The Chinatown in Manhattan is actually not the only one in New York City - there are two others in Brooklyn and Queens. The one in Manhattan, with a population of about 90,000-100,000 is one of the biggest in the world. Many of the immigrants here came from southern China, with Cantonese are the predominant dialect.
Chinatown is a great place to sample authentic Chinese - more specifically Cantonese - food. A friend brought me to a very good Chinese restaurant said to be Martha Stewart's favorite (see restaurant tips). For Asians, it is also a place to go to when you yearn for something more of the familiar sights, smells and taste. Actually, Chinatown is a bit of a misnomer as other Asian nationalities are well represented - Thai, Malaysians, Vietnamese, and Filipinos are quite very visible here.
Chinatown is of my favourite parts of Manhattan, especially during the day for some food shopping and local restaurants. If you manage to ignore and avoid those who offer you fake watches or any other kind of stuff you surely not need then you can easily stroll around and find the things you might be interesting in.
To truly experience Chinatown, you have to eat at Dim Sum Restaurant. Order any of the following to enjoy true Chinese cuisine (and not the black gooey soy sauce laden Chinese restaurant crap they throw at you!):
"Har gow" ( shrimp dumplings), "siew mai" (pork dumplings), "lor bak go" (turnip cake), "char siew bao" (steamed roast pork buns), "dahn taht" (egg custard, much like creme brulee but baked pastry) and "jook" (congee/porridge with variety of meat and scallions).
Chinatown is my personal favorite area to shop and eat in , in NYC. It's a little like being in China I would imagine. At least it is as close to China you can get without leaving the U.S.
I love all the little stores and all of the great Chinese restaurants.
We enjoy walking down Canal Street, Mott Street. The markets, shops, restaurants and people watching are just great.
The Pearl River Shop on 477 Broadway is filled with Chinese inspired clothing, giftware & kitchen items at very reasonable prices. The streets are filled with knockoff bags and watches and plastic toys made in China.
We love the many reasonably priced restaurants. As a child & student we lined up on the side walk to get inside Wo Hop at 17 Mott St. The restaurant is clean, service is very fast and the typical Cantonese food is good and very reasonably priced. The portions are huge we always have too much left over. The Excellent Dumpling House 111 Lafayette St. between Canal & Walker has the wonderful Chinese Dim Sum & the women pushing it by in the carts. You point to what you like and they write the price on the ticket. For a few dollars you can really have a fresh & wonderful meal. The Sun Hop Shing Tea House on 21 Mott has all of the wonderful bubble teas is just wonderful. I don't think you could go wrong with good & reasonable food in Chinatown. The restaurants cater to tourists and are very reasonable and helpful.
New York has 3 Chinatowns. One in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.
The one in Manhattan has the most to offer to a tourist though. Some of the best Chinese food is served in Manhattan. What they serve in the Queens Chinatown is the food that most of us Americans consider exotic.
For one week in February Manhattan Chinatown celebrates the Chinese New Year where there are parades and festivals galore no matter the temperature. There is a museum of Chinese Americans, beautiful temples, Chinese ornaments, fountains, furniture, Chinese teas, and Chinese herbs. Early in the morning in Christopher Park and some other open spaces you will find people doing Tai Chi. It is free to join them. On Mott street you will find many accupressurist charging $10 for 10 minutes. Accupressure is like a medical massage or sports massage/physical therapy. Some of these folks are licensed in China just not in the US. ****Make sure you disclose all of your problems before you let them start to work on you. ***
Chinatown in Manhattan (there's one in Brooklyn and one in Queens) is one of the many vibrant and colorful neighborhoods you will find in New York.
This is one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia and where I started to appreciate the diversity that is New York City (and the US for that matter), with the colorful houses, the constant (and sometimes rushed) movement and the food =) On a normal Saturday early afternoon, it was a little crowded and I can only imagine how it is when they celebrate their holidays.
I was reminded of Beijing in the sense that I saw a lot of hairdressers one after the other hehehe.
We happened upon China town purely by accident. This place is mental! so busy and buzzing but I have to say rather overwhelming for me as I couldn't make rhyme nor reason of the streets around here (maybe I had a rubbish map, or maybe my map reading skills are not up to scratch!)
This place has a large chinese community and there are many restaurants and stores selling supplies. you have to go as it is so different to other parts of new york - but next time I go I will be getting a guide who knows their way around!
The best way to see and experience Chinatown is with a local and lifelong resident. Blue Panda Tours ( www.bluepandatours.com ) has a guide whose family has three generations of history in Chinatown, a rarity since most of Chinatown composes of immigrants from the past 40 years. The guide will take you on a personal guided tour around Chinatown for a full 2 hours and change. It ends with a dim sum lunch that's included with the tour package. Blue Panda tours also have other New York city walking tours. But this one is probably the most fun!
June 6, 2009 - We just finished walking the Brooklyn Bridge going from east to west and saw the City Hall of New York, and the map said Chinatown was nearby...I asked 2 Chinese ladies on a bench the direction and they said just follow "Central St".
True enough, my DNA relatives (I am partly Chinese myself) did not lie...before me were several Chinese restaurants and bargain stores after a short walk. Shirts were being sold for just $3, and great caps for 3 for $10 -- but I came here for the food! It was notable that there were also lots other Asian restaurants, like Vietnamese.
But this Chinatown is supposedly the biggest Chinese enclave in the USA --- bordered by Chambers Street to the South, East River to the East, Broadway to the West, and Canal Street to the North....that's a huge area. And I saw many more restaurants that iwanted to check out in the next few days!
There's really not much Chinese architecture as in other Chinatowns -- maybe there is a Chinese pagoda somewhere that I missed? Well, I just like walking around Chinatowns because of my heritage....
And if you do get lost, not to worry --- subway entrances are accessibly situated...
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