Day 4: Kung Po Baby Shrimp from “U” Like Garden (917 Columbus Avenue, 212-666-3399)
You tend not to expect a lot of things from a restaurant with “U” in the name, especially when the letter appears to be the subject of a very confused — and confusingly unpunctuated — command.
However, “U” Like’s Kung Po offers the type of experience that makes this whole Year of the Takeout thing worthwhile.
For $6.25, you get a steaming, sizable portion of damned spicy seafood, which comes flecked with loads of authentic, dried chilies — a detail you don’t normally encounter at this type of establishment.
Granted, at least half the order is made up of white rice, but the baby shrimp — delicately briny — feel perfectly proportioned with a fresh, crisp veggie medley of carrots, celery, and green peppers.
And the gravy, often the weak point in these sauce-heavy picks, outright bursts with beefy, brothy flavor, without being too salty or oily.