Okay, I think I can stop coughing just long enough to bang out the rest of this ToC series. Thus, in the words of the immortal Mr. Tone Loc: “Let’s do it.”
Restaurant 9: Fried Dumpling, 106 Mosco St.
Food: The eponymous fried dumplings
Now, my husband loves dumplings and is always on the lookout for The Perfect Dumpling, a mythical food as cheap as it is delicious. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good dumpling too (and god knows, I’m cheap), but I think there’s something about a cheap/good dumpling that fills him with happy nostalgia for his days as a college student at NYU, trying to see how long (and how well) his last five dollars could feed him.
So, while the kid picked herself out something in the big Times Square Toys-R-Us, we were checking our Taste of Chinatown map, deciding which dumpling place(s) to hit up on our return. We decided on Fried Dumpling. We were not disappointed.
Check it out: five freshly made, perfectly crispy and chewy pork and chive filled dumplings for a mere one dollar — and that’s not the special tasting plate price; that’s every day, my friend. And frankly, I’m a little surprised my husband didn’t weep — that’s how good they were.
Restaurant 10: Bangkok Grocery, 104 Mosco St.
Food: Sticky rice with banana and taro
While my husband was queued up to get dumplings, I sat on the curb in front of Fried Dumplings’ neighbor. The line for dumpling was a good 10-20 people deep, but there was no one in front of Bangkok Grocery. I felt kinda bad for the guy manning the tasting station, and I figured it was only a buck, so I bought something.
At first, I was too busy eating dumplings, so I just slipped this into my bag and kept walking. It wasn’t until some time later that I remembered I had bought it and pulled it out for a try. It was impressive — sweet and redolent of banana without being cloying, and sticky without being gluey or gummy. We were all sad to admit we were just too full to finish it.
Restaurant 11: Teariffic Cafe, 54 Mulberry St.
Food: Black milk tea with boba
(Can you tell my husband’s really getting into his role as hand model here?) Yes, I know this is just bubble tea, but it’s really exceptional bubble tea. It’s not sickly sweet and the boba are perfectly firm without having that icky hard center you sometimes get.
On an unrelated note, we passed by this sign which had us intrigued:
Evidently, hopia is “a popular Filipino bean filled pastry originally introduced by Fujianese immigrants in urban centres of the Philippines around the start of the American civil occupation. It is a widely-available inexpensive treat and a favoured gift for friends and relatives.” You know I’ll be trying that next.
So, at this point, we were right back on the cusp of stuffed again, but my husband said he could really go for something sweet, and we did want to try another mystery sweet from Fay Da bakery, didn’t we? So, we went back for another…
Restaurant 6 (again): Fay Da Bakery, 83 Mott St.
Food: Butter pound cake
I have to admit, every time I type “Fay Da,” I hear it in my brain to the tune of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”: Faaayyy… Daaaaaaa… Faayy Daaaaaaaa… Just me? Okay, moving on.
I don’t know what pound cake is to you, but to me, it’s a dense, somewhat dry cake that usually requires the addition of some syrupy fruit to make it palatable. Let me tell you, this was no pound cake.
This cake somehow managed to be airy and creamy at the same time. It was like a cheesecake, whipped into a froth, and then baked into a light, buttery cake.
Thus ends my tour of the Fifth Taste of Chinatown. Now I return to the solace of my couch and cough drops.