After less-than-stellar meals at East Market and the Peking Duck House, my expectations for the rest of my Chinatown meals were not very high. Thankfully, my hopes were rescued by awesome experiences at Great N.Y. Noodletown and 9 Chatham Square.
We arrived for a Sunday lunch at Great N.Y. Noodletown with a group of 10 . The only downside of the meal was that we had to sit at 2 separate tables because this restaurant is small. But the service is fast (and brusque), so the turnover is quick. I was told that their shrimp wonton noodle soup was the house specialty, so who was I to resist? Plus, y’all know how much I love noodles!
Each noodle soup was between $5-6 — a great value considering: 1. the size of the bowl; 2. the quality of the broth and noodles; 3. (most importantly) the number, size, freshness, and tastiness of the shrimp wontons. There were 5 (or 6?) huge wontons in my noodle soup and each wonton was perfection. Seriously — I’m salivating as I recall those wontons. *sigh*
Others in the group ordered different kinds of noodle soups and fried noodles, each with lots of flavor. In the end, the tab for our party of 10 was like $50 (pre-tip?). Amazing.
After lunch, and with a long drive back to Maryland ahead of us, we stopped by 9 Chatham Square for coconut buns and bbq roast pork buns (char siu bao). For days, my family raved about the coconut buns, but as I had missed out on the first batch, I took their words with a grain of salt. I was also, admittedly, a little intimidated by the pushy crowd at the bakery corner/take-out window so I let my bro-in-law do the heavy lifting. (Thanks, B!) He emerged with a dozen coconut buns and 6 pork buns. At 70 cents each, the coconut buns were among the most delicious things I’ve ever had. They were hot and melty, sweet and a little savory… and probably loaded with fat, but who cares? For a quick second, I fantasized of buying their recipe and opening a chain of coconut bun franchises, modeled after Krispy Kreme. Though I’d have to think of my own version of the “HOT NOW” neon sign. Feel free to add your suggestions below.
9 Chatham Square is also known for their cheap dim sum, but we didn’t eat there so I can’t speak to that. From what I could see, the dining room seemed fairly disorderly/chaotic so be forewarned. My advice: run in and scream, “I want X coconut buns!” Then pay and run back out as soon as you can.
So, next time you’re in NYC Chinatown and a little low on cash (or even if you’re not), be sure to stop in at these two fabulous places!