There have been several Asian/ramen spots opening in our neighborhood lately so I was unimpressed when I saw the signage go up for Little Alley across the street. In fact, we put off trying the new spot for a while just because we figured…why bother. Now, I’m bummed we waited. Our first meal at Little Alley was a great one, and we’ll be sure to go back.
Little Alley doesn’t shy away from true Shanghainese food. They’re not omitting eel or salted duck egg from the menu just because it’s not typical of the Murray Hill restaurant scene. The flavors are strong and good…maybe not quite as on point as some of the hole in the wall places, but in this instance you not only get good quality, you get it in a cute environment.
There is greenery on the walls and a seemingly out of place antique phone booth. Strange at first, but then you realize it evokes the vibe of those dark Shanghai alleyways for which it is named. Not that I’ve ever been to Shanghai…but seems like I’d like it.
We started with two appetizers: marinated cucumbers and a roll of mushrooms and bean curd in a tofu skin wrapper. The flavor of the cucumbers was good, though I wish the cukes were a bit crispier. I enjoyed the roll thingy, but recognize that the texture is not for everyone.
Next up we got soup dumplings because we’re big soup dumpling fans. We went with the crab because the waiter suggested it was the best, and we definitely enjoyed it. It’s not as instagrammable as the emperor dumpling (the single giant soup dumpling that comes with a straw), but I think the proportions might be better. Of course, we’ll go back to try the giant one because, research.
For our main course we went with the black pepper beef (everyone seemed to be ordering the Mongolian beef, but I think this is more their specialty so go on, be rebels) along with pork fried rice (delicious, fluffy, and actually reheated quite well), and the Shanghai thick noodle (packed with shrimp, shredded pork, shiitakes, and bok choy,). I enjoyed all of it, but I particularly liked the thick noodles. I thought they had tons of flavor and great texture. Apologies – when we realized we could see our cozy apartment from the table, we decided to take the entrees to go and finish the meal on the couch, in our pjs, hence this photo of the main course in take-out containers.
Overall, it was a great meal, but I definitely want to work our way through the menu. We were hearing some raves about the meatball so we’ll be going back to try that monster.