We recently dusted off the ol' time machine to take us back to 1982, when Midtown East was a hot spot for culinary activities, and Chinese food was considered fine dining. I borrowed a pair of of my Back To The Future Nikes just for the occasion, hopped in a Datsun yellow cab, and headed uptown. Needed the full experience. What'd we find? A bunch of old folks eating Chinese food like it has never gone out of style.
That whole stereotype about Jews and Chinese food? Yeah, that's no wives tale. That's about as accurate of an assumption as they come. Need proof? Stroll into The Palace on a random weekday night. It's like Christmas Eve every day at Shun Lee. It's a pretty hilarious scene. We were surprised to by an entire row of booths made up of dudes Dining Solo, reading the paper, like they're literally at home in their boxers. You will see few, if any, Chinese people, aside from those who work there. They are too smart to pay $36 for a plate of crispy beef. You will also have a "Waiter" and a "Captain" for the first time in your NYC dining career, which will certainly create confusion at the table when your bill arrives. How are you supposed to break up the tip?
The only reason to go to Shun Lee Palace is for an ironic good time. We spent about $85 a head on Chinese food and drank Mai Tais for the first time since, I don't know, 11th grade. Shun Lee is perfect for that rare night when you just want to get down with a big crew, inhale chicken in a neon orange sauce and laugh at yourself, and the people around you. We won't be heading back there for another decade now, and considering its neighbor Chin Chin just called it quits, chances are it won't last forever.
Ultimately, the options are endless. We went with all the hits, and wouldn't have done anything differently. Follow the Food Rundown below and you'll be in good shape.
Not the best dumplings filled with liquid fat you'll ever get (that's what soup dumplings are by the way), but certainly very, very good. Get one batch to kick off your meal, and then another one for dessert. Seriously.
Chinese eggplant, our favorite kind of eggplant. Garlic sauce makes all the difference.
Yes, this is a $36 plate of crispy beef, but it's also the best crispy beef in the city.
Oh man, if you like big, fat, juicy shrimp, treat yo self.
It's either Sweet & Sour or Chan Do, and either one will get the chicken in sauce segment of the job done.
Can't not do a fried rice.
Or a lo mein.