Although I have worked in and around New York, on and off, for the last decade and a half, I rarely have ventured right into Manhattan. On a recent trip to meet up with friends from Germany, we were making our way back to the Port Authority to catch a bus back to our hotel and were looking for a place to eat. We came upon Ollie’s Chinese Restaurant and decided that it looked like a reasonable place to try.
I have not eaten in that many American Chinese eating establishments, so cannot make the same generalization that I would about the Canadian ones and that is that, by and large, there is a uniformity of offerings from one restaurant to another. If you order Crispy Beef in Toronto and Montreal, what you get is going to be just about the same.
The minute we entered Ollies, I had the feeling that it was going to be different. First off, it didn’t fit the mould appearance-wise. There were no hanging Chinese lanterns and pictures of pagodas on the walls. There was, on the other hand, a good sprinkling of ethnic Chinese diners, which is often considered to be sign of a good authentic Chinese restaurant.
Dorothy and I predictably ordered our stand-by favourites Mooshu Pork and Crispy beef. Our German friends ordered a house specialty noodle dish. All are pictured below:
There is no doubt that after a long day of doing the tourist thing in New York, we were all pretty hungry and perhaps even cardboard would have tasted good, but I have to say that the food exceeded any expectations that we might have had. The outstanding dish for me was the Crispy Beef. I have never tasted any better. Normally, in Canada at least, the beef is deep-fried to a point where you can not really discern where the beef ends and the crispy coating begins. At Ollie’s, although the general taste was the same, once you bit through the sweet, crispy outside layer, the beef inside was still tender, juicy and succulent. Just thinking about it now, several months later makes my mouth water.
The four of us agreed that the food was above average and for downtown New York, the prices were reasonable. All in all, a very pleasant experience and highly recommended.