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Jun 2, 2010 09:37 AM

Looking for RGR-type LES "Tour" with Asian Emphasis

RGR - if you saw my post requesting you to post a link to your tour, never mind. I found it. It looks great. But I'm looking for something a little different. I'll be in the city with my daughter the first or second week of August. She's been all over the UES and midtown but I've never really taken her down to the "old neighborhood". Also, we live near a very good deli owned by a guy from NJ and she's just not loving it so I doubt I would take her to Katz (which is actually the name of the deli we live near in Charlotte NC).

What she does love is Asian food, specifically Vietnamese and Korean. I definitely want to take her to the Tenement Museum. Can anyone recommend some good Asian spots nearby or within a comfortable walking distance? I know the best ones are in Bkln and Queens and I'm willing to go there but just wondering if anyone has a "tour" similar to RGR's with emphasis on Asian food? TIA

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  1. Baohaus on Rivington might be of your interest. LES isn't exactly a hot spot for Asian food, especially Korean or Vietnamese. You have to go to Midtown to get even decent Korean, unfortunately (there is a spot on St. Mark's where you can get Korean fried chicken, a couple Asian dessert places also.) You can walk easily to Chinatown though. There are many other threads about Chinatown with lots of recommendations.

    137 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

    4 Replies
    1. re: uwsister

      Song 7.2 on 2nd Ave and 7th (not far from Rhong-Tiam) has some good korean dishes that some of the nicer restaurants don't serve. try their Kim-Maree, glass noodle wrapped in seaweed and then fried. this goes perfectly with duk bok gee...if you go, try dipping the kim-maree in the duk bok gee sauce.

      there's also Nicky's on Ave. A & 2nd. they're within walking distance of Song 7.2 & Rhong-Tiam, none of which are too far from Chinatown.

      87 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

      Song 7.2
      117 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: coasts

        Wow, so it's like a boonsik place, huh? I've never seen it! I definitely will keep it in mind for when I'm in the area. Good boonsik is something that I definitely miss though there are a couple places in Flushing.

        1. re: uwsister

          i don't know that word - boonsik, so i couldn't say for sure. Song 7.2 is equal parts soju bar and restaurant, although you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone without both food and drink. no BBQ, but they do have a full menu of casseroles and snack dishes (pajun, dukbokgee type stuff).

          Song 7.2
          117 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: uwsister

            yes, you're's a boonsik place, kind of. had to wait for my girlfriend to get home. she speaks Korean. i only know a few words...beh go pah - i say that one a lot!

      2. An Choi is good Vietnamese. Fresh ingredients thoughtfully prepared. It's on Orchard St.

        An Choi
        85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

        1 Reply
        1. re: thousandrobots

          An Choi is very Americanized, and IMHO overpriced. Also, the menu is pretty limited compared to the good Vietnamese places all over Chinatown, all within easy walk of the Tenement Museum. An Choi might be the closest, but it's not terribly interesting.

          Also, in reply to OP: I wouldn't say that BK & Queens have the "best" anything by any stretch. People on the boards here tend to promote Flushing a lot because they feel like they're "in the know" or more serious eaters, since they travel further for the food. Also, people tend to push for their home borough a lot. Bu there's good stuff in Manhattan, BK, Queens... every borough. It's just a question of finding it, seperating the wheat form the chaff, wherever you happen to be.

          For Vietnamese, I recently had a really good meal at Xe Lua - surprising since I've never been terribly impressed with them in the past. I think they might have gotten a new chef, but I don't know. Their Pho is only fair-to-middlin', but some of the Chef's Specials were really good. A shrimp & grapefruit salad to start was bright and refreshing, and they've got a few different whole snapper preperations that were pretty solid, and would easily serve two as an entree, with perhaps an extra side dish. The seafood was all very fresh.

          For something a little different, grab some spicy noodles or a pork burger from Xi'an Famous Foods, which is one of the only places to do Western Chinese cuisine. Cheap, delicious.

          For a bowl of Pho, there are a few good places - my personal favorite is Cong Ly on Hester, though Pho Grand and Nam Son are both good options as well. Or in lieu of Pho, there are a few Fujian hand-pulled noodle places now - Super Taste and Sheng Wang (both on Eldridge) are the better known of the two, and both good.

          If you're feeling a big, Cantonese style dinner there are a few great spots - Oriental Garden, Fuleen's, and Ping's are all well worth a visit. I especially like OG, as far as fresh fish goes. You enter past a refrigerator full of wriggling razor clams, live shrimp, and all kinds of critters that will wind up on your plate later. Their sauces are a step above most places - none of that gloopy corn starch muck here. Something like "clams in black bean sauce" will be above and beyond any clams in balck bean sauce you've had anywhere else. It's like moving up from steak at Applebee's to a beautiful dry-aged slab of beef at Luger's or Keen's.

          Nyona, which someone mentioned below, I'll second for Malaysian. I also like Skyway on Allen.

          For Korean, yeah - midtown. Wander down 32nd St between 5th and Broadway.

          Cong Ly
          124 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

          11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

          Super Taste
          26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

          Xe Lua
          86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

          Nam Son
          245 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

          Oriental Garden
          14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

          22 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

          Pho Grand
          277 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

          An Choi
          85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

          Skyway Malaysian Restaurant
          11 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

        2. You can easily walk to the northern part of Chinatown from there and sample various small dishes walking place to place. Here is a sample Itinerary I have done in the past for people not familiar with Chinatown or these particular dishes.

          Start at Bahn Mi So One (369 Broome) Order the #1 which is the house specialty. If you like it spicy ask for fresh peppers. You can split one and each have a Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk or some sugar cane juice(a nice treat on a hot day)

          Next walk south on Mott to Joe's Ginger (113 Mott). Head in and get an order of the pork and crab soup dumplings. If you have never had them before you are in for a real treat. Basically it is a dumpling with soup inside and some meat. It is steaming hot so ask the waitress how to eat it if you never had it before. Joe's is the first soup dumpling experience for many and has many a convert.

          Still hungry? I would say there are two good options for small bites. Walk back north on Mott and make a left on Grand St. Head in to Nyonya which is Mayalsian/Chinese. Get an order of Roti Canai, which is freshly made flatbread with a chicken and potato curry sauce. It is a typical Malaysian dish and very good here. You could also split another appetizer.

          The other option if you are looking for more dumplings would be to head down to Tasty Dumpling at 54 Mulberry Street. Get an order of pork and chive dumplings and a sesame pancake with beef.

          This is just a sample, you can obviously wander around, walk into bakeries, restaurants etc... and get more. For two people this would be enough small dishes to make a meal. No Korean food down this way but a good sampling of Chinese. If you are interested in full meals search the board for the Chinatown hits thread.

          199 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

          Tasty Dumpling
          54 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

          Joe's Ginger
          25 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

          1. Hi southernitalian and welcome to the Big Apple! You did not mention how old your daughter is and how much she can eat!

            Not to worry, here’s a custom designed tour for you both starting at the Tenement Museum, right after your visit/tour. I am sure you know that the Tenement Museum is a national treasure, that tours must be booked well ahead of time as the tenements are tiny. You can even do your booking online:

            Look there for Jane Ziegelman’s new book called “97 Orchard Street” – an edible history. Did you know that one pickle could nourish a young Jewish boy all day long 100 years ago? Or that some immigrants kept goats in their apartments?

            Now for your culinary walking tour! Bring shoulder bags or backpacks with plenty of room. You should also have bottled water, lots of napkins, chopsticks and/or plastic forks, comfortable walking shoes and an umbrella because hey, you never know.

            Upon leaving the Tenement Museum, turn left and walk 3 blocks south to Hester St. Turn right and walk 2 blocks west to Eldridge Street. Turn left, heading south to:

            1.) PROSPERITY DUMPLINGS @ 46 Eldridge Street - Between Hester & Canal.
            Get the pan-fried dumplings at 5 for $1.00 and a Sesame Pancake. Small place, you likely may have to eat outside.

            Now walk two blocks south to East Broadway and turn right. Walk one long block to East Broadway and a funny intersection where it meets Bowery and Catherine St. (Bowery by the way is from the old Dutch “Bouwerij” which meant farm.”) Look for:

            2.) FOOD SING 88 CORP. @ 2 East Broadway.
            Sit down and tell the waitress you and your daughter are going to split one bowl of Hand-Pulled Beef Noodle Soup. If you get a funny look just say: you’ve already eaten, you know the place is famous and wanted to try it before you went home. If you get two bowls of the stuff your tour might end now! Be sure to ask for the pickled vegetables (泡菜 – pao4 cai4) to add to your soup. Slurp away.

            Now this is a bit tricky cause you can exit Food Sing 88 onto East Broadway or onto Chatham Square almost. Head to Bowery and walk north to Bayard Street – 2-3 blocks perhaps. Turn left at Bayard and this means crossing Bowery heading west. (Bayard is named for our 16th Mayor and brother-in-law of Peter Stuyvesant.) Proceed to:

            3.) MEI LI WAH @ 64 or 66 Bayard Street - Between Elizabeth and Mott Street.
            Hard to say as there is no number displayed. Depending on the time of day it could be packed. Walk in and if there is a table free fine. If not get a Cantonese BBQ Baked Pork Bun and a Coconut Bun with two Cantonese Style Milk Teas from the counter. If it is crowded you might get bumped around a bit but just bump right back. Savor one of the oldest coffee/teahouses in Manhattan’s Chinatown – once owned by two bachelor brothers from Toisan who held court, poured tea, forwarded mail and helped keep the Chinatown community together in the face of very trying times.

            Upon leaving MLW, just cross the street and kiddie-corner (or caddy-corner) will be the:

            4.) OLD SICHUAN - Between Elizabeth and Mott Street.
            Right next door to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Try an order of their Juicy Pork Buns
            生煎包 (Sheng1 Jian1 Bao1). Not too shabby.

            5.) CHINATOWN ICE CREAM FACTORY @ 65 Bayard.
            Between Elizabeth and Mott Street.
            Now I know this is the middle of the tour and it is far too early for desert but you cannot pass up a little bit of quality, premium (15% butterfat) ice cream. Look for Christina or Katherine, daughters of the owner. Pick something exotic not found in Charlotte perhaps, like Green Tea, Ginger, Pandan, Wasabi or Zen Butter!

            Continue walking east on Bayard, crossing Mott until you arrive at:

            6.) NEW BEEF KING @ 89 Bayard St. Between Mott & Mulberry.
            Look for Robert or his wife Annie. Buy a quarter pound (or more) of one or more of the many varieties: dry beef, wet spicy beef, fruit flavored beef, oyster flavored beef, spicy curry beef chunks, wet spicy pork, dry pork etc. You get the picture. No free samples! It is not cheap at $13 to $17 per pound. Three pound of fresh meat turns into one pound of dry jerky.

            Now walk back east to Mott Street and turn left. About half way through the block look on your left for:

            7.) BIG WONG KING @ 66 Mott Street - Between Bayard and Canal.
            Get a half-pound of their Cantonese style Roast BBQ Pork and pig-out on the street. Give a $3-$5 tip and maybe Albert gives you some free tea or something else.

            Now walk north along Mott, about a half block, crossing Canal.
            Proceed to:

            8.) SHANGHAI CAFÉ @ 100 Mott Street - Between Canal & Hester.
            Look for Ms. Gu from Taiwan. She usually is at the till. Tell her an old friend sent you. Order the soup dumplings – pork or crab & pork. I usually just get the pork cause I can never taste the crab. While you are waiting tell Ms. Gu you have always wanted to visit Taipei and their National Palace Museum in Yangmingshan (陽明山) where 95% of China’s cultural treasures are stored. Eat these on the street (8 per order) and make sure they are cooled a bit or you will scald your tongues!

            Cross the street and proceed to

            9.) New Chao Chow @ 111 Mott Street - Between Canal and Hester.
            Get a bowl of won ton soup to go. Or if your feet are tired, stop in for more. But remember there is one more stop!

            Walk about ¾ of a block north to Hester, turn right and proceed about 1 block to Elizabeth. Turn left on Elizabeth and proceed to the:

            10.) DELUXE FOOD MARKET @ 79 Elizabeth Street - Between Hester and Grand.
            Now you are on your own! Hot cooked items, bakery items plus much more.

            Be sure to tip well! About 20% of the Chinese in Chinatown live in poverty as wages are well below the New York regional average. Many speak only one language (Fujianese, Mandarin or Cantonese) and have only a high school education.

            For further background information on the Chinese experience in the U.S.:

            Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
            65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

            Chatham Square Restaurant
            6 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

            New Chiu Chow
            111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

            Green Tea Cafe
            45 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

            Food Sing 88
            2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

            25 Replies
            1. re: scoopG

              Thank you SO much ScoopG! That is exactly what I was looking for. The Big Apple is home but thanks for the welcome. I never knew (but have often wondered) where the word Bowery came from. Thank you for that. I will definitely have this in hand when we go.

              1. re: southernitalian

                You're welcome! Let us know how it goes...

                1. re: scoopG

                  I'm bookmarking this Sino-porky odyssey myself. Cheers!

              2. re: scoopG

                You can add Bo Zai Fan at A-Wah and Lamb Burgers and Xian famous foods (lamb noodles are even better but they are hard to eat and walk) and Don't forget coconut buns at Mei Lei Wah.

                5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Fully agree about most of the suggestions already received. But even though I own three T-shirts with cute dragons eating ice cream and love the Famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, I never go to the LES without a stop at Il Laboratorio right next door to the Tenement Museum - uglier shirts but the best gelato.

                  1. re: seal

                    darn skippy. Last time I visited they had Olive Oil Gelaltto. That may have been the best I ever had...Doughnut plant is also a great option...

                  1. re: scoopG

                    ScoopG, it's been a bazillion years since I've been to NYC Chinatown, but if it's still there, and southernitalian's daughter is up for sweets, Kwang Wah bakery, right behind the Canal & Center St. subway entrance, was my absolute favorite for everyday filled bean cakes (as opposed to fancy moon cakes) & "pie." Nobody made fragile, shattering piecrust like the outside of these things. I think it was due to the very liberal use of lard. They had a black bean, date and walnut filled cake that nobody else made, with a very strong bacon-y undertone, plus, if you like such things, a yellow bean one with preserved egg. Also the lotus seed and red bean ones you can pretty much find anywhere. The "pie slices," super-sweet but addictive, were a high ratio of sweet black or red bean filling to crust.

                    I think the last time I was there they had gussied up the formerly nondescript storefront into one of those shiny cafe places with bubble tea and garishly frosted fluffy cake. I think there was also a branch on Broome St. Damn I miss that place.

                    I have searched Boston Chinatown in vain for baked goods of similar quality. No luck.

                    1. re: the_MU

                      Don't you mean Canal and Lafayette? I will try to take a look next time I am there to see if it is still there!

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Can't remember -- must've been at least 8 years since I've been there. I moved out of NYC in 1999, have been back for a few visits since, but my brother lives in Queens now, so we don't get downtown much (mostly don't need to for the food, though none of the bakeries I've been to in Flushing hold a candle to Kwang Wah in my memory :) )

                        Think it was behind the N/R entrance, but it could've been the A/C which had a stop on Center, I think...don't know if the subways go to the same spots anymore.

                        1. re: the_MU

                          N&R trains come into Canal & Broadway. The A/C stops at Chambers & Church, then heads west and stops at Canal & The Avenue of the Americas....

                          1. re: scoopG

                            Just did a closeup on Google maps to check the subway stations... It was def. the SW (the NJ side, not the Brooklyn side :) ) corner of Canal at Centre St., where it says there's a J/M/Z train. I remember the door being directly past the subway stairs. Didn't the B/D/F used to stop there?

                            My, it's been a long time. I should try to get down there again, soon.

                      2. re: the_MU

                        Ah another fan for bean "pies"! These are one of my favorite chinese bakery items, but nobody ever talks about them. I've been doing an impromptu survey of China town bean pies but haven't found a clear winner yet. i regularly frequent Hon Cafe for their pineapple pies, though, because they seem to be the only bakery in Chinatown that makes them. Skip their bean pies; they're too greasy.

                      3. re: scoopG

                        Good list, though I'll put my 2 cents in and say I prefer Vanessa's Dumpling House to Prosperity, where I find the dumplings a bit on the oily / greasy side. Also, Vanessa's sesame pancakes are, I think, far superior - they're like a Chinese focaccia. Get one "stuffed" with beef or Peking Duck and an order of dumplings, and go eat it in the park while you watch hipsters play bike polo. And then make your way west on Broome for yet more food... maybe a stop at Saigon Banh Mi? Haven't been there in awhile, don't know how the quality's been lately, but they're usually pretty solid.

                        That said, I'm a Sau Voi Corp man as far as BMs go, because it's much more fun to get one's Banh Mi from a counter in a Vietnamese CD / DVD / underwear shop than from an actual restaurant. And you can eat them in Columbus Park while you watch local Chinese musicians play. But that's a little far from where they're starting. Not a long walk by New Yorker standards, but maybe a little far for a visitor who's already eaten two or three other things that day.

                        Saigon Banh Mi 1
                        369 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                        Vanessa's Dumpling House
                        118 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                        Sau Voi
                        101 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013

                        1. re: sgordon

                          "Also, Vanessa's sesame pancakes are, I think, far superior - they're like a Chinese focaccia."

                          Couldn't agree more. The vegetable one is addictive in it's own right.

                        2. re: scoopG

                          With the family out of town yesterday, I decided a culinary adventure was in order and got halfway thru Scoop's Chinatown NYC tour yesterday afternoon...Beautiful day for an incredible experience. The buns, dumplings and soup were uniformly excellent, with the Cantonese Pork Buns at Mei Li Wah the best overall dish. I am definitely going back to Old Sichuan on Bayard for a complete meal very soon. One recommendation - do not do it alone...too many great things to taste and not enough will power to leave any on the plate/box/bag. Thanks, Scoop.

                          Old Sichuan
                          65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                          Mei Li Wah
                          64 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                          1. re: scoopG

                            What a great list, and a great thread in general, including the history and context, and sgordon's remarks about Flushing.

                            The only thing I would add is that Korean in the 30s is not that far to go for anyone who loves Korean food. A little harder to do a crawl perhaps, since most Korean restaurants near Herald Square are sit down.

                            1. re: scoopG

                              Finally planning to try this out Thursday morning. Any new updates/anything out of date other than the additional suggestions below?

                              1. re: lucyj

                                Wow, old posts are amusing, sometimes drive me crazy. Song on 2nd Ave, I am pretty sure has closed. The one in Brooklyn is still around, but not very good. On LES, there is Kuma Inn, a n Asian mix, in a cool location upstairs on Ludlow St. Some Vietnamese, some Thai, some Chinese, some Filipino dishes. The name is Filipino, the chefs are I believe Hispanic and Filipino. The waitstaff , last I was there , were Chinese, Japanese, English. There's a Noodle place , i believe it is called the Noodle Shop and it is right next to the Meatball Shoppe, It's not amazing, but it is Asian and not bad. Congee Village isn't far for some Chinese dishes.There is a Thai place on Ludlow but I never tried it. Then if you go North to the East Village, you have Nicky's Vietnamese, Minca Ramen, Kyo Ya kaiseki, Maharlik Filipino, Jewel Bako sushi, soba Koh , Soba Ya, Robataya japanese grill, Gyu kaku japanese bbq, Taisho on St Marks, yakitori and more. Kanoyama sushi omakase, and oyster bar, Cha An tea house, Yokocho late night yakitori, St. Alp Chinese Tea House, Nam Peng Cambodian sandwich shop. That's my additions

                                1. re: lucyj

                                  #9 - New Chao Chao is gone but you should be able to make some ad hoc discoveries!

                                2. re: scoopG

                                  Old Sichuan has become a regular stop for us each summer. Those soup dumplings were amazing.

                                  1. re: southernitalian

                                    Their Shanghai restaurant at the corner of Mott also has great ones. They're my favorites in the city.

                                  2. re: scoopG

                                    Really like Big Wong's (chicken with ginger sauce, roast duck, salt chicken fried rice, etc.). Also like Kaman's roast duck. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory favorite flavors are ginger and red bean curd.

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      This is great! An terrific primer for anyone visiting Chinatown. Would you add any updates [Cafe Hong Kong, of course, and New Chao Chow is closed now]?

                                    2. The original comment has been removed