Downtown Lunch: Dim Sum at Golden Unicorn
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.) Today he tackles something near and dear my heart: Dim Sum. I’m more of a Jin Fong man, but Golden Unicorn isn’t bad… and if they can get Daniel to eat (and enjoy!) chicken feet- than they have a new special place in my heart.
There’s something exciting about going to an old school Dim Sum restaurant where the waitstaff wheels around carts with pipping hot steamed buns, different types of shumai, dumplings, and various parts of animals I never would have thought you could eat. I’ve always steered away from the uncommon parts of an animal (intestines make me, well, sick to my stomach.) But I felt if I was going to go for some traditional dim sum, at the storied Golden Unicorn restaurant, I should try something I’ve never had before. Luckily I had with me the prolific flickr poster Wendalicious (or Wendy if you will) whose food photography has been on my radar for about a year now. I don’t know anyone who photographs their meals with such enthusiasm and vigor. She’s a Chinatown regular (having grown up there), so I thought she’d be the perfect dining companion.
Golden Unicorn has updated their decor since I last visited several years back, and you can either go to the second or third floor, both sporting huge dining rooms. As soon as we sat down on the second floor (I checked them both out and 2 seemed like the floor with the most locals) I said I wanted to try the chicken feet. She said, “Oh, I already ordered them as we were sitting down.” Perfect!
The chicken feet were not what I expected- and by that I mean, I liked them. For those who may be hesitant like me- they’re just skin covering bone, and bits of cartilage. It’s mostly about the sauce, which encorporates a healthy does of peppers to impart a really nice flavor on the whole dish. Not bad. I only ate one though. :)
Standouts for me included the steamed pork buns which come out as 3 small palm-sized-pillowy-puffs- steamy and delicious, with a spoonful of chopped pork in the middle.
There was also this Malaysian sponge cake, which had a slightly sweet taste and a nice texture. You can eat it during the meal, since it wasn’t at the level of dessert sweetness.
Prices range from $2.25 for the smaller dishes to $4.25 for the Extra Large ones. I think the weekend is the time to go to get the full experience and sample a wider selection of items. But then again on a weekend you might not get the chef to come out to smile for a portrait (what a sweetie this lady was.)
The award for “Most likely to get Zach’s attention” had to be the bacon wrapped shrimp balls, which were really delicious. I don’t think the side of dipping mayo is necessary unless you’re itching for a coronary. The shrimp balls are small and dense and tightly wound with a half strip of bacon. It was so crispy I had to ask a question that I didn’t really want to hear the answer to. “Do they deep fry these things?” “Of course” Wendy said.
Ahhh Golden Unicorn… you mystical creature you.
Golden Unicorn Restaurant, 18 E Broadway, 212-941-0951
(holy shit we have a website!!!) http://www.goldenunicornrestaurant.com