I am a first generation Asian-American being half Vietnamese and half Chinese. My first language was Cantonese and I grew up eating Chinese dishes. My childhood memories are comprised of going to the Cleveland, Ohio’s Chinatown and eating dim sum on Sunday mornings. Dim sum was always a family event and the whole chaotic experience of ordering from the ladies pushing carts full of dumplings became familiar. Similarly to my last chapter, there are several dishes that remind me of home here in New York. In the last chapter I wrote about the best taco spot I’ve found that tasted and cost as close to the tacos back home in Southern California. This chapter, I am writing about the best Chinese dim sum and dishes that remind me of my childhood.
If you must settle for the Chinatown experience in Manhattan, there is one dim sum place I have been attending that has been able to avoid tourists and remain under $10. Skip the Yelp suggestions of Golden Unicorn, and Jing Fong and visit Sunshine on 27 Division Street. After several trials to other dim sum restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Sunshine is the most authentic I’ve tasted. It is a smaller restaurant unlike the very extravagant experience you’ll receive at Jing Fong, but the dumplings are always fresh and fairly priced. As most dim sum restaurants, the ladies push carts around the room filled with different types of dishes. The most popular dim sum dishes are typically har gow and shu mai. Har gow is shrimp encased in a rice paper dumpling and shu mai is a pork dumpling.
The best part about Sunshine is that you share a large table with other parties similar as how they do in Hong Kong. Your party will get a complimentary pot of tea and the rest is up for you to decide what you want from the carts! There are a few vegetarian options but most of the dishes do contain meat so the dim sum experience isn’t for picky eaters. Don’t be afraid to point and ask to see what the dishes are. The ladies speak both Cantonese and Mandarin and although there can be a language barrier for those that do not know either, most of them usually show you what they have.
Walking down Canal Street you pass numerous vendors that are trying to appeal to tourists. If you want to skip the hustle and bustle of vendors selling knock off bags in Chinatown Manhattan, try a different kind of chaotic experience in Flushing, Queens. If you’re coming from Manhattan, hop on the 7 train from either Grand Central or Times Square. Take the 7 train all the way to its last stop, Flushing Main Street. There you will get off and be in the center of another Chinatown minus the tourists. Flushing, Queens offers two Asian malls equipped with clothing and grocery stores along with a food court. The New World Mall is a more Westernized experience while the Golden Mall is comprised of small hole in the wall shops. Both are within walking distance from the train stop. Check out the food court in both the malls as they have a variety of options such as hand-pulled Shanghai noodles and dumplings.
As for dim sum in Flushing, Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant offers tasty dishes and a great ambiance. Most dim sum restaurants are in large banquet-like rooms with white table cloths and red walls. Jing Fong and Golden Unicorn in Manhattan’s Chinatown appeal to the traditional dim sum aesthetics but their quality in the actual dishes are lacking. Asian Jewels in Flushing meets both of these points to having a great dim sum experience while also remaining budget friendly. Dishes are marked on your party’s stamp card in either the small, medium, or large section. You don’t really know what each dish costs unless you ask, but at the very end of your meal the waiter will total everything up. I’ve gone with a party of six and a party of just two and each time I hardly spend any more than $10. Sunshine in Chinatown, Manhattan and Asian Jewels in Flushing, Queens are the two tastiest Cantonese dim sum restaurants I’ve had here in New York.
Sunshine: 7 Division St, New York, NY 10013
New World Mall: 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354
Golden Shopping Mall: 41-36 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355
Tricia Vuong is a publishing intern here at the Campus Clipper. She is currently studying Journalism + Design at Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts with a minor in Global Studies. Check out more of her work on her portfolio.
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