Tag Archive | Chinese

Restaurant Review: Red Peony Chinese Cuisine

Red Peony Menu Logo
All Photos By Gail

In a city that loves to eat, Chinese is among the most popular cuisines in Manhattan. From Chinatown to Midtown, I frequent a handful of Chinese restaurants that consistently serve my favorite dishes with no disappointments, but there is always room to add one more to that list. Open since late August 2019Red Peony, located in the heart of midtown’s upscale shopping district, is an elegant Chinese restaurant that feels like a secret oasis within the congested urban landscape. Specializing in both Cantonese and Szechuan-style dishes, Red Peony aims to be fully inclusive of every palate; with an extensive menu featuring both familiar favorites and exotic-sounding, visually tempting dishes I’ve not seen on other menus. Judging by the number of Chinese families gathered at its large round tables on the night of my visit, Red Peony offers a truly authentic dining experience.

Downstairs Dining Room

The peony is the unofficial Chinese National Flower. It stands as a symbol of spring and female beauty, and it also represents richness, honor and high social class. A Red Peony specifically represents life and celebration, and you will find all of these values reflected in the restaurant’s opulent interior decor. The first floor dining area features the above pictured, tufted seating in vibrant red fabric, flanking ample-sized tables for two. Larger round tables in the center of the room can accommodate families and larger parties, and there is also a second floor, which is ideal for events and special occasions.

Upstairs Dining Room View 2
Second Floor Dining Room With Windows Looking Onto 56th Street

Red Peony Artwork

You’ll see lovely Asian artworks throughout the restaurant, as well as huge, painted red peony blooms adorning the walls at the entrance. The feeling is one of being immersed in an atmosphere of luxury and comfort — but just wait until you taste the food!

Scallion Pancake
Scallion Pancake

My dining companion had already visited Red Peony several times and, while she is an adventurous eater, she suggested we stick to shared favorites on my first visit, so that I could set a baseline for comparing Red Peony’s cuisine to my favorite establishments — a great idea! Who doesn’t love starting out a traditional Chinese meal with a  crispy Scallion Pancake ($5.95)? This one was delivered to our table piping hot, flaky, golden and loaded with fresh scallions.

Scallion Pancake Detail

Here’s a closer look: you can almost taste it with your eyes. So good! This appetizer is served with a sweet and savory sauce on the side for dipping.

Fried Vegetable Dumplings
Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings

With so many items to choose from, we could not resist also ordering the Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings ($7.95), with their delectable wrapper that gets nice and crispy from the pan while staying tender and easy to bite into on the top. These plump morsels are stuffed with finely minced carrots, cabbage and onions, and the mild flavor really perked up with just a dash of the sauce left over from our scallion pancake!

Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll
Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll

One unique appetizer that I will be ordering on my next visit is this mouthwatering Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll ($6.95). Doesn’t that look amazing?

Sesame Chicken
Sesame Chicken, With Steamed Broccoli on the Side

Sesame Chicken ($20.95) is one of my favorite main dishes, and I am not fronting when I say that the sesame chicken served at Red Peony is the best I’ve tasted anywhere. Each bite is perfectly tender and juicy white meat chicken, tossed lightly in flour before being quick-fried to a non-greasy presentation, with a sauce that’s not-too sweet, and a flavorful dusting of toasted season seeds. It’s flawless, and the generous serving can easily satisfy three hungry people (or, you can just take the leftovers home)!

Shanghai Fried Rice
Shanghai Fried Rice

Red Peony’s special Shanghai Fried Rice ($9.95) with scallions and egg, was a perfect accompaniment to our delicious chicken entree. How they make fried rice that is not greasy at all is a mystery to me.

Plate of Chinese Food

This looks like a fresh and tasty meal that you would be proud to serve to your family at home, but it tastes even better at Red Peony, because they made it for you (and, let’s be honest; their secret recipes make it taste better than you or I could).

Peking Duck

For those who want to make any meal feel like a special occasion, Red Peony does a whole Peking Duck served with all of the traditional accompaniments for just $58! Bring a few friends along and discover what everyone loves about the delicacy (reservations recommended if you plan to order this dish)!

Sweet Egg Custard Bun
Sweet Egg Custard Bun

When it’s time for dessert, Red Peony offers a selection of sweet treats that you won’t find anywhere else, and I loved the vibrant photographs that show you just what to expect when the dish arrives at your table — because presentation is everything. These Sweet Egg Custard Bun ($6.95) — which look like three little pigs!– have me intrigued for a future visit!

Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup
Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup

This tasty looking dessert is called Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup ($10.95), a sweet, gelatinous dish featuring the resin from peach and Chinese wild peach trees. The nutritional content of peach gum is off the charts, so you might want to ask your server about this on your next visit.

Red Bean Short Cakes
Red Bean Short Cakes

We were so stuffed, but wanted to add a little something to top off such a great meal, and these Red Bean Short Cakes ($4.95) were the perfect finishing touch. These little fried turnovers feature a flaky crust stuffed with sweet red bean paste, and garnished with toasted black sesame seeds. We enjoyed them with the pot  of green tea which accompanies your meal free of charge.

Upstairs Dining Room View 1

You can see by the prices included here that Red Peony is very reasonably priced, making it one of the best dining out values in midtown, by far. At press time the restaurant does not yet have its liquor license, but they welcome you to bring your own bottle of wine. I’m looking forward to a return visit!

Red Peony Chinese Restaurant is Located at 24 West 56 Street Between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. Check Out Their Extensive Menu, Make a Reservation, or Order Online at Red Peony Restaurant Dot Com !

Red Peony Interior Shot Wall

Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Chinese Lanterns Store Display

Pink Chinese Lanterns
Photos By Gail

It is no secret that shopping at Pearl River Mart is my jam, because that store has everything. Earlier this year, Pearl River opened a new location in the Chelsea Market, and that is where I discovered this breathtaking decorative display of Pink Chinese Paper Lanterns and colorful paper parasols, which inspired today’s ‘pink thing’ post. These lanterns can be used (and re-used) in place of balloons as festive party décor, don’t you think? They are so lovely.

Pink Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Paper Lanterns in a variety of colors and sizes are available for super cheap at both Pearl River locations (Chinatown and Chelsea) and they can also be purchased online at This Link!

Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, In and Around NYC!

Gilded Cage Central Park
Ai Weiwei’s Gilded Cage in Central Park (All Photos By Gail)

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has a new series of public art sculpture installations up in Manhattan and across the five boroughs, which is called Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Inspired by the international migration crisis and current geopolitical landscape, the ambitious project is installed in over 300 locations, including two monumental sculptures situated within in highly-trafficked Manhattan parks, along with security fences on top of, and in between, buildings (such as The Cooper Union), and several bus shelters. In addition, there are also graphic and photographic works on flags, billboards and lamppost banners. I saw a lot of these banners along Chrystie Street, which is where I also got my first glimpse of one.

Fence On Chrystie
Rooftop Fence Installation at 189 Chrystie Street

Fence On Chrystie

Ai’s metal fence is designed as a modular form, readily adaptable to the existing architecture, to span and partition the space.

Fence On Chrystie

You can still see the fences at night, because they are illuminated.

Fence On Bowery
Rooftop Fence Installation on Bowery

Don’t forget to look up!

Bus Shelter at Ave C and E 6th Street
Bus Shelter at Ave C and E 6th Street

Gilded Cage Central Park

While it’s fun to spot the fences, it’s the interactive sculptures in the parks that really bring the Instagram Moments. Gilded Cage located at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park (at 5th Avenue and 60th Street) can be entered on one side.

Post Continues, With More Photos, After The Jump!

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Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Joss Paper Mercedes

Joss Paper Mercedes
Photos By Gail

Joss Paper is burned by the Chinese to honor the deceased. Traditional Joss Paper, or ghost money, is commonly found in the form of squares of rough bamboo paper printed with seals and rectangles of gold or silver. More contemporary forms of Joss Paper include hell notes, often with denominations of $10,000 to $5,000,000,000. There are also elaborate, faithful paper reproductions of everyday objects such as suits of clothes, shirts and ties, high heel shoes, cell phones, cameras, computers, packs of cigarettes, bottles of alcohol, toothpaste, false teeth and makeup kits. Larger Joss objects include television sets, jet planes and Mercedes Benz automobiles.

These items represent the favorite objects of the dead, and when they are burned the items are sent along with the dead into the hereafter. They are made of papier mache and waste paper from packaging, and the backs and undersides of the objects sometimes reveal the logos of the various products they originally packaged.  The Joss Paper objects themselves sometime feature parodies of familiar logos, such as Kekou Cola and Halloro Lights cigarettes.

Joss Paper Mercedes

Pink Thing of The Day: Chinese Lotus Flower Chandelier

Chinese Lotus Flower Chandelier
Photo By Gail

Oh man, this is really lovely. Photographed in an Asian Import Store on Grand Street in Chinatown, NYC.

A$AP (Safety Exit) By Siu Lan Ko

A$AP Sign
A$AP (Safety Exit), 2010; LED Lightbox, Aluminum Frame, Glass Panel, LED Lights, Still Screen
Edition of Eight (Photo By Gail)

Our friends from Petersen Parts have mentioned an avid customer of theirs, Chinese artist Siu Lan Ko makes objects, public works, performances, videos and installations. Words and slogans as readymades are at the center of her art process. Living in both China and Canada, she enjoys wordplay and actions which reflect the misunderstandings and contradictions that result from different coexisting cultures, languages and social systems, stemming from her China East versus China West cultural experiences. Her performances, installations, objects and Public Works utilized the possibilities created by the impossibility of translation, and embrace the poetic limitations of speech.

Zhang Xiaogang at Pace Gallery

Zhang Xiaogang Boy Sculpture
Painted Bronze Sculpture by Zhang Xiaogang (All Photos By Gail)

There are two things you can usually count on when attending an art opening at Pace Gallery: The art will be physically imposing in some way and the room will be absolutely packed. Such was the case last Thursday when we attended the reception for an exhibit by Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang, who has been represented by Pace since 2007.

Zhang Xiaogang Boy in Sailor Hat

For this exhibit, Zhang fills both of Pace’s adjoining galleries with monochromatic painted bronze sculptures depicting youth of both sexes dressed in what look like school uniforms. There is also a selection of sculpted, unclothed infants seated on pedestals around the gallery, which weren’t as compelling to me as the stoic-expressioned, uniformed busts of the youth.

Zhang Xiaogang Two Busts

A press release nailed these sculpture’s unique presence, offering that the bronze busts, which range in size from six inches to over five feet tall, are “Sculpted with great clarity in a political-realist style that echoes the state-sanctioned sculptures of the Cultural Revolution.” A few of the subjects are repeated over the course of the two room exhibit, but in different sizes or colors.

Zhang Xiaogang, My Father
Zhang Xiaogang, My Father, 2012

In the smaller of the two gallery rooms, you can see four of Zhang’s large scale oil paintings, which often depict fully realized representations of the youths seen in the assorted busts. According to the exhibit press release, the paintings “continue Zhang’s inquiries into the domestic interiors to which people returned after the Cultural Revolution, and in which the artist came of age.”

Zhang Xiaogang Being Interviewed

The Artist was in attendace at the opening and can be seen in this photo being interviewed by the news media.

Geoffrey with Bust of Boy
Geoffrey and One of Zhang’s Sculptures

I enjoyed these sculptures – and the deep cultural back-story they hinted at – very much and would encourage anyone intrigued by this post to check out the show while it is still up.

Zhang Xiaogang Girl Bronze Bust

Zhang Xiaogang’s Bronze Sculptures and Paintings will be on Exhibit through April 27, 2013 at Pace Gallery, Located at 508 and 510 West 25th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Thought For The Day: On The Perfect Moment

Perfect Moment.jpg
Courtesy of Post Secret Dot Com