Fabulous feast: my review of Pig Heaven

Dear readers: Chinese restaurants certainly are not what they used to be when I was growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s. Possibly it was the naivety of my youth, but the days of awesome $5 combination plates seem to be a thing of the past, and the only way to ensure a great Chinese meal is to dine at an exorbitantly priced restaurant such as Shun Lee. (I’m a big fan, but $30 and up for basic chicken dishes? Really?) That being said, I believe that Pig Heaven, located on the upper east side of Manhattan, is one of the last quality Chinese restaurants still around. When two of my friends, who happen to be Lehman social work graduates, came over this weekend, we indulged in a feast: it wasn’t gourmet, artsy, or Zagat’s approved, just great food. Here is what we ordered:
(Note: normally I break each review down into the senses, such as sound scent, vibe, Etc. This meal was delivered to my apartment; therefore I assume that most of you don’t care about the senses found in my home).
Pig Heaven
1540 2nd Avenue (between 80th and 81st street)
New York, NY
4 stars out of 5 stars
1. Dumplings: Considering that these are probably one of the most ubiquitous items found on Chinese menus, it is noteworthy when they are made right. (I had to sneak in “ubiquitous”, $10 SAT words please) We tried Pig Heaven’s fried pork and fried seafood dumplings. Fresh ingredients combined with just the right blend of spices and crunch with no grease to create the ultimate treat.
2. Cantonese roasted chicken: This most likely falls under the category of “Americanized Chinese food”, but who really cares? Tiny morsels of savory roasted chicken hit the spot, and all of us could agree on this. Again, nothing gourmet, but on the Blind Taste Test chicken scale from KFC to fine dining, this ranks in the top half.
3. General Tso’s chicken: Close your eyes, picture how this ideally should taste… I’ll wait. Is it mild or spicy? Slimy or crispy? This dish met all of my expectations, with chunks of crispy and slightly spicy chicken and a hint of sweetness. The meal so far has not been particularly dietetic, in fact when I was figuring out which dishes to try, one of my friends said “order anything as long as it’s fried!”.
4. Yang chow fried rice: It was as if I said “take some rice and throw every ingredient possible in there!”. You can’t go wrong with this dish, although your doctor might disagree. I detected chunks of shrimp, ham, beef, pork, and a variety of crunchy vegetables mixed in with the rice, making for a delicious dish.
The next time you are in the area, I highly recommend trying Pig Heaven. Every dish was a winner, and as the name suggests, I now feel like a pig… a pig who is in heaven.
Dan Read More