Year of the Takeout: Day 5
Wish for fish!
Day 5: Seafood Pan Fried Noodles from Weng's Palace (304 West 40th Street, 212-868-6868)
If you happen to find yourself near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and tiring of the Taxi Driver-esque scenery, you might consider resting up at Weng's Palace.
Among the décor is a dusty bottle of VSOP and, if I recall correctly, one of those white porcelain cats that looks like something from a hallucinatory Louis Wain painting.
Now, the interesting thing about this Hunan/Szechuan/Cantonese eatery is that people appeared to keep ordering really good-looking, high-quality dishes that don't show up anywhere on the menu -- for example, I spied a noodle dish flecked with freshly crushed peanuts that someone had requested for delivery.
Anyway, I tried to get one of these mysterious pasta plates by ordering the most unrecognizable such thing on the menu, which I figured would have to be pan-fried noodles, since your typical starchy mains, such as lo mein, mei fun, chow fun, etc., had been accounted for in their own section of the menu.
Alas, I was totally wrong, and wound up with a way over-budget, $10.95 plate of crispy noodles with fake crab, a few shrimp, and veggies in a garlicky wine gravy.
Despite the sketchiness of the seafood, the plate is pretty OK, and does a respectable job balancing meaty, starchy, and legumey elements.
So yes: The pick is neither stellar nor "meh" -- quality-wise, it veers toward the middle of takeout Chinese cuisine.
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