New York City’s iconic Waldorf Astoria made headlines in 2014 when it was sold for nearly $2 billion to a Chinese insurance firm. Since then, it’s been business as usual at the hotel, which continues to look and feel like the grande dame of Manhattan’s Park Avenue. But amidst all the crystal and marble, you’ll find a new dining space that offers a nod to the new ownership — and a sumptuous experience for a new generation of travelers.
La Chine, which replaced Oscar’s Brasserie late in 2015, serves haute Chinese cuisine with a French twist. Think kumquat-glazed short ribs, house-made carrot tofu, and fried jasmine rice with pickled olive leaves and turnip. The star attraction, naturally, is the peking duck — served half or whole — with crispy, perfectly caramelized skin.
Our favorite thing about La Chine is the dining space itself. With velvet banquettes and sumptuous textured wall coverings, the spacious room manages to feel intimate and avoids the earsplitting, high-volume chatter that’s come to typify many a New York City restaurant. For a romantic dinner, see if you can snag one of the charming, lattice-enclosed seats along the sides, and for a truly special business or family gathering, book the private room in the back. The latter is enclosed with bamboo-painted screens and has a perfect waiting room just outside where drinks or cocktails can be served.
You don’t have to be a guest at the Waldorf to enjoy La Chine. For a quick visit, simply grab one of the high-back chairs at the black lacquer-look bar and order a Lotus (green tea sochu, tequila, and hibiscus), or a Dream (sake, lemongrass, honeydew). Cocktails cost $16 to $18, while dinner averages about $15-$20 for appetizers or $25-$35 for entrees.