A recent dinner with a few friends at The Tang in East Village, we were pretty surprised how good this very small Szechuan restaurant is. It’s essentially a narrow restaurant that have about seven two-tops and a four top right behind the compact open kitchen that’s up at the front end of the restaurant.
We started off with a smattering of (cold) small plates. The tofu dishes – Naughty tofu and Sesame tofu – were very tasty. For the ones who are sensitive to chili heat, the sesame tofu is your best bet. Cold, soft tofu wading in a large pool of house made sesame paste topped with black sesame powder, salted mustard, scallions and chill oil. It’s very nutty, creamy and just a touch of chili. The Naughty tofu is made with house made vinegar sauce mixed topped with preserved duck egg (also known as century egg), pickled long hot peppers, fresh garlic paste and scallions is still not too spicy and very savory flavors with a sharp tang from the black vinegar. For me, who dislikes century eggs, this particular dish I don’t mind eating. The mouthwatering chicken thigh (口水鸡) is a very good version of this dish but what makes it unique is the fact there is a distinctive nutty, creamy flavor from the sesame paste mixed with the chili, peanuts and other ingredients. The braised pigs’ ears in chili oil is a favorite dish for my table; chewy yet crunchy with just the right amount of chili heat. The only dish that is almost considered as dessert is the pumpkin rice cakes filled with red bean paste. These are like flattened pumpkin mochi that’s been deep fried. While they aren’t bad but the textures and ratio of red bean paste doesn’t taste right, I do appreciate the fact that it’s not too sweet and not greasy.
The noodles are the main event here and generally, they are solid and a bowl can definitely fill up a person. The braised beef noodles soup was good. The noodles were cooked perfectly, the flavors of the soup were balanced, and just the right amount of heat. The chunks of braised beef flank were a little chewy and could be cooked a little longer.
The Drunk Noodles is an almost broth-less bowl of noodles where it’s a very thick sauce of ground beef, chick pea paste, fried garlic and doubanjiang, layered on top with perfectly cooked wide noodles, slices of tender braised beef shank and lots of scallions. I really liked this bowl as it just gives a shot of spiciness at the end of each bite rather than go full blown spicy upfront.
The DDM or Dan Dan Mian (担担面) is a classic Szechuan noodles dish where you would expect the mala 麻辣 (literally translated: numbingly spicy). This one definitely delivers it and still have great flavors of the various chilis, fried ground pork, minced garlic, crushed peanuts and topped with scallion and sesame seeds. The slightly unexpected element was the sesame sauce that added the nutty flavor and richer sauce.
Overall, the meal was very good. Service was a bit slow since there was one waitress really working the restaurant and there were five tables she has to tend to. So I am not blaming her at all. The food was very good and definitely somewhere I would go back to if I wanted a reasonably priced, casual Szechuan meal.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the gallery below or CLICK HERE for the photo set:[alpine-phototile-for-flickr src=”set” uid=”26389565@N00″ sid=”72157668102728987″ imgl=”flickr” shuffle=”1″ style=”gallery” row=”4″ grwidth=”1200″ grheight=”800″ size=”640″ num=”30″ shadow=”1″ border=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″]
120 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009
Phone: (646) 678-3092