Chinatown is one of my favorite areas in New York City.
It is where I feel connected to my Asian culture, but it also holds a lot of happy memories for me. I remember navigating the busy streets of Chinatown when I was younger as my mom would buy fresh produce, meats and fish from street vendors. I would wander around Asian grocery stores begging my mom to buy me snacks that I couldn’t even pronounce. It’s where I fell in love with bubble tea for the first time and it’s where I introduced Eddie to Vietnamese food.
Chinatown was one of the first areas hardest hit by the pandemic even prior to the shutdown. I was heartbroken to see the area become a shell of what it once was and to see some of my favorite restaurants close down. My mom and I visited Chinatown this past Monday and were elated to see some crowded streets and customers braving the cold for outdoor dining. I know Chinatown can be overwhelming especially if you are not familiar with the area, so I wanted to share 4 small businesses to support in Chinatown NYC to give you a starting point and hopefully encourage you to head downtown to support these Asian owned businesses.
A quick note to consider… bring cash! There are several banks on Canal St so it’s easy to access an ATM to withdraw money, but most of these places only take cash. Also all of the places mentioned are within walking distance so throw on your sneakers and be open to wandering around.
4 Small Businesses To Support In Chinatown NYC
New York Bo Ky
Location: 94 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013
What We Ordered: Curry Chicken over rice, Beef Stew over noodles, Pork Chops over rice
Thoughts: I recently discovered New York Bo Ky on Instagram. I was thrilled to find a Vietnamese restaurant especially after learning about the owner, Mr. Ngo’s story and how him and his family left Vietnam during the war and landed in Thailand before moving to New York. A story similar to my mom’s. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ngo during our visit and he was so incredibly kind and personable. He took the time to explain the menu to us and how the items would be packaged to go for the best experience. He even chatted with my mom in their native Vietnamese language. The experience was a 10/10 and the food did not disappoint. Curry chicken is my favorite meal in Vietnam and his lived up to all of my expectations. My mom’s beef stew was incredibly tender and flavorful. Eddie’s go-to favorite is pork chops and this one did not disappoint. I highly recommend for food, service and price. Most items on the menu ranged from $8 to $10 with our entire meal costing $30.
Location: 69A Bayard St, New York, NY, 10013
What We Ordered: Combo Meal – Original fries with garlic Parmesan seasoning & popcorn chicken
Thoughts: Not necessarily Asian food, but a new addition to the Chinatown scene. The menu is straightforward where you can pick your fries, your seasoning and your chicken of choice. Both my mom and boyfriend are obsessed with fries so this was a must stop for us. A combo meal of high quality fries & chicken for $8 is a STEAL, especially in New York City. We are still talking about how delicious and inexpensive this meal was. It’s made fresh to order, service is great and price is reasonable. We threw our order in the oven when we got home to heat it up and it was perfect. I highly recommend!
Mango Mango Dessert
Location: 63 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013
What We Ordered: Mango Juice with mangos and black sticky rice and a Mango Slush
Thoughts: If you love mangos, this place is absolutely for you. They have a wide assortment of mango themed desserts and I don’t know how they do it but at any given time of the year the mangos are sweet, ripe and delicious. The mango slush has small mango chunks on top which was a nice addition and only $5. The mango juice with sticky rice was fresh and light. It was what my dessert dreams were made of and only $7. I absolutely plan to come back and work my way through the menu. I highly recommend!
Location: 135 Walker St, New York, NY 10013
What We Ordered: Sesame Balls with red beans, Egg custard cake, Mango rice cake
Thoughts: There are a ton of bakeries in Chinatown and it can be quite overwhelming especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. My mom & I have been loving Sweets Bakery as of late. Our personal favorite is the sesame balls with red bean paste on the inside. Red beans are a staple in Asian desserts and while it may sound weird, it’s actually delicious. The sesame ball has a crunchy and chewy texture similar to mochi and the red bean paste is sweet on the inside. The Egg custard cake is creamy and taste like a sweet custard or a flan in a flaky crust. The mango rice cake is chewy, sweet and delicious. There is a large display of treats and you can just point at which ones you want and the workers will grab it for you so it’s very safe and easy to navigate. I highly recommend!
I follow several Chinatown accounts to keep up with what is going on and to find new businesses to support. I highly recommend following @Welcome.To.Chinatown, @explorechinatown, and @sendchinatownlove.
With the Lunar New Year coming up, it really is the best time to visit since a lot of the gift shops have lanterns, red envelopes and other great decorations for the year of the Ox!