6 at Bleecker St.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
The proprietors use the term brasserie to convey a sense of casual, swank familiarity. The name is designed to evoke memories of old American Chinatown with its familiar specialties (good though curiously un-crispy crispy orange beef, ordinary spare ribs, pleasingly steamy piles of shrimp fried rice). But if you’ve been dining out around town over the last few years, you've seen this kind of place before. Chinatown Brasserie is yet another large, theatrical, Asian-themed dining palace, a place where the mostly Western waitstaff are made to squeeze into black ninjalike outfits and mini Suzie Wong costumes, where the $12 cocktails tend to be sweet and highly colored, and where you can party until the wee hours in a dimly lit subterranean bar space decked out with large and impressively intricate landscape sculptures imported from China and an actual pond, filled with lily pads and a school of picturesque and gently gliding koi.
These props, which reportedly cost $6 million, might have made an impression five years ago, but compared with the grandiose, Godzilla-size dining establishments of today (Buddakan, Megu, Morimoto), they barely register. If you’re looking for a decent approximation of a certain kind of American Chinese meal, however, you could do an awful lot worse. The restaurant serves an impressive selection of dim sum, concocted by a Hong Kong-born dim-sum chef named Joe Ng. The ones I liked best involved shrimp, particularly the yellow, triangular shrimp-and-snow-pea-leaf dumplings, and the little pouches of translucent rice-paper skin stuffed with shrimp and Chinese chives. My wonton-addicted daughters considered the wonton soup to be excellent, as was the very un-Chinese grilled-beef salad, loaded with refreshing amounts of basil and mint.