Best of 2015: 7 NYC Chinatown Good Eats
New York City is the place to be if you want to experience authentic food from another country. Chinatown is the perfect place to dive right into the Asian culture with these great restaurants.
If you walk down New York City Chinatown at any reasonable hour of the day, you are bound to see swarms of people from all across the globe. No, there is not a secret tunnel connecting the continents at this particular point. People love food. And what do people love more than food? Good food. Chinatown is often regarded as one of the great food locations in the world. While the name promotes thoughts of Chinese traditional masterpieces, do not be surprised by the quality of food from all around the world. This delicious slice of heaven is a must see, must do event. Whether you have an appetite now is not relevant. After reading this article and imagining all the amazing tastes hitting your tongue, New York City Chinatown is waiting for you to make a very special appearance you are not soon to forget.
1. Oriental Garden
Most of us know and understand what type of food to expect when searching for Chinese food. We may even have an idea of our favorite and least favorite dishes are. So when trying to tell the difference between the abundance of Chinese restaurants there are in New York City Chinatown, window shopping is a way of life. When you approach Oriental Garden, the large window tank filled with live crabs is going to stand out among the numerous oriental looking buildings lining the streets. Walking through the front doors leads you to immediately see and admire the beautiful dining room and bright lighting. The atmosphere more than lives up to a quality stop on your travels. The food is right up there with the decoration. Oriental Garden serves fresh seafood which can be found on the endless menu of fish, prawns, clams and more. Steamed fish is a skill that Oriental Garden has mastered. The high quality food combined with a spot in the center of New York City Chinatown is going to come at a steep price. However, if quality is most important for you then make Oriental Garden a priority stop during the lunch hours.
2. Xi'an Famous Foods
Our next stop on a really never ending journey to find the perfect Chinese food finds us arriving at Xi'an Famous Foods. This location is part of a chain of restaurants which specialize in foods from the famous capital of Xi'an. There are five of these wonderful restaurants and there is good reason why five have survived for so long. This particular location has a similar menu as favorite dishes featured elsewhere, such as cumin burgers and a favorite of everyone who tries it, the spicy noodles. These foods and more are served in honor of ancient Xi'an which can be found along China's Silk Road. Equally impressive in food, Xi'an Famous Foods does a splendid job of decorating the interior in order for you to feel taken away to far away lands for a unique dining experience. Ming dynasty artifacts and numerous photos can be seen from your seat, which is a very intimate setting of 40 seats. A taste of ancient China mixed with the art of an important dynasty are just two of many reasons why Xi'an Famous Foods continues to grow and gain lifelong customers.
3. Nom Wah Tea Parlor
This dim sum house, one of the first to grace the streets of New York City, was founded nearly 100 years ago and stands strong to this day. Located in the heart of Chinatown, this location has more than its fair share of history. "The Bloody Angle" as it is often referred to is in reference to the Tong gang wars of long ago. Although war was waged in the streets surrounding it, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is only associated with delicious food and a welcoming setting. There is a long history of successful business here, even through an important transaction and change of hands in 1974. Originally, the Choy family owned and operated the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This lasted for over 50 years before being purchased by a Mr. Wally Tang. Wally Tang was actually a waiter and manager before becoming owner. Within the past five years, the business has been handed down to Wally's nephew but very little has changed over the years. The only real difference is that the dim sum dishes which were made in bulk for the near entire existence of the restaurant, now are made fresh to order. This is great news for any of you who wish to entertain the idea of spending an afternoon eating amazingly fresh dim sum dishes while soaking up a rich history during some of the tougher times that New York City Chinatown has endured.
Just because we are featuring restaurants in Chinatown, does not mean we must focus solely on Chinese dishes. Some restaurants, such as Dimes, have found their way within Chinatown while having little or nothing to offer in the form of traditional Chinese dishes. Dimes is far from your typical find in Chinatown. It is a cafe, born from and inspired by Southern California. The nice thing and most unique identifier of the Dimes restaurant is the always changing, never failing to impress, weekly menu changes. If you read this article on a Friday and wish to visit Dimes this evening and again next week, you will have Japanese options one week while Mediterranean or South American options line the menu next week. Take your pick of chicken, ribs, eggplant, couscous and more. Just make sure you visit more than once in order to experience the entirety of Dimes' fabulous menu!
5. Peking Duck House
When you talk about traditional Chinese food favorites, it is hard to have a serious conversation without mentioning duck. And until we reached number five on our list, this conversation was lacking in credentials. Fortunately for you, I have not forgotten this specialty. Your search can be short and sweet while looking for duck, thanks to Peking Duck House and the show presented to you upon ordering. If you are wise enough to order this grand duck, the chef will come out with the succulent duck in order to carve it up properly and leave others watching and wishing for a change of order. If you happen to be one of the misinformed members of a party who believes you must order this specialty in advance, fear not! The duck can be ordered once you arrive and your night and taste buds can be salvaged. If you have arrived with a party of people who are as hungry as writing this article has made me, the three way course is a fine way to satisfy everyone's hunger. The duck main course has been talked about already so let us move on to the dishes hidden behind the prize duck. Vegetable stir-fry with delicious cabbage soup. All three way orders are sure to come with pancakes and plum sauce to help wash down that duck, not that you will have any problem with such a task.
6. New York Noodle Town
If you are scanning the list of restaurant names and feeling a bit uneasy about all of the choices, New York Noodle Town may be the easiest choice you make all day. With such a simple, straightforward name, you would think someone is playing a joke on you. But fear not, New York Noodle Town is a very real, very delicious location the cure your craving for Chinese food in Chinatown. The menu is sectioned off in such a way that you may miss a few options if you make up your mind too soon. The pan-fried treats versus softer options such as soups will leave you and others having to make a serious decision. If you are confident in your decision making here, just wait until you get to the meat. Choosing between duck, chicken, pork and ribs is four times more troubling and may leave you having to pick and choose for this visit while also planning for a future visit. Not a fan of meat? More decisions are coming your way thanks to the fish, squid and scallops. All of these choices will make a trip to New York Noodle Town a great option for the indecisive... or will it?
7. Nha Trang
The last restaurant of hundreds to be found in and around the New York City Chinatown area is a wonderful little Vietnamese location called Nha Trang. Nha Trang stands out not only for delicious dishes and succulent sweets, but also for the strong traditional structure in both their food and belief. Creating proper Vietnamese food is an art, an art that is mastered within the walls of Nha Trang. Southeastern Asia boasts some wonderful foods that have survived the test of time but perhaps none are as well known as the Vietnamese tradition of sticky barbecue beef. A Vietnamese restaurant without barbecue beef may as well serve chicken fingers and fries too. A truly rich sticky barbecue beef is not the only treasure you are bound to uncover. Pho noodle soup, another traditional masterpiece, is better had at Nha Trang than most Vietnamese places in any city, let alone Chinatown. If you like filling toppings soaked in that soupy goodness, fish balls and brisket are two wonderful options to help fill out that meal. I mentioned succulent sweets in the beginning of this description and now I intend to cover such things. Sua hot ga, better known as 'Vietnamese Egg Soda' promises to be better than advertised. While egg soda does not sound warm and inviting, do not let the name fool you. This cream soda is sweet and savory, a must have on your visit.
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