Tucked away in the corner of Doyer Street, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been in business in Chinatown since the early '20s and had just recently undergone renovations, which jazzed up the space with the charming vintage look of an old Hong Kong diner. But it's the dim sum that makes it worth a return trip.
Their house special, the roast pork bun ($1.25), is nothing like the mediocre ones that you would find in most dim sum restaurants. We expected some palm-sized buns with tidbits of over-sweetened pork pieces inside, but when splitting open the fluffy, moist bun, we were happy to see some sizable chunks of good quality cha siu meat that is also well-flavored with some caramelized onion.
With an appetizing look of red and green, the Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings ($3.95) taste unusually fresh, probably because of the addition of snow pea leaves, which give off a pleasantly grassy smell and flavor.
Though we were skeptical of the stuffed eggplants ($3.50) that are drenched in oyster sauce and oil, often a bad sign for Chinese food, we immediately changed our mind when we bit into the thickly sliced eggplant, as tender as you can imagine. Steamed before they're cooked in the brown sauce, the eggplants absorb the rich flavor of the shrimp paste cake stuffed in the middle.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyer Street, New York NY 10013 (map)