The beauty of living in such a cosmopolitan city like New York includes the diversity of ethnic food available. Craving for takoyaki that reminds you of backpacking through Osaka? Want authentic Mexican street food? In the mood for injera or tagines or bibimbop? Yes, you can have pretty much anything in New York including Chinese exotic fare like jelly fish, century eggs, sea cucumbers, bird’s nest, and shark’s fin. For those type of cravings head down to the LES to Congee Village on Allen Street.
The bi-level restaurant is ideal for large groups as the serving portions are better suited for sharing than it is for individual consumption. The menu is quite extensive but focus on dishes that you wouldn’t find in your regular neighborhood Chinese joint. For those who have yet to try delicacies like shark’s fin soup or bird’s nest soup then check those off your foodie bucket list here. Order the sea cucumber or jelly fish in your preferred preparation. The cold sweet and spicy jelly fish salad is addictive as an appetizer. Among the entrees the razor clams in black bean sauce is particularly delicious. Very few restaurants in New York have razor clams on the menu and when they do it’s a rather expensive item. At Congee Village they are fresh, cooked just right to keep them tender, and even at market price is reasonable. There are a dozen or so congee variations to choose from. None of then are particularly more remarkable than the rest of the menu but it’s the kind of dish that you can get a random craving for in the middle of winter. There are also dumplings but stay away from the soup dumplings. It’s clearly not their specialty and the dough is too thick and the broth itself mediocre.
The service is prompt and direct as one might expect from a Chinatown restaurant. You come here for the food not the extra frills a more expensive restaurant affords you. So while we wait for spring drop in for a bowl of congee and be adventurous and try out some dishes you’ve never had before.
100 Allen Street
(b/t Delancey St & Broome St)
Report Card (out of 5 stars):
Ambience: 3.5 stars
Service: 3.5 stars
Food: 4 stars
Price: Most entrees under $20; market price for specialty items