What to Expect During a Dim Sum Excursion in New York City's Chinatown

Being in Chinatown often feels like foreign experience, but don't miss out on the culture and food this unique area has to offer

While the dim sum is worth it, be prepared for crowds and a semi-chaotic environment at Jing Fong.

One of my favorite things to do is to explore the wonders of Chinatown. Generally, I get off at the Canal Street subway station and begin my adventure through the streets of Chinatown with a few bakeries, sweet shops, and dim sum places in mind (dim sum is an awesome alternative to the traditional eggs and bacon boozy-brunch scene most New Yorkers flock to, by the way).

This area of Lower Manhattan is extremely unique and diverse. It really does feel like you're in a different country once you start strolling through the hustle, bustle, and energy of these often-times crowded streets. Mott and Grand Streets are filled with a variety of stands and grocery shops selling all sorts of exotic fruits and vegetables, as well as a large selection of different seafoods, meats, spices, and herbs that are rarely seen in other areas of the city. Think: live blue crabs that are so active they're falling out of their containers, live eels, tons of different dried clams, squids, shrimps, and more.

I have always been fascinated by the fresh, live creatures sold at Chinatowns, especially in New York City's, since there is such a huge variety of Asian cultures represented. Plus, it's home to the largest Chinese population on the East Coast. It's always interesting finding out what exactly it is you're looking at.

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Though the majority of eateries in this area serve Chinese cuisine, which includes cuisines of the many provinces of China, there are plenty of other types of foods offered, including Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian. Not to mention all the specialty noodle shops, tea parlors, and bubble tea spots to munch at as well.

When it comes to dim sum, Jing Fong is always dependable and satisfying. It's a huge restaurant, so large in fact, that to get up to its banquet-like dining room you have to jump on a considerably long escalator ride.

Once you arrive, it can be a bit over whelming. The restaurant gets packed at peak hours and the place is buzzing with numerous roving food carts, offering sweet, savory, steamed, fried, and weird (to me at least) types of dim sum to the crowds. Also offered is a selection of noodles, fried rice, Peking duck, and other traditional Chinese dishes you would more often see at your local Chinese food joint — but way better. Chinatown favorites include: all the fried and/or steamed dumplings (pork and vegetable; shrimp and chive; crab claws... etc.); fried shrimp balls; siu mai; BBQ pork buns; and curry puff pastries, to name a few.

As a huge fan of Asian treats, my go-to dim sum desserts include warm egg custard tarts, rice flour mochi balls filled with a sugary coconut and ground peanut mix; black sesame mochi balls; and custard buns.

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