Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Sweet-n-Tart Café

Chinatown, NY
212-334-8088

Review by Susu, ThePlazaQueen

This shop has a name which might make you think it's a cake or dessert shop, or even maybe a teashop. But it isn't ... well, maybe it's a a teashop, but it's a Chinese teashop, which means it serves dim sum, or bite-sized snacks of the savory sort. They have single tasting portions of a large variety of things like pork buns, dumplings, spare ribs, etc. which cost from $2 to $5, or a few larger meals like Singapore Mai Fun (thin curried noodles) or fried rice, but nothing is more than $9. There is a board with specials, which tend to be more expensive, but they are good; for some, they are rather exotic. They also offer puréed fruits and smoothies and little bowls of fruit or "almond jelly" as their sweets, along with cups of hot tea or sodas. There's nothing really tart here. Odd choice for a restaurant name, all around.

It's a very popular place and their dim sum is very good. Many restaurants do serve dim sum, but only certain times of day or week. So this is better, in that you don't have to wait till Sunday morning to imbibe in these nibbles, since this is what they serve all the time. It's an ideal way to get people into Cantonese style Chinese food without ordering a whole platter of the stuff. It's less intimidating to see a small saucer-sized dish of something (like what my dad calls "monkeypaws" which are stewed chicken feet!) rather than a whole big platter of exotica. And if you were every curious about ingredients you've seen in Chinese cookbooks or in butcher shop windows ("Cooked Blood" is one such item ...) this is a low-risk way to try them, in terms of price, emotions, quantity and digestive upset. If you like it, you an always order another plate of the same.

They are located half-underground, in that you have to walk down a half-flight of steps to walk into the door, the top half of which peeks up onto street level. You can see above the diners and prep area closest to the windows. Unlike many Chinese restaurants, this place is clean and the servers are dressed as you'd expect waiters to dress. Most are women, which is a departure from the norm. Too bad I can't figure out if this might be like a women's exchange?

Anyway, try it out and be adventurous! They also have a relatively clean bathroom -- sometimes a rarity in Chinatown. Just so you know ...


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