Monday, October 18, 2010

Chinatown - Harrison, NJ

We have heard so much about Chinatown (the restaurant, not the neighborhood!) in Harrison but we never got around to checking it out up til a few weeks ago. From the reviews that we read, it seems that Chinatown serves some of the best Chinese food in this region, outside of Chinatown (the neighborhood, not the restaurant :P) in Manhattan, of course. We have probably driven past it like a million times and every time we go by, I would say that we should go check it out. When we finally decided to have lunch there one Saturday afternoon, you can imagine my excitement. At last we get to see if this place really lives up to it's fame.
Chinatown is a so called fine dining Chinese restaurant that also serves Japanese food. Located on Harrison Avenue, it's smack right in the center of the busy strip of restaurants and pubs in Harrison, NJ. Parking can be a problem, so be prepared to circle the block a couple of times to find a spot. Also, if there is a NY Red Bulls game going on that weekend, traffic can be really bad. It's really close to the Red Bull Arena, so try not to head out there whenever they are playing a home game.
I didn't manage to take any pictures of the interior while we were there, so I stole one off Yelp. With deep red walls and dark colored furniture, there is definitely an upmarket feel to the place. The ground floor consist of smaller tables and benches for walk in customers and the top floor is reserved for private functions (they have enough room for a quite few of those huge Chinese style round banquet tables).
After taking our order, they brought out a small plate of complimentary snacks for us to munch on, while waiting for our food. It reminds me of the crunchy chow mien from those Chinese take out restaurants. Of course, this is not that oily and way lighter. Rather addictive, I would say. Dipping those crunchy pieces of fried dough into the plum sauce that comes along with it makes it even yummier :P
For our appetizer, we shared an order of Pan Fried Pork Dumplings ($4.95 for 8 pieces). It was rather good. A little bit too oily for me, but yummy none the less. The filling tasted more like what you would get in a Japanese gyoza but the skin of the dumpling is of course Shanghainese style. It would have been totally awesome if it wasn't that oily.
After looking at the menu for a bit, something told us that the portions will be pretty large. So, we decided to share a noodle dish and a meat dish. There were quite a number of noodle dishes to choose from and we finally went with the Shanghai Pan Fired Noodles ($10.95). As expected, the portion was indeed huge! Pan fried noodles topped with a generous amount of beef, chicken, shrimp and a variety of vegetables in a thick brown gravy. The taste? Well, it was good. I wouldn't say that it was extraordinary or one of the best noodles that I have ever had, but it wasn't bad. For $10.95 a plate, it's definitely not cheap. I think I can get something equally (or maybe even better) as good, at probably half it's price, if I were to randomly enter any of the restaurants in Chinatown, NYC.
We initially wanted to try the Peking Duck but they only had it in full size. That would be way too much for us. Even half a duck was a little bit too much. Anyways, we settle with half a roast duck ($12) instead. Our server told us that it's actually the same thing except that the Peking Duck comes minus the bones and they serve it with some pancakes. Oh and of course the price is different too. I believe it's $28.95 for the Peking Duck and it comes with 8 pancakes. The duck was rather good. Nice crispy skin and more importantly, it didn't have that gamey smell that sometimes comes along with duck dishes. The only downside was that it too was a tad bit too oily :(
Our total bill came to $31.94 (not including tip). In my opinion, I feel that it's a little bit steep for lunch. All we had were some dumplings, noodles and some duck. The food was alright, but definitely not something I would shout about. Maybe I was expecting too much (due to all the raving reviews), who knows. However, I do not think that we will be returning in the near future. The next time we are in the mood for some authentic tasting Chinese food, I'd rather just hop onto the train and head out to Chinatown in Manhattan :P

Chinatown - Harrison, NJ
218 Harrison Avenue,
Harrison, NJ 07029
Tel: (973)483 1504

1 comment:

Twilight said...

I am surprised you didn't manage to snap interior photos. I thought all restaurants would be delighted for anyone to give them free publicity. The price is quite pricey for a lunch treat but then you are earning US dollars! Amboi ~ No problem laaaaar!