I ate at Cafe China twice this summer. My first visit was a solitary one but I managed to slurp down some passable, but not delicate or soup-y enough soup dumplings.
I was disappointed that I’d wasted the space though, when presented with a luscious tea smoked duck with moist meat and perfect, shatteringly crisp skin.
In an effort, to eat a somewhat balanced meal I ordered some bok choi which actually came out perfectly cooked – a crisp and garlicky compliment to the duck. The meal was a convincing argument for why this small Chinese restaurant earned a Michelin star.
On a second visit, the soup dumplings were still lackluster, but the lamb dumplings in chili oil were so excellent that we asked for a second order. There were also some delicious dan dan noodles. But sadly, it was busy and I don’t think the kitchen was prepared to keep up. The duck had floppy skin which took the dish from star-worthy to disappointing. We ordered a whole fish that was nicely cooked and beautifully filleted – but served in a cloying sauce. And the waiter steered us away from the authentic ma la flavors of a chicken dish to a beef and bell pepper dish that could have come as take-out from any Chinese take-out joint in the city. I’d certainly come back, but I’d make sure to do it at a less busy hour in hopes that that crispy duck skin could be a part of my meal.