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Food Tour of Chinatown


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Hi,

My sister is coming from Norway and can't get Chinese food over there; I was wondering if anyone knows of a good food tour of Chinatown to treat her with. Thanks.

Fink

The best part of the Guiniea Pig? The Cheeks! Definately the cheeks!!

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You mean something where she pays someone to guide her? I don't know of such a thing. It might exist, but it really isn't necessary. Give us an idea of her interests, and we can suggest places for her to visit. (Aside: Have you already read up some in relevant threads on this forum?) As for the rest, the neighborhood is small enough to be plenty manageable to just walk around.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It's too late for last Fall's New Yorker tour with Calvin Trillin, but the ICE (formerly Peter Kump's New York Cooking School) offers a $70 dim sum walking tour here. Addie Tomei, my junior-high English teacher many moons ago and the mother of Marisa, offers a more upscale experience, including an optional cooking lesson, here.

A Google search turns up many Chinatown tours, with and without meals, but the above would seem reputable.

"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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$70 for dim sum? That shocks me because dim sum is cheap food, and intended as such. I almost think of an analogy of someone unfamiliar with American food paying a large sum of money to be shepherded through a diner. What's the added value that could make it worth $70 to do a dim sum tour? I just read the description at the link you gave and still don't see the reason why someone would get good value out of paying such a high fee. That is, unless there are details left out of the description that would explain it.

The Savory Sojourns tour does look interesting, though, and includes things that might be difficult or impossible to do yourself, especially as a first-time visitor, so if it looks interesting to you, see what it costs.

For a self-guided tour, another reference to check out other than this forum is eGullet Society member Pitchblack70's Gaijin Girl's Guide to Chinatown. Click on the "Places of Note/NYC Chinatown Tips" link and look through it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Check out these tours offered by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. I haven't been, but they look really interesting and I'd bet are chock full of great info. They don't look like eating tours, but are $12 a head and afterwards you can just pop into any one of the many places recommended in discussions here and go to town with your pocket change.

Also, check out the explorechinatown website run by the NYC Visitors Bureau. They have some good info, maps, and a nice little self-guided tour description, too.

$70 for dim sum?

$70 at Mandarin Court buys you more than 125 steamed buns :raz:

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -- Mark Twain

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$70 for dim sum?

$70 at Mandarin Court buys you more than 125 steamed buns :raz:

And 350 dumplings at Dumpling House!

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Hi,

My sister is coming from Norway and can't get Chinese food over there; I was wondering if anyone knows of a good food tour of Chinatown to treat her with.  Thanks.

Fink

Two eateries in the low budget category are Hop Kee and Wo Hop (downstairs) on Mott St. (Hop Kee is 21 Mott and Wo Hop is 16 Mott) Hop Kee has the best snail in black bean sauce I have ever tasted and more I wish I had the time to write about. Wo Hop has an exciting menu as well. They are both simple and unassuming places but they pack in the crowds almost nightly and stay open late (great for an after theater or club stop over before heading home. I lived in Westchester years ago and would drive down to these two places for Take Out! Now in Chicago, I have to find some place to fill the void...

Memories of home... :sad:

Joe Z.

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I'm surprised to see "Wo Hop" and "exciting" in the same sentence. Wo Hop is one of the oldest old-style Chinese-American restaurants in continuous operation in Chinatown. What's exciting about it, except for someone who's nostalgic for that style?

By the way, welcome to the eGullet Society. :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Having written two books about New York City (New York City with Kids and Relocating to New York) I can tell you that the value of a paid walking tour is not to be found in the food. You're paying for several things: The comfort level of knowing you won't get lost in an unfamiliar, scary, intimidating place. The time savings of having someone else do all the research. The expertise of the tour guide, who is a live person who can answer questions. Some people go on these tours in the hopes of meeting other travelers.

Having grown up in the region I was never a "tour person" util I started working on guidebooks, at which point I had to go on various tours in order to evaluate them. What amazed me was how much I learned and how enjoyable a well-run tour can be. The experience actually changed the way I travel. My procedure these days, upon arriving in an unfamiliar city, is almost always to get on the first available general overview bus tour, whatever is the local equivalent of the Gray Line tours that go around New York on those double-decker buses. In about three hours, you totally get the lay of the land in a new city and you are able to sort out a lot of the good and bad recommendations that you came to town with ("That's the castle everybody was talking about? Forget it!"). I've also started taking some cultural walking tours, especially ones where access has been arranged that might not otherwise be so easy to achieve, like getting into the synagogue in old Jewish London.

There are some things you should look out for: A small group size (not a busload of people). A company that has been in business for awhile. Leaders who have seniority (not students). A tone that you identify with in the literature. For me, as someone who prefers down-to-earth, non-glitzy operators, I favor a company called Adventures on a Shoestring. Howard Goldberg, the wonderfully eccentric owner, has operated these tours for more than 40 years. They are very economical -- the tour fee is only $5 (or at least it was last time I checked, maybe three years ago when I was working on the second edition of NYC w/ Kids) plus you have to pay for whatever food you eat (for example on the Brighton Beach/Little Odessa tour he arranged for a light lunch at Primorski for a flat fee of $5 each including the tip) -- and the tours in and of themselves are real New York experiences on account of Howard and the eclectic clientele. He has no online presence, of course. Call 212-265-2663 for details. He does a Chinatown tour. I've not been on that one but everything he does is good. Another company I can recommend is Big Onion http://www.bigonion.com -- the tour fee is $15 and there are discounts for seniors and students.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Thanks for the feedback everybody, I'll check out my options and post how it works out.

Fink

The best part of the Guiniea Pig? The Cheeks! Definately the cheeks!!

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(Pan, thanks for the support - it means alot!)

Seriously, Finker, if you tell me what your sister's specific tastes are, I can at the very least offer some suggestions as to where would be good to go. (Pan also knows Chinatown and has very good taste in food! :biggrin: )

Believe me, she will love Chinatown. It's a treasure trove in so many ways.

Best,

Janet (Gaijin Girl)

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

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(Pan, thanks for the support - it means alot!)

[...]

You're welcome. I call it the way I see it, and you've done a good job with your blog. But don't be a stranger; come around more often to share your discoveries with us and join in discussions about cuisines, shops, and restaurants and carts you like. :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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What amazed me was how much I learned and how enjoyable a well-run tour can be. The experience actually changed the way I travel. My procedure these days, upon arriving in an unfamiliar city, is almost always to get on the first available general overview bus tour, whatever is the local equivalent of the Gray Line tours that go around New York on those double-decker buses. In about three hours, you totally get the lay of the land in a new city and you are able to sort out a lot of the good and bad recommendations that you came to town with

I agree with what Ellen has said - Having travelled extensively over time :) This has been our strategy too - If my first trip does not inspire we will not return - If it does, then we make frequent visits to the city.

anil

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