Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Savoring NYC's Oldest Dim Sum Parlor

Feasting at Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Entering Nom Wah Tea Parlor in the heart of Chinatown is an unforgettable walk back in time.

It's the city's oldest dim sum parlor dating back to the 1920s. You almost feel like you're on a classic movie set. And indeed it has made its way on to the silver screen. All of this ambiance just makes for a richer dining experience.

Plump fried dumplings
Even without the old world charm, the fresh and fabulous dim sum alone is well worth a visit. And you will eat like a king for under $20.

On a recent Sunday brunch visit, two of us gorged on a selection of dim sum, dumplings, and chef's specials.

The requisite pan fried pork and chive dumplings were among the best I've tasted. The plump, juicy mince bursts with each bite.The mountain of Chinese greens ($7.95) is bright and delicious, as is the generous mound of salt and pepper shrimp ($7.95).

More stuffed eggplant, please
But the real standout (and bargain) was the stuffed Japanese eggplant ($3.50). Sandwiched between the thick purple slices is a deep fried briny mixture of fresh and dried shrimp and a hint of squid. The plate rests in a pool of black bean sauce and every last bite is creamy, salty and delicious.

Wilson Tang is the latest generation to take over the family restaurant. His uncle Wally Tang had been at Nom Wah for the past 60 years. Wilson has recently ugraded the kitchen and spruced up the dining room with bright checked tablecloths, but otherwise has retained the classic vintage feel. He keeps a warm, efficient staff serving a busy dining room.

A slice of disappearing Chinatown
While you're waiting for your food to arrive, impress your friends with some fascinating history trivia.

Nom Wah is located on Doyers Street, a tiny elbow shaped speck on the map, named after Hendrick Doyer, an 18th-century Dutch immigrant. Doyer owned a distillery which now houses the drab post office on the block. But what really shocks is the street's ominous former nickname: the Bloody Angle. At the turn of the century, this corner saw vicious violence from Chinatown's gang warfare. Hatchets were the weapon of choice, inspiring the term 'hatchet man.'

Good thing all you have to worry about today is pacing yourself from exploding.

13 Doyers Street
Sun - Thurs 10:30 am - 9 pm
Fri - Sat 10:30 - 10 pm
212 962 6047

Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Urbanspoon


  1. Yay! Am I going to see you tonight there?

  2. I've heard a lot of praises for this dum sum parlor. As old-schooled as the facade tries to replicate, it still doesn't offer the authentic experience of push-carts and elbowing older folks to get to get the best seats. Also, not much dim sum options here, too. At least in the dessert department. But glad you enjoyed your meal :)

  3. Thanks, Kim. Appreciate your comments! I too love the ambiance of dim sum parlors with the push carts, and as you said, watching the older crowds jockey for seats. I also have big respect for establishments with longevity. NYC is one tough restaurant market and a family run restaurant that weathers the time speaks volumes in my book. Fortunately there is room for both types of experiences.

  4. I agree. I like to spend my money on mom and pop stores as well. Gotta keep the family business going. Starbucks or a cheap bodega coffee? I choose the latter. :)

  5. Yay for the mom and pops! They always get my vote. That's why I love living in the East Village too.