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Does anybody go to Chinatown anymore?

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or is it passe?

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  1. Well with probably 300 restaurants in Chinatown, there's always the prospect of a "find", which keeps me going. However, the truth is like I've said in the past, Manhattan Chinatown Chinese food is generally stuck in the 1990s when compared to other North American Chinese communities. Kind of like the macarena, I guess.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl

      In some regards yes. The dim sum train left quite some time ago and there is an abundance of mediocre dumpling joints.

      BUT in another, much more important regard no. For all the mediocre dumpling places there exist some stellar, otherworldly chinese "snack" joints. Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge has one of the single best hand foods I've ever had - the sesame pancake with beef. At $1.75! Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry has fantastic dumplings. There are also a bunch of great places to get pork noodle soup. Nha Trang on Centre has a bunch of group filling, soups. And as many people have said, if you know how to pick out the winners, chinatown is the BEST place to go to buy your produce, fish and meats.

      So no, it's not passe.

      -----
      Nha Trang
      148 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

      Tasty Dumpling
      54 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

      Prosperity Dumpling
      46 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

      1. re: mahjede

        where do you generally go for produce fish and meats?

    2. what a great question. i often wonder the same thing. haven't been there in years but remember as a child. would love to bring my 9 year old.

      11 Replies
      1. re: winebarb

        Bringing a 9 year old to Chinatown is a fantastic idea. I would recommend the same meal my girlfriend and I enjoy maybe 8 times a year. The restaurant is Shanghai Cafe at 100 Mott Street and the order is an order of "steamed tiny buns with pork" (soup dumplings), spicy cabbage, stewed pork with tofu skin in brown sauce, and shredded beef with pepper and dry bean curd. None of the flavors are too abrasive for a young palate but at the same time it will be truly different than what you are used to at a local chinese restaurant.

        -----
        Shanghai Cafe
        100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: AubWah

          Does their C health department rating concern you (I notice you often comment about your being put off by glove-less food handling) or is it probably not due to anything too gross like an infestation?

          1. re: Humbucker

            Its not due to anything gross, they are just giving a middle finger to health department because they are making so much money they could have an F in their window and still laugh all the way to the bank. If NY Noodletown can get an A, the system just may be flawed

            1. re: Humbucker

              Too much of the unappealing and unappetizing food service in Chinatown .... kept us from eating there since the early 90s.

              1. re: RCC

                you should give it another try they are very friendly these days its a different vibe

                1. re: RCC

                  I have to agree, Chinatown feels different. It's brighter, and more welcoming, while seeming as if it's serving a neighborhood rather than just tourists. There's more diversity, and more diamonds in the rough than ever before.

                  The only problem is it's hard to distinguish between reviews for cheap, and grizzly, and reviews for quality good food. Some highly recommended places are serving mediocre food. I don't know why low quality ingredients get a pass with Chinatown cuisine.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I have to make a plug for Lau. I usually like anyplace he recommends.

                    1. re: Pan

                      haha thanks!

                      1. re: Lau

                        You're more than welcome.

                        By the way, I also am way behind in thanking more hounds for turning me on to restaurants I've had good meals at in the last couple of months. But they're outside of Chinatown, so not relevant in this thread. :-)

                      2. re: Pan

                        Lau did discover Great Sichuan, which was a really excellent recommendation when it first opened (not as good these days, but oh well) and put great effort into reporting the place... earned my trust for sure.

                        -----
                        Great Sichuan
                        363 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          thanks sugartoof

                          ive got a ton of reviews to write ive just been traveling and work has been super busy, but i just wrote one today and ive got a huge backlog to write about

            2. Only to buy specific pork products, shellfish and fruits.

              1. What's worth trying in Chinatown besides Amazing 66 and South China Garden?

                Our rotation includes Amazing, SCG, Congee Village on Allen St., Peking Duck House midtown, Szechuan Gourmet (both locations), and Legend. Have been meaning to try Oriental Garden. Any other recs? We're not huge fans of Shanghai cuisine but are willing to revisit that.

                -----
                South China Garden
                22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                Amazing 66
                66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Congee Village
                100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                Szechuan Gourmet
                21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                Oriental Garden
                14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                Peking Duck House
                28 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Legend
                88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                5 Replies
                1. re: fm1963

                  try famous sichuan on pell and pick a fish out of their fish tank. have it prepared with chili miso sauce ($17.95) the chef executes exquisitely.

                  -----
                  Famous Sichuan
                  10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: fm1963

                    Great NY Noodletown? Noodle Village?

                    -----
                    Great New York Noodletown
                    28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                    Noodle Village
                    13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: fm1963

                      I should have posted this before, but I will not go to or recommend South China Garden anymore. It has been my favorite Cantonese banquet place - until a few weeks ago. I got there around 9:40 or so and one of our party was going to be late. A bit before 10, I ordered a large soup. It hadn't come when, at around 10:10, I tried to order a full dinner. The waitress said that their crispy fried chicken with garlic was "sold out" - I think because they didn't want to take the time to wait for it to be made. She said it was so late and didn't want to take my order. She took it, though with bad grace and when I asked for the soup I had ordered from a waiter earlier, she said it was too late for them to make it, but grudgingly relented when I told her I had ordered it before anything else. We were given the most unfriendly, perfunctory, sullen service, although the restaurant closed at 11, according to her - and 11:30, according to the sign outside. I don't require extremely effusive service or anything, but this was ridiculous! The food was good as always, but after going to the restaurant for banquets repeatedly, you'd think they wouldn't be so annoyed at having our business instead of allowing them all to close up shop and leave 1 1/2 hours early. They've lost me, and I won't be coming back.

                      As for Oriental Garden, I've had problems there previously with overly aggressive attempts to turn tables (trying to grab a plate while I was picking up food with my chopsticks and had them on the plate!), but the last time I was there was for a retirement lunch for a colleague in late May or early June, at which the service was good and unrushed and the food was excellent and not too expensive. I think I'll be going there again.

                      Other recs? There are a couple of decent Sichuan-style restaurants, though I have to say I've been to both of these only once each, so far: Old Sichuan Gourmet on the former New Yeah Shanghai space on Bayard St. and Famous Sichuan on Pell St.

                      Shanghai Cafe is decent though not great. For noodle shops, I recommend New Chiu Chow, or whatever they're calling it now, on Mott between Canal and Hester, and Bo Ky. And of course New York Noodletown for barbecued items, dishes with yellow chives, pea leaves, or asparagus, congee, noodle soups, beef stew, ginger-scallion lo mein, etc. I've also enjoyed Noodle Village, but because I'm on a low-carb diet except for one day a week and they're strictly noodles and rice, I haven't been there in months.

                      For Malaysian food, I'm not as crazy about Skyway as I once was, but I find them mostly reliable, and they're very cheap. Given the slim pickings, they may be the most reliable Malaysian restaurant in Manhattan again, though that's not such a good thing. (Then again, as a former resident of Malaysia, my standards are very high, so keep that in mind.)

                      -----
                      South China Garden
                      22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                      Great New York Noodletown
                      28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                      Skyway
                      11 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                      New Bo Ky
                      80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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

                      Shanghai Cafe
                      100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      Noodle Village
                      13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      Oriental Garden
                      14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                      Famous Sichuan
                      10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                      Old Sichuan
                      65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                      1. re: Pan

                        geez too bad about the service at SCG, they're always really nice to me. that said one off service problems happen alot in chinatown and generally the people are really nice at SCG (a total anomaly, wait til i post about my multiple visits to best fuzhou) and the food has remained exactly the same quality which is also sort of rare in chinatown

                        1. re: Lau

                          There were people working there that night that surely recognized me, yet they didn't step in to help. It's no fun eating at a restaurant when everyone working there has made very clear to you they don't want to serve you because they just want to leave 1 1/2 hours before the scheduled closing time. The food was indeed still the same quality, but that kind of ridiculous service is something I won't forget for a long time. And this is the place I've had my birthday banquets for the last 2 years, at least.

                    2. I'm there several times a week. Mostly, I find myself at the bakeries for coffee and buns, and going for dim sum on the weekends. Bahn Mi is another favorite.

                      It's not the place I seek out for an "experience" or even a "find". I just really like it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        Is Banh Mi the name of a restaurant?

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Banh Mi Saigon Bakery is what iluvcookies is referring to, probably.

                          -----
                          Banh Mi Saigon
                          198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                          1. re: Pan

                            I meant Bahn Mi sandwiches in general, but Banh Mi Saigon Bakery does make very good ones.

                            -----
                            Banh Mi Saigon
                            198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                            1. re: iluvcookies

                              Also want to add the street cart that is front of the Chase Bank on Canal and Mott. $1.25 for a generous portion of vegetable mai fun or rice. Mmmm....

                      2. "I would recommend the same meal my girlfriend and I enjoy maybe 8 times a year."
                        "try famous sichuan on pell..."

                        Doesn't sound to me like you find it to be "passe" at all. That's okay. Neither do I. Nor, to be honest, would I give a shit if it were. I still enjoy Chinatown, precisely because it's an experience that's antithetical to that whole way of thinking to begin with. It's about having a good time, plain and simple.

                        Amongst my personal favorites, for anyone who cares, are the buns and coffee at Mei Li Wah, the Shanghai style wonton noodles at Wonton Gardens, the crab over Hor Fun at South China Garden, and, lately, the razor clam with scrambled eggs at Ah Ping Snack Bar.

                        P.

                        -----
                        South China Garden
                        22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                        Ah Ping Snack Bar
                        2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

                        HK Wonton Garden
                        79 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

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

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: Polecat

                          does Ah Ping Snack Bar have an English menu? I've passed by it so many times over recent years without venturing in, I think it is the edgiest place to be in Chinatown right now

                          1. re: AubWah

                            Yes, there's English translation on the menu. I've only had the one dish, the one I mentioned, and love it. The times I've been in there, though, the other patrons have all had this one simple noodle soup dish - I think it's the first one listed on the menu. As far as edginess goes, I think if you venture east on Division, East Bway, etc, you'll find just as edgy to edgier - places with no English at all.
                            P.

                            1. re: Polecat

                              have you tried poon kee? their offerings are delectable

                              -----
                              Poon Kee
                              39 Monroe St, New York, NY 10002

                              1. re: AubWah

                                Not yet. Hit me - what do you recommend?
                                p.

                                1. re: Polecat

                                  get fish balls with noodles with all the sauces, i prefer without hot sauce but maybe you would prefer it $1.50

                                2. re: AubWah

                                  Okay, yeah, I know the joint. Passed by, never tried it. Tried once on a Sunday morning, but they were either closed or not yet open. That's right up my alley - cheung fun, fish balls, sriracha, the works. I've hit up the Ch Fun place on E. Broadway, though, right near the F line and the park on Essex, forget the name....
                                  p.

                                  1. re: Polecat

                                    sunlight bakery is the shiznit for breakfast

                                    -----
                                    Happy Star Bakery
                                    160-162 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                                  2. re: AubWah

                                    Thanks for the recommendations, you two. I look forward to trying both places.

                                    1. re: AubWah

                                      poon kee is great, it reminds me of street food in hong kong. My review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/773122

                                      sunlight is good as well, my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740902

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Lau at Sunlight have you tried the chinese sauge mushroom chicken etc sticky rice thing...cant think of the chinese name right now but i'm sure you know it...its tremendous only $1.75

                                        1. re: AubWah

                                          hmmm u mean a zong zi?

                                          does it look like this?
                                          http://upload1.95171.cn/article/2009/...

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            yes, zong zi

                                            1. re: AubWah

                                              hmm i haven't tried them there, actually i didn't even realized them

                                              are they any good?

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                well to me they are great, but sunlights is the only rendition ive tried. would love to hear your opinion

                                                1. re: AubWah

                                                  cool ill try them, i dont get them that often b/c they are so filling (although they are really good)...i usually get them from this one old lady on the corner of chrystie and grand, she has several different kinds, but they're only written in chinese. they're pretty good though

                                    2. re: Polecat

                                      I'm confused by the razor clam dish at APSB. On the menu there's "Chinese Razor With Egg" for $8.95 and "Razor with Egg" for $13.95 - any idea what the difference is? Have you tried both?

                                      1. re: sgordon

                                        Same dish so far as I know - it's a matter of portion size. The cheaper version is sided with rice. First time I went, to their credit, they steered me towards the latter. I didn't leave hungry.
                                        P.

                                  3. re: Polecat

                                    im going directly to ah ping

                                    1. re: Polecat

                                      I used to like the old Mei Lai Wah but ever since the makeover a few years ago it just doesn't do it for me anymore. Other than missing being able to go in for lunch and sit at the counter, it seems to me that the food...all of the great the buns and dumplings they served... have suffered in the transition. The food and the atmosphere were both better when it was a dingy place with predominately old men both behind and at the counter. LOL.
                                      Sometimes change is so sad....

                                      1. re: The Professor

                                        So true,even the Filipino regulars who used to buy them by the dozen and ship them overseas claim the filling is not as savory and the buns themselves not as good. I've had them several times since their makeover and noticed that they have off days. still have lines out the door though

                                    2. Nobody goes there, it's too crowded?

                                      This thread amuses me because my (Chinese) uncle was complaining to me a few days ago that there were too many "tourists" at Super Taste now.

                                      -----
                                      Super Taste
                                      26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        I agree with him. When I first started frequenting Chinatown in 2007, Super Taste was my go to place along with Noodletown. The handful of times I've been to Super Taste in the last year or 2 the place looked like a dorm room at Dartmouth

                                      2. At least every other week.

                                        Dim Sum Go Go, Shanghai Cafe, Great NY Noodletown, Xi'an Famous, Amazing 66, Big Wong King, Fuleen Seafood, Ah Ping - and beyond: Banh Mi Saigon, Di Paola's, La Cremeria, my foot massage guy, Vanessa's Dumplings, La Cremeria, Kossar's, Russ and Daughters, Katz's, il laboratorio del gelato, etc.

                                        -----
                                        Banh Mi Saigon
                                        198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                                        Amazing 66
                                        66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                        Big Wong
                                        67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                        Dim Sum Go Go
                                        5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

                                        Fuleen
                                        11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                                        Vanessa's Dumplings
                                        220 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                                        La Cremeria
                                        178 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012

                                        1. Is this one of those "oh, it's so crowded, no one goes there anymore" type of snobbery?

                                          There's plenty of good and tasty chow in Chinatown, a great atmosphere distinct from the rest of Manhattan, a thriving immigrant Chinese community, so what's there to complain about? Is somehow the presence of a group of white preppy students in a restaurant detrimental to a restaurant's caliber? Or streets thronged with tourists? There's plenty of places where everyone speaks Chinese and the food is mediocre - as visitors and expats living in China will tell you.

                                          1. I go to Chinatown every chance I get. Am still sad about the closing of New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, but there's lots of other great, cheap eats - Shanghai Cafe, Dim Sum Go Go, all the 5 dumplings/$1 places, Pho Bang, Tearrific (bubble tea), and a bunch of places still left to discover and try.

                                            In addition to that, cheap cheap produce and meats plus Hong Kong Grocery store for snacks, and other Asian staples like rice, noodles, and sauces.

                                            -----
                                            Dim Sum Go Go
                                            5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

                                            Shanghai Cafe
                                            100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                            Pho Bang
                                            157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                            Teariffic
                                            51 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                            Hong Kong Supermarket
                                            157 Hester St, New York, NY 10013

                                            1. To answer your question: "YESSSSSSSS!!!" We hit C town in the wee hours 1-3 AM when we head home from a show, party or club.

                                              Wo Hop (downstairs) and Great New York Noodletown are hopping and packed in the early morning. Where else can you get great food and a "sideshow" courtesy of the gypsies, cops, clubbers and general salt of the earth of NYC?

                                              -----
                                              Great New York Noodletown
                                              28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                                              Wo Hop
                                              17 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                              1. If I lived in Manhattan, I'd go there much more often. As it is, for eating in a restaurant, we hit Ping's in Elmhurst. All the interesting take-out stuff can be gotten from Elmhurst as well. (I'm only mentioning Elmhurst over Flushing because it is closer to me.) What I do go to Chinatown for are the Vietnamese restaurants. I like Xe Lua and Pho Viet Huong way more than the Queens Vietnamese restaurants. Also for the markets...the marinated frog's legs for $5.99/lb at that place on Mott (name I never remember) are amazing, as is their fresh squab. I still sometimes get a big lobster from Centre St. Seafood, but I find that their lobsters, while very fresh and meaty, frequently have a muddy taste, no sweetness. I think its because they don't put enough salt in their tanks. Many of the lobsters I buy in Queens originate from Centre St, but they taste better, so I think its the salt (or rather, lack of it) in their tanks.

                                                -----
                                                Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong
                                                73 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                                Xe Lua
                                                86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                                Centre Seafood
                                                206 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

                                                1. I haven't been there in years but would you like to know what I'd go there again? American Cantonese food. chicken chow mein with crispy noodles, egg drop soup, spare ribs and lots of overly sweeten tea from the warm memories of my childhood family outings. Yes I know there's all those new regional cuisines there but none of them can ever evoke the those warm old emotions. There's food that you taste with your mouth and there's food that you taste with your heart, the latter being being the more powerful one.