There Goes the Neighborhood Chinese Place

You could see New City from our bedroom window, as in this February 2010 photo.

You could see New City from our bedroom window, as in this February 2010 photo.

As if I weren’t sad enough these days, I learned that New City Kitchen Express, on Vernon Boulevard, will likely close within the next two weeks after seven years serving the neighborhood. Every New York City neighborhood needs a “cheap Chinese” place, and that’s what New City was for our corner of Long Island City.

LIC Post reports:

The restaurant’s lease expired and the business owners did not want to pay the much higher rent. The landlord is seeking $10,500 a month in rent as well as $3,300 per month to cover the real estate taxes.

This is sad because I’ve come to recognize the family that runs the shop and even watched the son and daughter, who work the register, cook the food, and make the occasional delivery, grow up over the years. I remember how they were temporarily forced outside of their space when the upper floors of the building caught fire. But the store closing is even more sad to me because this was where Sarah and I had one of our first meals in Long Island City.

Our first meal in the neighborhood was at Manducati’s, as were looking to take shelter on a bitterly cold night after looking at an apartment. We also ate at Dominie’s Hoek after John Casella at Crest Haven Realty showed us two apartments, one of which we took. After signing the lease, we dined in at Tuk Tuk to power us as we prepared the apartment for our move-in a few weeks later.

We were lucky enough to be allowed to move in early to do things that are much easier to do when you’re not surrounded by boxes containing all your worldly possessions, such as line kitchen shelves and to paint the walls. Each night, Sarah and I would do some work and then head to either my place or hers for the night. It was on one of those preparation nights, a Friday if memory serves, that Sarah and I got hungry and sought some quick food options. I hadn’t brought my computer, and this was before we had smartphones, so we couldn’t look up a place and its menu on the Internet. However, from our bedroom window, which faces Vernon Boulevard, we could see the New City’s sign from our window and copied down the phone number.1 We phoned in a take-out order but since we didn’t have a menu, we just ordered whatever you expect to find at every Chinese take-out place in New York: General Tso tofu for Sarah, the chicken version for me, and peanut noodles for the both of us.

One thing I did not know about New City was that it had recently opened when we moved in. It seemed like they were there forever.

  1. It’s also possible that I used Google’s SMS search. Back then you could send a text with a business name and the zip code, such as New City 11101 to GOOGL and you’d get a response with an address and phone number. Crazy, huh? 

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