Chinatown often gets overlooked by native New Yorkers. It is normally seen as jam packed, smelling of fish and a tourist trap. All this is true, but like anywhere else, once you get off the main street, it has its charms. We walked over to Bayard Street, one block over from chaotic Canal and found a pair of gems.
Nice Green Bo
66 Bayard Street (Mott/Elizabeth), Chinatown
Now there are hundreds of small hole-in-the-wall places like Nice Green Bo. I have no idea if this is one of the best or even very good, but we enjoyed its authenticity. The main reason I picked it was because of the sign, on which you can clearly see it was fka New Green Bo. I guess it’s not new anymore, so they had to change the two letters. Although the staff was not overly nice either, but this place is clearly about the food, the service and ambiance are bare bones. We thought we had ordered 4 small appetizers, but received a table full of noodlicious goodness. Cold sesame noodles are always a favorite. The vegetable dumplings and pork dumplings were huge and doughy – in a good way. The real standout was a dish new to us: shredded pork and szechuan cabbage rice cake. I expected a giant ball of rice, but instead found small disk-shaped rice noodles with meat and vegetables. We left with dumpling filled doggy bags so that could we venture directly across the street…
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard Street (Mott/Elizabeth), Chinatown
I was expecting a large cement structure with many workers bustling around, but instead Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a narrow shop with one person behind counter and similar to any other NYC ice cream store. However, the main difference is in the unique flavors. They have all the standards, as well as the Asian influenced wasabi, lychee, durian(!), pandan, and taro. We tasted a few and made the choice of almond cookie and zen butter. Zen butter sounds transcendent, but is peanut butter with black sesame seeds. It was pretty good, although sesame seeds belong on a bagel, they are too overwhelming for the subtle nature of ice cream. The almond cookie was excellent and tastes just like its namesake. The Ice Cream Factory is no trendy downtown place, it has been around since 1978.
We recommend this solid twosome or try any of the fantastic, authentic eateries in the area. It’s fun to be immersed in another culture and still make it home by 8 o’clock. Plus, it is Chinese New Year now, so C-town will be one giant par-tay.