Chinatown NY, NY is a second home to me. Even though I grew up in Upstate New York, I would visit my grandparents in Chinatown at least once a month, if not more, for holidays, celebrations, and vacations. After college, I lived there for 7 years before I got married and moved to the suburbs. Now with my own children, I bring them to visit their great grandparents and experience the Chinatown that I know and love.
Our home base is Confucius Plaza, an apartment complex in the middle of Chinatown my maternal grandparents and brother live. My paternal grandparents have passed away and now my brother lives in their apartment. If I’m driving, I always try to make it to Chinatown before 11am so I can get the early bird special in the parking garage under Confucius Plaza. It’s the best $17 I’ll ever spend.
We purposely come to Chinatown hungry because eating is our favorite thing to do besides visiting family. The first meal we eat is dim sum. We’re usually a big group, some mix of my grandparents, parents, husband, daughters, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. We go around 11am to beat the crowds and always to Delight 28 because it is my grandmother’s favorite restaurant. It doesn’t take long before our table is completely covered with steamed rice noodles, pork buns, turnip cake, sticky rice, and several stir fried noodle and rice dishes. We always overeat and then have to walk around Chinatown to help our stomachs digest.
My husband, brother, and dad usually take the girls to the Columbus Park playground. With monkey bars, slides, and swings, it’s one of their favorite playgrounds and they have a total blast every time. My mom, grandmother, and I go shopping for groceries and pastries. My grandfather was a chef and owner of a restaurant in Chinatown so I grew up knowing where to go to get the best food. We go to Mei Li Wah for roast pork buns and Golden Manna Bakery for egg tarts and pineapple buns. Chinatown has so many fresh groceries I stock up on leafy green vegetables, fruit, and live fish. Everyone meets back at my brother’s apartment after playing and shopping to relax, watch tv, and nap. We have to rest our stomachs to be ready to eat dinner.
Chinatown has some of the best food in Manhattan. Depending on how we feel, we will either go out to dinner or eat in. If we want to eat soup dumplings, we’ll go to Shanghai Cafe. If we want to eat Vietnamese pho, we’ll go to Thai Son. Or if we feel like eating more Chinese food, we’ll go to Noodletown or back to Delight 28. Sometimes we’ll just want to relax at home so we’ll cook some of the groceries we bought that day or order in.
My brother’s apartment is the apartment I lived in for 7 years and after I moved out I use to keep some clothes and bathroom toiletries for those impromptu nights I would stay in the city. Those type of nights are a distant memory and now my clothes and bathroom toiletries have been replaced with toys and clothes for my daughter’s so they can play and take baths before heading back to the suburbs with a car full of groceries and a belly full of food.
I hope your Chinatown experiences are as memorable as mine.