Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chinatown Adventures

I ate more Asian food last week in NY than I expected.  Not only did I have some yummy Asian noodle soup at Republic, but I had dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie (not really Chinatown) as a late lunch one day, and dim sum in Chinatown on Sunday, along with some tasty Chinese street food.  I'm officially in love with Chinatown!  I'm glad I got to explore it with some New Yorkers who knew the ins and outs of Chinatown, whereas if I was on my own I would probably get so lost... Chinatown is HUGE after all.

Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette St
(between 4th St & Great Jones St) 
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-7000

Chinatown Brasserie (photo above) is not in Chinatown.  It's actually in NoHo so its name is kind of a misnomer.  It also boasts week long dim sum prepared in a completely separate dim sum only kitchen.  I decided one day I needed some soup (I was sick after all) and thought some wonton soup might be nice.  Chinatown Brasserie has a special "Dim Sum Lunch a la Carte" where you have a choice of soups with a choice of dim sum off a limited dim sum menu.  I opted to do the "choose 6" option which was $19.  In the end I feel it was overpriced for what I got.  I liked having a choice of several items, and got 2 of each, but even along with the soup, $19 was a lot for a dim sum meal, considering several days later I had actual dim sum in Chinatown for a LOT less and it was more traditional (but more on that later).  My waiter was very nice though and suggested some yummy mint tea with honey for my cold (sense a theme?).

First up I went with the wonton soup.  It was what I would expect, but nothing too special.  I've had more flavorful wonton soups in the past that were infused with more flavor than this one.  It did manage to hit the spot, though.

The dim sum I chose off the special menu were these from top left, down, then top right, down: Roast Pork Buns, Shrimp and Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings, BBQ Duck Spring Rolls, Chicken and Shrimp Lollipops, Shrimp, Corn and Chinese Chive Dumplings, and Vegetable Potstickers.

While the dim sum satisfied my initial cravings and filled my belly with some much needed food, it was at best an impostor to the real thing.  If you desire some weekday dim sum, you can find it here, but if you can manage to wait until the weekend, you will find something much better and more reasonably priced, and quite frankly, I find the best things in life are worth waiting for.

Golden Unicorn
18 E Broadway
(between Catherine St & Market St) 
New York, NY 10002
(212) 941-0911

My first meal officially in Chinatown was at the Golden Unicorn, a large dim sum house.  Apparently they also have dim sum hours during the week (10am-3:30pm to be exact), but it's more fun to enjoy the dim sum experience (carts and all) with a group (large or small) on the weekend when most people are available during those hours to leisurely eat dumplings and spring rolls like they're going out of style.  I tried a lot of dishes I had never tried before (steamed chicken feet, anyone?) and I really enjoyed just about everything there.  They charged $1 per person for tea (as many refills as you can handle), and the carts kept coming and coming.  Here are the dishes we enjoyed...

Steamed Spare Ribs $2.50
Char Siu Bao (Steamed Roasted Pork Bun) $2

Steamed Rice Roll with Shrimp $2.95

Steamed Shrimp Siu Mai $2.50

 Steamed Sticky Rice with Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage in Lotus Leaf $3.95

Ha Gow (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings) $2.95

Steamed Chicken Feet $2

Fried Spring Rolls $2

That was all for brunch!  We did later head out into Chinatown and enjoy some sweets from street vendors and shops.  We got some "Chinese Cakes," which were 15 for $1 at a street cart, and then also some other sweets from various shops, each for about $.60.  Really cheap and really delicious!  I enjoyed it all, especially these yummy Chinese cakes that tasted like fluffy balls of fortune cookie... oh yes!  It was like a fortune cookie cloud in my mouth :)


Anonymous said...

Golden Unicorn is classic.

For a more authentic place, check out the noodle soups at Super Tasty. Wo Hop is pretty classic. Check out this link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/342344

And you must go to Flushing, for the real Asian cuisine!

Victoria K. said...

Thanks for the tips! I will definitely check those places out next time :) We were either going to have dim sum in Chinatown or Flushing but opted for Chinatown for the overall experience of having dim sum in Chinatown, haha. I think next time we're gonna hit up Flushing. Can't wait!

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