“Fancy Chinese food” may seem like an oxymoron to those who frequent Chinatown. For those who want an upgrade on service and have Chinese food with haute flair, your pick would be to jet to Philippe Chow in Midtown East.
Philippe Chow has garnered such recent praise as the “Best in Chinese Food” by Zagat 2010 and named “Best of the Best” in 2007 by New York Magazine for the signature Peking Duck. The restaurant’s modern design mirrors their contemporary Chinese fusion cuisine. The dining room and bar boasts their signature color palette of black with plush banquettes and booths, and they have a cozy, private cellar for some of your more intimate dining needs.
We kicked off our PC experience with some cocktails, natch. The Golden Grape (vodka with muddled grapes, elderflower cordial, and champagne) caught my attention an was incredibly refreshing. My friend, usually not a fan of strong drinks, chose two of the stronger drinks: the lychee martini (vodka, lychee juice, coconut cream, and lime juice) and the Pear Fection (Absolut Pear, TY KU Liquer, fresh muddled pear, Cointreau, and lemon-lime juice). Their other signature drinks that I must return for are the Philipptini (vodka, lychee and pineapple juice, triple sec with splash of Chambord) and the Shanghai Philippe (Stoli Strawberry, elderflower syrup, muddled strawberries, and champagne).
I was already ravenous, and the smell of the food surrounding me was not helping. Fortunately, the appetizers came out quickly and plentiful! Chef Chow’s lettuce wraps include your choice of protein (chicken, beef, shrimp, or vegetarian) sauteed in flavorful sauces that you wrap in lettuce leaves. My favorite pick were the steaming hot crabmeat soup dumplings. Better that you save these for a cold winter night, but still delicious nevertheless.
The surprise dish for me was the chicken satay skewers. I’m usually wary of skewers because the meat usually ends up dry or flavorless, and it didn’t help that these came out bright orange. I came to my senses and stopped being so quick to judge – they were incredibly tender pieces of chicken doused with Chef Philippe’s “famous cream sauce.” I can’t begin to guess what else is in that sauce other than a hint of peanuts, but it was unique and really enhanced the flavor of the chicken.
For the main dish, their specialty is their green prawns. That’s right, just when you thought that Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was a myth PC comes out with green shrimp. The shrimp is actually marinated with spinach and absorbs the green color, and then meshed in with cashews, water chestnuts, peppers, and black mushrooms.
We also enjoyed some filet mignon slices and some traditional sweet and sour chicken, all with a side of fried rice. Most of their entrees are ginormous and are listed on the menu to serve two people, but they do prepare some dishes as single servings upon request.
Their infamous Peking Duck is prepared specially by Chef Philippe with house made pancakes, which we will have to return for since I was bursting at the seams. But not before dessert, of course! Though their main dishes are very Chinese, their desserts are decidedly very UN-Chinese. (And thank goodness, because I think savory Chinese desserts are odd.)
The dessert list consists of a chocolate layer cake, molten chocolate cake, key lime pie, creme brulee, a warm apple crumb tart, and a coconut panna cotta napoleon. After much drool, we settled on the peanut butter pie and the red velvet cake.
The peanut butter pie was deliciously rich and smooth, with the only thing missing a tall glass of milk. As for the red velvet cake, I get supremely angry whenever red velvet cake is not accompanied by cream cheese frosting, so it was for the best that they came through with a not-too-tart, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting that was heaped on top and in between the layers of moist red velvet.
We’ve experienced first hand why Philippe Chow is frequented by so many people, including an extensive list of celebrity clientele: famed movers and shakers like Anna Wintour, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Anne, Hathaway, Matt Damon, Oprah, Robert De Niro (to check out the competition of his own restaurants?); artists and singers, including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay-Z, David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs; pro athletes need their intake of Chinese cuisine as well, like Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees. And even high-profile suits like Al Gore, Rupert Murdoch, and President Barack Obama have visited PC.
Chef Philippe Chow was born in China and went to Hong Kong when he was 16 years old. After spending five years learning Chinese basic cooking skills and worked in various kitchens in Hong Kong, Chow came to the US in 1979 and started working in the kitchen of Mr. Chow (no relation) in Manhattan in 1980, where he remained for 25 years. Now, in addition to his Midtown East location, there are Philippe Chow restaurants in Los Angeles, Miami, and Jericho, NY where the SS crew visited earlier this summer.
33 East 60th Street
New York City
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Saturday: 12:00PM – 4:00PM
Monday through Saturday: 6:00PM – 12:00AM
Sunday: 3:00PM – 12:00AM