Since I was (naturally) put on the spot to pick a restaurant, I chose Mandarin Court (on Mott Street, a bit north of Wo Hop and south of Canal), which I've -mostly- done for dim sum, but which I know some in our circle (possibly even me) have done for dinner and never complained about. The first dish we settled on was Peking Duck -- which it developed, none of my fellow dinners except Mary Alice had tried, and which is one of my favorite dishes (even if it's served differently at different places). To round out the meal (keeping in mind that the duck was priced as two dishes and advertised as a two course dish, so we figured it could serve as two), we got Lotus & Veggies, and to accommodate both my fetish for spicy and grinnellian2001's desires to have something safe on the table, a quong bao (eg, kung pao, as I'm used to seeing it) chicken.
The duck was ordered and arrived first--and was -totally- worthwhile. The first course consisted of the traditional sandwich buns, hoisin sauce, scallions, and the skin of the ducks with the drumsticks, and was delivered with all due ceremony (not quite the same as what we got at the Peking Duck House, up the street, but different and cool). The duck meat, delivered with the rest of the meal, was worked into a delicious dish, with a nice savory but not significantly spicy sauce.
The other two dishes also worked well -- the veggies were a really tasty mix, with a lot of mushrooms, along with the lotus roots and snow peas, and the sauce had a slice spice edge to it. And the kung bao (which, to be fair, is one of my favorite "simple" dishes) was perfectly spiced--enough bite and pieces of hot pepper to keep me interested, but not so much as to be a problem for those of us with a lower (but not nonexistent, of course) taste for heat.
The dinner a success, we headed for the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, right off of Mott--an establishment so old that my first memory of them is discovering that I was (not permanently, fortunately) allergic to mangoes there at the age of, perhaps, 8 (if so, that would be 1980), and only later rediscovered them a few years ago as what they are now (at least, I don't -think- they had quite the variety of flavors they have now then, though they always had some oddball ones)--an excellent boutique ice cream parlor that makes their own, albeit with a regrettable lack of chairs, nestled in the heart of Chinatown. I can't speak of what anyone else got, (though they were out of pumpkin pie, I tasted the zen butter, which is butter with a taste of coconut, and I'm sure that grinnellian2001 got the lichee and some other flavor (they do split their smalls, as all right-thinking boutique ice cream places do)) but I decided I didn't need to be adventurous this time and got the mocha chip and the green tea, which made a lovely combination.
The only issue, of course, was the "standing outside eating ice cream" factor (oh, -that's- why the haagen daaz nearby gets any business!)--I've got to get a better idea of where one can get a seat near the CICF (even if it's outdoors).