Eat, Gary Fong, New York — April 23, 2012 at 8:16 am





NEW YORK – Admittedly my experience with New York City’s Chinatown has not been lengthy (I have not been going there ‘since we were kids’) but I have done my fair share of exploring the area and have come to know it quite well.  And while I’ve learned a lot – mostly that this overly crowded section of New York City, with its unruly odors and filthy streets, can test the nerves of even the most experienced urban traveler – I’ve also found it to be a place where you can still eat well and quite cheaply, which is a rarity in Manhattan.  In fact, this has become a bit of an obsession for me – discovering the best tasting food deals to be had in Chinatown.  So, I thought I’d share a bit of this obsession with you; here are five of my current favorite places in New York City’s Chinatown where you can eat well, cheaply.

1.  Yee Li

Cheap Bite:  BBQ Pork Over Rice – the pork is lean, crispy and tender; while the rice is always fresh and never mushy . It also comes with a side of stir-fried cabbage, and a lovely fragrant dipping sauce of oil, ginger and scallions that’s traditionally served with roast chicken dishes, but goes surprisingly well with pork as well.  Price:  $4.50.  Where: 1 Elizabeth St (at Bayard St).

2.  Thien Huong 

Cheap Bite:  Grilled Chicken Baguette – traditional, crispy-on-the-outside, French baguettes filled with triple ‘S’ (sweet, savory and spicy) grilled meat goodness, and an assortment of fresh veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, etc).  Also known as an Asian hoagie.  Get it with hot peppers for an additional flavor boost.  And, don’t be put off by the gaudy décor.  Price:  $4.50.  Where:  11 Chatham Square

3.  Tasty Dumpling and Mama Eatery

Cheap Bite:  Chives and Pork Fried Dumplings doused with sweet soy and a light siracha sauce from Tasty Dumpling; followed by a Taiwanese style bubble milk tea (iced tea, sweetened milk and chewy tapioca bits) from Mama’s Eatery.  Price:  $1.25 for the dumplings (5 per order); and $3.95 for the bubble tea (ok, maybe the tea is a bit of splurge, but since you saved on the dumplings, why not treat yourself?).  Where is it:  Tasty Dumpling is located at 45 Mulberry Street, across from Columbus Park; Mama’s is a few doors down.

4.  East Corner Won Ton

Cheap Bite:  Won Ton Mien Soup – fat won tons and thin egg noodles in a clear broth topped with a sprinkle of fresh scallions.  At this typical Hong Kong style noodle joint, the ingredients are always fresh, noodles al-dente and the soup flavorful.  One of my Chinatown faves.  Service can be spotty but the food compensates.  Be sure to leave a tip, or else they’ll chase you down as you leave.…seriously.  Price:  $3.95.  Where:  70 E Broadway (between Catherine St & Market St).

5.  Bangkok Center Grocery

Cheap Bite:  Pandan & Coconut Jelly – this refreshingly light (and not too sweet) Thai dessert also known as ‘Wun Gati’ is basically a layered jell-o of fresh coconut milk and sweetened pandan.  The flavors, and the white and green jell-o layers always bring back fond memories of living in Thailand.  You can find it in the refrigerated section of BCG, one of the few Thai specialty shops in Manhattan.  Price:  $3.95.  Where:  104 Mosco St near Columbus Park.

The little thing that makes Chinatown worthwhile:  the smug satisfaction of eating well on the cheap and the atmospheric quality of getting my food to go so I can eat it while watching locals partake in a game of handball or (English) football at Roosevelt Park (along Chrystie St. and Grand Ave.).  Cheap eats plus cheap entertainment!

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Photos:  Gary Fong

Author:  Gary Fong

















(Images by Gary Fong, map grid by Google) 


One Comment

  1. hello! i am at work at the moment so i did not have time to check out all of your post, however i do enjoy the stuff i read and i will read a little more at the site when i get back home.. Got a lot of things to complete at the job :p do you happen to have a profile on twitter? =) All the best!