Nom Wah Tu (CLOSED)
Time Out says
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There’s a code word for terrible cuisine: fusion. It’s especially common in Asian fusion or the redundant pan-Asian fusion. What a relief, then, to see in this partnership of famed 1920s Chinatown mecca Nom Wah and the shuttered Chinese-American wunderkind Fung Tu a collaboration that is more marriage than merger.
The menu is nothing less than a list of everything you should order. And we did: the whole menu. The plates are thoughtful twists and turns on small Cantonese dishes, much like what chef Jonathan Wu was doing at Fung Tu (his pastrami bao comes to mind). At Nom Wah Tu, that execution takes the form of, say, the fried spring rolls ($6.50) cut into six little bites, the thin crispy outer layers snapping into the steamed tangle of cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions and green mung bean; the rolls’ familiarity is washed away by heart-eyes-emoji garlic chive ranch dip. (Honestly, the rolls accessorize the dip instead of the other way around.)
The crispy fried duck wings ($8.95), with a Manchurian glaze and rolled in cilantro and crushed peanuts, have you turning the bones around in your fingers, ravaging every crevice for meat. Pickled strips of cucumber ($5.25) topped with fried garlic garnish and circled by black vinegar swirls taste like a veggie-forward poke bowl, simultaneously slick and crunchy in every bite.
But some dishes were more dutiful than dazzling. The run-of-the-mill open-faced shrimp dumplings ($6.50) presented in bamboo baskets are mere palate cleansers, and the panfried chicken dumplings ($6)—despite looking like seared pockets of pleasure atop dots of yogurt dill sauce—are spongy and dense; the swipe of the creamy, briny sauce is by far the most exciting aspect of the dish.
As a farewell reminder that this meal is in Chinatown and not Hong Kong, dessert is a Rice Krispie Treat: a U.S. answer to zongzi. Topped tartlike with sliced strawberries, lychee glaze and crushed pistachio, the gooey, sticky-sweet dessert droops with tender languor in your hand. The whole plate is smattered in rose petal dust. This is what people mean when they say delicacy. The best fusion here is the way this meal binds to your tongue and won’t let go.
22 Orchard St
|Price:||Average plate: $6.50|
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