New York loves Asian food. But I remember a time when you could pretty much count the number of sushi places on one hand, but now every grocery store and corner market in the city offers sushi to go. And since David Chang opened his Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, noodles of all sort, especially Japanese ramen, have become the object of almost cultlike interest. For the most part, the places purveying Asian foods have been relatively modest in size and scope, Chang’s restaurant, found in the East Village, being a perfect example. But that has changed in the past year or so, with the opening of ambitious upscale places.
With its large Chinese population, the city has long enjoyed the food these immigrants brought with them, but the restaurants have not fallen into the “fine dining” category, with a couple of exceptions such as Shun Lee Palace on the East Side and an old favorite of mine, Chin Chin, which was forced to close due to a punishing rent hike in 2014. Now I would add La Chine to the list. After Chinese investors bought the Waldorf Astoria New York in 2015, I wondered if they would open a Chinese restaurant. Here it is, in a space once occupied by Oscar’s — a loss not mourned. The food is imaginative and well-presented, with noteworthy dishes such as raw seafood appetizers, crispy Spanish mackerel, Sichuan chicken with cashews, and beef tenderloin in a black-pepper glaze.
540 Lexington Avenue. Tel. (212) 872-4913