Chinatown was a blitz. We jumped from place to place and filled every inch of our stomachs. First stop was Prosperity Dumplings, a shabby, rickety place where dumplings are whisked out to customers in waves. It was cramped in the shop and when we ordered the pork and chive dumplings, the man already had a to-go box of them all set. (Turns out that kind must be popular.) The dumplings were savory and filled with rich meat juices–a great start to our food rampage–but they weren’t necessarily life-changing. Just simply delicious.
Next stop was Xi’an Famous Foods, where the cumin spiced lamb captured my heart. The dish consisted of pieces of lamb in a spicy cumin broth littered with bits of celery and green onion, then accompanied by a pile of coarsely hand-shaven noodles. The noodles weren’t my favorite because they tasted rather doughy and dominated the plate while I was hoping for more lamb instead. I loved the cumin spice, however, and the fiery spiciness. And apparently the oxtails at Xi’an Famous Foods are also iconic.
Pleased with our progress so far, we wandered next door to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a cheerful parlor that showcases a series of unique tastes, many of which are fond flavors like the egg custard in tarts, taro, lychee, almond cookie, and Thai tea. I tried samples of the Thai tea and the lychee and both were exceptionally creamy, but they only had hints of their respective flavors. The lychee sample did have bits of real fruit in it, though. So I continued to peruse the displays and settled on the mango papaya sorbet–which was SUBLIME. It was so good. Light, refreshing, and a perfect balm after the spicy cumin lamb dish. Both fruit flavors were sweet and strong in the sorbet and we ate it slowly, enjoying each scoop.
The final destination was Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant, and we got the famous siu long baos to go, then sat outside Madison Square Garden to eat. I tried one and it was still hot and brimming with hearty meat juices. ‘Twas a fantastic conclusion to our Chinatown blitz.
Totto Ramen was dinner, and we eager customers patiently came early (before the restaurant even opened) to beat a potential line. Fortunately there was no line at all, in fact, and we were promptly seated. I decided to order the spicy ramen and it was a thick broth (which carries a unique reputation because of the addition of spicy sesame oil–excellent) with egg ramen noodles swimming inside along with slices of pork belly and vegetables. It was definitely the best ramen I’ve had so far; noodle texture was soft, soup broth was boldly spicy, and the pork was tender. But in the all ramen places that I have tried, including Totto–there’s just not enough pork. Why.
That just about sums up Thursday’s food escapades–and there are three more days to go.
UP NEXT: Lox & bagels, Shake Shack, and Ukranian food.