Two Fridays ago, after enjoying some warming beverages at Financier Patisserie, Therese and I were feeling like Chinese food. I am always up for Chinese food, for one reason that I love the cuisine, and also it is usually reliably dairy free. Usually when we have this craving, we hop on the subway and ride the short way to Chinatown, since there are so many Chinese restaurants there, many of them quite excellent. But this time, we decided to try one of our neighborhood restaurants, No. 1 Little House, which we have walked past plenty of times after visiting some of our favorite places down there, like Luke’s Lobster and Dubliner Tavern.
The first thing we wanted to find out, before we walked over there, was what was No. 1 Little House’s Health Department Grade. I know, not very romantic, right? But ever since reading Anthony Bourdain‘s Kitchen Confidential, in which Mr. Bourdain heartily recommends that you not eat at any restaurant with a grade below A, Therese is very strict about following that advice. So I whipped out my handy smart phone, looked it up, and sure enough, No. 1 Little House gets an A. Yay!
The restaurant was fairly empty, unfortunately, but we didn’t take this as a statement of the restaurant’s quality. It is a sad thing that our neighborhood empties out in the evenings, especially Friday night and over the weekend. Sunday evenings are totally desolate, with practically nothing open. So that we were, for a little while, the only diners in No. 1 Little House didn’t bother us in the least.
A quick assessment of the menu showed us that they have many of the typical American Chinese restaurant staples – Moo Shoo Pork, Beef with Broccoli, General Tso’s Chicken. Therese ordered the Lemongrass Shrimp Roll, while I went with Fried Shrimp Dumplings – I have always loved shrimp dumplings, but don’t recall ever having them fried before. Therese’s roll was shrimps rolled in rice paper and deep-fried – a bit greasy, but good – while my dumplings were quite good – the dough was not too doughy but gave them a bit of chew, and the shrimps were nice quality.
For main courses, Therese got Vegetable Chow Fun, and I went for one of my favorites, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce.
I often judge a Chinese restaurant on the quality of their Shrimp with Lobster Sauce – this was a really good one. The prawns, huge shrimps (yes, I know, an oxymoron), were excellent, fresh and tasty. And the sauce, with its egg strewn through it and ample peas, was luxurious and well-seasoned.
Therese’s Chow Fun was also quite good. It was not greasy, and the noodles, while soft and succulent, were not mushy.
So our assessment of No. 1 Little House was that it is a quality conventional everyday NYC Chinese restaurant. Our assessment was somewhat dampened by our realization that the food was, we believe, heavily laced with MSG. Not that this is terribly unusual – it is common practice in Chinese restaurants to add MSG to everything. In this case, We based our assumption on the fact that both of us had trouble sleeping that night – we felt like we were hyped up on something. Whether this was directly due to the restaurant’s overuse of MSG or not, when we go back, we are going to ask them to leave that seasoning off.