Statue of Liberty
The second day was devoted to the Financial District. I highly recommend taking the 8 AM ferry to Liberty Island. By the time I returned to Battery Park around 10 AM, the lines to get to Liberty Island were impossible.
I've been to NYC twice before and spent most of both trips in museums. I really wanted to just walk around NYC rather than stay indoors this time around. And it's when walking around that I got to capture Kodak moments like boy scouts abusing Arturo Di Modica's bull's testicles.
Not So Mighty Wall Street Bull
Walking around the Financial District was surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable. It's less crowded save for the hoards of boy scouts taking group pictures at every tourist site. I walked until my 1 PM NYC Restaurant Week reservation at Delmonico's. I picked Delmonico's because of its reputation as one of the first restaurants in the U.S.
Perhaps Delmonico's is passé in a time when the culinary world praises innovation and fusion. You obviously would not and should not expect that from a restaurant that has been standing since 1837. I expected each course to be solid and satisfying, and that's exactly what I got. However, Delmonico's should be ashamed that their breads were some of the worst I've had at any restaurant (chains included). It's utterly shocking how one of the oldest restaurant establishments has not spent more time refining the recipe for the one thing that is served at every table for every meal throughout the past 173 years or however long the tradition of serving complimentary breads at each meal the restaurant has observed.
Very Dull, Rubbery Bread
Bad bread aside, the first course of grilled asparagus and frisee salad with grapefruit slices, poached egg, and truffled vinaigrette was quite amazing. I got really excited when I smelled the truffle oil from afar. The truffle aroma worked beautifully with the poached egg.
Grilled Asparagus and Frisée Salad Summer Citrus Fruit, Poached Farm Egg, Black Truffle Vinaigrette
My slab of Delmonico's Steak with a puddle of glistening butter was stunning. I was in a state of carnivorous coma. This steak did not need any jus, steak sauce, or extra sprinkling of salt and pepper. It was perfect. The fries were crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and super garlicky--no ketchup needed.
Delmonico Steak Frites Maitre D'Hotel butter, Twice Fried French Fries
The dessert was a light and tart confection. However, I don't know if the execution of the tarte was a mistake or intended. The tarte shell was more like the browned sides of a cake or a muffin than a crusty tarte. I didn't mind it at all, and it paired nicely with the creamy meyer lemon curd, but it really didn't taste like a tarte.
Meyer Lemon Curd Tarte with Pine Nut Brittle
After visiting the sobering World Trade Center site, pushing through the chaos and crap that is Century 21, the mega discount designer clothes department store (hawking crap at designer-struck consumers), and a peaceful, much-needed nap on a bench at Trinity Church, I headed to old Chinatown.
My friend phone-navigate me to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Ice cream is truly my best friend on hot summer days. However, I didn't know that ordering 3 flavors here would turn into an entree portion of ice cream! Eeks! Right before dinner too! The ice cream was good, not great. It tasted like the packed ice cream I get at Asian supermarkets. None of the flavors stood out.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory-Lychee, Green Tea, and Ginger Ice Cream Cup
After surveying a couple of restaurant menus displayed on the windows of cramped restaurants with basement kitchens, Shanghai Asian Cuisine looked promising when I spotted xie rou xiao long tang bao (crabmeat steamed soup dumplings) on the menu.
Shanghai Asian Cuisine in Chinatown
This turned out to be quite a find! The place isn't much to look at, but the food was very well made. We started off with a cold appetizer of "vegetarian duck," which is tofu skin stuffed with shitake mushrooms marinated in sweet soy sauce. I hate it when Buddhist-inspired vegetarian dishes are made in reference to meat dishes. Most of the Chinese fake meat dishes are made from some form of bean curd. I'm sure tofu and bean curd loving people would order these dishes regardless of meat references. Besides, these vegetarian dishes never taste remotely close to the meats they're supposed to resemble.
"Vegetarian Duck"-Bean Curd Skin Stuffed with Shitake Mushrooms
The hot and sour soup is standard comfort food that my family orders almost at every Chinese restaurant it's served at even though the risks are always high. The soup is either too soupy or too gloopy (excess of corn starch), too spicy or too sour. Balance is apparently hard to achieve with this soup, but this bowl was close to striking that elusive balance.
Hot and Sour Soup
The stand out dish of the evening was the wine chicken. The chicken is succulent with an intense shao xing wine flavor. The leftover chicken tasted even better as my breakfast the next morning!
Ran Shou Wine Chicken
The crabmeat xiao long bao was good...that was until I tried the ones at Joe's Shanghai in Flushing the following evening. In retrospect, these xiao long bao were above average but I really couldn't taste the crabmeat and it didn't have enough broth inside the dumpling to qualify as a true Shanghai-style steamed soup dumpling.
Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao
Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao
Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao
The Lo Mien was nothing special. At least it served well as my breakfast the following morning.
Shanghai Seafood Lo Mien