Chi­na­town

Business Traveller (India) - - INSIDE NEW YORK CITY NEIGHBOURHOODS -

Chi­na­town is sit­u­ated in lower Man­hat­tan, bor­der­ing Lit­tle Italy, an­other neigh­bour­hood of the city. Walk­ing around its bustling streets, I felt tele­ported to a tiny cor­ner of Beijing. Colum­bus Park, lo­cated on Ba­yard Street bus­tles with the ban­ter of elderly gentle­men enjoying rounds of mahjong. You can also spot quirky street bands singing tra­di­tional Chinese songs. I’ve been told that free tai chi lessons are held in the neigh­bour­hood park on sev­eral morn­ings of the week.

My leisurely jaunt through this pic­turesque area brought me to Mott Street. It is re­garded as Chi­na­town’s un­of­fi­cial main street, where you will of­ten find hordes of peo­ple bar­gain­ing for meat and veg­eta­bles at its open mar­kets. Sim­ply watch­ing them ne­go­ti­ate is en­ter­tain­ing, but from a safe dis­tance — it’s ad­vis­able not to in­ter­rupt a heated ven­dor and a shop­per. Ne­go­ti­a­tion here re­quires con­cen­tra­tion and any dis­tur­bance is not taken too kindly. I made my way deeper into the mar­ket. The air was in­fused with the smells of meat and raw seafood in­clud­ing Chinese spe­cial­i­ties like dried scal­lop, abalone and the con­tro­ver­sial shark fin.

On my exit, I spot­ted a vi­brant store called Aji Ichiban (153A Cen­tre Street; open daily 10am-8pm), sell­ing au­then­tic Asian can­dies in­clud­ing su­gar-coated dried fruits, nuts and other crys­tallised su­gar items. A friend had rec­om­mended a visit to the pop­u­lar Nom Wah Tea Par­lour

(nomwah.com; open daily 10:30am-10pm) to sam­ple some tra­di­tional grub. It is a vin­tage dim sum cafe that was founded in 1920, and its spe­cial­i­ties in­clude moon­cakes and var­i­ous types of dim sum such as pork siu mai and minced beef dumplings in soup.

Shortly after, I found my­self on Chi­na­town’s Pell Street. As I walked through the lane, I came across shops with colour­ful win­dow dis­plays draw­ing in tourists. Sold at these stores are Chinese pot­tery, tea ware, Bud­dha stat­ues and other eth­nic goods. After strug­gling to com­mu­ni­cate with a Chinese sales­man, I bought my­self a lit­tle Bud­dha sou­venir that’s rem­i­nis­cent of my ad­ven­ture in Chi­na­town.

Pic­tured: Nom Wah Tea Par­lour

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