Guest Post by Caryn Donohue, Gramercy Correspondent
My Dad, a Long Island native, is a foodie and loves to peruse restaurant reviews and recipes, so he pays attention when the New York Times bothers traveling to Long Island to review new restaurants.Â A lover of Asian and spicy foods, this review whet his appetite and we tried Nanking, the new Chinese/Thai/Indian fusion restaurant, for Father’s Day two years ago.Â True to the review, we were very pleased and have been back many times since. Â Even though there are thousands of great restaurants in Manhattan, I always miss Nanking and have made it a staple when I visit home. Â But lucky for me (and you), I recently learned that there was a Nanking near Rockefeller Center, so I ventured over there last week since I had a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant.
After numerous visits, I have tried many of the dishes and have come to rely on the Crispy Chicken with Honey and Dried Chilies as my appetizer and I rotate the Coriander-Garlic Chicken and any of the curries as my entrees.Â The sweet sauce of the appetizer reminds me of Sesame Chicken, but the spiciness adds a nice kick (warning: don’t eat the chili whole…I made that mistake and nearly died) and it’s just the right size for two to four people to split.Â I hate cilantro/coriander, so you might ask why I’d even try the Coriander-Garlic Chicken…well, I have no good answer except my mom ordered it once and I tried it. Â And I’m so glad I did.Â Sometimes I have to pick out the green leafs, but the combination of flavors is truly unique and absolutely delicious.
I’ve tasted all the curries and don’t have a favorite – just choose based on the amount of spice you want.Â We’ve also tried the Hakki Chili Chicken which is inconsistent – it can be very flavorful and spicy, but sometimes quite bland, and we’ve enjoyed the Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and Chili Garlic Noodles (perfect as an entrÃ©e or side dish for the table).Â For those intimidated by fusion food, you can be lame and stick with a classic Chinese dish like Sweet and Sour Chicken and General Tsao’s Chicken, or a simple Thai meal like Chicken Pad Thai (which can also vary between excellent and mediocre).
The only down-side to the food is that it can be a bit oily and the prices have gone up since it opened.Â While entrees used to be around $10 or 11, they’re now $14-15, but that’s not enough to discourage me just yet, especially since you can usually make a lunch out of your leftovers.Â Plus, you can check out their lunch specials for around $8-10 where you get an appetizer and meal.Â The ambiance at the Long Island restaurant is far superior to the one here, but the NYC one is cute enough.Â My one big complaint: the NYC Nanking wouldn’t accept my $25 gift card that was purchased at the Long Island restaurant!Â They said “the computer systems weren’t lined up.”Â Needless to say, I was not pleased since I was planning to have a discounted meal…but that shouldn’t affect your dining experience anyway.
Just so you know, there are a few Nanking restaurants in the NY tri-state area: New York, NY; Jersey City, NJ; Plainfield, NJ; Iselin, NJ; Jackson Heights, NY and Long Island, NY.Â And if you’re interested in what the food looks like, or if you want another opinion before trying it out, you can check out the review on Off the Broiler, a blog written by Jason Perlow, a self-proclaimed food enthusiast and contributing tech editor and columnist at Linux Magazine.
So in conclusion, if you like Asian-fusion food, Nanking is definitely worth the trek into the tourist-dominated neighborhood…although you may want to wait until the Christmas tree comes down.1634 Broadway between 50th and 51st (and several other locations in the tri-state area) Who to take: Family, Friends, a Date Price:Â Typical NYC – $$ Overall:Â Make it part of the rotation.Â 4 Stars.