119 Essex St
New York, NY 10002
It may be categorized under "Asian Restaurant," but Char Sue is so much more than that. It's more like an "Original Asian Creative Concept" restaurant...if those are a thing. The chef puts an original and fresh twist on all his dishes, and knows how to roast a mean duck too, which is always extremely important if you ask me. So if you're looking to mix things up, expand your palette and try something different and innovative, I recommend heading to Char Sue for dinner.
Here's the breakdown of everything I ate:
GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
Made with red curry, tofu skin, salt & pepper shrimp: the green papaya salad is a commonly found dish throughout Southeast Asia. The chef at Char Sue julienned and tossed the green papaya with cilantro, scallions, sweet Japanese tofu and red curry dressing and then topped with fresh red chilies. The baby shrimp are fried and presented on the plate with the head, skin and tails fully attached for you to eat. I ate the skin but the heads were making me think about those little shrimp in the movie Shark Tale and I just couldn't do it. You decide...
FIVE SPICED DUCK WINGS
Forget chicken wings, Char Sue is whippin' up some seriously tender duck wings with a sweet glaze to match. My mouth just watered writing that. Because it's that good. Since chefs are often reluctant to utilize duck in multiple ways, the owner describes this dish as his "homage to the underdog." They confit the duck wings for several hours to rid them of any toughness. Then the wings are tossed in fish sauce and palm sugar, followed by a sugar glaze. Lastly, they're topped with sesame and scallion with pickled cucumbers as a garnish.
ROAST DUCK OVER NOODLES
Arguably Char Sue's signature dish, this roast duck is served with fresh herbs, frisée and pickles with the choice of: egg noodles or rice noodles. This duck is inspired by the time-honored classic Chinese Peking duck. Mirroring the same crispy skin with succulent and juicy meat, the ducks are treated in a similar style as Peking duck with of course... a few twists! The duck takes multiple days to prepare as it is marinated with sugar, Chinese wine and a Sichuan peppercorn spice blend before roasting. It's worth the wait.
They present it to you sliced up like that over the noodles, but I got to get a behind the scenes look of how the duck comes out after several days of prep. Vegetarians look away!
SMOKED BONE BROTH RAMEN
For those interested in a little less duck and a little more customizability: this ramen dish lets you choose from the broth of chicken, pork, duck or beef. Prior to making the broth, the bones are all smoked in order to add that extra smoky flavor to the soup. And add-on options are spicy ground pork, pork belly, roasted tomato, poached egg and corn. All paired with thin noodles, cabbage and scallions.
COCONUT LECHE FLAN
And in order to continue my range of Asian customaries, I finished the meal off with the popular Filipino dessert: flan.