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Getting Familiar with Chinatown NYC

By January 12, 2011 No Comments

By Hyo
New Organizing Project blogger

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I’m not a huge fan of big cities. I prefer seeing greens than gray walls that shoot up so high that all you can wonder is who and what occupy those spaces. I do however enjoy pondering about the historical, social and cultural evolutions of a city. These implications are alive in the architecture of buildings, signs of stores and companies, faces you see walking around and types of food these cities offer.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to explore the Big Apple—New York City (NYC). Proper preparations were in order — packing multiple leggings, scarves and a pair of warm boots to face the cold. With my boyfriend’s kind assistance, our must-see destinations were set and our day was planned out to the T.

Now at my home covered in warm blankets with a cup of tea, I thought long and hard about my experience and the fondest moments of my trip. Without surprise those moments all had to do with food! Not just any food but foods that hold significance to the Asian American community and immigrants who enriched the culture and history of the city.

And so for today’s blog post, I thought to focus on the dishes that caught my eye and tell you a little about the experience. Hope you enjoy!

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We made our way into the city to begin our day with dim sum. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to experience the goodness of dim sum, it’s a special type of Chinese dish that is enjoyed with family over tea as brunch.

I saw many workers unloading their trucks filled with fresh produce and daily inventories for the businesses, signs written in characters and many faces of people hustling to begin their day. I heard unfamiliar dialogues between workers, customers buying the freshest items from street markets and people heading in and out of buildings with red plastic bags.

Photo by Hyo

The Chinatown I explored this past weekend was filled with livelihood of businesses, people and fancy buildings. What was once, I learned, an enclave for recent Chinese Americans to find familiarity in new surroundings has become one of the hotspots of the country, attracting many tourists, travelers and food fanatics. The generations of Chinese American immigrants created a town within a major city that now proudly represents an important part of American history.

While pondering over these thoughts we went to Jing Fong Restaurant on Elizabeth Street, which was packed with so many people. We quickly grabbed our table right by the window and were later on joined by another family. Over dim sum it’s normal to share the table with other diners – communal style. While waiting to be served, I couldn’t stop looking around at other people’s tables and their small bamboo steamers filled with goodies.

Photo credit: Me So Hungry blog

The servers went around the restaurant with carts with different types of dim sum and dishes. Soon our table was filled with many different dishes: chicken feet, duck feet, shrimp and beef dumplings, steamed intestines and Chinese broccoli—of course over tea.

Photo credit: Delectably Scrumptious blog

Photo credit: Me So Hungry blog

I braved myself to try the feet, which was strange in texture but good in taste. As nervous as I was trying something unknown to me, it was exciting and fulfilling to have tried it at all.

Photo credit: Always Hungry NY

My weekend trip that seemed to be filled with expected stops in the city turned into an exploring experience, with unexpected stops, over many different dishes and faces.

With NYC checked off my “To Travel” list, I got a little more familiar with the Big Apple and the diversity that makes the city truly a city worthy of its fame.