Chinatown's pulse beats fastest at Canal and Bowery, where the Manhattan Bridge spills traffic onto the island and, nearby, the diesel engines of buses idle. Few people consider the eastern reaches of the neighborhood, between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, as a dining destination. But that's where Rosette opened at the end of January.
Looking for a "fried egg" made of soy protein with a cheese powder yolk? A whole "lobster" made of yam flour? Vegan "beef stew," wrapped in plastic and ready to eat? Whatever meat substitute you need, you can probably find it here.
A couple weeks back, my wife gave me a challenge: entertain her two friends visiting from Colombia with a food tour of Little Italy and Chinatown that lived up to my own standards of good food, catered to their tourist desires for a bit of history and a unique-to-New York feel, and clocked in at under $20 per person.
The menu is always changing InDessert, our favorite Chinese sit-down dessert spot in Chinatown, but this Green Tea Waffle ($6.50) has become one of our standbys. Three waffle quadrants (what happens to the fourth?) hit the plate with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of condensed milk, whipped cream, and some strawberries for good measure.
Kam Hing Coffee Shop's classic sponge cake now comes in a chocolate-cinnamon variation.
When Delong Chang, a longtime cook in Chinatown, opened A-Wah, he decided to focus on bo zai fan, a dish that was popular where he grew up in southern China.
Part of Spicy Village's appeal—besides its excellent noodles and super-low prices—is its setting: servers are warm and friendly, and within such a small space that gets packed so quickly, that helps create a fun, convivial atmosphere. It's great for vegetarians, too, a handy bonus in Chinatown.
We tried not to write about Noodle Village once again, but hey, sometimes you have to give Chinatown's best wonton soup slinger its due. But this time we're not talking about wontons or soup, but rather noodles with a sweet meat sauce poetically called Pork in Hot Spicy Sauce Lo Mein.
Vegetarian Dim Sum House specializes in fake meat, which might be an instant turn-off for some, but fine seitan and tofu cookery is a tradition that stretches back centuries in China, and with the right chef and the right dish, it really can be a beautiful thing. For a centerpiece dish you'll have to order off menu for a platter of mock beef in brown sauce baked inside a whole kabocha squash.
It's a cold and lonely walk to Canal and Ludlow, the streets empty and dark and windy. The Lower East Side may be hopping, but not here. So when you show up at Skàl, it'd be nice if a waiter didn't greet you with a look that asked, "What are you doing here?" Trust me, guys, I didn't just stumble in by accident.
There are plenty of bad wonton soups in Chinatown, but some excellent ones as well. Where should you go for the best? We tasted 23 bowls to find out.
Start your day off right with a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich from one of our favorite diners, Cup and Saucer.
Kam Hing Coffee Shop's new chocolate chip sponge cake is a welcome variation on their signature treat.
There's no shortage of street carts in Chinatown that sell freshly steamed rice noodle rolls. But if you can only go to one, I'd suggest skipping them all in favor of a visit to a tofu factory near the Manhattan Bridge, which makes a fresher, more delicate rice roll than any I've had from a cart.
Chicken parm is an Italian restaurant lunchtime mainstay, and Forlini's, cut off by Chinatown from what remains of Little Italy, is exactly the sort of old school Italian restaurant where you'd expect to find such a thing. Though the sandwich here isn't that distinguished, it makes a satisfying lunch.
Sitting at the subterranean, yet still light and airy bar at Bassanova a week after their opening, there's a veritable supergroup of ramen chefs populating the dining room to test out their newest competition, a straight-from-Tokyo import that serves up pork-based tonkotsu broth along with a Thai-style green curry.
If you've never seen a taro bun, you're not alone. This root-stuffed baked bun was new to most of us as well. As we keep making our way through Chinatown's bakeries, we're surprised at how good these buns can be.
Cha Chan Tang is a bustling Hong Kong-style diner come lunch and dinner, but come breakfast, it offers a somewhat more serene opportunity for a quick, satisfying breakfast—for a whopping $4.
Out of the ten items I've tried so far at Indessert, my favorite is their Mango Pomelo Sago Soup. This cold dessert soup starts with a base of freshly made mango purée mixed with heavy cream and sweetened with rock sugar, topped with tiny, chewy sago pearls, plump pomelo segments (or, in the current off-season, grapefruit segments), and chunks of ripe, juicy mango.