Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant


Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant located at 42 Bowery in Manhattan's Chinatown has been open for nearly a month by now (December 2011) and I finally had a chance to try it. Sing Kee is located in an area that had been home to a similarly named restaurant "Shing Kee" during the 1990's. That Shing Kee was known as a good option for traditional Cantonese family-style dining and this new iteration carries on the tradition. Sing Kee serves traditional Cantonese food. Ordering is by done "family-style", that is, order an entree that is placed at the center of the table that is meant to be shared.

I was able to sample nearly 10 dishes during my visit. Many of the dishes we ordered were banquet style so here are the highlights and my thoughts:

1) The jelly fish cold plate, a traditional dish at banquets was exceptional for a few reasons. The jelly fish strands were rather thick, udon-noodle-like. One of the meats that were served with the dish was surprisingly a tasty pastrami! What a cross-cultural surprise!

2) The crab meat fish maw soup was exceptional. Real crab meat was used and the chicken broth used to make the soup base was fragrant and it's aroma could be noticed even before drinking. There was a nice consistency to the soup.

3) Seafood Bird's Nest (a.k.a. Taro basket) was really the highlight of the meal. This is because you would be hard pressed to find a taro nest in a Chinese restaurant these days that makes it out of real taro root. Most restaurant nowadays used fried noodles as the basket even if it is advertised as a taro basket on the menu. Kudos to Sing Kee for doing the right thing. It was also a big plus that the basket was crammed with scallops, shrimp and squid.

4) Ginger and Scallion twin lobsters were okay. Great care was made not to make it too salty. As I could tell, each lobster was about 1 1/2 pounds.

5) The Salt and pepper seafood dish included deep fried scallops, shrimp, squid made salt and pepper style. A-ok in my book, but a little more breaded than other restaurants. Once again, great care was evident in limiting salt.

6) We ordered a relatively expensive $30 dish that is called "Nor Mai Gai". Nor Mai Gai in Chinese is usually known as a Cantonese dim sum where sticky rice is steamed inside a large leaf. In Sing Kee's version, it consists of a "chicken" splayed out on a large dish. On the outside is fried crispy chicken skin. On the inside, is sticky rice (a.k.a. "nor mai fan"). The "chicken" is cut into square chunks. So what you actually eat is sticky rice encased in crispy chicken skin. I've been told that this dish is a throwback dish from 1970's Chinatown. No Chinese restaurant to my knowledge makes this dish today, and now we have this dish revived, a treat for sticky rice fans!

7) Stewed beef in squash is an entree of stewed beef inside a squash bowl. The beef was really tasty with a hint of curry and stewed to an exceptionally soft texture. The squash itself tasted almost like sweet potato and blended well with the beef juices.

Overall, this first experience has proven to be first rate and immediately ranks in my top three for family-style Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. The service level was excellent and attentive. Let's hope that the Sing Kee tradition of quality continues!

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