Take A Mini Food Tour Of Chinatown + Little Italy!

Today I’m happy to welcome to the blog Sarah Henry, an elementary school teacher who lives in Washington Heights. She’s lived in NYC for three years, and loves being so close to Fort Tryon Park–which offers amazing views of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, and is home to the Heather Gardens and the Cloisters Museum.

In addition to being a rockstar teacher, Sarah is also an occasional contributor to UYC, and you can find her articles here!

What is your favorite way to #TreatYoSelf in the city?

My favorite thing to do is to take about $20 and go on a mini food tour of Chinatown/Little Italy. There are some great hole-in-the-wall places, like the unassumingly named Fried Dumpling on Mosco Street. The dumpling lady (as I call her) is there Every.Single.Day. She never takes a day off. I know this because I first discovered this place during an Urban Adventures tour, and they told me she’s always there, which may account for her somewhat surly attitude. You can even spot her in the HBO miniseries The Night Of during a scene with the defense lawyer and lead detective in the case. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, drop what you’re doing right now and binge-watch the series. And then go have some dumplings. Two dollars will get you eight dumplings (that’s 25¢ apiece, people), which is a lovely light lunch or snack. The pork are the most popular, but there’s a veggie option as well.

If I want something more substantial, I’d head to Excellent Dumpling on Lafayette for some dumpling soup ($5.50, with a free pot of tea).

Dumplings make me thirsty, so my next stop would be at Sweets Bakery, on the corner of Canal and Baxter for a Yuzu Lemonade ($5.00). Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a more funky, floral flavor than your standard lemon. On a hot day, nothing is more refreshing.

Next I’d probably head to my favorite bakery, Lung Moon on Mulberry for one of their delicious, still-warm-from-the-oven egg custard tarts ($1.00). They have all sorts of treats available, such as sesame balls, coconut cakes, and moon cakes.  On a hot day, for dessert I might opt for ice cream from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard, where they have an array of exotic flavors such as lychee, green tea, durian, black sesame, etc. I’m partial to the red bean ice cream.  A small scoop or cup is $4.95.

After that, I’d head north on Mulberry Street to Little Italy. While I prefer Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for real Italian cuisine to the touristy Manhattan enclave, there are a few gems. One is Ferrara Bakery, which has many delicious-looking Italian treats, but I’m a sucker for the cannolis ($2.50 for a classic mini).

By then I’m likely feeling pretty full and have exhausted most of that $20 I mentioned earlier. Before I leave the ‘hood though, I always stop at the neighboring stores Alleva and Piemonte Ravioli to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner. Alleva is self-proclaimed oldest cheese shop in America, founded in 1892. They make their mozzarella fresh on the premises each day, which is a must-have, as well as the prociuitto, which is less salty than mainstream varieties. Plus, the tattooed guy at the counter always gives me extra samples of whatever he’s slicing at the moment.  

Next door, at Piemonte, you can pick up fresh pastas (about $3.00 for a portion for two people), stuffed tortellini, and a hefty box of 50 fresh cheese raviolis for $8.50. They also have an array of homemade sauces.

For more of a splurge, I also love stopping for an Asian massage in Chinatown ($40), or at my favorite place, Okuyama  Body Work in Greenwich Village. If you have some serious knots that need attending to, ask for Mei, and she will annihilate them for a cool $48.

When do you most often utilize this treat?

For the food, anytime I’m in the neighborhood! For the massage, about once a month, usually after a stressful day.

Would you consider this treat to be budget friendly, a sensational splurge, or somewhere in the middle?

This is definitely budget-friendly! Frequent treats are good for the soul.

It seems to be a trend that #TreatYoSelf days tend to come when there is either something to celebrate or when you need a pick-me-up. In the case of the latter, what words of encouragement would you give a New Yorker who is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

A New Yorker’s relationship with the city can be a delicate balance of love and hate. For example, I love the subway when I have a seat on an uncrowded train – it’s leisurely reading time that I certainly wouldn’t get if I were behind the wheel in a traffic jam. But on one of those hot and crowded morning commutes when I’m jammed between the door and a close talker, naturally I hate it.

If you’re having a bad city day where you’re smashed against a stranger’s armpit in the subway, get caught in a downpour with no umbrella, and can’t hear yourself think over the jackhammering of construction, just remember that love for the city will triumph again – just give it a little time, and it never hurts to #TreatYoSelf to help remind you of how uniquely amazing it is to live in New York. 

Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Sarah, and sharing your favorite way to use your city on a #TreatYoSelf day!

If you would like to be notified of when our upcoming #TreatYoSelf In The City book is published later this year, please fill out the form below!  It’s for sure our most exciting project to date, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys:-)

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