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Although I could be wrong, I'm inclined to believe them. But the situation was a good reminder of the real-world issues behind the New York food scene and its easy hedonisms. My recent dinner at Marea, for example, was only the latest experience of a restaurant where all the runners were Hispanic, while all the servers, in the better-paying jobs, were white.

We found the best dish on Lan Sheng's menu during our last visit: Chongqing braised fish. It's easily the most expensive dish on the menu ($24), but it's staggeringly generous—a huge, bubbling hot pot of chile oil, Sichuan peppercorns, leeks, Napa cabbage cooked down to silk, and delicate pieces of carp, its flesh stained orange with spice. Over the food, at least, there is no debate.

sdigregorio@villagevoice.com

Tasty, if controversial, Sichuan food
Courtesy Lan Sheng
Tasty, if controversial, Sichuan food

For more of our restaurant coverage, check out our food blog, Fork in the Road

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