China Blue In Tribeca | Tasting Table NYC

Shanghai-style winter soup and dim sum at China Blue

Winter melon and ham soup ($10) is the kind of simple dish a family might share at the start of a meal in China, a clear and light chicken broth heightened with a sprinkle of MSG. At China Blue, the knife work is particularly sharp: Full, pale moons of winter melon, very thin slices of salty Jinhua ham and a few wands of bamboo.

You can find similar dishes at other Chinese restaurants in town–thin-skinned soup dumplings ($10) with black vinegar; hot, pan-fried pork buns ($10)–but nowhere else does the hostess float by with a fur over her shoulders as Astrud Gilberto's creamy voice fills the dining room with the feel of an old hotel lobby. If you want that, you'll have to go to China Blue.

The new restaurant in the old Capsouto Frères space is the second from Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang, a husband-and-wife duo who left careers in banking two years ago to open the Sichuan restaurant Café China in Murray Hill. This time they've focused on the quieter, gentler flavors of Shanghai, along with a small menu of dim sum made in house.

Red bean puffs are $12, worth the price tag of a plated dessert when you consider the amount of work it takes to present the delicate pastries with so many even, distinct layers wrapped around a sweet red-bean core.

The cocktails are cheekily named after Chinese films like Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, and though the Paper Moon ($12) is much too syrupy to enjoy with your food, the amber coupe of cognac and sherry is a lovely thing to sip after dinner, as you linger in this massive, quiet room, delaying the walk home over Tribeca's ice-glazed cobblestones.

Crab and pork soup dumplings.

The dining room at China Blue; a server presents steamed soup dumplings.

All the cocktails are named after Chinese movies.

Hot pork buns; owners Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang enjoy a cup of tea.

Red bean puffs; ham and winter melon soup.