp about Asian food, those reviews are only as informative about the reviewers' need to name drop as opposed to the quality of food of the various venues. These reviews are merely there for these reviewers to overcompensate their short sticks.

    Having a Din Tai Fong in NYC will not help the issue. Until diners develope a taste for the delicate and the subtle (e.g., bitter but sweet, buttery but not greesy, etc.) which are essential characteristics of good Asian cooking, we will continue to see the abundance of these sucky joints and the unworthy praises they receive.

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  12. Would like to add CNY dinner at Baohaus.

    Nothing really special. Not horrible, but horribly mediocre, and way overpriced. Just plain bland (not subtle) food.

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  13. There have been rumors for the past couple of years that a Din Tai Fung would open in Flushing...let's hope it happens.

    Having Da Dong in NY likewise would be great, but seeing as how it is only in Beijing (I don't think it is privately owned, as opposed to Din Tai Fung), which is privately owned), I think it would be unlikely to expand to the US.

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  14. Have to disagree about Joe's. I never eat there, just take out the crab dumplings. Flushing's too far. And I don't know if "course" is the right word for it - I see why you don't like it - but they're flavorful and very soupy and a lot of people can't get it right (read: most dimsum places), so for most people, you're stuck with Joe's.

    After moving to LA, I went to Din Tai Fung a whopping once. In three years. Yes they're tiny and delicate but massively overpriced and not "wow." On the other hand, we drove all the way up to Vancouver to eat non-stop XLB...

    BTW, if you're so worried about authenticity, you (and the people who follow you) should learn to not use the word "Asian." It is awful and offensive. There is no such thing as "Asian cuisine." There is Cantonese, Taiwanese, Japanese, etc., "but no such thing as "Asian food." (Although aside from that, I agree with what Anonymous said re: Yelp/DTF)

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  15. Since we're in rant mode, what are your thoughts on Dim Sum Go Go?

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  16. i know people who don't like din tai fung because it isn't "WOW" when you first bite it. not saying i've "grown" or anything, but I used to judge things based on the wow factor. Over time, I realized a lot of dishes just can't be judged that way. I'd much rather eat 10 din tai fung dumplings that are clean and balanced than one really big greasy soup dumpling. Its preference. As for using the word "asian" i definitely agree. I used it a couple times when I am referring to chinese, vietnamese, japanese, korean food altogether. its kind of convenient on a blog but for the record i agree with you.

    dim sum go go, not bad, not great. i think its on the "balanced" flavor profile side but even in my opinion, there isn't that oomph, that "soul" that you want in the food. Which is again why I like din tai fung and da dong so much. They achieve that balanced flavor but its complex and has depth.

    "anonymous" who came to CNY. sorry you didn't like it. if its too bland, let me know. if you tell me at the dinner, i'll do everything in my power to make it fit your expectations! no need to leave unhappy. if your attitude going to restaurants is that you want to "catch" someone on an off day, you're going to be unhappy. But, if you've ever worked in a kitchen, you know, that there's a lot we can do to make you happy. We had 15 people from the dinners who came last week just re-reserve for a private seating of the dinner in march so clearly people liked it. I've never said our restaurant is perfect. Just like we underfried a piece of tofu for the vv critic, we maybe underseasoned your soup. Let me know and I'll make it right.

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  17. All the fukinese\korean owned sushi places. They never use any vinegar in the rice, and the crudely chopped\sliced fish is always covered in sweet sugary sauces. Sometimes a bit of cheap caviar is added for elegance.

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  18. There are places in manhattan with moderately better soup dumplings then joe's shanghai, though none as good as nanxiang. I'm thinking of shanghai asian cuisine on elizabeth, grand sichuan in chelsea, and shanghai cafe on mott. None of them are great, but they're all better than joe's and a lot more convenient then flushing.

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  19. Please post when you sort out the long waits at Baohaus. Steam and fill...why does it take 20-30 minutes? And don't tell me it will be just a "few minutes." That kind of unnecessary dishonesty will ensure I will never return.

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  20. The last time I went to Nanxiang xiao long bao, the quality went down, the portions shrunk, and the prices have gone up. It totally jumped the shark. Though that obviously doesn't stop the gweilos from going in, of course some people don't know better either. To top it off, they acted like dicks and I'm used to brusque Chinese service. All the foodie attention got to their heads. I need to go find some other xiao long bao place in Flushing.

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  21. Eddie- Totally applaud the honest views of "Places that Suck" but how about some balance with "Places that Don't Suck"? Aside from Baohous, where would you send your readers to get some Asian grub done right? Both in Manhattan and the outer-boroughs- Lookng forward to reading your thoughts.

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  22. lol - giant rips of headband.

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  23. Eddie,
    I am anonymous from above. Thanks for the open minded response. I hope you can improve your food.
    Like I said none of it was horirble. Just bland.

    A little salt can go a long way.

    Of course this is just my own opinion.

    Keep up the hard work!

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  24. Yup! here is a post from a week before about places i love! i actually wrote the one about places that suck after. just goes to show, people only remember the negative! a lot more responses to this post than that one! http://thepopchef.blogspot.com/2010/01/im-chinese-oprah-not-flying-dragon.html

    Anonymous, thanks for writing back! I'm on it!

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  25. I also nominate Rickshaw..my mom actually looked pissed at me when I brought some Peking duck dumplings to her for lunch the other day. You do not want to piss off a Chinese mother by offending her with disgusting dumplings!

    I'd like to add Serenedipity 3 to the "suck" list..that dessert place near Bloomingdale's. Their frozen hot chocolate is the only good thing on the menu. Place is quirky. But the food is just disgusting and overpriced..not to mention the patrons are comprised of little girls and their families who looked like they just came from the American Girl Place Store and are ignorant to good food.

    As for Asian places: Shanghai Garden. I don't know which part of Shanghai inspired this place but it sure as hell isn't any place I've been to. This place just plain sucks. Have you seen the "xiaolongbao"? They should rename it "greasy bottomed meat&vegetable puree stuffed mantaou". Yes the "skin" is not xiaolongbao skin at all..it literally is a bready, white bao. I would slap the owners if they weren't so nice to me when I order my lychee ice.

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  26. Thank you Chief! I loved those jewelry store sandwiches, but couldn't remember what street the shop was on. For a while I thought it had been sucked into some kind of worm hole. So Mott is where it's at.

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  27. Rickshaw is terrible and has the gall to be overpriced as well. I only get one dish at Republic - the spicy beef noodle soup. Other than a few apps, don't like anything else there. I always tell people Joe's Shanghai is a shitty tourist trap and to go to Shanghai Cafe if they're looking in Manhattan (Flushing is way too far). I did not like Dim Sum a Go Go when I was there a few years ago. Some Chinese girl told me it was great, but I was like "Pah!!"

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  28. don't lump hop kee and wo hop together, they're not even close. i know you were teeing up your stupid joke but that's seriously not cool. hop kee is legit.

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  29. Seriously poster who criticized all fukinese\korean owned sushi places out of hand, most of those restaurants do suck, but it isn't like making sushi is a genetic quality pass down through the bloodlines. Maybe it's just my happa bias, but it really irks me when people equate ethnicity with ability to make delicious ethnic cuisine. What it does take is willingness to learn, experience and respect for the food in question.

    I've had delicious sushi in Korea, and nearly punched a white dude in the face who said the Japanese can't make teapots well because the Chinese invented them.

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  31. I AGREE ABOUT NANXIANG.

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  33. yo I'd like to add M Shanghai in Williamsburg. This place sucks! Definitely for white hipsters who don't know any better willing to pay $15 per dish whereas you can go to Chinatown and get the real deal for half the price and 10x better.

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