China in NYC
One of the largest enclaves of Chinese people in the western hemisphere is right here in New York City’s Chinatown between the lower east side and little Italy. Commonly the street borders are considered to be Broome Street to the north, amalgamating with Little Italy, Chambers Street to the south, East Broadway to the east and Broadway to the west (bordering TriBeCa).
As we immerse ourselves in the Chinese culture, a great place to start is the Museum of the Chinese in America (MOCA). The museum is a must see for anyone interested in Chinese culture in NY. Right now the museum is offering all sorts of workshops to prepare for the Lunar New Year. A current exhibition and highlight within the Museum is about “The Lee Family of New York”. The exhibit takes place within a recreated general store, fashioned to represent an old New York storefront with tin ceilings, built-in wooden cabinets, and brick walls. Through the collection of artifacts, photographs, & old menus document Chinese life in America through the Lee Family.
Another must see is the Mahayana Buddhist Temple on Canal St, at the foot of the Manhattan bridge on the Bowery. A former “porn” theater, it is now the largest Buddhist Temple in Chinatown with 2 golden lion urns guarding the entrance. In the center of the sanctuary is a 16 ft golden statue of Buddha where religious services and prayers take place. Upon leaving don’t forget to give a donation and select a “fortune” from the bowl at the door which is guaranteed to come true!
By now I bet you’re hungry and ready to find an authentic bite in Chinatown.
You’re first decision is what type of food you may want from dim sum, Cantonese, fukian, Szechuan, the list goes on. The bargains are definitely found in small bites such as dumplings can run about 5 for $1 anywhere along Mosco St, or pastries with red bean filling can be found for $2 each. Don’t be afraid to try the street carts or fruit vendors as you may find the most authentic eats from them!
Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a “real” meal, then check out some of these places below:
Dragon Land Bakery: They have great pastries, cheese twists & pastries with red bean filling
Nom Wah Tea Parlor: The first Dim Sum parlor in NYC, serving since 1920. Definitely get the egg roll and any other plates that tingle your senses
Jing Fong: Another great Dim Sum place along Elizabeth street
Peking Duck House: Do you like duck? Then make this your first stop, there is no need to give 24 hour notice and it is delish
Wo Hop: Try some old time “Cantonese” dishes
Joe’s Shanghai: Try their “soup” dumplings – A Shanghai specialty that is delish and offers you a “spurt” of yummy soup with every bite
Ten Ren: Check them out for fabulous exotic teas and you may even be able to participate in a traditional tea ceremony
Deluxe Food Market: If you’re in a hurry stop here for prepared foods to go such as noodles of all kinds, seafood, veggies & more.
The best way to immerse yourself in the Chinese culture in NYC is to go exploring the neighborhood on your own. Stick to the streets we mentioned above and you will find the most amazing things such as food shops with all sorts of imported goodies, herb shops with remedies for every ailment or get an acupuncture treatment from Kam Man on Canal Street. If you find yourself on Doyers street, this street is known as the “Bloody Angle” but you may just have to join me on our next tour for the explanation.
Once you get in the swing of things and are ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year, check out the New York firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival and Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival.The parade starts at Mott/Hester streets and usually winds throughout Chinatown down Mott, along East B roadway, up Eldridge Street to Forsyth and ends about 3PM at Sara Roosevelt Park (see above).
Fun fact: NYC has 5 “Chinatowns” across the various boros. Now that we have explored the oldest and most well-known Chinatown, check back later for more information on some of the oldest and most well-known Chinatown, check back later for more information on some of the other hidden gems.