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By Craig Nelson in New York—
For the ultimate culinary adventure, nothing beats eating your way through New York’s Chinatown. Not only is it good for your stomach (at least most of the time), it also works wonders on your wallet.
Here’s the only challenge: with hundreds of places to choose from, how can a visitor find the best places without spending hours surfing through online reviews and message boards? Enter Chinatown Chow Down, my new app just released on iTunes. For years I’ve been scouring the nooks and crannies of Chinatown looking for the best eats in the neighborhood.
Below are three of my favorite places in Chinatown to load up on dumplings—the official food of hungry New Yorkers with only a few bucks in their pocket.
106 Mosco Street
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The name really does say it all here. The same woman has been behind the counter for years ensuring a stellar consistency in greasy goodness, if not exactly stellar customer service. But who needs a smiling face behind the cash register when you can fill your belly for only four quarters?
The dumplings have a thick shell, perfect for those looking for a little more dough than meat. Fried Dumpling gets bonus points for being close to Columbus Park. Munch on some porky delights while you enjoy the bustling scene of Mahjong, traditional Chinese musicians, Tai chi, and birds singing in wooden cages.
7 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
This place is a true hole-in-the-wall with a grimy dining area consisting of two tiny counters and five stools. However, the size doesn’t stop people from packing in here at all times. As a result you get some of the freshest pan fried dumplings in the neighborhood. You may have to wait a few minutes, but that just means your dumplings will be hot off the griddle with a perfect crispness that’s hard to find anywhere else.
The skins here are also nice and thin which shows off the juicy filling. Carefully douse the dumplings in sauce, and you have the perfect afternoon snack.
Fu Zhou Cuisine
118 Eldridge St
9:15 a.m. – 9:15 p.m.
While hipsters and tourists crowd into Vanessa’s a few doors down, Fu Zhou Cuisine is a favorite with local Chinese families. Even better, there is usually plenty of space to sit down with a few friends. You know the dumplings here are always fresh, because you’ll see them assembling these tasty gems on a big table in the middle of the dining room.
The dumplings only come one way: packed with a nice mix of pork and chives then steamed to perfection. For two dollars you get 7 hefty dumplings and a free side dish, a miniscule serving of soup in a styrofoam bowl. Choose from a variety of toppings including the housemade dumpling sauce, hot sauce, white vinegar, or extra salty fish sauce. This is chowing down in Chinatown at its finest.
About the author: Craig Nelson lives in New York and is Managing Editor of Not For Tourists. In his free time he tweets at @across106th while wandering the city streets looking for quarters so he can continue important research for his Chinatown Chow Down app.