Eating Dim Sum breakfast on Christmas has been a long standing tradition for my SF based family. This year, I passed on our holiday gathering but kept the Dim Sum and Chinese Food tradition here in New York.
My plan: meet up with a foodie friend; begin with a small Dim Sum selection, followed by savory bites at a few Chinatown eateries, ending the day with a pastry or two.
20 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10013
(212) 964-5256, Open daily, 9:30 am-10pm, accepts MC and Visa.
Jing Fong is my favorite Dim Sum in New York. They have a great variety of reasonably priced Dim Sum delights. We arrived at 12:45 pm and get word they’re out of Dim Sum. HUH? A popular Dim Sum restaurant shouldn’t run out before most of us are awake. Next…
EXCELLENT PORK CHOP HOUSE
3 Doyers Street, NY, NY 10013 (212) 791-7007 Open daily except Wednesdays, 10:30am – 9pm, CASH ONLY
The Excellent Pork Chop House serves authentic Taiwanese food. They offer a variety of rice, soup and noodles, along with side dishes which include their signature pork chops. Plastic ware and Styrofoam is the serving gear here and if you enjoy pictures, there’s a photo menu book with good descriptions. Most plates average $4, meat or seafood are options. Rice and noodle combos include a pork chop. We ordered Taiwanese Dumplings filled with pork and chicken in spicy oil ($3.75) and seasoned noodles with minced pork and picked cabbage for $4.75. The dumplings were tiny but meaty & flavorful; the spicy oil was mild. The pork/pickled cabbage complimented the noodles, but needed a spice kick. The pork chop was my favorite dish. It was cut up, juicy and pan-fried with just the right amount of Chinese Five Spice. I recommend swinging by the Excellent Pork Chop House and having a solo order of the pork chop for $2.50.
NICE ONE BAKERY
47 Bayard Street, NY, NY 10013
(212) 791-9365, Open daily, 7am-7pm, CASH ONLY
Unlike most Chinatown bakery who sell the same pastries/desserts (sponge cake, custard tarts, hot dog rolls); Nice One Bakery also has some unusual mostly fried looking desserts. The helpful staff with limited English-speaking abilities did their best to describe items. We tried a tennis ball size deep-fried sticky rice ball filled with quail egg, pork and Chinese mushroom. It was only a buck forty, but could cost $8 if it was served in the Village and placed on a shiny white dessert plate. It reminded me of a fried Italian rice ball sans cheese, with the filling of a Chinese sticky rice dish without the tea leaf. It was very creative and the flavors from the mixture of those ingredients were delicious on the first bite. Next we had a giant deep-fried sweet and salty bun with scallions. In all its goodness, the pastry was a doughy mess oozing endless grease, even after trying to soak it up on the paper bag. But for a buck, it was worth feeling your arteries clogging slowly.
The HONG KONG CAKES CART
Bowery south of Bayard. No phone; check it out when it’s there and bring cash.
The sign reads: “15 pieces for a dollar (1 bag) or buy 5 bags get one free”
Each cake is a tiny bite (less than an inch) similar to a canapé but made with (Chinese?) pancake or crepe batter? Who knows, but it would’ve been better with a drop of maple syrup or honey.
MEI LEI WAH
64 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-7866, Open daily, 7am-10:30pm, CASH ONLY
I live for these roast pork buns. The secret’s out; don’t accept any imitations; Mei Lei Wah has the best in Manhattan at a bargain for 85 cents! Similar to brioche, the medium size bun is a tad sweet and filled with a generous portion of bbq pork. It’s delicious to the last bite.
EAST CORNER WONTON
70 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002
(212) 343-9896, Open daily, 8am-9pm, CASH ONLY
East Corner Wonton is a cheap option for wontons or a dumpling fix. Their wonton’s and dumplings are basically the same, but for some reason they’re listed in separate categories, perhaps to confuse or trick the customer into eating more? We ordered the shrimp and pork dumplings in a light broth, sans noodles, for $3.25. Perfect comfort food for a cold day. Some like their meat & rice combos. You can choose from bbq pork, roast duck, roast or soy chicken. We ordered 2 meats; the duck and bbq pork for $4.75. The rice was hard and tasted like it had been cooking for a week; the duck & bbq pork were super fatty. There are better places to get this combo. But for $8, including tax, you don’t break the bank.
JIN MEI DUMPLINGS
25B Henry Street, New York, NY 10002
(212) 608-8962, call for hours, CASH ONLY
En route to our dessert crawl, we stumbled upon a new dumpling joint on Henry Street. Jin Mei Dumpling offers 5 fried pork and chive dumplings for $1. We couldn’t resist. The dumpling skin was on the thicker side, but they were plump, meaty and flavorful. The space was clean; if I was the health department, they’d get an “A.” They sell fresh house made Kim Chee, which I love. A half quart container is only $2. Moving along our bakery crawl…
LUCKY KING BAKERY
280 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
(212) 219-8434, call for hours, CASH ONLY
We tried the Green Mochi balls filled with peanuts and sweet black beans, 4 golf ball sized at $2. They were crispy, chewy and crunchy. If you can get pass the dull lime green and the gooey consistency, it’s a winner!
271 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
(212) 226-8882, call for hours, CASH ONLY
We ordered a large Chinese Spicy Cookie for a buck. Outside was dark and crunchy; inside it appeared to be filled with something resembling mince meat, lard and fat. It was NOT spicy. Why is it called a spicy cookie? I feel cheated.
NEW WING WAH
Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
(212) 941-1924, call for hours, CASH ONLY
New Wing Wah was our final stop. We had what they call Crispy Custard Cake. The yellowish round mini cookie like dessert, was crispy on the outside and didn’t resemble traditional cake. When taking your first bite, you are treated to a delightful burst of creamy custard, filled with a years worth of cholesterol. Delicious, and a perfect way to end Christmas eating, 2010 in New York’s Chinatown.
10 tasty eateries, 6 hours later, I’m feeling fat, but full and satisfied. The grand total for our Chinatown eating excursion was a whopping $14! Remember to bring cash, since most of the real Chinatown eateries don’t take credit cards.