CheLi serves decadent Shanghainese food in a second-floor space on the most chaotic block of St. Marks Place in the East Village. If you didn’t look up for building number 19, you may not realize such a place exists amongst all the scaffolding and NYU juniors eating at T Swirl Crepe. But once you’re in, none of that will matter -- CheLi’s sticky pork ribs in a sweet and sour sauce, lanterns hanging from thatched roofs, and clinking Tsingtao bottles will be your focus. The dishes here (including buttery wine-soaked Atlantic blue crab, thick-skinned crab and pork xiao long bao, garlic shrimp steamed and butterflied over slippery glass noodles) make an otherwise boring Monday night feel like a special celebratory dinner. Bring a couple friends for your next group dinner - just be aware that this place gets busy and only takes reservations for groups larger than five people. We have happily passed 30-minute wait-times in the past at Angel’s Share around the corner.
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