Friday, October 23, 2009

Not Terrible, But Not So Teariffic


This review originally appeared on The Gotham Palate.

Fresh from a weekend trip to Boston, my friend and I arrived back in the brusque city streets of Chinatown where the scents of fish markets, dumplings and automobile exhaust accosts you from every angle and the food is plentiful. Famished (notice how most of my entries mention acute hunger pangs), we trudged along to Mott Street, my wheeled luggage jolting up and down over crooked sidewalk cracks.

Destination: Teariffic.

Squid Balls & Shrimp Balls Noodle Soup.

I had the Squid Balls & Shrimp Balls Noodle Soup ($4.85) and small hot Honey Green Tea ($2.55). I like the squid balls, which had a chewy give, but for some reason I couldn't get into the shrimp flavor. It was off-tasting. Perhaps this was a subtle hint to me that shrimp should stay in its original form and not morph into a ball. Ever.

The udon noodles were overcooked and lacked any al dente buoyancy. Lucky for me, I was too hungry to obsess over the texture, so long as I had sustenance in my belly. Also, the hot broth worked wonders in clearing up my nasal congestion. For brisk fall and winter nights, hot stews and soups are just what the doctor ordered.

Hot Honey Green Tea.

The green tea was steeped too long and had a bitter, acidic quality, despite tasting like a sugar pill - no shortage of honey in here! Generally, for green tea, the tea leaves should remain in the pot for no longer than two minutes.

Service lagged, and the waitstaff seemed inattentive and unenthusiastic. Our waiter looked indifferent - or maybe just tired. I think the restaurant was short on staff. Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long for our food. As for the decor, it was very much like Saint's Alp, except transported in a Chinatown setting. Small wooden tables matched with low, square stools. Each party sat in close proximity to one another, enhancing the convivial atmosphere.

Steamed White Rice with Marinated Pork.

My friend had Steamed White Rice with Marinated Pork ($4.85). As always, Taiwanese cafes serve boiled tea eggs with their hot meals. I happily chomped on mine, but my dining companion does not enjoy boiled eggs. The pork was plentiful, however, and a sufficient amount of sauce covered the hot rice.

Prices were very affordable, as are most of the restaurants on this strip of Chinatown (Mott St). The cafe was 80% full, which, on a weekday at 5 p.m., is saying a lot. It seems people aren't cutting back on their bubble tea anytime soon. I didn't try the boba, but I hear the ginger black tea and mango with green apple and aloe vera are a thumb's up.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. While the food is decent, the spotty service and ultra-sweet tea detracted from the tea-drinking experience.

51 Mott St.
New York, NY 10013