Dinnertime Dim Sum
Dim Sum, that delicious parade of Chinese dumplings and other bite-size morsels, is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast or lunch. Increasingly however, restaurants are offering the same fare at dinnertime, where it pairs just as well with booze as it does with tea. See below for where to get your dinnertime dumpling fix.
202 Centre. St. (at Howard St.)
It’s just a few blocks from the heart of Chinatown, but the surroundings at this glam eatery couldn’t be farther away in other respects. Mirrored walls, mod globe light fixtures, red lighting, and theatrical curtains hint at this spot’s other identity as an under-the-radar nightspot that hosts invite-only dance parties. The uninitiated will have to settle for delectably plump steamed shrimp dumplings and other small-bite fare, which happens to pair well with the menu of elegant Asian-leaning cocktails. And who knows, maybe you’ll snag an invite to come back later.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyers St. (Pell St. and Bowery)
The city’s longest-running dim sum restaurant received an update before it reopened recently (after closing in 2009), though the Deco-era digs remain mostly the same. The faded vintage facade beckons from twisty Doyers Street, and there’s still a chrome diner counter, yellow-painted walls, and red leatherette booths. The red checkered tablecloths are new, and so is the ordering system: No more ladies with carts. Instead, choose from an accomplished menu of stuffed rice rolls, turnip cakes, and other small dishes, made to order and delivered straight from the kitchen. There’s beer and wine, but for some after-dinner hard stuff, Pulqueria and Apotheke are just next door.
97 Bowery (Hester and Grand Sts.)
This slick contemporary restaurant is a bi-level oasis from the Bowery’s grime, a solace to anyone leery of Chinatown’s sometimes grungy environs. Still, the menu is Chinatown-style, which is to say sprawling; narrow your decision by focusing on the lists of Hong Kong and Shanghai-style dim sum. On the former, choose from the usual steamed dumplings, and don’t miss the dessert-worthy Steamed Bun With Milky Egg Yellow. On the Shanghai menu, be sure to order the steamed juicy dumplings (a.k.a. soup dumplings, with the “soup” on the inside). And if a late night is in order, the spot serves the karaoke joint upstairs — and keeps hours to match.
380 Lafayette St. (W. 4th and Great Jones Sts.)
The sceniest of the suppertime dim sum options is decked out like 1940s Shanghai with red paper lanterns, slick lacquered wood, and even a koi pond in the downstairs lounge. Dim sum by Hong Kong import Joe Ng is for real, (though on the pricey side), particularly anything involving shrimp. Dumplings stuffed with shrimp and pork or shrimp and snow-pea leaf stand out, accompanied by an assortment of “dumpling sauces,” and prosaic (yet) tasty turnip cakes and wonton soup are worth a taste too. Specialty cocktails lean fruity and Asian-flavored.
529 Hudson St. (Charles and W. 10th Sts.)
Dumpling wizard Joe Ng pops up again at this far-West-village newcomer, where his signature bites are presented in often playful ways. Pac-Man dumplings are a foursome of cute “ghost” morsels in different colors, pursued by a shrimp-cracker Pac-Man, while spring rolls arrive vertical, with propeller-like crown of dough. The “farm” part is evident in barnlike details including exposed beams, checkered tablecloths and a long communal table in the center.