"It's a family thing," says Nom Wah Tea Parlor's Wilson Tang of the ritual rush of rattling carts filled with fluffy steamed baos and tins of pork shumai.
"You sit at a big round table and you order tons of tiny morsels to share."
The eternal questions: What to skip and what to order--and where to get the best chicken feet.
We tagged along with Tang on a pro tour through the backstreets of Manhattan's Chinatown, hunting down his (and our) favorite bites.
Chicken feet at Palace 88 ($2 for small bowl): Don't fear the feet! These are fried, then steamed, and served in an ultra-savory sauce here that's more reminiscent of fatty roast chicken skin than toes.
Tofu pudding at Fong Inn Too ($1.25 for small): "Perfect for cold weather," Tang says of this hot bowl of freshly made tofu pudding. Smooth, rich and almost creamy, it's best drizzled with a little honey.
Shrimp rice noodle roll at Hop Shing ($2 for three): You can't beat three plump shrimp bundled up in thin, chewy noodle blankets and splashed with sweetened soy sauce at this price. The old-school diner feel is a nice touch.
Spinach dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go ($3.25 for three): These green-hued pouches of edamame and ribbons of wood ear mushrooms sure are pretty. "It's like eating with your eyes," Tang says.
Egg custard at Bread Talk ($1 for two): Egg custard is often too gelatinous or too sweet, but these hit the right note of jiggly texture and milky, subtle sweetness.
Shrimp and snow pea leaf dumpling at Nom Wah Tea Parlor ($4.50 for four): Tang insists that his take is the best, and we agree. Shrimp and leafy greens are slathered in pork fat, wrapped in dough and then steamed to juicy perfection.
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