Lili’s Noodle Shop & Grill – Chinese Upper East Side New York
1500 3rd Ave @ 85th
Tel 212 639 1313
Who says you can’t get great Chinese food north of Spring Street? Actually I did. But I correct myself, there’s a plenty of options spread across Manhattan on the East and West side. For example there is Cafe Swish up on 116th and Broadway where you can get excellent hot pot and pan asian dishes including Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. Then there’s Joe’s Shanghaiand Grand Sichuan that both serve great soup dumplings / xiao long bao. Recently a friend of a friend introduced us to Lili’s Noodle Shop & Grill located on 3rd Ave between 84th and 85th. We were quite impressed by the menu. Lili’s Noodle Shop has a great selection of noodles of course such as the Niu Rou Mian 牛肉面 (The spicy level has been appropriately decreased for the clientele but you can ask to raise it back up). The noodle dishes, by the way are enormous and can be split between 2 people. Lili’s also has fresh roast duck & soy sauce chicken (see them hanging off above the chopping blocks in the kitchen?), and a great selection of SiChuan/Northern dishes such as Lion’s Head Meatballs (狮子鋀 I think). Lion’s Head Meatballs is a great dish – the meatballs are made of marinated pork and fried with a light cornstarch batter to produce a crunchy exterior skin and are served with bok choy. We didn’t order it here though cause it was like $12 vs. $7/$8 at Joe’s Shanghai Chinatown. Here’s a recipe from Habeas Brulee nevertheless. Finally, we ordered a plate of the Soup Dumplings / Xiao Long Bao to compare and here the difference between authentic Chinatown dishes and Uptown restaurants comes into play. The dumplings were much smaller and not very fresh – I suspect they were previously frozen. Ok, so yes you can get great Chinese food outside of Chinatown. You’ll pay a little more and maybe not all the dishes are 100% authentic, but overall the convenience of the location makes up for that. Check out Lili’s Noodles!