Downtown's Cheap Eats
by Julie Besonen, 09/14/2011
Pancake with egg and beef. Photo: Robyn Lee/www.roboppy.net/food
456 Shanghai Cuisine
69 Mott St., 212-964-0003, Chinatown, Manhattan
Restaurant critic Sam Sifton's shout-out in The New York Times made the lines at 456 Shanghai even longer, with patrons clutching his review to make sure they ordered the things he praised. It's hard to go wrong. Platters of food are bountiful, flavorful and modestly priced. Bamboo steamers of juicy pork buns, cold noodles in sesame sauce, double-cooked pork and spicy eggplant in garlic sauce come out swiftly and just as swiftly disappear under a barrage of chopsticks (or forks, on request). Every table gets free pots of tea and orange slices at the end; other deals include crisp scallion pancakes for $2.50, a giant bowl of chicken and corn soup for $3.95 and shrimp fried rice for $6.95. With its bright lights and prefab atmosphere, the restaurant looks like any number of Chinatown establishments—but it's a cut above the rest.