This November, we are heading for NYC with friends we traveled to Chongqing with in 2002. We've all been to the world's biggest city together (that would be CQ) but they've never been to the Big Apple. We figured it was as good a place as any to celebrate our fifth Adoption Day with our families.
I had the great luck to correspond with an adoptive mom in Brooklyn, NY who was willing to give me the lowdown on what to do in Chinatown, where to eat, etc. and here's what she shared with me:
Jing Fong: For a more traditional dim sum experience, in a HUGE dining room. On Elizabeth Street. Get there by 11 AM or expect to wait (though it moves quickly)
Dim Sum Go-Go: For great dim-sum that you order from a long list rather than from carts. Big variety, many vegetarian options. Restaurant has a more modern ambience. On East Broadway near Confucious Square.
Joe's Shanghai: For dinner. Famous for the soup dumplings. Go early or wait outside. On Bayard, I believe.
XO: Kind of a hole in the wall, but great congee and stellar har gao (crystal shrimp dumplings)
We've also had dim sum at Ping, Pearl, Triple 8 Palace and Golden Unicorn, all of which were quite good and I'm sure a non-dim sum meal would be good at any of these places as well. They are all well-known in Chinatown.
There are restaurants all up and down Mott, which is one of the main arteries of Chinatown. Often people refer to them by their address number (75 Mott or 25 Mott) and everyone has their favorites. Just ask around.
For dessert, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard can't be beat. Their longon and lychee sorbets are fabulous. For traditional buns and pastries, Fay Da Bakery on Mott near Canal is great--we get our mooncakes there. A few doors down is a traditional tea shop and Aji Iciban, a Japanese snack shop that sells everything from candy to fermented sweet potato, and they have samples of everything. Every place I've mentioned is near the main commercial part of Chinatown.
Columbus park is a great playground/park, where you can see old-timers playing Go and Mah-jong and sometimes playing instruments. The other playground is at Seward Park, which is further east. Any Chinatown map will help you locate any of these places.
Brooklyn:Smith Street is filled with restaurants of every type, except Chinese (well, there's one, Chance, but it's not great for kids). We like Ki and Hana for sushi, but there are several new sushi places we haven't tried yet. Fa'an is pan-Asian and the decor is fun for kids. The food is fine, not outstanding, but also very cheap. Any of the French restaurants are good, and even the fancier ones are used to lots of kids. Same goes for Thai. Gravy is a fun diner, and the attached pizza place is supposed to be great (I'm not a pizza fan). There's a new branch of the Manhattan Italian restaurant Po on Smith now, and it's very pricey, but supposed to be great. Any of the old-timey looking Italian places are good too, just very traditional. On Court Street, parallel to Smith, Joya is great, cheap Thai (but the music can get very loud). Osaka is good sushi, and Sal's is good pizza. Way down Court Street near 4th place is Frankie's Sputino, which is excellent modern Italian food, and a pretty famous restaurant in the neighborhood (Leonardo DiCaprio apparently hangs out there when he's in town--though I've never seen him there). It's a very trendy place, but they're happy to serve kids. Everyone in Brownstone Brooklyn has kids, so they're everywhere :)
So there you have it! A few places to eat and people-watch in the Big Red Apple :)