The best place to sit at Blackbrick is certainly the kitchen bar. From there, you can watch the 63-year-old chef from Hong Kong stir-fry mustard greens in his red-hot wok. The way he works is soothing -- how swiftly he moves and how intently he waits, hands behind his back, while you eat. He hopes for a grin, a murmur, any sign you're enjoying your meal. And when you show him approval, he smiles and little wrinkles form around his black, ebullient eyes.
There is rarely time for chitchat at this Chinese restaurant in midtown. Chefs scrub woks, steam dumplings, fry noodles, and toast Szechuan peppers at an alarming pace. A four-plate dinner can be finished in 45 minutes.
But before you even think to complain, the check arrives. On a recent Friday night, the bill for two amounted to just $42.