Sunday, August 24, 2008

Your NYC suggestions 1 - Chinatown

Dear Readers,

Thank you. In New York, I relied almost entirely on your restaurant suggestions. They were great. Although this is a blog about food in Houston, the next several posts will be about the state of food in NYC.


NYC's Chinatown is bigger and more vibrant than I remembered.

Yes, there are Chinese funeral parlors, Chinese banks, and acupuncturists. But mostly Chinatown is about food. The array of exotic foods on every corner is remarkable.

Joe's Shanghai

Misha, Bob, and Jenny all suggested I tried the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. Joe's is known as the benchmark for soup dumplings. The crowd proves it. Even in mid-afternoon, the wait for a party of two at one of the large communal tables was 30 - 40 minutes. But since I was alone, I got a spot immediately.

Joe's dumplings are art. The skin is fresh, firm and chewy. The soup inside is thick, glutinous, and savory. And the filling had far more flavor than ordinary lump-of-meat filling.

Joe's provides a pre-mixed dumpling sauce. I didn't need it. The flavors inside the dumplings were so good that they did not need any tampering.

Joe's also makes a good plate of Singapore Noodles. The dish is appropriately dry and spice-drenched. As I ate, I kept reciting that line from Dune. "The spice must flow."

To Wah Fung with Love

Jenny sent me a guide to cheap Chinatown food that recommended Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Foods, formerly a street cart, but now a hole-in-the-wall takeaway stand. The line out the door was 20-minutes long, and the customers were exclusively Asian -- all good signs.

Wah Fung is famous for a roasted-pork box lunch. The mound of sweet-roasted pork sits atop some steamed vegetables and a giant pile of rice. This amazing lunch is $2.25.
I may have never had an Asian pork dish this good. The pork has a chewy texture, but a jelly-like substance on the outside. It is smoky and sweet with a tasty mix of spices, similar to five-spice powder.
The Chinese / U.S. basketball game in the Olympics had just ended. Dozens of teenagers had come out to a park with basketball courts to play. With my tin stuffed with rice and pork, I sat down to eat and watch the games. It began to rain a slow drizzle. As ate, I had an epiphany:
This moment -- this dreary New York afternoon, this remarkable plate of $2.25 food-stand pork, these Chinese-American kids playing basketball -- this is America.
Next: Prune, WD-50, Eleven Madison Park


neverfull said...

i'm working on a (houston) chinatown blog post myself this evening.

YAY! you went to joe's. now you are spoiled forever. can't wait to read your WD-50 and EMP reviews.

Anonymous said...

did you get a chance to stop by chinatown ice cream factory? one of the best places to get ice cream w/exotic flavors- my favorite is the black sesame :)

Anonymous said...

It's too bad you didn't go to Dim Sum GOGO. That is by far the best dim sum in the city mostly because of how unique the dumplings are: mushroom, duck, tofu , are all favorites, their regular menu is also wonderful, the gogo chicken is out of this world, its basically fried garlic chicken, the chives/walnuts dish is good too, and they have a really good peking duck with pillowy buns. the best part is that you can ask for whats not on the menu and they generally bring out something mindblowing.
glad you enjoyed the city,
though I would choose dim sum go go over prune any day.

anonymouseater said...

Sorry, no dim sum, no chinatown ice cream factory. Sadly, I didn't have much time.

Neverfull -- Yes. Joe's may have spoiled me.

Anonymous said...

The Flushing location of JS is slightly better than the Manhattan location. I think it may even tie out DingTaiFeng US as my fave XLB. But going to DingTaiFeng in Taipei, or even Kao's. Now that is XLB heaven...not to mention ginger chicken soup and beef noodle soup heaven as well...

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