Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mee Sum Coffee Shop

The Mee Sum Coffee Shop. This is one of my favorite places in Chinatown. I almost don't want to write about it here because I'm afraid that the secret will be out. But I figured that not enough people read this blog to let the secret out, and, besides, I can scare away a significant number of people by saying that they passed last year's health inspection by only 1 point. Not enough? Last time I checked, they don't stock toilet paper in the bathroom. Or soap.

The draw is the Salted Chicken Noodle Soup. As Julia Child would say, the soup has chickeny chicken.

It really is the most chickeny chicken noodle soup I know of. And at a ridiculous $3.25 a bowl, it is a ridiculous value.

The chicken itself is salty all the way through, and moist and tender. At least it was very moist 2 out of the 3 times I've been here. And, as already mentioned, it is very chickeny. The broth is also quite chickeny. And there are lots of wonton noodles to help fill you up.

I keep mentioning the chickeny-ness of the chicken because when I first had this soup a little over a year ago I realized that most of the chicken out there lacks that essential chickeny-ness. When people say something tastes like chicken, they're referring to some bland generic neutral meat taste. If people were used to truly chickeny chicken, they wouldn't say such-and-such tastes like chicken. Anyway, it was a modest revelation.

On this particular visit, the coffee shop was livelier than I've seen it before. I think it was because it was Sunday around lunchtime and the regulars were there catching up with friends. I felt a little like I was intruding on a gathering in someone's apartment when I walked in. But I really wanted those noodles.

The waitress reinforced that a bit. She seemed a bit wary of us the entire time. She seated us then said, "What do you want?" No menu or anything. On the wall was a menu in Chinese. They have English menus you can ask for, though. Anyway, no problem. We knew exactly what we wanted.

But then we realized that they were making Vegetable Shumai at the table next to ours.

So we asked for an order of Shumai as well.

It never came. But no matter. It all contributes to the charm of the place. I have to say, though, I like the middle-aged guy waiter we had on our previous visits a lot more. He would fall asleep on a chair near the counter and we'd have to wake him up when we needed anything.

We picked up a box of the freshly-made Shumai on the way out and had them with dinner tonight.

They weren't bad. But they cost more than our lunch.

Mee Sum Coffee Shop
26 Pell St (between Mott and Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013

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