Chinatown in Manhattan becomes absolute madness at daytime during weekends packed with crowds, both Chinese and non-Chinese, looking to get their fix of dim sums. Knowing this, I don’t do a lot of dim sum brunches. Moreover, it’s trickier than you think to find a reliable dim sum place; some restaurants just serve pre-cooked dim sums on the cart where the dumplings might’ve been sitting there for hours. Sometime toward the end of last year, though, I found a place that made me come back again. After having a bad meal at a restaurant in Lower East Side, my friends suggested that we go to Shanghai Asian Manor to get some dim sums. I reluctantly obliged since I was already kind of full, but after stealing a couple of bites, I instantly realized that this place was special. Last weekend, my girlfriend and I organized a small brunch gathering to come back here and had a very satisfying meal.
The menu at Shanghai Asian Manor is vast, including dim sum selections and other Shanghainese / Chinese dishes. Since we were in a group of five, we had the luxury of ordering as many dishes as we would like. Oddly, the non-dim sum dishes started coming out from the kitchen first, with varying decrees of success. Kung pao chicken was serviceable, and worked nicely with fried rice. Everyone loved the sautéed dry string beans on the side, although the Shanghai style rice cakes didn’t receive warm reception. Now on to the dim sum part. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but there was very consistent level of satisfaction from all the dishes we had ordered. I can never say no to soup dumplings, but it will be hard to find one as good as what comes out from Shanghai Asian Manor. Everyone’s favorite was the one that came with pork, with rich, aromatic soup that brought so much satisfaction. We were also intrigued enough to order the ones with black truffle as well, but I felt the addition was an overkill in flavor department.
Shrimp dumplings at Shanghai Asian Manor were also really outstanding, with very nice balance of texture without a hint of sogginess. There is also a greenish one with watercress, but it didn’t add much to the basic shrimp dumplings. Szechuan style wonton was also wonderful, with a spicy kick that almost tempted me to order the second dish. Overall, my suggestion at Shanghai Asian Manor is to stick up the classic dim sum dishes and not look back. You won’t see anything that jumps out at you in plating or ingredients, but the simplicity in the restaurant’s offerings is actually a strength here.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations; during weekend daytimes, it can get really packed so consider visiting in mid-afternoon where the crowd quiets down a bit. They take only two credit cards so if you show up in a large group, be prepared to use Venmo to split the costs. The atmosphere is that of a typical casual Chinese restaurant that also brings a lot of curious non-Chinese diners. With Shanghai Asian Manor, I think I found that go-to dim sum place to catch up with friends on a leisurely brunch time during weekends. My girlfriend certainly agrees, suggesting that organize this at least once every month.
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 21 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013
Telephone: (212) 766-6311