[NYC - Midtown] Cafe China Review - One Michelin Star Szechuan Cuisine and Cocktails

I've ordered delivery from Cafe China many times, but I finally had the chance to visit and get the full experience.

I would definitely say that delivery is quite a fine option, too, if you're within the delivery range.

We were so lucky! I went up to the hostess and she said they would be able to seat us in 15 minutes (this was on Friday night at like 7PM, so prime time. The person who arrived just seconds behind me was quoted 90 minutes; definitely make sure you have time to wait.

You can only make a reservation for parties of 4 or more. So, if you have fewer than 4, you will have to do a walk-in.

I have heard from friends that Cafe China used to be a lot better, but now with the popularity increasing since it's Michelin Star now, the quality is somewhat waning, but I have nothing to compare it to, so I am happy with how it is now. It's also on the cheap side for Michelin starred restaurants.


We ordered Paper Moon and Ashes of Time.

I actually preferred Paper Moon because I am a fan of whiskey and I also really enjoyed the combination of all of the different bitters with the cinnamon and scotch.

I would say that, obviously, if you're into fruity cocktails, neither of these are good options for you. Even though it says "orange bitters", they citrus notes are relatively subtle.

You should probably go for "Lust, Caution" or "The Catcher", but I'll try one of those next time to figure out if the flavor is actually fruity or not.
All of the food ordered today was "safe" food for the not so adventurous. There are definitely some more adventurous choices on the menu, so there are definitely options for everyone.

The Starters:

We got the Cold Noodles, Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil, and the Dan Dan Noodles.

These are the Pork Dumplings. I would say these are quite classic choices and done pretty well. They're NOT fried. I think sometimes some people expect all dumplings to be fried.

The chili oil is subtle and it's not too spicy. The filling is flavorful, juicy, and quite fresh.
These are the Dan Dan Noodles. One of my goals for 2019 is to try a whole bunch of Dan Dan Noodles (I'd also include Japanese Tan Tan noodles) throughout NYC and write a comprehensive post about them. Let me know if that'll be something you're interested in.

It was my parents' first time trying any Dan Dan Noodles and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Marian here: These were amazingly delicious. I can't exactly say why, but in the future, I will try Dan Dan Noodles whenever I see them on the menu.

The Dan Dan Noodles are definitely better in the restaurant than delivery (obviously). They were still warm and the waitstaff mix them for you at the table (this is post mixing). The flavor is semi spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.

These are the Cold Noodles Szechuan Style. It is dressed with a cold peanut sauce. I definitely recommend this for everyone (except people with peanut allergies, obviously). It has a mild flavor, but still a bit of spice, to keep everyone happy.

This one is fine for delivery, if you're on the fence. The noodles, since they're cold, don't get clumpy. The flavor is the same, etc.
The Mains:

We got Three Pepper Chicken. I've had this in store and as delivery and it's been great every time.

The Three Pepper Chicken is spicy, so make sure you keep that in mind. It's not unbearably spicy and there is flavor to it, but it's that mouth-numbing spice, but not a painful spice.

The chicken pieces are relatively small, so it's pretty easy to eat.
We also decided to get the Bok Choy with Garlic because we wanted some vegetables and no one was enthused about my other vegetable choices.

This is a really mild option, no spice whatsoever.

The vegetables are still crunchy, so I like that. It is kind of greasy, but not too oily like vegetables at Chinese restaurants tend to be.

We also got the Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce. The vegetables were nice and crunchy still, but covered in flavorful sauce. This is a mild dish, too, so it's a good option if you have people who can't handle spice.

The flavor is rich and deep and the pork has a nice texture, too.


There is actually something for everyone.

I'm not sure if Ginger Gelato with Mochi is Chinese, but whatever. It's a pretty refreshing option if your mouth is burning.

I really liked the ginger flavor of the gelato.

We also got the Rice Wine Soup. We wanted something that was warm and comforting. This was both. The flavor wasn't sweet, so it got bonus points from me for that. The glutinous rice balls were the perfect texture, not too hard and not grossly soft.

Overall, I would say this is one of the better Chinese restaurants in Midtown (if not the best). It's a good place to go with people who are just getting introduced to Szechuan food and for a nice atmosphere. It would also be a good place to go if you want to get to a lot of Michelin Star restaurants without breaking the bank since it's relatively inexpensive at slightly more than a Bib Gourmand, depending upon what you order.

If you're a Szechuan enthusiast, then you probably want to skip this place since it's not a spicy as you're probably looking for. Also, the portions are much smaller than you'd find at most other places in New York City.

I would say that it's a decent choice for delivery. The service is fast and everything is made to order.

The Menus:

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