Earlier in the year I feared Chinatown will be over shadow by modern restauranteur and wipe out all the Chinatown, New York City classics. Very often these are family owned business and do not have heir to pass on to and very often due to the increasing high rent. Two dim sum restaurants made a comeback and I am delighted for their return.
Dim sum 點心 literally translates to “touch the heart” and is originated from Guangzhou, China. Do not under estimate these cute bite size dishes but dim sum takes many years of training to become a skillful dim sum chef and in Guangzhou and Hong Kong both have continuously to push the boundaries of dim sum.
Last month, January 14th was the grand reopening of one of the remaining old schooled Dim Sum parlor in New York City, Chinatown, known as Hop Shing. When it closed in early June last year, rumors spread it was shut by the Department of Health or they lost the lease and it was closed for good. Thankfully, it was only closed temporarily for renovation and it is now back in business. The interior remains the same and everything looked brand new, all except for the chairs. Hop Shing is a push cart style dim sum restaurant and is generally packed with senior citizens. It is one of the few dim sum restaurant that still offers dine-in and take-out options. Though dim sum is meant to be served in a bamboo steamer and for dine-in at Hop Shing is one of the more delightful treat. It is a place to people watch, the senior citizens carrying on their conversations and chefs with a tray of glistening freshly baked steamed golden brown pork buns parading out from the kitchen. Hop Shing Dim Sum is very rustic unlike what is served at the slightly upscale with the dragon and phoenix back drop. They’re most famous for the Big Bun which is a steamed white bun, the size of two fist with assorted meats stuffed. It’s a little too frightening for me and I’ve always avoid it when my grandmother used to offer it to me when I was little. We ordered our usual dim sum dished, ha gow (shrimp dumplings), shumai (pork dumplings), chicken feet, shrimp roll, shrimp and chives dumplings, turnip cake, and egg custards. After being closed for 6 months, Hop Shing still remains to be a hit. It’s as delicious as I recalled and I can say for the Chinatown community alike, we are all glad to have Hop Shing back!
Few weeks later, around the corner on Doyer Street, a little archway in Chinatown grand reopened the very first Dim Sum parlor in New York City, Nom Wah Tea Parlor. I walk through Doyer Street quite frequently and the exterior of Nom Wah Tea Parlor have always intrigued me, so I was pretty excited for it’s reopening to the public. My mom’s friend from Hong Kong with her daughter from Texas was in town so we made a visit the first weekend Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened its door which was the weekend of Chinese New Year. The interior is preserved with vintage Chinese decoration during the chop suey Chinese food era essence. With communal tables and booths covered in red and white checkers like a fancy pizzeria. The decor has a set made for a film like Shanghai Tang. Nom Wah service was not push cart style dim sum which I found that to be a disappointment. The purpose of dim sum is where women are shouting in Cantonese what is fresh in their cart and where patrons aggressively haunts the carts down and then stamp on your tab, that is quintessentially the whole authentic and fun experience of dim sum. Instead, Nom Wah Tea Parlor which is catered more towards the westerners, and is ordered through a check off list from a paper menu and each dim sum dish is made to order. Nonetheless, I was hungry and we ordered a feast, fried rice, stir fried soy sauce noodles and all the staple of dim sum of course. The best dishes is the steamed Chinese Broccoli, which was seasonally sweet. If you noticed Nom Wah is called a Tea Parlor and not a dim sum parlor. There was a place card on the table with assorted tea offerings with nice descriptions of the flavors. The blends offered are traditional with Tie Guan Ying from the Fujian province and Chrysanthemum, the quality was pretty good that we had asked for several pots of refills. It was unlike most dim sum restaurants bustling with noise but rather as a calm nice alternative dim sum spot to carry on a conversation.
Hop Shing /// 9 Chatham Sq New York, NY 10038
Nom Wah Tea Parlor /// 13 Doyers Street New York, NY 10013