The New Kamboat Bakery & Cafe (or just Kamboat Bakery) is one of the liveliest bakeries in Chinatown. I started visiting the bakery after seeing videos on YouTube mentioning it for a great place to have a snack.
Since then, I have been visiting often after class for their Roast Pork and Cream filled buns, Curried and Pepper Chicken Puffs, Egg Tarts and other bakery delights that I enjoy for lunch and for snacks.
The bakery section at Kamboat Bakery
The selection of baked goods and entrees is extensive and there are all sorts of puffs, tarts and twists filled with sweet and savory fillings including roast pork, hot dogs and even breakfast sandwiches.
Kamboat Bakery also has a selection of rice rolls and entrees over…
I just started Spring Term at both of my colleges and classes are in full swing. Most everything I am able to handle but my Finance class is giving me a little concern. I still have to work on the formulas a bit more. Outside that, it is not the pressure cooker it was last semester. I still don’t know how I pulled off taking four classes, teaching three classes, three major projects in each and then the holidays and working on my blogs. Read “Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six-Christmas Again” and you will think the same thing:
I never realized how close that Chinatown was to the New York University campus and now that I know, I will be sneaking down there a lot more before and after classes. I need my dumpling fix. Things are getting back to normal in New York City. It is still not the same as 2019 but it has gotten busier. Chinatown has gotten back to its ‘new normal’ with less restaurants and stores.
I have never seen so many ‘For Rent’ signs on buildings and buildings for sale. The outskirts of Chinatown are either being knocked down or gentrified and being replaced by art galleries, fusion restaurants, boutiques and businesses that have nothing to do with Chinatown. It is as if the East Village, SoHo and the Lower East Side are configuring on every corner of Chinatown. It is changing fast.
Chinese New Year is big in Manhattan’s Chinatown and where everyone comes to celebrate. It was too bad that this year the parade was on SuperBowl Sunday. The parade started at one and by three as the parade winded down, people were already leaving to watch the game. As the last of the parade ended with a parade of cars, the lines of people around the barriers were thinning. Even after the parade was over, a lot of restaurants on the fringes of Chinatown were emptying out or empty. I was really surprised by that.
The view of Chinatown before the parade is really spectacular
It was still a nice parade and very lively. I stood further down on the edge of Mott Street and East Broadway where I knew that the crowds would be thinner. We really did not have that big of a crowd by us as it was in the core of Mott Street by Bayard Street. I could see the parade with no problems.
Mott Street in Chinatown about an hour and a half before the parade started
I was starved by the time I got to Chinatown. I was thinking that there would be mobs and crowds so I left early and when I got downtown, it was just an average amount of people running around Chinatown. So I stopped off at Kamboat Bakery at 111 Bowery again on the Bowery for some buns. Now they were busy.
New Kamboat bakery at 111 Bowery
I bought myself a Roast Pork bun, a Cream filled bun and Croissant with a fried egg and sausage (I have been watching too many of those Fung Brothers videos. When I saw it I had to try it). Everything was so good just like the last time I was there.
The Roast pork buns are delicious
The filling is amazing
The food was so reasonable and delicious and the ladies that run the operation are really nice and get you in and out of there. I took my second breakfast to the park with me. The pork bun didn’t even make it there as I ate it along the way.
The Egg and Sausage on a bun at Kamboat Bakery in Chinatown
They doused it with mayo and tucked a little lettuce inside. The perfect breakfast sandwich
The Cream filled Bun was excellent and loaded with sweet cream
While I relaxed and at my second breakfast in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, I just people watched. Families looked like they were getting ready to watch the parade as the younger generations looked antsy about watching the SuperBowl and the Hipsters were lining up at Wah Fung #1 for their roast meat fixes. I swear the line at the restaurant on Chrystie Street never goes down until they close. I bet the owners can’t figure out why the lines are so long to get in.
After my snack and a quick trip to the restrooms, it was off to watch the parade. Since I know the drill in Chinatown, I saw the parade route online and decided to go to the bend closer to the East Broadway turn where I would be able to see more and there are usually less crowds. Right on both accounts this year. The parade was well attended but not like in previous years. There would be plenty of room to maneuver around.
Mott Street when I got there before the parade started
What has shocked me are the number of businesses that have closed along Mott Street. Even at the end of Mott Street the old Hunan Gardens spot which had turned into a grocery store after it closed years later closed during COVID and now the location and the two businesses near it are now all closed. This was not just on Mott Street but on a lot of sides streets as well. So many grocery stores are gone and have been replaced by art galleries. It will be interesting to see where the future of this parade will go as the neighborhood changes.
The parade was a lot of fun. The NYPD started the parade with the Mounted Police, the NYPD Band and then followed by the Jade Society and the Auxiliary. There has been an increase in New York Police of Asian descendancy and it showed with the amount of officers marching in the parade this year. It was much smaller back in 2019.
The NYPD Mounted Police opened the parade
The parade passes by
The NYPD Band
The NYPD Band
The Jade Society-Organization of Police of Chinese descendancy
A big opening to the parade as the police passed by
The beginning of the Lion Dances
The beginnings of the parade
After the police band and officers passed by State Senator Chuck Schumer walked in the parade greeting the crowd. I swear the man would not stand still for a picture.
Senator Chuck Schumer looking down after addressing the crowd
We were then greeted by the contestants and the winner of the “Miss Chinatown” contest. All the ladies were so nicely dressed and everyone applauded them. They all looked a little cold to me as it was not the sunniest morning. They were all smiles and waves.
“Miss Chinatown” court
“Miss Chinatown” and the First Runner Up
The ladies were all smiles and waves and all the little kids were getting a kick out of it. I never saw so many people getting pictures of beauty queens. They were having fun.
The FDNY marched right behind them
The FDNY got the biggest applause from the crowd. The bagpipers were followed by the members of the Phoenix Society, a organization of fire fighters of Asian descent. Their group was smaller than the police but seemed more popular with the crowd especially to the little kids.
The Honor Guard
The local company of “Dragon Warriors” drove in the parade
The Lion Dancers and Dragons were my favorite part of the parade. The music and the spirit of the dance really got the crowd going. They were all over the place bobbing up and down. The dancers did a really good job of engaging the crowd.
The Lion Dancers
The Lion Dance
The Lion Dance up close
The Lion Dancers were in full force in this part of the parade almost vying for bragging rights of who could do it better. It really energized and engaged the crowds who were really getting into it. The music and the dancing were really fun. The music and drumming was fantastic.
The different clubs were performing their best
Have you come face to face with a Lion?
As the parade progressed, we were treated all all sorts of puppets, floats and dancers that bowed and waved to the music of the many bands in the parade. Everyone was setting off poppers so there were streamers everywhere. The sun was trying to peek out and at least it did not rain.
The procession of cars followed by the fan dancers
The Fan Dancers
The Bands lead the way for most of the floats
The School Associations marched in the parade
The bands really livened up the crowds
The floats were very lively that day
Dancers that day were very active that morning
The Dragon dancers were all over the crowds, waving up and down and engaging the crowds. It was a lively dance and people were popping off streamers.
The dragon was all over Mott Street
The Dancers had the Dragon chasing the ball
The next Dragon was leading the next wave of dancers
The next Dragon was so colorful and beautiful
The Families with Children from China was nice to see
The parade ended with a series of cars in a procession
The parade was a lot of fun and I noticed the crowds were a lot bigger in the center of Chinatown. The cars made a lot of noise and by the time they drove through at the end of the parade the crowds started to thin. People were off to the restaurants and snack shops. The Superbowl was in a couple of hours and I would watch the neighborhood empty out.
For dinner that evening, I went back to E Noodle which I had tried several months earlier for dinner. I was pretty shocked that I was the only one in the restaurant. People left Chinatown and went home to watch the game. This is considering that E Noodle is right off East Broadway where the parade passes by I thought I would be fighting the crowds. All the scaffolding is down from the building now and you can finally see the outside of the restaurant.
After the two other tables left for the afternoon, I was the only one eating there for about a half hour but still the service was wonderful and the gentleman working there could not have been nicer to me. The food was excellent. I had the Pork Soup Dumplings and the Flat Noodles with Chicken. Everything was made there and the Soup Dumplings tasted as if they were made just for me then.
The Soup Dumplings were excellent
The Flat Noodles with Chicken were freshly made at the restaurant
Everything for dinner was delicious. I believe that both the Soup Dumplings and the Flat Noodles were made by the women at the restaurant. They brought the food to my table with such price and everything was excellent. I really enjoyed my meal (See my review on TripAdvisor).
The Fung Brothers video on YouTube on E Noodle and Kamboat Bakery
After dinner was over, it started getting dark and I just walked around the neighborhood one more time before I left the City. It got so quiet in Chinatown. If it had not been the night of the Superbowl I am sure it would have been much busier around the neighborhood. Still some of the restaurants in the core of Chinatown were busy and the drink and pastry shops had their crowds. The side streets were rather quiet. Still it was a wonderful afternoon in Chinatown and it is nice to see people back.
Happy New Year!
The view from Chinatown at night of lower Manhattan is pretty amazing
I have been coming to the Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street since it opened in 1978. I remember coming here when I was in high school several times with my parents. The food all these years have been consistent and in all the times I have eaten here, the meals have been terrific.
The one thing I have always liked about the restaurant is that you can see the soups and dumplings being made from the front window. The gentleman who makes the soups has been there for years and I have watched him over all this time day after day when I visited Chinatown make soups with noodles and dumplings for customers all over the world.
There are just some restaurants and shops that are institutions in their neighborhoods and the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is one of them. I have been coming to the store since the 1990’s when I fell in love with their Lychee and Fortune Cookie Ice Creams. What I have loved about the flavors here is that they follow a Chinese-American theme with flavors based on fruits and desserts popular here in the states.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory logo
Since the first time I ate there, I have tried their Almond Cookie, Banana, Mango and Passion Fruit flavors over the years along with some of their seasonal flavors like Pineapple and Strawberry. Since then they have added flavors like Durian, Black Sesame, Green…
I never thought I would see the day that Manhattan would look like Beirut.
Author Dominick Dunne wrote a book years ago entitled “Another City, Not My Own” about his return to Los Angeles after years of being away. It has been four months since the Membership Night at the Met Breuer, and I swear it was almost surreal going back into New York City for the first time in over four months. I felt like I was in exile.
First barely anyone was on the bus into New York. I was one of about seven people on the bus that had to stop in Union City, NJ first before getting into Manhattan. It was strange to see everyone with masks on. It was a real eye opener. I felt like I was entering a different world and you could feel it when we arrived in Port Authority Bus Terminal. I had never seen the terminal so quiet in all my years coming into the City. Even late at night when I used to take the 12:20am or 1:20am buses out of Manhattan, there will still people all over the place at night.
When you get into Port Authority Terminal, there is not a lot of people hanging around anymore. All the stores and restaurants are closed except for a few fast-food coffee places as not everything has opened up yet. Coming out of the terminal, there are no longer the crowds hanging out outside the terminal like there used to be. Everyone is on their way to where they have to go.
I started my walk up Eight Avenue past all the bodegas, fast food restaurants and many closed hotels. This stretch of Avenue was very quiet and because of the recent protesting and looting due to the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis, the Theater District was completely fenced off. You could not walk through that section of the neighborhood. There were a few fast-food places open for takeout and the popular Shake Shack, the upscale hamburger restaurant, was open for takeout and going strong with the few tourists and businesspeople in the area.
Some businesses were still closed and boarded up due to the nights of looting the first week of June during the protests. Plywood covered some of the smaller stores and hotels while most everything else was either starting to open up or opened. This was a very different scene from a week ago.
When I arrived at Columbus Circle, my end point for the project on the West Side, Columbus Circle Park has fencing and guard rails around it. They were trying to protect the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands tall atop a pedestal.
Columbus Circle in its better days
All over the county, people are vandalizing statues of what they conceive as ‘controversial’ historical figures and Christopher Columbus seems to now be a major target. The statue, created by artist Gaetano Russo, was donated by Americans of Italian descent and lead by publisher Carlo Barsotti, was dedicated in 1892 on the 400th Anniversary of Columbus arriving in the New World.
Now the statue, fountain and park are behind fencing to keep vandal from defacing the statue. It is a sad day in this Country when people try to ‘erase’ history because they do not agree with it. Trust me, the police were all over Columbus Circle.
The Christopher Columbus Statue at Columbus Circle
The details on the bottom of the statue
It was even stranger as I walked down 59th Street toward Fifth Avenue. All the hotels were boarded up on the lower levels, the apartment buildings had guards inside and out and to see plywood across the Plaza Hotel and the Park Lane Hotel it almost makes me wonder what Leona Helmsley, who once owned the hotel, would say? The guards and the doorman were standing tall in front of the hotels trying to direct people.
Turning the corner to Fifth Avenue was very calming. All over Fifth Avenue merchants were either taking down the plywood or had taken it down by Monday afternoon when I started my walk. Just six days earlier, businesses were scrambling to put the boards up and now they were taking them down. The guards were still there but there was security inside and out in stores up and down Fifth Avenue.
Bergdorf-Goodman with plyboards (has since come down)
The new Nordstrom Department Store that opened on Broadway was just taking the last of their plyboards down when I took a quick on Broadway to see the store. By the time I passed The Plaza Hotel, Bergdorf-Goodman and the Apple Store had either taken their boards down or were just finishing. Walking further down Fifth Avenue, the condition of the shopping area went block by block.
Fifth Avenue boarded up (still up at the time of this writing)
The exclusive stores on one side of St. Patrick’s Cathedral were still boarded up and Saks Fifth Avenue had taken all the plyboards down but still had guards all around the store. Even Rockefeller Center which just five and a half months ago was mobbed with people for the holidays was fenced off with guards and police all around it. You could only see the fountain in the distance.
Fifth Avenue north of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (still up at the time if this writing)
Saks Fifth Avenue had been really closed off with plywood on the doors and windows and barbed wire against the building. Armed guards with watch dogs monitored the store for several days. When I got there on Monday, the guards and dogs were still there but the boards were taken down, but the store still looked eerie.
Saks Fifth Avenue boarded up (has since come down)
The guards did not look like anyone’s fools, and I walked by quickly on my way down Fifth Avenue to East 44th Street. The Cornell Club which is where I work when I am in Manhattan working on the blog, was closed tight and would not be opening according to the sign until July 1st. Across the street from the club, the headquarters for Brooks Brothers Men’s store, which just declared bankruptcy, was still boarded up tight like that whole section of Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue also was just opening up the afternoon I was in Manhattan.
From East 44th Street, I walked down Fifth Avenue through the old shopping district below East 42nd Street and it was sad to see the old Lord & Taylor building being torn apart for an office building. A company that has been in business since 1826 declared bankruptcy and will be liquidated as soon as stores are allowed too fully open. This was a company that was once one of the best women’s stores in the world reduced to closing because of bad management.
Even Lord & Taylor could not get a break from all this
I rounded the corner at West 34th Street to see Macy’s Herald Square, where I had worked for four years back in the 1990’s when the neighborhood was not that great. The store had just taken the plywood off the store and the windows that were damaged on the night of the looting a week ago had been replaced. There was security and guards all around the store and strangely enough people were eating their lunch in the plaza by Herald Square like nothing had happened a few days earlier.
Macy’s Herald Square boarded up (has since come down)
I could not believe what I saw on TV the night it was being looted and there were small fires outside the store. I had been working at the store during the Rodney King riots, the first attack on the World Trade Center and the problems in Crown Heights but I never thought I would see anything like this as the neighborhood is far better today than it was back then.
Macy’s the night of the looting a week ago
I never thought I would live to see this at a store I worked at for four years
As I walked by the store filled with colorful displays and ‘reopening soon’ signs you would have never known any of this had just happened a week earlier. People were just walking along the sidewalks like it was a regular day.
My walk continued down Seventh Avenue past the Fashion Institute of Technology, which was all boarded up since the campus is closed for classes and guards were all over the place. Here and there small restaurants and shops had now opened for curve side business and deliveries.
I crossed over to West 23rd Street to Ninth Avenue and again small take out places had reopened and drug stores were buzzing with people. There was a lot of people walking around in the neighborhood, taking to one another or walking their dogs. I walked past Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen which was gated at that time as service ended at 1:00pm and there was newsletters and posts on the fence that dated back to March 13th when the Soup Kitchen closed for business.
I walked up Ninth Avenue and crossed over again onto West 38th Street to where all the reasonable restaurants and take out places who cater to the Garment District are located. Most were closed for business but there were still a few Chinese places still open to the workers in the area.
I walked back into Times Square and took the subway to Chinatown. Now that was unusual. The platform had about four other people on it and it was spotless. There were no homeless people hanging around and the everything was very clean. I took the N Subway downtown and the car was spotless as well. I had never seen such a clean subway car. There was only two of us on the car and he was about ten feet away from me. We got to Chinatown the quickest I ever had in all the time I took the subway. Another eerie thing was all the posters on the walls of the subways were dated back from either February or March. By Chinatown, there is still a poster for a failed Christmas film.
Chinatown in lower Manhattan is usually a bustling neighborhood where you can barely walk the streets because there are so many people on the sidewalks. The sidewalks are usually lined on all sides by fruit and vegetable vendors and people selling prepared foods. I had not seen the neighborhood this quiet ever. Even when I visited Chinatown after 9/11 for my birthday dinner it was not this quiet. Almost all the businesses were still closed.
Mott Street which is the heart of Chinatown was deserted. Most of the popular restaurants and take out places were closed. Wonton Noodle Garden, my go to place for Cantonese Wonton Soup, was just doing takeout and delivery. It is hard to believe the last time I had eaten there was March 9th and it was almost empty then.
Most of Mott Street and the side streets were closed for business.
It was strange to walk down a street of closed restaurants and stores. Unlike Little Italy located across Canal Street, they have never closed Mott Street down for outside dining. There were a few restaurants opened here and there and I was surprised that Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard Street was open that afternoon and they looked busy.
I walked all over the neighborhood and one after one of my favorite spots to eat where either closed down or were in the process of opening up again. There were not too many choices to eat at in the late afternoon. Still, I walked to Chrystie Street and my old standby, Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street A, for some fried pork and chive dumplings ($2.00). I swear that just cheered my up after everything I saw.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street (Closed January 2023)
I sat in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park and just enjoyed the warm sunny day. The food at Chi Dumping House could put a smile on anyone’s face. These plump pork and chive dumplings are perfectly fried and crisp and crackle when you bite into them. With a little hot sauce, it was the perfect meal.
The dumplings here are so good
The people who were walking around seemed happy to be outside and that there was calm in the air. It was a beautiful sunny day and people were sitting and talking, jogging around the park and talking to their kids. There was some normalcy in the world that afternoon.
As I traveled back down Canal Street, I needed something sweet to finish off the meal and everyone one of my favorite bakeries was closed so I tried New Cameron Bakery at 242 Canal Street.
The selection was pretty small that afternoon and I chose one of their Sweet Topped Buns ($1.35). A couple of bites of that and it really made the afternoon.
The sweet topped bun
Before I took the E Subway back up town to leave the Manhattan, I took a quick stroll through SoHo (South of Houston), which once upon a time when I was growing up was a manufacturing district and then was an artist enclave in the late 70’s and through the 80’s. By the 2000’s, it had become an extremely expensive and exclusive neighborhood. After a night of looting and stealing, the whole neighborhood boarded up.
SoHo boarded up
I had not seen the neighborhood look like this since the 1970’s and I can’t believe it looked the same when I was a kid. I have to admit the graffiti on the plywood was interesting but not something I really wanted to see here now.
This was truly pathetic
It is a sad day when you see human nature at its worst but I am still convinced that there are more good people in this world then bad and I still think we are winning!
I was just watching ’60 Minutes’ tonight and it has never been scarier to be in New York City. The hospitals are being over-whelmed by patients that are low on supplies and the medical staffs are tired, burnt out and still stepping up to the plate to help get people better. The streets are empty with people as the last of the tourists left two weeks ago and the crowded streets of Manhattan that only in December were packed with so many people that you could not walk seems like a distant memory.
What should have been a great night for everyone. Michigan State WON 80-69!
As you have read from my last two blog entries, I was in Manhattan from March 7th until March 10th walking the International Restaurant Show, watching the Michigan State-Ohio State Basketball game at Blondies Bar on the Upper West Side for who would be the Big Ten Champion (MSU won Go Green Go White) that Sunday night, at the Anthology Film Archives watching Sandra Bullock in “The Net” for a series the movie theater had on 1990’s Internet films on Monday night and then my last night in the City on Tuesday, March 10th for the Gerhard Richter Exhibition at the Met Breuer for a Private Members Night. All this while everything was going on around us.
The night I went to the Anthology Film Archives, I stopped in Chinatown first to go to Wonton Noodle Garden on Mott Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for dinner. What shocked me was how empty the place was that evening. This is a restaurant that is packed all the time and it is open until 2:00am. The only people who were there were myself and two tables of NYU students.
When I asked the waiter where everyone was, he threw up his shoulders and said “Everything going on in the world”. I knew it did not look good that night as the rest of Chinatown was empty. The East Village was hopping with college students and the neighborhood around me was busy but you could feel the mood shifting.
Wonton Noodle Garden’s Cantonese Wonton Soup with Egg Noodles and Roast Pork can cure all ills.
‘The Net’ Trailer
Sandra Bullock can cheer anyone up!
I felt this at the Restaurant Show where you could walk down the aisles of the show and never bump into anyone. The Tuesday afternoon that I went in to see the show one last time by 3:30pm most people had packed up and gone. The show did not close until 4:30pm. They were ready to go by early that morning. So, my last five days in Manhattan I felt the mood changing as people were not sure what to do.
That last night at the Met Breuer as I walked the crowded floors of the museum enjoying the Gerard Richter Show before the opening to the public, I could hear in the corner’s members saying “I am really surprised they did not cancel this.” and “Could you believe this crowd with what’s going on?” It was like all of us knew this was the last night of “ballyhoo”.
All over the world people are banding together to contribute what they can and keep the human spirit alive by volunteering where they can and helping one another out. I know that between my work at the College and the Fire Department everyone has me running around and my spirit of volunteerism is never lacking.
So, to all my readers especially the ones who are displaced New Yorkers remember that New York City has seen it darker days in the past and has risen to overcome them. There is a real spirit in the City that is not replicated anywhere else in the world and we saw that in the 1970’s, 80’s 90’s and on 9/11 to current days.
That was until 1977 when we rediscovered that spirit and said “I LOVE New York!”
To cheer everyone up, I pulled the old campaign from YouTube from the dark days of the 1970’s and 80’s to show how the human spirit can overcome anything if we pull together. So, this special entry of “MywalkinManhattan” is dedicated to all of you who will never let that spirit die both here and where you live now. We will get through this!
After all “WE LOVE NEW YORK!”
The song that started it all:
The original campaign videos:
New York City after 9/11:
The Original Campaign videos from the 1980’s 1-5:
How the “I LOVE NEW YORK” campaign came about:
This excellent documentary was done by a New York High School student in 2006.
Songs that represent the true spirit of New York City:
Native New Yorker by Odyssey:
The Great Liza Minnelli singing the best version of “New York New York”
This was at the beginning of the Pandemic in March of 2020
Chinese New Year in 2021:
I returned to Chinatown for Chinese New Year 2021 and what a change to the neighborhood in just a year. I have never seen so many “For Rent” signs in the core of Chinatown. This pandemic has destroyed so many well-known businesses. Not just restaurants and snack shops that could not adjust to the take out business that many places have had to adopt to now. It was well known gift shops, hair and nail salons, body massage businesses and several well-known bakeries.
When I saw a sign on the Lung Moon Bakery 83 Mulberry Street (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) that the bakery closed its doors after 53 years in business that is telling you there are problems here. Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street (visit my reviews as well on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor as well), which has been there for over 30 years has been closed as well and I am not sure if it is going to be reopened. This is heart breaking because these were my go-to places for years.
The weird part was it was not just on Mott Street, the heart of Chinatown, but on the side streets off Mott and outer parts of the neighborhood reaching out to East Broadway and into parts of the Lower East Side like Hester and Henry Streets. It is not just in Chinatown because at the end of the evening I walked up to Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) to see if that store was still open and walked through the heart of Little Italy Mulberry Street.
Three well known restaurants had closed for business including Angelo’s and Luna which has been mainstays of the neighborhood for over 40 years. A lot store fronts were dark here as well and slowly but surely NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) is creeping further and further into Little Italy. Even the two well known Chinese restaurants on Mulberry Street are now closed for business.
My journey on this gloomy Saturday morning started when I took the C train down to Canal Street and started to walk around Lower Manhattan to see what was open and not. The City had lifted its ban on indoor dining, I think too little to late, for Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. Still even with the 25% indoor dining allowed, people choose to eat outside or else some of the restaurants were not ready to open indoor dining. On a 30 degree day I could not believe that people wanted to eat outside. Even bundling under heat lamps does not make pleasant dining. The mood was festive but people were cold.
It was the second day of Chinese New Year and there were not that many people out in the streets as I thought there would be. In the early morning, there were small groups of people walking around but not the throngs of people on parade day. Last year, the Chinese New Year Parade was very subdued and there were not that many people around the route. The parade was cancelled this year and even though there were lights and decorations all over Mott Street there was not a lot of people walking around.
Chinese New Year 2021-Mott Street
When I visited the provision and grocery stores in the neighborhood, they were mobbed with people doing their grocery shopping telling me that people were opting to stay home and have small intimate dinners with their families. This is where I saw no social distancing.
My project today was to see not just what was happening for the New Year but to visit many of the stores and restaurants I had mentioned on my blogs to see if they were still open. Thankfully many of the establishments that were already take-out were surviving the storm. Plus I came with an appetite.
My first stop was Fried Dumpling on 106 Moscoe Street, a little hole in the wall for fried pork and chive dumplings. The owner/chef is a real hoot. I am figuring she changed her prices and serving sizes to increase sales because I ordered 17 dumplings for $5.00 which I thought was too much to eat but ended up devouring all the them in record time while sitting next to the bathrooms in Columbus Park just off Mott Street. In the summer months this park is packed with people but with the two feet snow piles and over flowing garbage cans, it was not the best place to eat. Even with the cold weather, these delicious little pan-fried pork and chive dumplings can warm any heart in the New Year.
Fried Dumpling at 106 Moscoe Street
After this snack that warmed me up I walked all over the neighborhood, walking the side streets and the Bowery which is the northern border of the traditional neighborhood. Again many of the well known restaurants and stores were either empty or closed for the New Year celebrations.
I walked up and down the side streets of Chinatown that border with Mott Street along Bayard, Pell, Henry, Division and East Broadway to look at the status of restaurants that I enjoy and have written about and to see what is still open there as well. It has not been pretty.
Dumplings at 25B Henry Street, one of the few places left in Chinatown where you can get five dumplings for $1.00 is closed except for takeout (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). That was always the fun of this place was squeezing in and having their delicious pork and chive dumplings. I was always sharing soy sauce with the kids from the local school that would come here for a snack and I would listen in on their very adult sounding conversations.
Dumplings at 25B Henry Street
Walking up the side streets until I got to the Manhattan Bridge was just as upsetting, There were so many closed businesses on all of these streets that I wondered where the locals were eating and shopping. What really surprised me was how many art galleries had opened in the places where provision stores and small restaurants had once been. When I started to see white twenty year olds walking out of the tenements in the neighborhood, I knew that it would not be long until this whole area started to gentrify.
The walk took me further into the Lower East Side then I had ever been. I walked down the length of Catherine Street to the river and then turned around and walked down Market to the park under the Manhattan Bridge to watch the skate boarders. Those kids were really talented. They were performing some amazing tricks.
I stopped at this little deli, the K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street just to take a peek inside. The cook was so friendly to me that I felt I should get something. Even after the 17 dumplings I was still hungry and I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($3.25). It was mind-blowingly good. The roll was fresh chewy and soft and the perfect combination of scrambled eggs with the cheese melted just perfect and crisp bacon. On this cool now afternoon it really warmed me up and I devoured it while I walked along Cherry Street.
K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street
This area of the City is all housing projects and even in the small park in between them all it was really quiet. The one thing I find when I visit the areas around the projects is the assortment of restaurants are so creative with their menus and they are so reasonable. I just popped in and out and looked at their menus.
I walked around Little Flower Park at Madison and Jefferson Street, which lines all the housing complexes and was watching as kids were using the swings in snow drifts. I thought that was dedication of wanting to get outside as the weather grew colder that day.
I walked back down Madison Street and around Monroe Street and back up Market Street to get to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge entrance and then walked around that to Chrystie Street. Then I made the turn to see if my favorite group of restaurants were still open Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street , Wah Fung Number One at 79 Chrystie Street and Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street. I called this stretch of Chrystie Street the ‘triple threat’ as these three restaurants are mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
Even after 17 dumplings and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich I was still hungry so I stopped in at Chi Dumpling House for steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes. This little hole in the wall has the most amazing food and for $5.00 I got an order of steamed dumplings ($3.00) and an order of scallion pancakes ($2.00). Both were just excellent.
Because there was no indoor dining in the restaurant yet, I had to eat them in the park across the street. In between the snow piles and the pigeons, I found a place to sit down. The dumplings and the scallion pancake let off so much steam you could see it in the air. The scallion pancake was loaded with freshly chopped scallions and was pan-fried to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The dumplings were plump and bursting with juice when I topped them with soy and hot chili sauce. They warmed me up at the day grew colder.
I walked back through Mott Street and saw many people twisting poppers and letting streamers into the air. About a dozen people got into it and were having a good time blocking traffic. It was nice to see a little celebrating that day.
Sweets Bakery at 135 Walker Street
My last stop on the agenda was Sweets bakery, one of my favorites in Chinatown at 135 Walker Street, which is right across the street from Sun Sai Gai. The pastries here are just excellent and I have never had a bad baked item from here. I treated myself to an Egg Custard tart ($1.50) and a Pineapple Bun ($1.25). Both had just been baked and were still warm. I started eating them as soon as I left the store to explore Little Italy.
The Egg Custard Tarts at Sweets Bakery are amazing
I devoured them before I crossed the street. The egg custard had a rich creamy texture and was still warm when I made each bite. The taste of the butter in the tart and the eggs was so good. The Pineapple Bun was made of a rich dough and topped with a sweet crumb topping that crackled when I bit into it. It was a nice way to end this ongoing meal.
Walking through Little Italy was just as bad as Chinatown. The main thoroughfare, Mulberry Street was like looking at Mott Street. Some of the most famous restaurants closed like Luna and Angelo’s. I could not believe how many empty store fronts were open. Even for a Saturday night it was really quiet. There were a few people eating inside.
What I did notice just like in Chinatown was that NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) was creeping further and further down Mulberry Street and the surrounding blocks. All of a sudden all these little trendy stores and restaurants started opening up where the Italian restaurants once lined the streets.
I reached my destination, Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), one of the nicest children’s stores in Manhattan and one of the most creative. I was so happy to see that they were still open. I felt a little over-whelmed because the owner was showering attention on me as I was here only customer. She looked determined to sell me something. I guess I looked like a high spender. I was polite and looked around. As a store it is so visually appealing with the greatest window displays.
Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street
The owner showed me all the new clothing that had come in, the artisan toys she was carrying and some new books carried. If I had someone to buy something for I would have bought something. The merchandise is that nice. I was just afraid that she had closed.
I walked back down Mulberry Street again surprised by the number of people in the restaurants and the number of new buildings opening up on the lower part of Mulberry Street. I do not even give it five years before the entire core of Little Italy is just a block if that.
I walked back to the A train up Canal Street and looked at the buildings in various stages of renovations. I have to say one thing that the City is still progressing as COVID still goes on. It is like walking through NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), the neighborhood just keeps getting sandblasted and going through another stage of its life.
Maybe this is what the New Year is about, new beginnings and new life to something. Even though there was no formal parade, there was still the feeling that the New Year was here and let’s hope it is a better New Year!
Happy New Year in 2021! Gong Hei Fat Choi!
Chinese New Year 2021-Very Subdued
Helping Chinatown during the New Year 2021
Chinatown restaurants need help-Chinese New Year 2021
Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020)
After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!
First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.
It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids…
When visiting Chinatown in New York City there are many places to get a reasonable snack. This traditional bakery has been around since the 1970’s and before and has been serving Chinese-American sweets to customers for years.
The family that owns the bakery I have found to be very friendly and engaging with their customers as I am sure that they are used to tourists coming in and out of the store. The bakery has seen a lot of competition over the years with a mass opening of Hong Kong style bakeries and bubble tea shops that litter the entire neighborhood with more opening every day selling pretty much the same food items.
What separates Lung Moon Bakery from the other bakeries is their quality and their prices. I have been…
Sweets Bakery (See review on TripAdvisor) replaced the well-known ‘Dragon Land Bakery’ a few years ago and their baked products consistency and quality are excellent. The prices are very fair as well as most items in the bakery are not over $3.00. The cakes vary in price as well as the beverages.
Most times that I stop there I will have the Sugar Doughnut ($1.40), which is a large almost pillowy doughnut that is large in size and almost three doughnuts in one. The doughnut is skewered and three pieces of sweet dough are fried and then rolled in a large amount of sugar. When you pull it apart, it is like a sea of sugar crystals will fall all over you as you enjoy each bite.
Tao Hong Bakery is a tiny hole in the wall bakery across the street from Sara Delano Roosevelt Park and next to both Chi Dumpling House (79 Chrystie Street) and Wah Fung Number One Fast Food Restaurant (81 Chrystie Street), which makes a nice place for a progressive restaurant experience. You can go to the first two for your appetizer and main dish and then enter Tao Hong Bakery for your dessert. The best part of the experience is that all the desserts are fresh and I watch them bring them out a little at a time (See reviews on TripAdvisor).
The cases are stocked with all sorts of sweet and savory baked items including Hot Dog Buns ($1.00), Pineapple Buns ($1.00) and Raisin Buns ($1.00). All have a distinct sweetness…