First Impressions: Northern Tiger

Northern Eats mushroom dumplingsWhen I’m reviewing a restaurant, I’m prone to ordering too much food. And I’m also prone to ordering food I wouldn’t normally eat, because I convince myself that I should try the dishes that readers would most want. That’s how I justified a huge lunch at Northern Tiger, including two orders of fried dumplings, when the rational choice would’ve been to get at least one of them steamed.

Northern Tiger is the final restaurant to open at Hudson Eats in Brookfield Place. According to the website, it specializes in the cuisine of northern China, but I don’t know enough about northern Chinese food—Chinese food at all—to say whether that’s so. The owners come from Yunnan Kitchen, the respected restaurant on the Lower East Side dedicated to food from China’s southwest corner.

I thought the dumplings were tasty, if a bit chewy, but perhaps that’s how dumplings get when they’re fried? (I rarely eat Chinese food and I never get fried dumplings.) I had ordered the mushroom-cabbage-pumpkin and duck-leek dumplings, but instead of duck I was served the pork-chive ones. So my decadent lunch was already heading toward extra-decadent when I unwrapped the shao bing. It’s a sandwich, but instead of bread, the chopped beef filling is wedged inside a thin, crispy fried envelope that’s kind of like a fried tortilla. (I had asked the staffer what was special and awesome.) I preferred the dumplings; despite the Anaheim chiles and copious cilantro, the sandwich wasn’t especially robust.

You would think that amid this festival of fried food the salad of cucumbers, tofu, and peanuts would be a relief, and it was, but it was also a bit meek. Or maybe my palate was shot at that point. I plan on going back and ordering around the menu—to Northern Tiger’s immense credit, it’s not serving the same old Chinese-American food. And there are several noodle dishes that would be healthier than what I ordered.

The restaurant also gets points for the open kitchen, the chopsticks that you don’t have to snap apart to use, and the free water. Let’s hope the industrial-style paper towels offered as napkins are a placeholder till better napkins arrive. Those of us who order greasy lunches at Hudson Eats but don’t work in the building have to rinse our faces in the restroom, which only has hand dryers. You try sticking your face in one of those Dyson things.

Northern Tiger is at Hudson Eats in Brookfield Place, 225 Liberty St., 212-786-0316;

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  1. And all of their dishes are overpriced… especially the dumplings.

  2. Haha! Best last sentence of any restaurant review I’ve ever read. I took the baby for a stroll down to Hudson Eats last week for the heck of it. Hadn’t been there in a while. I definitely took notice of the mini-crowd around this place compared to unimpressive queues at the other places. Now I see why. Not because the food is so amazing, but because cray-cray NYC people love nothing more than a hip new spot – even if it’s in a food hall. Thanks!

  3. Hudson Eats is so cheaply done, they can’t even afford the real Dysons.

  4. Tried it their opening day – interesting food, good dumplings. But waaaaay overpriced (especially their dumplings), and food is not good enough to merit it. I won’t be going to Northern Tiger until they lower their price.

  5. Has anyone noticed the overly loud music that now plays in Hudson Eats? I’m not 85 years old, but the volume mars the peacefulness of the amazing views.

  6. Why does everyone think Chinese food is overpriced when it’s remotely decent (higher quality ingredients, clean frying oil, etc.)? It’s comparable to saying high-end sushi at a place like Ichimura is overpriced because you can go to Whole Foods for tuna nigiri. Wait til these people step foot outside our nearby Chinatown (where the local immigrant class is from Fujian) and go broke dining someplace like Spring Moon at Peninsula Hong Kong.

    The Shao Bing is great. Dumplings are ok. Cucumber salad is meh. It’s certainly top of the Tribeca Chinese food options and higher quality versus most Chinatown places.

    Hudson Eats splurged on the poured terrazzo floors and the slab marble so they had to cheap out on the bathrooms.