December 17, 2021

New York Top 10 New Restaurant

(New York Times)

Other Chinese restaurants have arrived in New York to greater fanfare than CheLi, which slipped into St. Marks Place and then, once it had practiced its moves for a few months, sent its chefs (Wang Lin Qun and his wife, Fang Fang) to Flushing to open a Queens location. But don’t be fooled by its modesty: CheLi’s debut was a major event. The focus is the cuisine of Shanghai. This means more than just xiao long bao, although CheLi makes them very well, as it does other little buns and dim sum treats. The heart of the menu is seafood, prepared with Shaoxing wine and other subtle, aromatic seasonings that support the main ingredients rather than muffling them. Sweet small shrimp, which turn up in a swirl of dry-ice fog, are quietly accentuated by Dragon Well tea; dried peach sap thickens and flavors a crab meat stew; green and red chiles don’t overwhelm the broth in which Qianlong’s Favorite Fish Head is braised. All this is served in a room built to look like the kind of traditional village that China has almost completely erased from its landscape; now that the country has been so thoroughly modernized, rusticated nostalgia signifies sophistication.