Tag Archives: Exploring NoLiTa

Manero’s Pizza 113 Mulberry Street New York, NY 10013

Don’t miss the delicious pizza and the outdoor experience at Manero’s Pizzeria.

 

Don’t miss this wonderful little pizzeria on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown.

Dining on a Shoestring in the New York City area

Manero’s Pizza

113 Mulberry Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 961-6183

https://www.maneros.pizza/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d18954197-Reviews-Manero_s_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

There have been many changes in the Little Italy section of Manhattan and I have been watching slowly disappear over the last ten years. When I was growing up, Little Italy went from Mott Street to Center Street and then from Houston Street to the north and just below Canal Street to the south. Chinatown in the 1970’s was pretty much relegated to Mott Street and the side streets below Canal Street. Then the 1980’s came with the explosion of immigration from all parts of China and then Hong Kong after the Chinese take over of the City in 1997.

Meanwhile most of the people in Little Italy started to move out by the mid to late 1980’s as the second and third generation of Italians went to college and…

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Chinese New Year Celebrations

Day One Hundred and Three: ‘Xin Nian Hao’ ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ or “Happy Chinese New Year”! February 2018 (Revisited February 2020 and 2021)

Happy New Year everyone! I visited Chinatown for the Annual Lunar New Year Parade again in 2020 and it was a great day!

Chinese New Year 2015

The underlining affects of the Coronavirus since Chinese New Year has changed Chinatown business now.

Please watch this video:

https://youtu.be/f5ZeB2zSbX0

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

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

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 on Henry Street

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

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

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

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.

Egg Custard

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

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

mywalkinmanhattan

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

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…

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Chinese New Year at the Asian Grille in East Rutherford, NJ

Day One Hundred and Three: ‘Xin Nian Hao’ ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ or “Happy Chinese New Year”! February 2018 (Revisited February 2020 and 2021)

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020 and 2021)

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 with the help of their parents set off these long cylinders of confetti and streamers. Nothing gets lost in the translation of the holiday as it was a very diverse crowd of people enjoying the beginning of the New Year. I was able to walk around the neighborhood and watch all the families having a ball watching the lions and the musicians play music and dance in front of the businesses that requested them.

The meaning of firecrackers translates to ‘Baozhu’ or ‘exploding bamboo’ that was used in early years to scare off the evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year. It seems that there was a legend of a monster called ‘Nain’, who used to destroy homes every New Year and the use of burning bamboo used to pop to scare him away. Bamboo was replaced with the invention of fireworks. The cylinder tubes are all colored ‘red’ which is a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

I watched the Lion Dances all over Chinatown. These according to custom are to ward away evil spirits from the businesses and bring prosperity for the New Year. There must have been over a dozen of cultural groups from all over the city hired to visit the businesses during the afternoon. It seems that the loud cymbals evict the bad and evil spirits (the picture above is the ‘Lion Dance’ from the Chinese New Year Celebration that I ran for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 at the Asian Grill in East Rutherford, NJ).

I walked all over the side streets of Chinatown and stopped in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the opening festivities of the New Year that were sponsored by Better Chinatown USA. The place was mobbed with people. All the kids were playing games, or the families were socializing with one another. It was so busy that I took a walk around the neighborhood, walking through the fringes of what is left of expansion of Chinatown into the Lower East Side, which is quickly gentrifying. The Lower East Side has gotten very hip over the years.

When I rounded the corner at Hester Street, I came across Chicken V (see review on TripAdvisor-Closed in 2019) at 124C Hester Street, a small Taiwanese fried chicken place that I found out has a branch in Brooklyn. I decided to order something different and got the Chicken Omelet, which was a chicken wing stuffed with fried rice, the popcorn chicken, which was made with thigh meat. I ordinarily hate this, but they did a great job with the seasoning and OFC French Fries. Everything had a salty, garlicky taste to it and the popcorn chicken I could taste a hint of ginger and garlic in it. If you like salty food this is the place for you.

Chinatown Parade

Chinese New Year Parade on Mott Street

I walked around the Bowery and crossed back over into the heart of Chinatown as it started to rain. It had been threatening all day and it started to pour after 4:00pm. The last of the Lion Dancers were performing outside a business on Mott Street and all the restaurants at that point were still busy with people wanting to get out of the rain. The streets were quiet but were loaded with the remains of firecracker streamers and confetti.

My last stop in Chinatown before I headed uptown was Sun Sai Gai See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 220 Canal Street, which has been my go-to place for roast pork buns ($1.00). I love this place. It is a little on the dumpy side, but it is one of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown and I have always enjoyed it.

Sun Sai Gai.png

Sun Sai Gai in Chinatown at 220 Canal Street

http://www.sunsaigai.com/

As it poured rain, I saw the last of the people begin to leave Chinatown. To celebrate the beginning of the New Year was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in Chinatown. People of all ages and races were enjoying the festivities and families really were enjoying their time together.

Chinese New Year 2020:

In 2020, the weather was almost the same thing. The day of the Firecracker Festival and Lion Dance it rained and drizzled the whole day. I had to be uptown the whole morning and afternoon, so it was a not a nice day to be in Chinatown.

For the parade day, the sun came out and it was really pleasant for most of the parade. With it being an election year, both Congressman Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill DeBlasio were marching in the parade. So, there was a lot of security around. The beginning of the parade had the Lion and Dragon Dances and those were really energetic. The bands really got the crowd going.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Jade Society (the Asian Police Society) and the Phoenix Society (Fire Fighters and Paramedics) were out in full force. I swear the Jade Society has tripled since the last parade I went to two years ago or else they were not all out.

Then came all the floats for all the business and cultural organization. Because of the Flu pandemic going on in China and spreading all over the world, a lot of the groups were handing out literature and giving their support of the Mother Country. Some of the churches were handing out prayer pamphlets.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020 II

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The most heartening thing was all the little Girl and Boy Scouts from the local groups. Those kids were so cute. They looked so proud and the parents proud of their children.

The end of the parade it was all political groups and then a long line of sports cars. The parade was over in about an hour or maybe just a little longer. The one thing I did notice was that the crowd was not the same as usual. It usually is much busier in Chinatown for the parade, and I could see that the gift shops had a lot of Chinese poppers and firecrackers left over, more than usual. Two years ago, everyone sold out by the end of the parade and there were none to be found. This year they started to discount them as soon as the parade was over.

This Chinese flu is really scaring people and I think it kept them away from Chinatown today. I have never seen the parade route so quiet or the restaurants busy but not as busy as usual this year. It has really spooked people this year.

Still for the most part is was a sunny day and as the afternoon wore down it got a little cooler. I just went around visiting my favorite snack shops like Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street and Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for lunch and dessert. I swear the ‘Hipsters’ have discovered both places and most of the customers now are white. It is such a change from ten years ago where it was mostly locals.

Chinese Buns III

Don’t miss the delicious buns at Sun Sai Gai

http://www.sunsaigai.com/

Chi Dumpling House (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) is one of my favorite places to eat. It is really bare bones but their steamed and fried dumplings you can get eight for $3.00 and that is a steal. Their soups are really good on a cold day especially their hot and sour soup. Their noodle dishes are wonderful, and the portion sizes are rather large.

Tao Hung Bakery

Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534751813215746&__tn__=C-R

Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street New York, NY 10022

I still go to my old favorites Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street and Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street for my favorite Cream, Roast Pork and Pineapple buns. At between $1.00 to $1.50 they are well worth the money. It really warrants a trip to Chinatown.

Chi Dumpling House

Don’t miss Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for their delicious dumplings

https://www.facebook.com/77dumplinghouse/

Chi Dumpling House 77 Chrystie Street New York, NY 10002

Even though there was a damper on the parade with the flu scare, people were in good spirits and looked like they were having a good time. That’s where the fun really is in celebrating what is positive in this crazy world.

This CBS Report is what the mood is right now:

(I credit CBS News for this report)

Sorry folks but that can’t keep me away from Chinatown. It will always throw my support first to small businesspeople and restaurateurs. This why I created the sites LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com to support businesses not just in New York City but all over the Tri-State area. I think in this economy such support is necessary.

Isn’t it what the New Year is all about?

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

There was an underlining problem on parade day of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it affected business that day. Here is a video shot later on that tells the story since Chinese New Year:

When things head back to normal, head back to Chinatown for lunch or dinner.

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 takeout business that many places have had to adopt to know. 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 of 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 too late, for Chinese New Year and Valentine’s 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

 

 
 

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 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 overflowing 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

 

 
 

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 on Henry Street

 

 
 

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

 

 
 

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 is mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).

Chi Dumpling House

 

 
 

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.

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.

Egg Custard

 

 
 

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

 

 
 

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!Open document settingsOpen publish panel

Chinatown Restaurants in 2021

Chinese New Year 2021: Trying their best to celebrate and spread cheer

 
 
 
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Places to Visit:

Chinatown New York City

All Along Mott, Canal, Bayard and Chrystie Streets and Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

Every February for the start of the Lunar New Year Festival (Started January 28th in 2020)

Places to Eat:

Chicken V (now closed for business)

124C Hester Street

New York, NY  10002

http://www.OFCchicken.com

(718) 255-9222

Sun Sai Gai (now closed)

220 Canal Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 964-7212

Open: Please call the restaurant for hours update

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/115

Tao Hong Bakery

81 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 219-0987

Open: Sunday-Saturday: 7:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15083570-Reviews-Tao_Hung_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/750

Chi Dumpling House

77 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

Telephone: (212) 219-8850

My review on TripAdvisor:

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4277315-Reviews-C_L_Dumpling_House-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905 Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-10:00pm

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/727

Fried Dumpling

106 Moscoe Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 693-1060

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

http://www.fried-dumpling.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020157-Reviews-Fried_Dumpling-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1066

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

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 with the help of their parents set off these long cylinders of confetti and streamers. Nothing gets lost in the translation of the holiday as it was a very diverse crowd of people enjoying the beginning of the New Year. I was able to walk around the neighborhood and watch all the families having a ball watching the lions and the musicians play music and dance in front of the businesses that requested them.

The meaning of firecrackers translates to ‘Baozhu’ or ‘exploding bamboo’ that was used in early years to scare off the evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year. It seems that there was a legend of a monster called ‘Nain’, who used to destroy homes every New Year and the use of burning bamboo used to pop to scare him away. Bamboo was replaced with the invention of fireworks. The cylinder tubes are all colored ‘red’ which is a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

I watched the Lion Dances all over Chinatown. These according to custom are to ward away evil spirits from the businesses and bring prosperity for the New Year. There must have been over a dozen of cultural groups from all over the city hired to visit the businesses during the afternoon. It seems that the loud cymbals evict the bad and evil spirits (the picture above is the ‘Lion Dance’ from the Chinese New Year Celebration that I ran for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 at the Asian Grill in East Rutherford, NJ).

I walked all over the side streets of Chinatown and stopped in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the opening festivities of the New Year that were sponsored by Better Chinatown USA. The place was mobbed with people. All the kids were playing games, or the families were socializing with one another. It was so busy that I took a walk around the neighborhood, walking through the fringes of what is left of expansion of Chinatown into the Lower East Side, which is quickly gentrifying. The Lower East Side has gotten very hip over the years.

When I rounded the corner at Hester Street, I came across Chicken V (see review on TripAdvisor) at 124C Hester Street, a small Taiwanese fried chicken place that I found out has a branch in Brooklyn. I decided to order something different and got the Chicken Omelet, which was a chicken wing stuffed with fried rice, the popcorn chicken, which was made with thigh meat. I ordinarily hate this, but they did a great job with the seasoning and OFC French Fries. Everything had a salty, garlicky taste to it and the popcorn chicken I could taste a hint of ginger and garlic in it. If you like salty food this is the place for you.

Chinatown Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

I walked around the Bowery and crossed back over into the heart of Chinatown as it started to rain. It had been threatening all day and it started to pour after 4:00pm. The last of the Lion Dancers were performing outside a business on Mott Street and all the restaurants at that point were still busy with people wanting to get out of the rain. The streets were quiet but were loaded with the remains of firecracker streamers and confetti.

My last stop in Chinatown before I headed uptown was Sun Sai Gai See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 220 Canal Street, which has been my go-to place for roast pork buns ($1.00). I love this place. It is a little on the dumpy side but it is one of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown and I have always enjoyed it.

Sun Sai Gai.png

Sun Sai Gai in Chinatown at 220 Canal Street

As it poured rain, I saw the last of the people begin to leave Chinatown. To celebrate the beginning of the New Year was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in Chinatown. People of all ages and races were enjoying the festivities and families really were enjoying their time together.

Chinese New Year 2020:

In 2020, the weather was almost the same thing. The day of the Firecracker Festival and Lion Dance it rained and drizzled the whole day. I had to be uptown the whole morning and afternoon, so it was a not a nice day to be in Chinatown.

For the parade day, the sun came out and it was really pleasant for most of the parade. With it being an election year, both Congressman Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill DeBlasio were marching in the parade. So there was a lot of security around. The beginning of the parade had the Lion and Dragon Dances and those were really energetic. The bands really got the crowd going.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Jade Society (the Asian Police Society) and the Phoenix Society (Fire Fighters and Paramedics) were out in full force. I swear the Jade Society has tripled since the last parade I went to two years ago or else they were not all out.

Then came all the floats for all the business and cultural organization. Because of the Flu pandemic going on in China and spreading all over the world, a lot of the groups were handing out literature and giving their support of the Mother Country. Some of the churches were handing out prayer pamphlets.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020 II

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The most heartening thing was all the little Girl and Boy Scouts from the local groups. Those kids were so cute. They looked so proud and the parents proud of their children.

The end of the parade it was all political groups and then a long line of sports cars. The parade was over in about an hour or maybe just a little longer. The one thing I did notice was that the crowd was not the same as usual. It usually is much busier in Chinatown for the parade and I could see that the gift shops had a lot Chinese poppers and firecrackers left over, more than usual. Two years ago everyone sold out by the end of the parade and there were none to be found. This year they started to discount them as soon as the parade was over.

This Chinese flu is really scaring people and I think it kept them away from Chinatown today. I have never seen the parade route so quiet or the restaurants busy but not as busy as usual this year. It has really spooked people this year.

Still for the most part is was a sunny day and as the afternoon wore down it got a little cooler. I just went around visiting my favorite snack shops like Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street and Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for lunch and dessert. I swear the ‘Hipsters’ have discovered both places and most of the customers now are white. It is such a change from ten years ago where it was mostly locals.

Chinese Buns III

Don’t miss the delicious buns at Sun Sai Gai

Chi Dumpling House (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) is one of my favorite places to eat. It is really bare bones but their steamed and fried dumplings you can get eight for $3.00 and that is a steal. Their soups are really good on a cold day especially their hot and sour soup. Their noodle dishes are wonderful and the portion sizes are rather large.

Tao Hung Bakery

Tao Hung Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street

I still go to my old favorites Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street and Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street for my favorite Cream, Roast Pork and Pineapple buns. At between $1.00 to $1.50 they are well worth the money. It really warrants a trip to Chinatown.

Chi Dumpling House

Don’t miss Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for their delicious dumplings

Even though there was a damper on the parade with the flu scare, people were in good spirits and looked like they were having a good time. That’s where the fun really is in celebrating what is positive in this crazy world.

This CBS Report is what the mood is right now:

(I credit CBS News for this report)

Sorry folks but that can’t keep me away from Chinatown. It will always throw my support first to small businesspeople and restaurateurs. This why I created the sites LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com to support businesses not just in New York City but all over the Tri-State area. I think in this economy such support is necessary.

Isn’t it what the New Year is all about?

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

There was an underlining problem on parade day of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it affected business that day. Here is a video shot later on that tells the story since Chinese New Year:

When things head back to normal, head back to Chinatown for lunch or dinner.

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 takeout business that many places have had to adopt to know. 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 of 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 too late, for Chinese New Year and Valentine’s 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

 

 
 

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 overflowing 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

 

 
 

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 on Henry Street

 

 
 

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

 

 
 

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 is mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).

Chi Dumpling House

 

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

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.

Egg Custard

 

 
 

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

 

 
 

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

 
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Chinese New Year 2021: Much more subdued

We need to help Chinatown Businesses in the 2021 New Year!

 

Places to Visit:

Chinatown New York City

All Along Mott, Canal, Bayard and Chrystie Streets and Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

Every February for the start of the Lunar New Year Festival (Started January 28th in 2020 and February 12th in 2021)

Places to Eat:

Chicken V (now closed for business)

124C Hester Street

New York, NY  10002

http://www.OFCchicken.com

(718) 255-9222

Sun Sai Gai (now closed)

220 Canal Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 964-7212

Open: Please call the restaurant for hours update

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/115

Tao Hong Bakery

81 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 219-0987

Open: Sunday-Saturday: 7:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15083570-Reviews-Tao_Hung_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/750

Chi Dumpling House

77 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

Telephone: (212) 219-8850

My review on TripAdvisor:

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4277315-Reviews-C_L_Dumpling_House-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905 Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-10:00pm

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/727

Fried Dumpling

106 Moscoe Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 693-1060

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

http://www.fried-dumpling.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020157-Reviews-Fried_Dumpling-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1066

Sweets Bakery

125 Walker Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 219-2012

Open: Sunday-Saturday-9:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10901318-Reviews-Sweets-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/576

Dumplings (Jin Mei) (Closed Take Out only)

25B Henry Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 608-8962

Open: Sunday-Saturday-8:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5451975-Reviews-Dumplings-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/237

K & K Food Deli

57 Market Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 964-6286

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:30pm

http://places.singleplatform.com/k–k-deli/menu?ref=google

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15168340-Reviews-K_K_Food_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Little Italy runs now from Canal Street up to Grand Street

NoLiTa runs from Grand Street up to Houston Street

Little Moony

230 Mulberry Street

New York, NY  10012

(646) 852-8330

https://www.littlemoony.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-8:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d15351971-Reviews-Little_Moony-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/535

rdpress.com/727

My blogs on Chinese New Year in the past:

Day Two Hundred and Eighteen: Happy New Year 2022

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/21988

Day One Hundred and Three: Happy New Year 2018, 2020 and 2021:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7280

Day Thirty-Eight: Happy New Year 2016:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/1152

Dancing of the Giglio East Harlem

Day Eighty-Four: The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the dancing of the Giglio with the Giglio Society of East Harlem and walking Randalls-Ward Island August 13th, 2017

I have been waiting to come to the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel in East Harlem to see the dancing of the Giglio for months since I had finished the walk in the neighborhood. I was not sure of what to expect since there really are not many Italians still living in the neighborhood. The church I am sure still attracts people from all over the city and I could see that my the members of the lift team.

It was a glorious day for the feast. Warm, sunny and no humidity. You could not have asked for a better day to be outside. The Dance of the Giglio started at 1:00pm and wanting to get into the city early, I took the 10:00am bus into the city. Who knew that I would get uptown two hours early.

I started my day with a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky (now Harlem Taste) Deli at the corner of 110th and First Avenue at 2135 First Avenue, home to the famous ‘Chopped Cheese Sandwich’ (see review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com). I swear, I don’t know what it is about this little hole in the wall deli but the food here is so good! The sandwich was one of the best breakfast sandwiches I had eaten outside my absolute favorite one, the Sausage McMuffin with Cheese at McDonald’s. The sandwich was loaded with freshly cooked eggs, turkey bacon and American cheese. It was put on a hoagie roll and then pressed. For $4.00, it was a steal.

Blue Sky Deli.png

Blue Sky-Harlem Taste Deli at 2135 First Avenue

Blue Sky Deli-Harlem Taste Deli (Haiji’s)-2135 1st Avenue &110th Street NYC, NY 10029

I took my sandwich and sat in Jefferson Park as I have had many times with my lunch and watched the world go by. A lot has changed since March and April. The park was in full swing and all over the place people were playing soccer, baseball, handball or swimming in their giant pool. It was a perfect day to be outside and relax.

All over the park, there were all sorts of birthday parties and family barbecues going on. Families really use this park and it was nice to see multi generations eating together. As I have said before, it is nice to see people socializing without a cell phone glued to their hands. There were lots of balloons and decorations and the boom of Spanish music to entertain them. Its fun to sit and watch people have a good time.

The Feast of My Lady of Carmel started around 1:00pm but the dance started late and everyone finally started to gather around the Giglio around 2:15pm. I give these men and women a lot of credit. The Giglio looked really heavy considering it was the structure itself plus about five musicians and the lead singer. One of the trumpet players was a little ‘zaftig’ to say the least. I will not be participating in this anytime soon.

The program started off with a prayer the patron saint, St. Anthony:

(from the prayer sheet):

Sant’Antonio of Padua: “The Wonder Worker”

St. Anthony is know as “The Wonder Worker” for the many miracles and conversions attributed to him. Although quiet and unassuming he was regarded as a sensational preacher in his time. A Franciscan priest and professor of theology, he gave up teaching to be assigned to preach all over Italy, attracting huge crowds wherever he went.

St. Anthony is often depicted as holding the infant Jesus as it is said that the Christ child appeared to him in visions.

He is known as being of particular help in retrieving lost articles because of a story in which a book of psalms that had been stolen was returned due to his intercession.

He died June 13th at the age of 36. He was canonized the following year and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

The Giglio Society of East Harlem’s roots can be traced to a town several miles from Nola called Brusciana. The annual dancing of the Giglio began in 1800’s inspired by Francisco Vivolo’s vow to St. Anthony, the patron Saint of Brusciana. Francisco vowed to dance the Giglio annually if St. Anthony would help his gravely ill son recover from a very serious illness. The prayers were answered and the dancing of the Giglio in honor of St. Anthony began in Brusciana and still continues today.

Immigrants from Brusciana continue the feast and uphold this grand tradition brought to this country by our forefathers. Our objective is to pass onto our children, as was done with us, the tradition of o’Giglio, truly one of the greatest wonders of the world!”

After the prayer was over, the crowd went wild and the ceremony began. These handlers really worked hard as they broke several boards lifting this structure. It was amazing as some of them were smoking cigars or drinking a beer while they were doing it. The guys all looked like military, construction workers, police and firemen. Some did their job with ease, others looked like it was going to be a long day.

After the prayer, their master of ceremony, Jimmy Alleva , sang a few songs in Italian and I swear that his guy had the most beautiful singing voice. I read his bio online and it seems that he sings in feasts all over the tri-state area. Even though the guy is self-taught, you would swear he is a classically trained opera singer.

After he sang two songs in Italian, he ‘brought the house down’ with the crowd and there was a massive applause . Talk about bringing you closer to God when someone can touch a crowd like this. People were giving him ovations. Then came the lifts.

giglio Harlem 2017 II.jpg

The Dance of the Giglio 2017

Don’t miss this video of the feast:

Like I said, some of these guys were experts and did it with ease and others were really struggling. They lifted that Giglio all over the neighborhood, up and down the street then to the church and back and then the Ladies of the Giglio did there lift and credit to all the women that lifted it along with the men because these ladies held their own. The Ladies of the Giglio did there lift with some of the men and these women were strong. They did a great job as well.

The lifts of the Giglio went on for quite awhile being dedicated to various families who must have made donations to the church. After that it was festival time. One of the announcers said that the feast just keeps getting bigger every year and you could tell by the crowd that more and more people are venturing back into this neighborhood for the afternoon. The place was packed.

Giglio Harlem 2017.jpg

The Giglio

The best part was the fresh zeppole that were cooked right in front of me. There were not that many food vendors on the block so they had control of the whole crowd. For $5.00 for six, these zeppole were some of the best I have had. They came right out of the fryer and loaded with powdered sugar. I devoured those fast.

Zeppole.jpg

Zeppole served at the feast

I walked around the rest of the feast, looking at the small rides and the games of chance. This feast is only two blocks long but a lot of people are packed into this small space. The band kept playing for the rest of the afternoon and groups of families sat under tents on the sidewalks catching up with old friends and members of the church.

It is going to be interesting the fate of this festival in an ever gentrifying neighborhood that has switched from Italian to Spanish to Hipster. The neighborhood is changing fast even in the time I have walked it. More and more is under scaffolding.

I stayed for about two hours and then decided to walk around the neighborhood. My walk took me past the Jefferson playground, down FDR Drive to the dreaded East River Houses (they still have not finished that playground facing the drive) and I walked across the pedestrian bridge to Randalls-Ward Island and walked across the explore the island. I walked the entire length of the island and it took about two hours.

Randalls-Ward Island is a island in the East River bend off Hell Gate and is connected to Manhattan by two pedestrian bridges one on 105th Street and the other on 125th Street plus the bridges leading you to the South Bronx. The island is part of New York County which is where Manhattan is located but it is truly one of those hidden ‘gems’ of the city that most people don’t know exist. I never knew it was there. When I crossed over the pedestrian bridge, I never knew of islands and their dark past. You would never know it from the new playgrounds and ball fields.

From what I had read online, the islands were once separated by a stream called ‘Little Hellgate’ that was filled in years ago to create one island. The reconfiguring of land that you see all over Manhattan, like in Marble Hill and in Battery City. The islands were originally used for farming by the American Indians, Dutch and English but it was during the Civil War, they started being used for a dumping ground.

Ward-Randall Island.jpg

Ward-Randall Island

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/randalls-island/highlights/6515

At various times up until World War II, the islands housed a potter’s field, homeless shelters, a ‘Insane Asylum’, small pox ward and a dumping ground for orphans. They were considered ‘islands for the undesirables’ and most of the city’s problems were shipped to the island, similar to the role that Riker’s Island plays today.

The Ward on Ward-Randall’s Island

You would never know it now with all the new playgrounds, picnic sites, ball and soccer fields, concession stands and thank God, new bathrooms and water fountains. When I got to the island, everything was in full swing on a beautiful sunny day.

You thought the parties were in full swing in Jefferson Park, you should come to Randalls-Ward Island. All over the edges of the island were barbecues with meat sizzling on the grill, birthday parties with balloons with pink and blue all over the place and Spanish music blasting over their heads.  These were not small parties but big family get-togethers. Its nice to see people having such a good time.

Even the ‘hipsters’ are discovering the island mostly hanging around that southern part of the island that faces the Upper East Side and the rapidly developing Queen’s waterfront. Theirs is the quieter section closer to the pedestrian bridge with the better vantage points over-looking the new ‘hipster’ enclaves.

Walking the island took me close to two hours as I walked through the parks and ball fields and under the bridges that crisscrossed the island. There were many natural flower gardens on the northwestern part of the island overlooking Astoria Park on the other side of the river. The Wildflower Meadow was in full bloom and was attracting all sorts of butterflies and honeybees. As you walked in there were all sorts of benches to relax and just watch the view.

Ward-Randall Island II

The entrance to Ward-Randall’s Island

The island is still has remnants of its past. I passed the water treatment plant, a much needed addition to an ever growing city that seemed quiet that day and the FDNY Training Academy which was closed for the afternoon. You could see from the street the size of the academy and how much training these guys really get. It is isolated from the rest of the island.

On the most Northern part of the island , the police have their back offices and training facility and in between both of these are ball fields in which many leagues were playing that day. The nice part was when following the paths there were plenty of new bathrooms and places to just relax as well as snack bars where the prices were not unreasonable.

The New York Psychiatric Center still sits on the northern part of the island like a fortress. The ironic part of this is that it is surrounded by paths of flowers, marshes and lagoons that have been built around the island to clean the water. The Water’s Edge Garden sits just past the Center and offers the nicest views of the new Harlem being built.

.Ward-Randalls Island IV

The New York Psychiatric Center

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Psychiatric_Center

The western part of the island has the nicest walking paths by the water and many different gardens that are in full bloom. I passed the Icahn Stadium, where a small game was going on and could hear the cheers in the background. I kept wondering why such a great set of parks was not being better taken advantage of by the entire city.

I rounded the path back to the pedestrian bridge and while walking across tried to spot the ‘spotters’ that everyone talked about at the East River Houses. I saw a lot of open windows on the top of the complex but not a sole in sight. I will avoid this place in the future now.

East River Houses.jpg

East River Houses

Click to access East%20River.pdf

I walked back to the Q subway on East 96th Street going full circle since my day at Coney Island and took it down to Little Italy downtown. I had such a craving for Italian food that needed to be filled.

Little Italy now is just three blocks by one block and its barely that anymore. Even in between the famous restaurants that still exist, new boutiques are opening. The area is now squeezed into Mulberry Street from Canal to Broome Streets with a smidgen of restaurants up to East Houston, the original border of the neighborhood. Anything above Broome Street is not longer ‘Little Italy’ but ‘NoLiTa’ (North of Little Italy).

Little Italy

Little Italy Manhattan along Mulberry Street

https://www.nycgo.com/boroughs-neighborhoods/manhattan/little-italy

This area has been becoming trendy for about twenty years. Most of the old Italian businesses have closed by the late nineties and have become boutiques and non-Italian restaurants. If my grandfather who was raised here had a crystal ball and had owned one of these buildings, we would have been set.

There is even a change from the ‘red sauce’ restaurants of the past to more sophisticated Italian dining leaving the old restaurants to the tourists. One by one they are closing down or changing hands.  It shows in the food quality.

I went to the Grotta Azzurra at 177 Mulberry Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor), where I have been eating for years and the food quality and service have gone way down. While I ordered my dinner, the table next to me the guest was fighting with his waiter on a glass of wine that he had ordered that he was not happy with and the waiter was giving him attitude. Not smart in an economy like this.

Grotta Azzura

Grotta Azzurra at 177 Mulberry Street in Little Italy

https://www.facebook.com/GrottaAzzurra/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotta_Azzurra_(restaurant)

The food was mediocre at best that night. The fried Mozzarella was cooked perfectly on the outside and not cooked on the inside and I had to send it back. The second batch was better. The manicotti was good and the sauce was decent but the runner who served me the dish dumped so much Parmesan cheese on top all I could taste was the cheese. It was such a waste. The service was good but not great. All of this reflected in the amount of people eating there that night. Most of the other restaurants were much busier than here.

I walked back down Canal Street to the E subway and back to Port Authority to go home. I must have walked five miles today but got to see so much of what makes this city great. The cultural festivals of certain parts of the city have not died yet and still thrive with more attention from outlets like YouTube. It was an interesting afternoon into my own family’s past.

Another great video of that wonderful afternoon:

Places to Visit:

East Harlem Giglio Society

The Feast takes place every August

Home

About Us

East Harlem is accessible by subway on the Subway 6

Ward-Randalls Island

East River Manhattan, NY

You can access it by highway or by walking the bridge at First Avenue and 105th Street

Open: See website

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/wards-island-park/history

Jefferson Park

2180 First Avenue

New York, NY  10029

(212) 639-9675

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-10:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/thomas-jefferson-park

Places to Eat:

Blue Sky (Harlem Taste) Deli (Haiji’s)

2135 First Avenue

New York, NY 10029

(646) 682-7488

Open: 24 hours (currently)

https://www.instagram.com/hajjis110/?hl=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12328617-Reviews-Blue_Sky_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/74

Grotta Azzurra

177 Mulberry Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 925-8775

http://bluegrotta.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 8:30am-11:00pm/Friday & Saturday 8:30am-11:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d424309-Reviews-Grotta_Azzurra_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905