311 E. 45th St., (bet. 1st & 2nd Aves.) New York, NY 10017
Chinese Take Out UN-like Any Other
Shih Lee, nicknamed the “United Nations Cafeteria”, stands as proof that you don’t have to go all the way downtown to get remarkable Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices. This twenty-one year old, secret Midtown hot spot for UN staffers relies on its slow, home-style cooking to provide comfort to customers living in a foreign land. As testament to the restaurant’s popularity, its walls are covered with post cards from adoring fans around the world.
“Our menu is much smaller than our competitors’ because we want to focus on a few things and do them really well,” explains Manager/Owner Mr. Lee, who greets regulars by name while handing out spectacular, heartwarming dishes like a Philippine style adobo Pork Stew; made from rich chunks of pork belly cooked for hours, creating a thick, almost sweet sauce. Customers use their hands to nibble Stewed Ox Tail, another labor-intensive dish resulting in soft, succulent flavorful meat. Shih Lee’s classic American Chinese dish General Tso’s Chicken could easily be called the best in NYC with its light, crispy batter, glistening auburn sauce and choice between white meat, dark meat or both. Another popular dish is the Fried Butter Fish that is only served on Fridays and is guaranteed to sell out. Shih Lee is a real food lover’s restaurant serving unconventional bits like tripe, pigs’ feet and ears. Much of the restaurant’s success is owed to Chief Chef who has been running the kitchen for the past sixteen years.
The $6.75 lunch special keeps the doors busting during mid-day, but local connoisseurs know that it is the ideal place to meet friends for a filling dinner before a night on the town.
Quality and care are the key ingredients that set Shih Lee apart. The General Tso’s Chicken blows the competition out of the water while the Braised Beef Noodles warm the heart and tease the tongue.
Shih Lee’s Pork Stew is a guilty pleasure because it’s that good that you don’t care about calorie content.