Word of advice….
When in Chinatown be aware of what people hand you to try.
Be afraid…. be very afraid. 😉
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from New York Food Tours inviting me on one of their highly recommended tours of the city. Turns out the summer intern was a big fan of the blog and saw I was heading to the city for a weekend away. How could I say no?
I immediately accepted and invited Ashley, Bo, and Derek along for the ride.
Now the question came, which tour should we choose? Each one sounded better than the last. 🙂
Which would you choose? Personally it was all Chinatown for us.
Chinatown is a busy, overwhelming area of New York City that has always been a mystery to the four of us. We all usually walk around in awe of all the delicious looking exotic fruit and entrees, but never know where to go to the get the best of the best or what all the local swear by.
This tour was our chance to learn it all. 🙂
We met our tour guide, Candy, around 2:45 and were handed maps of Chinatown and provided a brief history of the area. One of my favorite part of any food tour tour (and what I loved most about the Chicago tour last month) is the in depth history you are provided throughout the tour. I learned more on the tour than I would through any guidebook or internet site. 🙂
Our 3 hour tour included 7 separate stops to sample various Chinese cuisine and culture. We got to try a little of this and a little of that while figuring out what this whole Chinatown thing was really about.
Our first stop was a little fruit stand where we were offered samples of Lychee.
I’ve sampled Lychee martinis and Lychee Fro Yo, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had lychee straight up before.
The flavor was very sweet and slimy. It’s something I believe would enjoy on a regular basis, but as a one time sample it wasn’t bad.
Next up, Tasty Dumpling.
Where we learned the difference between a dumpling and a wonton is the difference in shape, thickness of skin, and dough.
We sampled Pork & Cabbage Dumplings and a Pork and Chive Dumpling.
I preferred the Pork & Chive combo due to the extra kick the chive provided in each bite. Basically it had a little somethin’, somethin’ the pork and cabbage was missing. 🙂
New Beef King
for Chinese Beef Jerky
We learned the cooking method for Chinese Beef Jerky is a bit different then the cooking process for the beef jerky we know in the U.S. The slower, multi-step cooking process results in a tenderer, juicier jerky that is easy to chew and big on flavor.
It was delicious. If they had accepted credit card I would have easily picked some up to bring home for my Dad to enjoy. I think he really would have liked it!
I was pretty excited our next was – Nice Green Bo – considering I had ate there when I was here in February… ironically due to a suggestion from Ashley.
Scallion Pancakes were on the menu and though I’ve heard the term a million times before, I’ve honestly never tried one myself.
Can’t forget the special sauce.
Loved it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it tasted like a spiced flatbread of sorts.
Our first bakery shop was Mei Li Wah.
I have to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese pastries or baked goods. They have interesting textures and are usually pretty far out there. Just skimming the menu I knew finding something that would make me fall in love would not be easy.
Our tour guide distributed Steamed Roast Pork Buns to the group and -even though this would not have been my first choice – I decided to give it a shot.
The bun was soft and sweet while the pork was savory and warm. It was an odd juxtoposition of flavors that strangely worked in this dish. I wouldn’t order it again, but when in Rome?
I like our second option much better – a deep fried piece of dough that was coated with honey and cinnamon sugar.
An optional side trip was encouraged to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
Tour guide: “It’s a landmark because well… American’s like Ice Cream”
There was an odd assortment of exotic flavors to choose from, but I went with the highly recommended Black Sesame Seed Ice Cream.
It had an odd nut butter taste to it. I had high hopes for this flavor, but am not sure I could finish a whole serving of it.
Fong Inn Too Inc.
Yeah, we weren’t fans.
I should have took a video of Derek trying it. It took him a good minute or two to work up the courage to actually taste it and then he immediately started gagging and spit it out. The silky, airy texture was a bit much for him. And did I mention it was warm and sweet?
Mango Cake aka Marriage Cake
The Chinese are big fans of soft textures. Me? I prefer a crunchy and chewy. The flavor was right, but the texture was just too weird.
We had a little fin at Aji Ichiban. Apparently the chain is HUGE in Hong Kong and is well known for it’s fun candy and snacks as well as their endless amounts of free samples they offer of everything.
Things got a little crazy with wasabi fish and dried squid, but we survived.
I <3 hilarious restaurant names
Pork & Seafood Won Ton with BBq Duck and Rice
We tried 4 or 5 samples and I ended up walking our withe a quarter pound of green tea and some sample tea bags.
Our last stop… I was getting very full by this point.
Time for some Dim Sum
We ate A LOT. We walked alot, we learned a lot, and we had a great time!
I would highly recommend the Chinatown food tour to anyone really looked to experience all the delicious food the Chinese culture has to offer. We had a small, welcoming group, our tour guide was hilarious and we honestly had a great time.
THanks to the wonderful people at New York Food Tours for inviting me along! We all enjoyed it and can’t wait to test out all of the other highly reccommended places one the list! 🙂