WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Restaurants in the neighborhood of the Touro Hospital complex have always enjoyed a healthy, regular, almost captive clientele. From the doctors to the orderlies, people working in hospitals can’t go far to eat. This has produced a long line of just-okay and outright bad restaurants. August Moon keeps this tradition, particularly in its Chinese cooking, which is utterly ordinary. The day is saved by the Vietnamese food, which–being much simpler to prepare–is much better.
The Vietnamese-influenced stir-fries and noodle dishes are the best bets, better than the pho. The menu is geared to a great degree toward fast service and take-out dinners, of which August Moon cooks legions.
August Moon opened as a Chinese restaurant in 1994, taking over the building formerly occupied by a string of restaurants too unmemorable to detail. By the turn of the century, Vietnamese cooking had become so popular–especially among the younger clientele Uptown–that the menu began to emphasize that cuisine.
The restaurants underwent a welcome renovation a year or two ago, coming out of it more spacious, brighter and more pleasant. The bright colors for which Asian restaurants are known are here, but applied with taste. Large windows add more visual interest.
Fried vegetable rolls.
Fried Saigon rolls.
Crab Rangoons (“ragus”).
Steamed or fried dumplings with pork or shrimp.
Vietnamese spring rolls.
Chinese hot and sour soup.
Vietnamese hot and sour soup.
Pho (Vietnamese beef and noodle soup).
Bun noodles (served cool, topped with grilled pork, beef, chicken, or shrimp)
Hunan chicken, beef, or pork.
Moo shu chicken, beef, or pork.
Chicken, shrimp or pork in Szechuan hot garlic sauce.
Chicken with cashews.
Lemongrass chicken or beef.
Combination egg foo yung.
Half duck with ginger or West Lake sauce.
Sweet and spicy shrimp.
FOR BEST RESULTS
Unless you like the very old style of local Chinese cooking, stay away from the Chinese dishes entirely, unless something seems irresistible to your hunger of the moment. If you want something spicy, be sure to emphasize this. Most dishes that should be spicy aren’t, very.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The house fish is tilapia, which says something about the standards of food buying here.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color
- Good for business meetings
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open after 10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday until 11 p.m.)
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Reservations accepted
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
A major interior renovation turned this into a much more pleasant restaurant. In recent years, the August Moon has transformed itself from a very conventional Chinese establishment into a Vietnamese-Chinese hybrid. The Vietnamese food is very much the better side of the menu–although it isn’t in a league with the food in the best Vietnamese specialists on the West Bank and in New Orleans East.
Indeed, the whole menu is marked by inexpensiveness and simplicity–no doubt as a response to the needs of the staffs of the many nearby medical facilities. Doctors and nurses must often eat on the run, and that’s how the service here runs.
There’s a wheel of fortune at the front door that you may spin to perhaps win a major discount off your check. So far I’ve had no luck–but then, I’ve never collected on a bet on a horse in my life, either.