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Archive for the ‘Our Hood’ Category

Banh Who? Banh Mi!

12 i like to walk and eat at the same time, that way i am accomplishing two things at once.  this is gross but is also good luck for the guy who just asked me “where did you get THAT sandwich.” it’s the best thing since sliced bread, i tell him, and you can get it right there behind the jewelry booth at 138 Mott.

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Resident Adventurer – Kate Barron

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Everyday holds the potential for greatness.  That is how I like to see it, anyway.  This day just happened to be a chilly winter one in the heart of Chinatown and I, 99 Dolla’s current Resident Chinatown Adventurer.

I lived in New York City for years, and everyday on my way to work I passed through Chinatown (OK, on the subway). Sometimes when my daily grind became too much I would escape to the Canal St. area, hazily wandering solo through the streets and meandering into Chinese hardware stores.  It was always an invigorating and easy way leave the city without really going anywhere.  But these little jaunts were all too hurried and tentative.  I remained intrigued with the neighborhood’s particularly vibrant color and bustle, remarkable even for New York.

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I take my time as Resident Adventurer seriously.  This involves the requisite research and observation.  This involves a lot of walking.  This involves a lot of eating.  On this day, Emily joined me on an afternoon of exploration.  Our first stop was into a dingy, non-descript arcade off of Bowery Street.  We slipped into a sleek Malaysian restaurant, New Malaysia   and ordered a Malaysian coffee, lychee ice, a roti appetizer, and two entrees (curried beef brisket and a chicken dish).  If you like curry it was tasty, though next time I would go for a steaming bowl of noodle soup instead.

img_06073Roaming around a two-floor Chinese variety store on Canal street, we picked up apple-flavored Japanese candies, a ceramic samurai mug and eyed the gorgeous Chinese tins, lanterns and pottery.  Soon we were back outside, adeptly maneuvering through the swarms of shoppers and furtive knock-off purse sellers.  We passed a sign recruiting Chinese b-boys and their boom boxes to a dance off (or at least that’s what I think that sign said).  Bright red decorations to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year (of the Ox) lined the streets and covered the vendors tabletops.

img_05961I can safely say after many years of travel that no one loves to merchandise their city quite like New Yorkers.  This little theory of mine was reinforced at a stop at the local Chopstick store on Mott Street.  They sell, well, chopsticks.  And in particular, I heart NY chopsticks. I was mesmerized.

img_0601img_0602img_0627After all that commerce and hustle, we had no choice: it was time to eat again. So we ducked into one of the many Chinese bakeries in the neighborhood and tried our hand with the almond twist and lemon tart. Yum.  You should also know that a trip to Chinatown without some bubble tea is incomplete.  Armed with that knowledge, we stopped into the Tokyo-esque UiUi tea shop so I could pick up a warm green tea with tapioca “bubbles”.  Note the skilled straw-placement technique.  Years of practice.

img_0651At the end of a long day adventuring, my eyes caught glimpse of a quiet alley under the Manhattan bridge.  One of its walls was artfully lined with delicately handwritten advertisements, their fringed bottoms fluttering in the winter wind.  Written entirely in Chinese, there was little I could comprehend beyond a few numbers, street names.  And so here it was, after our little adventure, proof that our newly acquired knowledge of Chinatown was only just beginning…

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