By arthur Z. schwartz
Shu Han Ju
465 SIXTH Avenue
The Village has suffered an an astounding loss of Chinese restaurants, both before and after the Pandemic, but one outstanding survivor remains. Shu Han Ju located on the corner of West 11th Street and 6th Avenue (where Ray’s Pizza used to serve the cheesiest slices in NYC), Shu Han Ju opened in 2014, surrounded by some giants in Village Chinese cuisine, Sammy’s Noodles and Charlie Mom. Sammy’s and Charlie Mom are gone. Charlie Mom closed in 2015 and Sammy’s closed right at the outset of the Pandemic–not due to lack of customers, but because of a huge rent increase.
Shu Han Ju serves Sichuan cuisine. Its lengthy menu is not for the indecisive. Braised beef in chili sauce has a spicy kick, lamb with cumin sauce points to the north of China and is very good. For something less meaty, try the sautéed pea shoots with fresh garlic. You can always enjoy nicely cooked egg drop soup, fresh mussels in black bean sauce, shredded duck with spring ginger, or staples like General Tsao chicken, or chow fun, and steamed dumplings—a specialty of this restaurant.
We were met at the door by Simon, who has worked at Shu Han Ju since 2016. He not only walked us through the menu, but when we seemed indecisive he asked what we liked and came up with a creation not on the menu: braised flounder and vegetables in a ginger and garlic sauce and a side of amazing Bok Choi. The cold noodles came spicy (our choice) and the shrimp dumplings were amazing, far better than some of the newer dumpling places which have sprung up on Sixth Avenue. And then there was the price: $71.00 for a dinner of two! It was nice to not see a three figure check at the end of the meal.
Shu Han Ju is open 7 days a week 11:30 am to 9 pm 465 6th Ave (212) 428-8801
New Kids on the Block
43 Eighth AveNUE (between Jane and Horatio)
Italian gelateria with a plethora of artisan and clearly-labeled vegan gelato favors. Includes a number of fruit-based gelatos as well as chocolate gelato.
The origins of the Antica Gelateria Gentile date back to 1880 and to the story of Michele Gentile, descendant of a family of pastry and gelato makers. The immediate popularity he received with his granita led Michele to open a small kiosk in Bari, in the south east of Italy. In that little kiosk, Michele passed on his art to his son Francesco. Their ancestors decided to give the United States a try, starting in NYC.
This is their fourth store. Central Village residents have experienced the joys of this gelato at 75 University Place since last summer. We really needed an ice cream place in the West Village! Open everyday 11:30 am-Midnight.
418 SIXTH Avenue (corner of 9th Street)
This place opened in November 2022. It had a rep as the “Best Bagel in Brooklyn.” It blew me away. It was a taste sensation! Great ambiance if you are sitting. Line was long but moved fast. Plenty of tables. They have about 20 varieties of not heavy bagels (my favorites are egg everything and pumpernickel everything), about 20 varieties of cream cheese including things like jalepeno/bacon, and another 20 fillings (how about apple, cranberry tuna salad) and you can ask them to create bagels with many varieties of eggs mixed with other ingredients. And some pretty good cake selections which stare you in the face as you wait to pick up your order–like chocolate babka. Great coffee. Not too pricey. In my opinion, Best Bagel in the Village!