There’s an unusual quote on the homepage of Café China’s website. It says, ‘Everything is imaginary and real’. Part-restaurant and part-period museum, eating at Café China is an experience that sits somewhere between heading out for dinner and travelling back in time.
We’ve come across many restaurants that have a theme outside of their cuisine before; we’re not sure any of them have taken it as far as Café China.
The idea behind this eatery is that it exists within the 1930s. The modern world outside its windows doesn’t exist. The Second World War hasn’t happened yet, and Chinese cuisine is still new to the western world. All of the stylistic choices in the restaurant, from the cutlery and decor to the outfits of your serving staff, are authentic for the period. So is the food. You won’t get any ‘modern takes’ on Chinese classics here; just the classics themselves. That doesn’t matter when they’re done so brilliantly. There will be nothing on the Café China restaurant that you haven’t encountered before if you’ve been to a Chinese restaurant, but you will be able to taste a difference in the way it’s been prepared.
You don’t have to completely engage with the 1930s fantasy if you don’t want to; you can just come, eat your meal, and go. You’ll find your memories of the food endure far longer than those of the venue’s quirks.
Michelin Stars: 1
Address: 13 East 37th Street
For a list of the very best eateries in town, check out our guide to all the Michelin star restaurants in New York.