A hidden gem tucked away right outside of Tribeca, you find yourself transported into a different time. China Blue captures old time Shanghai – from the lanterns, to the vintage pieces found displayed around the restaurant to the mini suitcase holding hand towels in the lavatory. To top it off, great service from the attentive staff as well – a nice change and quite the treat from the Chinatowns we’ve been accustomed to.
The low-key ambiance fit for quiet nights out perfect for lounging, sipping on teas or your liquor of choice, and talking into the wee hours. The plus is that the food here is quite good. And since it’s a Shanghainese restaurant, we had to have our “xiao long bao’s” or soup dumplings (we had the pork) and drunken wine chicken. Both dishes were delicious and perfectly done. The meat in the soup dumplings reminded me of ones I first had that made me love soup dumplings. The skin was almost perfectly thin – but all in all, they are on my list of favorites in NYC. I’m not usually a fan of the wine chicken but I have quite a liking for them at China Blue – the wine is not overpowering, yet subtle enough to taste. It’s done nicely. For those that have never had it, it’s a cold dish.
Next up, we had the carp belly – the stomach portion of a large fish. Don’t be fooled by the dark colored heavy looking sauce. The sauce is surprising light yet tasty in flavor and the fish was cooked perfectly that left the meat moist and smooth. But be warned, this is not for amateur fish eaters – lots of tiny bones!
We also had the pork belly over mustard greens which were also served with buns. Like eating peking duck, we sandwiched a slice of pork belly and a spoonful of mustard greens in between the buns. Again, the sauce looks heavy but it’s also pretty light in flavor. We expected it to be too saucy and heavy in flavor but we were pleasantly surprised. The sauce was a bit much on the vegetables though – maybe if there was a little less of it to portion it out would have been better. But still a great dish.
And our last dish was our favorite. We didn’t know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised with the flavors and innovation of this dish – Rice Cakes with Salted Duck Egg and Shrimp. The rice cakes are coated in salted duck egg yolk batter and combined with pieces of shrimp. If you like salted egg yolks, you’ll LOVE this dish. You taste the egg yolk in every bite, the shrimps are extra tasty and for me, the scallions added an extra punch. The mister and I plan to attempt to replicate this dish at home – if all goes well, we’ll be sure to share the recipe. If not, we’ll always have China Blue.