Thursday, 3 February 2011

Exploring Chinatown, New York

Last weekend, a friend and I made a mad dash to go to Chinatown in New York. We found it so crowded and that's because the locals were preparing for their new year's celebration. It was also a day when the the New Yorkers and tourists came to explore and shop in Chinatown.
Relying on the efficiency of the New York subway, we checked online at (NYC) and got our directions. It ended up to be one straight ride all the way to Canal Street.
 As soon as we got out of the metro station at Canal St. and Broadway St., we caught sight of mini-malls selling just about everything they think you will want, like lots of fashion accessories.
 By the way, the prices are not fixed. We mastered the art of haggling by starting to say that we were only willing to pay 70% of the quoted price. When we thought they had not gone down enough in prices, we would walk away. Some vendors went after us and gave us their best prices, which were anywhere from 30% to 50% off.
There were sidewalk vendors who sold their goods at cheaper prices.
 We continued walking without really knowing where we were going, but soon we decided we wanted to find a super market and a dimsum place. We asked for directions. It was interesting that the directions we got consisted of pointing to which direction to take and counting corners before we turned left or right. It was all helpful. 

Coming from Canal St., we turned left on Centre St., and right on Hester.
 We passed a bakery shop and they were stocked up for the forthcoming new year's celebration.
 Some vendors selling Chinese vegetables like bok choy, lotus roots, and ginger.

We walked by a some restaurants which were part of Little Italy, that bordered on China town.
These Chinese new year decorations were being sold all over town.
We were near our destination now.
The Hong Kong Supermarket is the popular market in the neighborhood. It has everything that you will need for your daily or festive meal preparations.
There were tons of fresh produce, with prices cheaper by almost 40-60% than the city supermarkets.
The seafood prices were cheaper by about 30%. You will also find things here that are not available in other markets, like fish egg roe.
 These sweet desserts and other delicacies were in demand for the upcoming celebration.
 There were shelves and more shelves of oriental condiments.
 One side of the store was filled with rice varieties.
 We made it to the cash register, after navigating our way through the crowds, to pay for our good finds: some fruits and vegetables, flounder, egg roe, sesame oil, and shrimp preserve (bagoong).
 As we continued walking, we noticed this sign about the availability of freshly-baked baguettes every hour. 

 We just had one more thing to buy, dimsum. Some Chinese cops pointed us toward the right direction, to go to the restaurant right next to 98 Elizabeth St.
 At the Grand Harmony Restaurant, there is a Dimsum-to-go counter.
 We ordered Chinese steamed buns (Char Siu Bao) and pork-baked buns, butchi balls, and...
my favorite, the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves!
 The restaurant was full of the local Chinese people and that said something about the place.
 Back on Canal St., this store sign caught our attention - it was translated to Tagalog. They sure consider the Filipino population a good market.

We walked back to the metro station and quickly window shopped and looked around the rest of the time.

This is what my friend whipped up for our late lunch:
Steamed Fish, Chinese style
Steamed Bok Choy
Fish Egg Roe

The recipes were quite easy. There are no precise measurements to follow. It's made with just a little bit of this and and a little bit of that. If you want to make your own version, this is how we prepared our meal:
* PREHEAT oven to broil setting.
1. Line the bottom of a pyrex dish  - place a bed of cut up fresh onion (4 inches long) and add thin strips of giner  - spread out over the bottom of your dish. Salt the bottom of the pyrex lightly. 
2. Lay the flounder filltes over step 1.
3. Do step 1 over the top of the fish fillets. Add a little bit of water to the dish. Broil for about 10 minutes (times may vary depending on how thick your fillets are).
When cooked, drizzle some soy sauce over the fish followed by a tablespoon of sesame oil (warmed up previously in a small sauce pan) over the fish fillets.
4. On your stove top, steam the bok choy, for about 3 minutes.
5. Fish Roe:
Procedure - saute some spring onions and ginger. Add the fish roe and start separating it with your spatula and when cooked add some vinegar and salted-shrimp preserve (bagoong). Taste and add more vinegar and salted-shrimp preserve according to your taste, or serve with vinegar and salted-shrimp preserve on the side.

This was a very tasty comfort food on a cold day. However you will prepare your food to celebrate, I wish you Kung Hei Fat Choi!


  1. I love your photos of your adventure through China Town. It was a pleasure looking at them.

  2. Thanks, Ajlouny. I love going to China Town, anywhere I am n the world. I normally go to eat, and of course shopping. I look forward to visiting the one in Paris, soon.

  3. This is great!...and I thought I knew Chinatown...


  4. Go and explore it. It's like being in a foreign land.



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