An Off-The-Beaten-Path Guide to Chinatown, New York City
Image courtesy of Mmuseumm
You’ve dined on dim sum, frolicked through fish markets, and bartered at sidewalk businesses – so what’s next? Experience New York City’s Chinatown in a brand new light at these off-the-beaten-path places. From designer duds on the down-low to Asia’s funkiest fruit, you won’t want to miss these unconventional Chinatown offerings.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Image courtesy of Apotheke
Describing itself in turn as a ‘stage,’ ‘chemistry lab,’ and ‘theatre,’ Apotheke is not your average cocktail bar. European apothecaries and the absinthe dens of 19th-century Paris serve as the inspiration for this present-day speakeasy, where drinks featuring duck fat scotch and local Chinatown aphrodisiacs are served in unique Austrian crystal glasses.
Inside an inconspicuous office building hides what may be the best desserts in Chinatown. One of many bakeries in the area, Kam Hing Coffee Shop stands out for its signature dish: velvety, cloud-like sponge cakes. Low prices, consistency, and delicious flavors such as pumpkin spice, green tea, and chocolate chip, make this hole-in-the-wall popular with in-the-know eaters.
Satisfy your sweet tooth and your curiosity at Aji Ichiban, a Chinese candy store selling snacks, dried fruits, and jerkies from across Asia. At the Chinatown outpost of this popular Hong Kong confectioner, you’ll find uncommon offerings, such as seafood jerky, green tea Kit-Kats, and crystallized yam.
Not your average fast-food joint, Wah Fung No. 1 is a small spot serving huge flavors. Join in-the-know Chinatown locals and foodies at this takeaway-only eatery cooking up super-sized portions of Chinese barbecue pork, roast duck, and awesomely oily noodles. Even more delicious than Wah Fung’s signature jam-packed food trays are its low price tags, unmatched by any of the eatery’s peers.
Enjoy a peek at New York City’s past at the Doyers Street tunnel, the one-time escape route for people fleeing Chinatown gangs during the 1800s. The tunnel’s razor-sharp curves that enabled rival gangs to surprise each other, earning Doyers Street its reputation as ‘the bloody angle’ – it’s entirely innocuous yet still, somehow, exciting.
Mmuseumm will change the way you think about museums. Fittingly situated inside a freight elevator, this intimate institution focuses on the ‘overlooked, dismissed, or ignored’. Here, temporary and permanent collections have included 2015: A Year in Cookies, The Fake U.S Fast Food Franchises of Iran, and The Last Text Message Received. As the sole sidewalk museum in New York City, the most interesting artifact here may be Mmuseumm itself.
Snap your most revealing photo yet (not that kind) at Magic Jewelry, a tuned-in Chinatown business asking your aura to say ‘cheese’. Visitors of all backgrounds (and beliefs) come here to pose for a portrait and receive an informed reading of the bright colors that appear, thought to depict one’s aura. Whether you’re an aura-aficionado or a tipsy tourist, you’re sure to have a memorable experience at Magic Jewelry.
Snag sold-out styles at Unique Hype Collection, a reseller shop specializing in popular streetwear label Supreme. Due to the nature of the business, you won’t find this closet-sized store in any mainstream guide, but style-savvy New Yorkers know Unique Hype Collection is the city’s best bet for cult-favorite finds you can’t get anywhere else.