Food is everywhere in New York City. There are the “usual suspects”—franchised restaurants and fast-food joints—,a deli at every corner, plus vending machines and street food vendors. Grabbing a bite to eat is convenient and cheap.

Yet I was wary of the food. First, it was very hot and I really didn’t feel like having pizza, burgers, hot dogs or pretzels, foods most commonly found around Manhattan—call me picky. Second, this kind of food isn’t exactly healthy. In New York State, chain restaurants must post calories count on menus and while I usually don’t pay too much attention to nutritional info (let’s just say I don’t obsess over calories), the number beside most items was just scary. Seriously, 500 calories for a pretzel? Or 600 calories for a slice of pizza? That’s like a quarter of the recommended daily calorie intake! At one point, I started to wonder what the hell they put in the food, because portions didn’t seem that big. I think that’s what frustrated me the most: if I have a burger and fries, I expect to have eaten a fair share of calories but I’m also likely pretty full. If I order a small veggie sandwich at the deli, I don’t expect it to be a more fatty meal than a burger and fries… yet it can be. Ugh. Nonsense.

So we decided to focus on ethnic food and small restaurants, hoping to find healthier and more interesting choices. That’s how we ended up in Little Italy and in Chinatown several times for dinner.

Chinatown in Manhattan is huge. It sprawls from Grand Street to Allen Street, and from Worth Street to Lafayette Street. It is both a residential and a commercial area—greengrocers, fishmongers, restaurants, banks, jewellery shops and bakeries are clustered around Mott Street and Canal Street, and some quieter streets have apartment buildings.

The area is very touristic (on a side note, do buy your NYC souvenirs there, it’s much cheaper than anywhere else!) although most people don’t wonder deep into Chinatown but stay around Canal Street, where they can buy fake Louis Vuitton and Rolex bags.

Naturally, Chinatown is home to hundreds of traditional restaurants, and we had great food there, from Northern 饺子 to Southern-style soups. There are also dozens of bakeries selling delicacies like egg tarts, moon cakes, buns, etc. I could have eaten them all day long!

Nearby Little Italy was tiny compared to Chinatown, and didn’t seem as “authentic.” Indeed, much of the neighborhood has been absorbed and engulfed by Chinatown, as immigrants from China moved to the area. What was once Little Italy has essentially shrunk into a single street with a lot of restaurants geared towards tourists, but there are few Italian residents and “real” Italian businesses.

Chinatown is a must see, as you really don’t feel you are in the US anymore! Everything there reminds me of China, and it almost made me feel nostalgic.

Little Italy
Little Italy
Little Italy
God Bless American in Little Italy
Restaurant Street in Little Italy
Police Line… Ah Never Mind, Too Late!
American Flag in Ethnic Neighborhood
Little Italy
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Chinatown
Macdonald’s in Chinatown
Chinatown
Playing Sports in Chinatown
Playing Sports in Chinatown
Signs in Chinatown
No… Pretty Much Everything in Chinatown

Get the latest story, cultural shock and travel pictures right in your inbox

I don't spam, promise.

I literally don't have the time to write ten stories a day.

Visited 5 times, 1 visit(s) today

10 Comments

  1. Cynthia July 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I’ve eaten some pretty decent food in Little Italy, maybe it’s because I don’t know Manathan enough but I’ver never pictured it as a place for foodies.

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Well, I guess NYC can be a place for foodies but the expensive kind. There are a lot of pricey (and good) restaurants, but this wasn’t what we were here for.

      Reply
  2. Jeruen July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Ah, Chinatown. I love that place. I love that one can get congee there, with century egg nonetheless. And jackfruit, why is it that only in Chinatown can one find fruit native from my part of the world? Jackfruit, papaya that’s still green, sweetsop, among other things…

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      I’m not too much into exotic fruits I must say, but I don’t mind century eggs, which a lot of Westerners find gross!

      Reply
  3. Isa July 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Those two were definitely my favourites neighbourhoods of the City. I felt so good walking there. I loved the sport and street scenes, it was the first time I was FEELING New York City. I think I’m taking back what I said before, I want to go back!

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      I liked Chinatown better though, I found Little Italy small and a bit “fake”. You can really get lost in Chinatown though!

      Reply
  4. barbara July 26, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Hi Zhu,
    Lucky me, reading about Chinatown at almost noon… my mind is thinking “dim sum”! Yummy… You are like D & I; if in Chinatown, we would have easily slid into a Chinese restaurant and enjoyed. I have done a sort of reverse culture thing with food; no more fast food burgers & hot dogs when I go back.

    Your photos are very colorful,funny and yes,American. Take me home, Zhu 🙂 Love it.

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Each time I end up in Chinatown, no matter where in the world, I just need to eat there! Food is often awesome and cheap. I’m not a huge fan of Paris’ Chinatown though, never quite got into it. Too much residential I think.

      Reply
  5. Audrey | That Backpacker July 30, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I like all these little snippets of the 2 neighbourhoods. And your photo just reminded me that I had a really delicious meal in NYC’s Little Italy (right on that same street!) last time I was there. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Zhu July 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Glad you enjoyed your meal there! I think a lot of Italian places are hit and miss but we were lucky too.

      Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *