I tried Tse Yang last week with a friend visiting from out of town. It’s an opulent place that puts a fine-dining gloss on Chinese cuisine usually associated with take-out. It has been around for 20 years, along with a sister restaurant in Paris. All of the menu items are listed in two languages, French and English, an affectation that I suspect is mostly for show.
Most of the online reviews emphasize that this place caters to expense accounts and well-heeled plutocrats. Soups and appetizers range from $6.50–28.00 (most over $15), entrées $19.50–55.00 (most over $25), vegetables, rice and noodles $12.00–19.50. It’s a little odd to see items listed at $0.25 and $0.75 increments, at a place where the average check size is probably over $75 per head.
There’s a serious wine list (which we did not sample), and service is a big step up from the average Chinese restaurant. We ordered entrées to share, which were plated tableside. The servers are efficient, but they seemed bored—as you would expect at a place with laminated menus that probably haven’t changed in decades, except to raise prices.
We ordered quite modestly: a spring roll (left) plus shared orders of “Your Favorite Tse Yang Chicken” and “Lemon Sweet–Sour Pork” (right). There was nothing revelatory about either dish, but the flavor balances and freshness were well above what you’d get at take-out—as they ought to be.
The final bill was $36 per person before tip. You can probably get food just as good or better in Chinatown for a much lower price, but the refined atmosphere at Tse Yang fits the bill for a quiet, relaxed meal.
Tse Yang (34 E. 51st Street between Park & Madison Avenues, East Midtown)