12. CHINA POBLANO
From the moment you glimpse the groovy-cool interior, you know you’re in for some mind-bending Chinese and Mexican food, provided by a mix-and-match menu created by Chef Jose Andrés. To be fair, José Can You See (Vegas)? comes around about as often as I go to Madrid these days, but give him a break. He’s got a restaurant empire to run, and run it well he does.
From the moment it opened in 2010, China Poblano was one of the most unique restaurants in America: a Chinese-Mexican amalgam of the best street food of both cultures. And by jove, Jose pulled it off. And his staff continues to pull it off, for very reasonable prices, at lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
The best way to experience it is to pick and point, and prepare to be impressed. Traditional sui mai (shrimp and pork dumplings) taste about as silky and fresh as you’ve ever had … because they were made minutes before you ordered them by the smiling staff. Equally good are the street tacos, the Taiwanese beef sandwich, and just about any dim sum dish on the menu. In fact, on any given day (and with apologies to Ping Pang Pong) the these little dumplings (literally “touch the heart” in Cantonese) are the best in the City. They’re certainly the freshest.
“Lamb Pot Stickers Stuck on You” come stuck underneath a latticework-dome of crispy lace and give a further introduction to the playfulness Andrés brings to these cuisines. The classics—pozole rojo, jiaozi, dan dan mian, carnitas—are fabulous, and Andrés’ take on things like simple scallop ceviche is drop-your-fork delicious and a ton of fun. Come with a crowd (or solo and sit at the taco or noodle bar) and let the metaphor-mixing begin!
Max Jacobson: “One side of this whimsically decorated room has a Chinese noodle bar, while the the other side is staffed with Hispanic women pounding out tortillas on a comal. My favorite dish, “Like Water for Chocolate,” is made with braised quail, dragonfruit, rose petals and chestnuts. I never come…without having the Rou Jia Mo Street Sandwich, a chewy bun stuffed with braised pork. I come often.”
Favorite Dishes: “Lamb Pot Stickers Stuck On You;” Pozole Rojo, Jiaozi; Dan Dan Mian; Carnitas; Street Tacos; Rou Jia Mo Street Sandwich; “Like Water for Chocolate;” basically everything on the friggin’ menu + every cocktail in the joint.