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Friday, August 16, 2013

NYC Vegan Tour: Chinatown

Chinatown! Fresh noodles, dried noodles, weird twirly vegetables, cheap tofu, fresh made soy milk, green tea, spices, and straight up old school New York as it ought to be.
I went with my friend Jon on a recent day off:

                                                                        Mott Street

                                                                  Acupuncture chart

 Lots of outdoor vendors. Bitter melon, Lychees, Durian (!)
Then we stopped at a large grocery store:

                                             Shen tips, Silk Squash, various choy leaves.

                          Daikon, Dragonfruit, crackers, Grass Jelly (???), Adzuki bean Daifuku

                                                      Looking uptown from downtown

Jon ate some soft tofu with honey drizzled all over it:

I had a fair amount of groceries at home already but I really wanted some fresh noodles. I also bought a Chinese eggplant.

And made this:
I put the noodles in a pot and let the water come to a boil. Then I turned it off and rinsed the noodles in cold water, drained them, and set them aside.
The eggplant was sliced and cooked in a pan with a little coconut oil, garlic, soy sauce, and a splash of water until it was pretty soft and I tossed in some mushrooms at the end for about 3 minutes. I sprinkled the vegetables with red pepper flakes and ume plum vinegar.
Spinach in a bowl, noodles on top, then vegetables and some cubed, uncooked tofu. I added some scallions on top and sesame seeds. After I took a couple bites, I wished I'd remembered to cook some ginger but whatever; I sprinkled powdered ginger on top and added sriracha.
So, yeah, Chinatown rules for special Asian ingredients and cheap vegetables. I did not take photos of any of the PLETHORA of dead animals in the windows or sad, live sea creatures crammed into tanks, but you've got to know they're there so be prepared for that if you visit.
Take the J to Bowery or Canal and wander.

34 comments:

  1. I really haven't spent enough time in Chinatown... I had no idea that durian was so accessible! I'm so curious, if a bit scared, to try it. There's a whole world of produce I still haven't sampled, and seeing such a wide selection of it right in your photos is thrilling. I must explore further!

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    1. Definitely! I saw it at more than one stand, just hanging out...
      I wimped out on a lot of stuff that sounded interesting but I'd have no idea how to prepare. Next time I'll study up first.

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  2. I literally hang out in Chinatown 5X per week! Love it. Everything is so cheap, fresh, and available. I enjoy tofu fa as well and the syrup is not honey, but rock sugar cooked with ginger, hence a hint of ginger taste. :)

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    1. Rock sugar, eh? Good to know! Thanks.

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  3. Hey! I was just in hong kong supermarket the other day! Love that place. I always buy one or two new things i've never tried- best find ever is a koran beef bulgolgi marinade that is vegan! (Wwwhhaaat?) it's pear concentrate, soy, spices and ginger. Not so great- "thick soy sauce". Straight molasses plus soy sauce. Love the packets of $1 sesame seeds and endless miso varieties there too.

    There is a noodle cart guy on grand near bowery and i got a big togo of the plain rice noodles with peanut sauce, scallions, soy sauce like three meals worth (w veggies) for $3!
    Ttrockwood

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    1. The sauce aisle was the best part of that supermarket for sure. Well, and maybe the noodle and mushroom aisles. I made a sauce for a test recipe today that was molasses + soy sauce + other stuff - I didn't realize it was bulgolgi sauce.
      I'll have to go search for that cart on Bowery. Sounds awesome.

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  4. I love Chinatown, I always spend time there when I visit NYC and I can't wait to go back now. I need to go back to that vegan dim sum place!

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    1. This was the first time I'd been there in forever. You are way ahead of me! What was the vegan dim sum place???

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  5. Great post! No snacks for you at house of vegetarian? I just paid a lot more for a dragon fruit. The prices down there are crazy.

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    1. I didn't know about House of Vegetarian beforehand! Now I am kicking myself. Or... I will just go back.

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  6. Oh man! This has me totally excited to check out Toronto's Chinatown! Haven't yet had the gumption to buy durian, but one day. Also yay dragonfruit! Your noodle bowl looks SO GOOD and I'm not even really a fan of eggplant.

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    1. How far are you from Toronto's? It's probably bigger than NY's, don't you think? I'd like to hear how it is!

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  7. How has no one reacted to the grass jelly?! What is that? I don't want it. Also, I know durian is a tropical fruit (?), but I've never tried it. The shell alone looks scary!

    Honestly, it looks like you went on vacation to Asia. Very cool that the signs and atmosphere make it seem that way.

    How are the fresh noodles?

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    1. Hahah I don't think anyone wanted it! It was all dusty! Durian does look very scary. I hear it smells scary too.
      The fresh noodles were great. Unfortunately I couldn't eat them quickly enough and they went bad...

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  8. What a slap in the face that you couldn't spring for a single bunch of Shen Tips. Stings.

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    1. I figure I get enough Shen Tips online. mostly about what ice cream to buy.

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  9. Thanks for the tour — almost like being there, but not quite. The grass 'jelly' is probably agar agar jell, but I wonder what the grass part is. Have you ever found young ginger in Chinatown? We buy it from a Japanese farmer at our farmers market. It's slightly milder and very tender — plump and juicy rather than fibrous.

    The dinner bowl looks great — love rice noodles and have been into spinach lately, in smoothies and bowls.

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    1. maybe the "not quite" part is the best part. No stench. I didn't even look at the ingredients on the grass jelly but you're probably right.
      Didn't notice any young ginger; I'll have to go back. I do remember thinking about yr fresh tofu post, though!

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  10. What an amazing tour!!! I've always been overwhelmed in Chinatown because there is so much good stuff there! Have you ever tried durian? I've heard that once you get past the rotting trash smell it is really delicious. Your noodle dish looks spectacular! Love chinese eggplant :)

    Canal street is too much for me. I've been there twice and have vowed never to return. Way too much going on for me.

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    1. It is pretty overwhelming but luckily my friend knew where he was going and what to maneuver so I just followed him and gaped.
      NO I have never had durian!! Not sure I ever will, heh.

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  11. Nothing I love better than a successful haul from a Chinatown or Asian Market. I have some weird stuff I still have to blog from my last haul!

    Great looking noodle dish, btw.

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    1. I love it too. We have a closer Asian market to work but it's not as cheap.

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  12. Adzuki bean daifuku!!! Only bettered by chestnut and/or black sesame daifuku.

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    1. They had black sesame ones! Not sure about chestnut. I used to love them but it's been a while and the last time I tried them they were a little too mushy for me. Fresh might be better than from the package.

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  13. Wow, I would have loved looking around in Chinatown! You made a great looking meal from what you bought. I had no idea that some of that food you pictured existed!

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    1. I liked the meal a lot! I was only sad that it was so filling and then I let the rest of the noodles go bad :( But they're cheap enough to go back for.

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  14. Grass jelly? Does it really taste like grass? Or am I just sounding like a proper bumpkin? Either way, a wander around Chinatown looks like a day well spent

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    1. No idea WTF about that jelly. Bumpkin here too.

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  15. I can't believe you can do Chinatown! Besides the carcasses and the tanksfull of sad animals, the noise, crowds, and lack of respect for personal space ("Louis Vuitton $35") have been known to run me off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic. Where, incidentally, local pedestrians wander even when they don't have the light. Fact: moreso when they don't have the light.

    PS that grass jelly looks totally gross, but I think it might be vegan.

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    1. I kinda like Chinatown, though the cheap Bowery restaurant supply stores are admittedly much more fun than the fishy streets. The bustle is something I've come to love, as long as I can retreat to my own kitchen in a timely manner.

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  16. Fun! I love Chinatown! I'm traveling in Spain right now and I just discovered Chinatown and I needed my Sriracha!

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    1. A Chinatown in Spain sound very surreal.

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  17. Nothing beats a fun day of shopping in Asian markets!! I always find the best things!! Memphis doesn't have a Chinatown, but we have a Little Vietnam (and its right by my house!).

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    1. Oooh I'd love to peruse a Vietnamese market! Bet there are some great spices.

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