Summer In the City: A Day In Chinatown

Summer In the City: A Day In Chinatown

It was early afternoon when I got off the D line subway at Grand street. I began my adventure by searching for a place to get lunch, I was hungry!

My goal was to have Dim Sum for the very first time, but I ended up arriving too late in the day to get it, since most restaurants stop serving Dim Sum at around two pm.

Instead, I went to a Japanese ramen shop and ate the most delicious seafood ramen I have ever had! I found the restaurant off a little side street on Mott, away from all of the traffic. The soup had all sorts of seafood as well as fresh greens and was simmered in a very flavorful broth.

After lunch I began to wander aimlessly and take in the sights. This community was so unique and different from how I was raised! I came across all sorts of interesting markets that sold items I had never seen before in my life.

One store sold only dried or “preserved” foods. The main options seemed to consist of dried mushrooms, preserved ginger, or preserved fish. Next, I came across a candy store that sold all sorts of candied, dried or preserved goodies. They encouraged sampling as much as I wanted so I really took advantage of it. Next to each tin would be a plate filled with samples and then standing all over the store were employees with bags who would fill your order. I tried everything from meat jerky to candied kiwis to spicy candied ginger. I left with some candied plums as well as sweet preserved rose petals.

Eventually I stumbled upon a little bakery that had a strong, sweet aroma emanating out from within. I noticed in the window that the shop was selling this pretty large custards for under a dollar so I figured why not try one? This may have been one of the better decisions in my life. I handed my change to a young girl behind the counter and she came back to me with a small white bag. I found a bench and was shocked to find that the custard pie was actually fresh out of the oven! The pie was in a real metal tin, hot to the touch, and the egg custard was warm and rich. After this experience I decided to make it my goal of the day to explore as many of the bakeries in Chinatown as possible. I wanted to try something completely new to me in each one. Looking back, I honestly may have gone into every bakery in the community.

I tried all sorts of things; mochi balls with various fillings such as peanut butter or toppings such as coconut, fruit tarts, rice balls, rice pancakes, cookies, and then this- a cream bun.

This dessert was unlike any treat I have ever had! When I bit into the bun, I found the dough to be incredibly light and sweet, with a very rich, velvety cream inside. I loved this because it was not overpoweringly sweet. In fact, I think that is the reason why I liked most of these Asian desserts so much.

I also did other things. I went into fish markets, which were a little eerie due to the florescent lights, various live animals, and types of frozen animal feet or heads stacked neatly on counters of ice. The turtle heads in particular made me jump out of my skin because they legitimately looked like dragon heads to me and I hadn’t realized how big they could get. I also went into furniture shops, some warehouses, produce shops, and novelty stores. I even made a brief foray into Little Italy before deciding that I prefer the Little Italy on Arthur avenue in the Bronx.

I ended my trip by sitting in a park and examining the goods of the day. What an experience.

That night for dinner I made soup of all the fresh produce I bought. I must say, I truly didn’t even recognize half the ingredients that I bought but I knew that they were very fresh and they looked good to me. I used a few different types of mushrooms, some greens, many types of onion, and other fresh vegetables to create my evening supper.

It was a nice to be able to look back on all of these photos and remember such a good day, especially while sitting here now in October and looking out my window at this stormy day.

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