Monday, September 10, 2007
Chinatown with the Kids
Last weekend, while my wife was still in the hospital, I took the kids down to Chinatown in lower Manhattan, just a few subway stops from our home. Chinatown is hardly a new or exotic experience for us, since we go down every three or four months to visit our favorite restaurants and markets to pick up favorite food items, including some wickedly good steamed pork buns from a hole-in-the wall place off Canal St. This time, however, we were trying to complete my third grade son's summer break assignment on China and the manifestations of Chinese culture in New York City. So obviously a trip to Chinatown was in order. This time, however, we went with a camera and a different perspective. It was fun, and we noticed things we hadn't seen before, like the herbalist selling traditional remedies and potions and the shops selling red lanterns and other symbols of good luck. As always, the seafood stalls were enticing, while the dragon fruit, pictured below, were quite pretty (although I'm not sure how one eats them).
Of course there were the usual stalls along Canal St. that sold the knock-off watches and Gucci handbags. Although the city has tried to crack down on the sale of counterfeit merchandise - and there's noticeably less, particularly in handbags and luggage - one can still find plenty of fakes for sale. And the tourists still come to buy this stuff, despite admonitions from the city to eschew patronizing the sellers of fake goods.
Normally we'll eat at a fun restaurant that has good dim sum. Joe's Shanghai and New York Noodletown are favorites, particularly the soup dumplings at Joe's. But this time the boys were clamoring for McDonald's and I was too tired to put up a fight or remind them of what I had read and seen in Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me. So I caved in and we joined the tourists who favor the predictability of the Golden Arches over the potentially confusing - albeit delicious - multi-page menu at the Golden Unicorn.