Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guide to NYC's Chinatown

Even though my family and I come up to New York City every summer, I still find the city as captivating as ever.  One of my favorite places in the city, though, happens to be Chinatown, where I always stock up on buns with a variety of fillings, such as sweetened coconut, pineapple, or roast pork.  Here are my favorite stops:
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St. between Mott and Elizabeth Streets)
Red bean, green tea, and avocado are some of the exotic flavors available at this ice cream shop, in addition to the more recognizable flavors like strawberry, coffee, and pistachio.  Though the surly teenage employees working behind the counter as a major turn off, the underwhelming service is soon forgetten once you taste the creamy and velvety — though not overly rich — ice cream.  And even at $3.75 for one scoop, this place is always busy with a surprisingly diverse following, which is asure sign of delectable treats ahead.  The best flavors I’ve tried are green tea and red bean.  Definitely a must-stop if you’re in the city andwell worth the splurge.
Dragon Land Bakery (125 Walker St. between Centre and Baxter Streets)
Of all the bakeries I’ve tried in NYC’s Chinatown, this one has the best sweet buns.  I recommend the pineapple, coconut, and red bean buns, as well as the fluffy Asian cupcakes.  I wouldn’t recommend venturing away from the Asian delectables though: both the fruit tart and chocolate cheesecake are severly lacking in both texture and flavor In fact, thechocolate cheesecake was mysteriously rubbery when I tried it.  The only problem I’ve found, though, is that many of the sweet buns are decorated similarly, so it’s hard to decifer which flavor is which once you bring them home.

Century Cafe (123 Bowery St. between Grand and Hester Streets)
This is one of the larger bakeries in Chinatown on the less popular side of Canal St., but it has plenty of seating (unlike many of its counterparts).  The biggest draw is the steamed pork (cha xiu) buns, which come piping hot from the steamer.  You can even buy them in bulk, freeze them, and then steam them yourself at home.  This particular bakery is also uniquein that it serves savory entrees, such as a combination of stir-friedvegetables pork for just over $3 for a generous serving.  Its certainlybetter than any deal Ive seen on Rachel Rays $40 a Day. 
My little brother, Tony, with his companion: the papaya

(Originally posted Aug. 23, 2010)

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