My family usually celebrates Chinese New Year in Manhattan, but last year, we had an especially hard time getting a reservation. All of our favorite places were booked, so we ended up at the monstrous Jing Fong, which, while decent for dim sum, was overwhelmed during the height of holiday dinner service. We waited forever for each course and, quality- and service-wise, the meal didn’t measure up to dinners of new years past. To ensure we wouldn’t have a repeat experience, my family moved our Year of the Rabbit dinner across the river to Dyker Heights in southwestern Brooklyn. My grandparents recommended New Spring Garden (912 65 Street, Brooklyn), a restaurant I hadn’t been to or heard of, and made an early reservation.
It couldn’t have been a better choice. The service was first-rate. The courses came out at a good pace and the food was very fresh. We started with jellyfish with preserved vegetables (which had a nice seaweed salad with the veggies), followed by crispy jumbo shrimp and two types of pork: salt baked pork chops and Peking pork chops. Then the food started coming at a faster succession. We had scallops with black bean sauce, braised tofu and veggies, Chinese broccoli, and traditional lamb stew with bean curd. Lo mein (noodles symbolize longevity) and a whole chicken (also considered a lucky dish during New Year’s dinner) rounded out the meal.
I don’t know much about Dyker Heights, but it borders Sunset Park and I assume some of the Chinese population has moved outwards from there. I’m finding that this area has some of the best authentic Chinese food in NYC. New Spring Garden is within a few blocks of East Harbor, a Chinese restaurant that Anthony Bourdain featured on No Reservations and has, in my opinion, stellar dim sum. If the neighborhood weren’t so hard to get to (we rented a Zipcar), I’d be there every weekend.