Posted by Wei Min Tan on March 29, 2018
New York City has three Chinatowns – in Manhattan, Flushing and Brooklyn. The Manhattan Chinatown is perhaps the second most busy neighborhood in Manhattan after Times Square. Tourists from all over the world come to experience the neighborhood, see vendors sell live seafood and restaurants selling food they see on Travel Channel.
Brimming with activity, there are countless stores selling souvenirs to tourists, local Chinese restaurants with many people waiting in line to be seated for dim sum, and wet markets selling fish and meat. Poke bowls and high end bakeries are the latest additions to Chinatown’s array of stores.
Grocery shopping in Chinatown is “old school,” in this age when grocery shopping means going to Whole Foods to buy meat all cut up and packaged in styrofoam containers.
Hong Kong cafe and seafood restaurant
A popular Hong Kong-style cafe is Cha Chang Tang at 45 Mott Street. This is a Hong Kong style cafe because the food has both Cantonese and British influences, similar to how a cafe in Hong Kong would be like. It’s a local scene. The morning crowd are parents after dropping off kids at school, the afternoon crowd comprise people on lunch breaks and the evening crowd are Millennials who appreciate a more relaxed setting.
A fantastic seafood restaurant is Ping’s at 22 Mott Street. It’s named after the owner/chef, Ping, who has won numerous accolades the past decades. This being a Manhattan restaurant, seating is tight and unlike the spacious Cantonese restaurants in Asia. Their roast pork is made in-house and is one of their most popular dishes.
A downside of Chinatown restaurants is that many restaurants use MSG (monosodium glutamate) for flavoring. It’s a chemical that’s supposed to give food a more savory, umami flavor. When you order, ask them to skip the MSG.
Manhattan’s Chinatown is about 100 blocks in size and has more people than most U.S. small towns. It’s where many immigrants build their American Dream, whether they are at the stage of doing their first job or owning a store after years of hard work.