Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
I can now count another thing off my life to-do list. I’ve officially eaten a chicken foot. Two to be exact. It's surprising it's taken so long considering I'm not the most squeamish diner—I've had everything from goose intestines to cow tendon with some enthusiasm. But I have a mental block against two things: tongue and feet. They’re just too … obvious. However, when you’re dining with Cecilia Chiang and Patricia Unterman—two experts in the realm of food and specifically Chinese—you eat what’s ordered.
And so at Lai Hong Lounge, the new dim sum darling that recently opened in Chinatown, I found myself politely smiling while gnawing on the bony, gelatinous, boiled chicken-skinny food of Skeletor. Skeletor and, I guess, tons of dim sum fanatics who find nothing pairs better with a cup of tea. Cecilia and Patty deemed them excellent, by the way. We also had sticky rice with bacon and Chinese sausage, and stir-fried pea shoots—both delicious. Somehow, we were too full for dumplings, but I hear they’re good. Last word of advice: Do not under any circumstances order the coffee pork ribs. They come with Cool Whip or an approximation of it. I’m not kidding.
We’re in the middle of some serious noodle research here for an upcoming story. Which is why on two different days, I found myself back in Chinatown, chopstick jousting my son over the tasty dan dan noodles at Bund Shanghai. And later at Z&Y restaurant, dipping into mild, comfortingly clean and brothy bowl of Yunaan Rice Noodle soup, topped with slices of beef, cilantro, and lettuce (and did I detect slices of Spam?). It makes for a perfect winter fixer-upper and a foil to the spicier Sichuan dishes at Z&Y. A pile of cold noodles topped with sesame seeds and cucumbers is totally addictive and makes your lips buzz from all the Sichuan peppercorns, but it has enough garlic to scare away a zombie. Or your husband, like six hours later when you’re back at home trying to clutch him in terror while watching the Walking Dead.