Though it has held a prominent location in Chinatown for more than three decades, Jing Fong Restaurant doesn't really exist within New York City. The lights and sounds of the Big Apple fall away as soon as diners pass the marble lions guarding the dim sum restaurant's exterior. Just inside, an escalator travels upwards towards a twinkling crystal chandelier, and by the time it reaches the third-floor dining room, the moving stairs have transported guests thousands of miles away to Hong Kong.
The space is massive. 120 tables fill the dining room, framed by red walls sprinkled with golden Chinese characters. All around, waiters—clad in chic yellow jackets—push rolling carts filled with the things hungry dreams are made of: steaming bamboo baskets bearing more than 100 types of dim sum. Steamed pork buns, fried shrimp balls, almond tofu, or perhaps even mango pudding could all be waiting within the piping hot packages. Follow these bite-sized eats back to the kitchen, and you'll find several skilled Chinese chefs. In addition to dim sum, this culinary army prepares traditional Cantonese recipes for everything from Peking duck to oxtail curry casserole.
Since it's meant to be shared, Jing Fong Restaurant's food makes for a communal dining experience—one that's filled with conversation and laughter between family and friends. In fact, you could celebrate nearly every important life event at the restaurant. An on-site banquet room contains 800 seats, which sit beneath a chandelier even bigger than the one Donald Trump uses as a book light.
Imbued with “flavor that only fall ocean brings,” according to The New York Times, Red Hook Lobster Pound’s rolls taste authentic because the meat is deployed fresh from Maine within hours of being plucked from the ocean. Chefs glaze lobster with just enough homemade mayo before scooping it into a toasted bun. Schedule.
In 2011, the Michelin Guide recommended Vareli for its upscale and creative Mediterranean fare, crafted by chef and Gramercy Tavern veteran Amitzur Mor. Chef Mor uses sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible to inform Vareli’s ever-shifting local menu, which has featured such rich meats as Hudson-Valley duck and Pennsylvania lamb. Resident sommelier Richard Bill draws from his experience at Beacon and Ouest to complement each succulent entree with a wine list of 20 wines by the glass and 100 wines by the bottle. From Thursday to Saturday, Vareli’s kitchens remain open until 2 a.m., so patrons can sip vino and draft beer or rouse sleepwalking roommates with wafts from cheese and charcuterie boards late into the night.
On the ground floor of Vareli, a polished copper bar runs for 20 feet below a rustic arched ceiling, as wide stools belly up to the bar and to barrel-shaped plates. In the upstairs dining room, wide windows look out on treetops and burnished walls support velvety banquettes and lantern sconces. During the summer, couples close in on an intimate outdoor patio for fresh air from nearby Central Park, while colder days invite diners to gather around a cracking fireplace that the New York Times lauds for creating a cozy atmosphere.
• For $15, you get $30 worth of authentic Irish fare during dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday–Thursday • For $5, you get $10 worth of authentic Irish fare during lunch from noon to 3 p.m. Shamrock Jack's invokes the spirit of authentic Irish cuisine with original recipes, dishing out a menu of grilled steaks and fresh seafood. Patrons can satisfy the wanderlust of evening appetites with the dublin broil, a grilled sirloin steak tucked into a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and serenaded with a drizzled lullaby of Jack's gravy ($17.99). Deli favorites, steaks, and seafood deliciously crowd the lunch menu like tourists in a fanny pack museum.
Viru Restaurant demonstrates its authentic Peruvian roots with a wide variety of traditional dishes. Causa rellena de camarones satisfies bellies with shrimp, as long as those bellies like their shrimp hiding inside chilled mashed potatoes that are spiced up with lime and yellow chili ($12). The parihuela, a soupy sea of seafood cooked with white wine, spices, and panca chili, moisturizes parched stomachs with a torrential downpour of flavor ($24). Representing the eternal battle between land and sea, the bisteck a la chorrillana—a grilled New York steak with a sauce made of panca chili, onions, and tomatoes ($24)—wields haricots verts clubs against the pescado sudado, the fish of the day poached in seafood broth and herbs ($19). Placing a comforting cap on dinner, flan reminds diners of former days when sweet, creamy desserts grew everywhere all the time and only cost a nickel ($6). In addition to edibles, Viru Restaurant nourishes guests at the bar, which stocks its shelves with an impressive supply of domestic and imported beers, sangria, wines, and chicha, a drink made of fermented maize.
Tucked into a cobblestone square just off of Austin Street, Jade Eatery & Lounge’s Forest Hill Gardens address hints at the peaceful establishment inside. Votive candles flicker throughout the dining room, casting their warm glow over exposed-brick walls, intimate dining tables, and a large Buddha statue smiling benevolently on diners to guide them toward the right entree. Asian fusion fare suffuses the menu under the direction of executive chef Michael Teng, who pulls flavors from Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean cuisine to devise fresh combinations of flavor, texture, and presentation.
Clients sip from bowls of deeply aromatic soup or hone chopstick skills on freshly wok-fried entrees. The kitchen staff displays razor-sharp knife skills behind a full sushi bar, rolling and slicing a selection of classic and signature makis, including the Karma roll, which, it is said, cannot be eaten by anyone who has ever claimed to dislike sushi. After finishing dinner, guests can mosey over to the copper-fronted bar where sake, wine, and specialty drinks flow, or they can contemplate the regularly rotating artwork housed inside of the restaurant’s gallery.