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Sweet-n-Tart


Pan
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A friend and I had a late dinner at Sweet-n-Tart Restaurant (not the Cafe) on 20 Mott St. tonight. To my surprise, a search of "Sweet" +"Tart" in the title of a previous thread produced only this thread on a banquet at Sweet-n-Tart, so let's make this the thread for specific comments on this restaurant, and I hope to hear from many of you on your experiences and thoughts.

In short, our meal was quite good. You could say we had a "piggish" meal. In order of arrival, the Beijing Style Pork Chops ($8.75) came first. They were cut into bite-sized pieces, lightly breaded and fried, and accompanied by a small coating of a sweet red sauce (not as sweet and much more liquid than "sweet and sour" sauce) that included ketchup as an ingredient. The chops were boneless but a combination of meat, fat, and cartilege. A few sprigs of raw cilantro were thrown in at the end. I thought the dish was tasty though not earthshaking, but my dining companion was less enthralled and said it reminded him of a dish like Lemon Chicken (I responded that I thought it was much better than that).

After a while, a dish of Assorted Chinese Sausages with Dried Salted Quail ($11.25) arrived. Also included in the dish were a large number of broccoli rabe spears. We both liked this dish very much. The quail seemed to have a bit of cod liver oil taste (presumably, farmers put cod liver oil in the quails' feed, much as is the case with most factory-farmed chickens), but was otherwise good. There were three varieties of sausages: a rather orange-colored, somewhat sweet one; a more porky-tasting darker red one; and a smokier brown/white one, which had distinct layers of meat and fat, rather than being marbled like the other sausages. The broccoli rabe was very nicely cooked and benefited from the influence of a bit of quail/sausage juice.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I've been pimping sweet-n-tart here for a while in various threads...

Standout dishes include:

Chili Orange Beef and Chicken-- crispy, tart (appropriately enough) and delicious. One of my favorite dishes in the city

La Mein with ginger and scallions very clean, insanely fresh noodles

Dumplings-- they have a dumpling trio which are fresh and savory

I've had a decent portion of the menu and it's been generally delicious from Wannam (?) style noodle soup, which came with the broth and fresh noodles separated so the noodles didn't overcook, Salted Pork Chops (mini, two-bite chops, similar, it sounds to Pan's dish, but with a salt and pepper coating in place of the sauce) to Beef Congee with Pepper, to even their Moo-Shu. I went with several people who weren't adventurous and went with Roast Pork Fried Rice and Boneless Spare Ribs, neither of which was exordinary in any way shape or form.

My only complaint is that they aren't particularly adept at bringing out courses altogether-- at lunch it can sometimes take 10 minutes between the first dish and the last for a small group. It seems they have dim-sum on the brain.

Edited by danger_doug (log)
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Thanks for the link, Mark!

I had been to Sweet-n-Tart a couple of times before, but not for a few years.

I get the vague feeling that it might be generally a good idea to get the less usual-sounding dishes at this place (the more "unusual," the better?). Like, for example, looking at their takeout menu, I'd probably sooner order Black Chicken & Mushroom Double Boiled Rice in Yunnan Pot or Shredded Chicken with Mushroom & Chives than Sliced Beef with American Broccoli, whereas my experience at Congee Village is that their Beef Chow Mein, despite the red flags I'd normally attach to such a name, is a terrific dish and well worth ordering.

Am I right?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 6 months later...

Mascarpone and I had a nice dinner at Sweet 'n Tart tonight. The two dishes we got nicely contrasted with each other. Our Orange Flavored Chili Prawns ($16.75) were excellent. We were presented with rather large shrimp with tangerine peel, dried red peppers, a bit of diced scallion, and some fresh ginger (a nice touch), accompanied by steamed broccoli, plus a garnish of arcs of canned pineapple and maraschino cherries on the outside of the plate that we didn't touch. The other dish we ordered was Asparagus Stuffed Bamboo Piths ($10.25), which was very textural and accompanied by a subtle white sauce. All in all, a very satisfying meal.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had a banquet at Sweet 'n Tart tonight, in celebration of my birthday (which was on Feb. 2). I set the menu in advance, and they were nice enough to print copies of the special menu and set one at each of the two tables we occupied.

Appetizers:

Deep Fried Crispy Spring Roll

Pan Fried Turnip Cake

Stuffed Eggplant

Main Dishes:

Garlic, Ginger & Scallion Crusted Crispy Chicken

Stuffed Bamboo Piths with Asparagus

Orange Flavored Prawns with Chili

Shredded Fish with Asparagus

Sauteed Chinese Broccoli

Braised Bean Curd with Mushroom & Vegetable

Pan Fried "Chile Sea Bass" in French Style

Dessert:

Sticky Rice Ball with Hazelnut

It was a real challenge to make a menu for this group of people. Of the 17 people who came (plus one baby, but she eats only mother's milk), three are vegetarians, one eats mostly vegetables and very limited protein for health reasons, one eats nothing but vegetables and certain kinds of fish in non-kosher restaurants, and at least one other person eats no pork and no fish. In the end, there was more than enough food for everybody.

The dinner started off inauspiciously, though, as I had thought I had ascertained in discussions with a manager beforehand that the turnip cake would be vegetarian, and it turned out to be the traditional lobak goh with pork in it. It was tasty, but I wouldn't have ordered it for this group if I had realized what was in it.

The spring rolls were good spring rolls and I thought a good choice for the group, but there's not much else to say about them.

The stuffed eggplant had a delicious sauce and I considered it the standout from among the appetizers, even though the fish stuffing was a little fishy. Not everyone ate theirs, but I believe that all pieces were finished, in the end.

The chicken was excellent and probably better than the version I had had at Congee. I believe there had been five spice powder on the skin, and the accompaniment was very tasty.

We had them exclude the soup (chicken soup, I think) that's usually in the bamboo piths stuffed with asparagus. It definitely tasted different from when Mascarpone and I had gone the other time, but was perhaps equally good the purely vegetarian way.

The prawns were considered the real standout by my crowd, and there were no leftovers of that dish. Mascarpone and I noticed that there was less chili than when we had eaten the same dish downstairs (the banquet was on the upper level) -- and in fact, I mistook it for another dish -- but it was quite good this way, too, and the staff had probably guessed right that toning down the chili was good for my group. Interestingly, I didn't detect any peel in the dish, either.

I thought the shredded fish with asparagus was terrific, but there were leftovers. It was really in bite-sized pieces rather than shredded. I can't remember the specifics of the taste, but I have some leftovers, so I might come back to this tomorrow.

The Chinese broccoli was much appreciated. It was good-quality produce (very green and leafy), kind of bitter, and simply but well sauteed with garlic.

The bean curd was another dish that was quite good, though perhaps not a standout and certainly not on the level of the great bean curd and mushrooms dish at Congee Village. But that's another kind of dish. This was really a kind of Buddha's Delight, and a good rendition. It included lettuce, carrots, black mushrooms, and scallions, and the bean curd had a nice creaminess inside.

The Pan Fried "Chile Sea Bass" in French Style was an unusual dish, and a New Years special. From what I remember, it's cooked in Grand Marnier or Cointreau, it was nicely crispy, and while it had a clear ginger taste, the strips on the fish were not ginger but, I believe, came from the really big green Chinese pears. I liked the dish.

The Sticky Rice Ball with Hazelnut was a recommendation of Niki, the manager I worked out the menu with, and it was surprisingly outstanding! The outside of the rice ball was filled with shredded coconut, and friends of mine deduced that the insides included white chocolate. You really owe it to yourself to try this some time. It was way better than having a regular birthday cake!

Service was good, except for some communication problems. When they were taking away individual servings that hadn't been touched, my mother and I said that we wanted them to keep those so that people could take them home later. At the end of the meal, management claimed that all of that food -- including parts of the two whole chickens that hadn't been placed on our table -- had been thrown away. In the end, I was given a very small amount of food to take home. I'm sure the food wasn't thrown away but was either served in individual portions to other patrons or given to the kitchen staff to eat. Is it just not done to take leftovers home from a Chinese banquet?

But despite a couple of complaints, I feel like they did a good job for us and I would consider them for another banquet. Every dish was at least good, while a few were significantly better than merely good.

The check was some $498 plus tip (with the tax being $38 and change, I said a tip of at least $80 and probably a little more was necessary). Another birthday banquet was happening at the same time on the other side of the room, and from the dishes that passed, it looked like a more traditional Chinese banquet.

The owner, whose name may have been Spencer, came by and we shook hands. He's from Hong Kong. I believe I wrote somewhere that this restaurant is Taiwanese. It is not, though there are some Taiwanese dishes on the menu.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Happy belated birthday, Pan!

I can't believe they wouldn't let you take the food home! Oh my god, if that happened with my family, we'd be causing a huge rukus. No, no, no - we DO take food home from a banquet. (I've never met these people and they're getting my dander up!)

Unless it's a funeral banquet and otherwise you don't. (Well, for my grandmother our family did not but I think it's "okay" if you're not directly related to the deceased.)

I digress.

They should've let you take the food home! I would complain.

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I'm really annoyed now. So what do you think they did with all that food? :angry:

*sighs* :sad:

Apologizes on behalf of my people but I think they either threw it out. They probably thought that since you're not Asian (um, never having met you I was taking a wild guess here :laugh:) they figured you may not do leftovers so they just cleared the table. In my personal experience, I've noticed alot of non-Asians who don't believe in leftovers. I got razzed all the time by my friend in college for taking home leftovers. Shoot, I still get razzed!

If they gave it to the staff as staff meal, I wouldn't want to work there. If they repackaged it, I sure as hell wouldn't want to eat there. Ai ya! That's so nasty.

I've never been to a banquet where they don't let you take the food home. My only thing is that they might have made a honest mistake in that since no one said, "Oh, please wrap that up for me to take home." when they cleared the table they assumed you didn't want it.

I'm sorry this happened. If you are truly bothered by this, perhaps talking it over with the manager may help? :unsure:

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Thanks for all the good wishes!

I didn't have a chance to call the restaurant today, but plan on calling tomorrow when the manager I negotiated with is around and asking her for an explanation. Yes, we did tell the waiters people would want to take home stuff later. If they threw out all that good food, they're idiots.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hopefully the conversation will go well. You told the waiters and they STILL did that? Ai ya. I'm so sorry. The only thing I can think of is that they're ignorant, stupid or they were thinking since you were a "lo-fan" (American) you wouldn't want leftovers. I apologize.

If it makes you feel any better, my people treat me badly as well.... :laugh:

Edited by Gastro888 (log)
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I finally got to visit the restaurant this afternoon, and it was hopping around 4:30. I spoke with the manager I negotiated the menu with, and also with the man in the suit and tie who was there at the end of the meal that evening and turns out to be the overall manager of the restaurant. I had thought he was somewhat dismissive and not very apologetic at the time, but both of them were apologetic this time. He said they had made a mistake, his waiters don't speak much English and had misunderstood me, that I have a right to be upset about it, and asked me what I want him to do about it now that it's over and done with. I said if he could see his way clear to giving a free meal for me and a couple of friends, that would be a nice gesture. In the end, I settled for a half of the chicken I had liked so much at the banquet plus a watercress dish. I think that's OK. I had a chance to have my concerns heard, they apologized, and they gave me something in partial compensation. I'm satified and will go back to the restaurant for future meals, but if I ever have a banquet there again, I'll make sure the wait staff are informed in advance in clear terms that they are to keep the leftovers and offer them to members of the party at the end of the meal. I'm sure they weren't overjoyed to give me anything for free, but they know they made a mistake and it's possible that they will take my suggestion to explain to the waiters that they shouldn't assume people don't want to take leftovers home.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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\... the overall manager of the restaurant. I had thought he was somewhat dismissive and not very apologetic at the time, but both of them were apologetic this time. He said they had made a mistake, his waiters don't speak much English and had misunderstood me, ... giving a free meal for me and a couple of friends, that would be a nice gesture. In the end, I settled for a half of the chicken I had liked so much at the banquet plus a watercress dish. ...I'm satified and will go back to the restaurant for future meals, but if I ever have a banquet there again, I'll make sure the wait staff are informed in advance in clear terms that they are to keep the leftovers and offer them to members of the party at the end of the meal.

Thank you for making it easier for all of us who will have a banquet at Sweet and Tart in the future. We always enjoyed a good meal there with groups ranging from 4-16 but we are Fiipinos of Chinese descent so they know not to presume anything.

I would have opted for a free meal with my friends. :wink:

Cirilo

"There is something uncanny in the noiseless rush of the cyclist, as he comes into view, passes by, and disappears."

Popular Science, 1891

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They didn't offer me a free meal with friends. The offer was the takeout, which did serve me for two meals.

I do consider that we had a good banquet, like the food at Sweet 'n Tart, and recommend the establishment, with the caveat that communication can be difficult at times and certain things have to be made very clear in advance.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 1 year later...

According to Florence Fabricant in the New York Times the Chinatown location of Sweet-n-Tart has lost it's lease and closed.

SWEET-N-TART a cafe and restaurant at 20 Mott Street in Chinatown, lost its lease. Its branch at 136-11 38th Avenue in Flushing, Queens, remains open.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

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According to Florence Fabricant in the New York Times the Chinatown location of Sweet-n-Tart has lost it's lease and closed.
SWEET-N-TART a cafe and restaurant at 20 Mott Street in Chinatown, lost its lease. Its branch at 136-11 38th Avenue in Flushing, Queens, remains open.

That totally sucks! That was definitely one of my all time faves!

Edited by jeanki (log)
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I vouch this place....try the Dim Sum there! The Har-Gow (Steamed Shrimp Dumpling) and Smoked Oyster Spring Rolls are awesome! Many diners have overlooked the Dim Sum at this place which is a sin!

Edited by AzianBrewer (log)

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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  • 1 year later...

I don't know if the Sweet and Tart in Flushing is or was related to the Manhattan branch, but it appears to have reopened with a vengeance, according to Gael Greene, who was taken there by Chinese food guru Eddie Schoenfeld:

Sweet and Tart, the sweet little goody-two-shoes snack shop in Flushing has emerged from a midlife crisis with a juice bar, a modest makeover and a stunning new menu.  Beyond the smashing graphics, the impressive stock the menu is printed on, the lyrical exhortations in English, there is the astonishing roll call of new dishes...a myriad of never-before encountered choices.

On her web site, there's a lot more about the food...and it sure sounds good. Anyone been to sample the new menu?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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