Upscale Dim Sum Spot Coming to Former Mad River Bar Location

Shun Lee Cafe to bring its extensive menu of dim sum to the Upper East Side
Shun Lee Cafe to bring its extensive menu of dim sum to the Upper East Side | @TheBendyBite

MANHATTAN – A pioneer in the fine dining scene for Chinese cuisine in New York City, the Shun Lee chain of restaurants is expanding to the Upper East Side, bringing a second, more-casual dim sum spot, Shun Lee Cafe, to the vacant storefront left empty when Mad River Bar and Grill closed permanently a year and a half ago.

Brand new signage for the Shun Lee Cafe went up outside the former bar space on Third Avenue just south of East 82nd Street on Wednesday.

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Construction workers were busy installing new windows on the storefront when Upper East Site visited the location on Thursday, and the new cafe appears to be a long way from completion at this point.

Shun Lee Cafe under construction on Third Avenue | Upper East Site
Shun Lee Cafe under construction on Third Avenue | Upper East Site

Here’s what to expect when it’s done: a relaxed, fun dining experience nibbling on its extensive menu of dim sum— small sharable plates of snacks like a dozen types of steamed dumplings, shumai, pork buns, fried spring rolls, pancakes and even a selection of sweets to finish your meal. 

Shun Lee Cafe's sign went up on Wednesday | Upper East Site
Shun Lee Cafe’s sign went up on Wednesday | Upper East Site

The weekend specials include chicken feet in oyster sauce, baby spare ribs with black beans and hot peppers and fresh bean curd skin rolls.

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If the pricing remains the same as it’s sister cafe on the Upper West Side, each and every dish will set you back eight dollars per order— but customers warn it can add up very fast. 

Shun Lee Cafe located on the Upper West Side | Upper East Site
Shun Lee Cafe located on the Upper West Side | Upper East Site

While the Shun Lee Cafe is a little more casual than its fine dining siblings, the original Shun Lee Palace— founded in 1971 on East 55th Street in Midtown— and Shun Lee West (which sits next door to the cafe) on the UWS, it is still an upscale experience with white tablecloths and attentive service from the staff. 

Shun Lee West located on West 65th Street on the UWS | Upper East Site
Shun Lee West located on West 65th Street on the UWS | Upper East Site

Upper East Site reached out to Shun Lee restaurants for more details on the new restaurant, we’re waiting to hear back.

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