China Red’s Lunch Special Dazzles Less Than Their Buffet

The faded red awning of China Red Gourmet is still intact on Chambers St. (btw. Church & W. Broadway), and the inside of the place is exactly the same as it was about three years ago when I checked out their awesome by-the-pound buffet.

You can still look at yourself eating in mirrors that line the wall, and you’re still not allowed to bring in outside food. What has changed are the prices which are a bit higher than when I was last here, with the buffet now $4.75 per pound. This time I ignored that buffet in favor of one of their lunch specials, and I think the former is the way to go here.

The lunch specials are all between $6 and $7 and include your choice of main dish and type of rice (fried, white, brown), along with soup or a can of soda. I went with the old standby of General Tso’s chicken ($6.65) with white rice and a can of soda as the thought of eating soup on a humid day was not appealing.

The good news is that the sauce for the General Tso’s was actually pretty great, with a lot of fresh garlic in it. Yet, the marginally-gloppy sauce wasn’t spicy at all (it never is), but had actual flavor beyond being sweet. The chicken, on the other hand, was the heavily-breaded dark meat sort that ‘s not very crispy and serves only as a salty vehicle for the sauce.

There are likely better dishes that are part of the lunch special, but I wasn’t impressed with the General Tso’s. If you’re looking to steer clear of the buffet, I’d say stick to Sunny One a block away on Chambers St. You get a bit more food for your money.

China Red Gourmet, 118 Chambers St. (btw. Church & W. Broadway), (212) 267-4015


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