Hook a right at Pell and onto the crooked-elbow that is Doyers Street. There, you'll find a restaurant that encompasses the ghosts of the past while fully embracing the spirit of the present.
At 90, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is Chinatown's oldest tea and dim sum spot. Taken over this year by Wilson (Willy) Tang, nephew of 83-year-old Wally Tang, it has received a welcome generational face-lift.
The restaurant still wears its faded red-and-yellow awning, but inside the vintage red booths are cleaner, the tea tins shinier and the lighting brighter. The younger Tang has also tugged Nom Wah firmly into the 21st century with a website and active Facebook, Yelp and Twitter pages. You can breathe a sigh of relief--this is no botched plastic-surgery job.
Instead of translucent shrimp-rice-noodle rolls ($3.50) pushed endlessly around a cavernous dim sum hall, the food is now made to order seven days a week.
Shrimp-and-snow-pea-leaf dumplings ($4), pork shumai ($3.50) and Chinese greens in oyster sauce ($8) are all light and bright. Steamed pork buns ($1.25), lightly greasy scallion pancakes ($3.50) and tender pan-fried turnip cake in XO sauce ($5) are perfect alternatives to American brunch food.
To finish, fried sesame-dotted balls ($3.50) and crumbly almond cookies ($1.50) are sublime with a cup of 20-year pu-erh tea ($4), one of 18 tea selections available.
At the request of customers, Willy Tang has introduced gluten-free and vegetarian menu items. Other welcome upgrades include a beer and wine license and Bruce Costs's fresh ginger ale.
Here's to continuing familial legacies.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers St. (between Pell St. and the Bowery); 212-962-6047 or nomwah.com
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