Disclaimer: I will never be a master of chinatown. These are things I have learned from fellow foodies and what I've discovered from my trips to Canal Street.
1. The Deal of the Century
Sponge Cakes from Kam Hing Coffee Shop. The best pastries of Chinatown. I said it. Fight me.
Yes, Chinatown is known for their cheap bakeries, but Kam Hing Coffee Shop takes the cake for sponge cake. You need to get there either right at opening, or around 11:00am. Those times are when you can request a "hot one", when they grab one straight from the oven in the back.
Inspired by Taiyaki across the street, grab yourself a few sponge cakes and walk down Canal to McDonalds. Order a soft serve cone, and make a sandwich. Best summer treat ever.
2. Basketball Court Seating
My two favorite things. Basketball and Meat.
There is a reason why Wah Fung is basically number 1 on Yelp. The best meat (Cha Sue), the best base (white rice), and best vegetable (slightly cooked cabbage) all for under $5.00. Pro-tip, ask for more veggies and more sauce. You wont regret it.
Chinatown surrounds Roosevelt park. Chinatown = great food. Roosevelt Park = great entertainment. The pickup games are so assuming to watch, because everyone plays; old asian men, teenagers who think they're going D1, 10 year olds who love Steph Curry, and the occasional skateboarder riding through. As long as its not 100° or snowing, its one of the best seats in Chinatown. So grab a bench and start people watching!
3. Utilizing time (aka how to always have food in your mouth)
Another NYC Chinatown classic that has done incredibly well on Yelp. You know what that means? Lines. If you have more than two people, expect a long wait. But, that just means you can sneak in an appetizer while you wait!
Mei Li Wah is famous for their pork buns. This is another place where you can expect a wait. However, one of my friends has taught me the perfect technique to never be hungry.
a. Put your name on Joes Shanghai List
b. If its before 10:30 am, head over to Mei Li Wah. If you're lucky, there will still be pineapple pork buns (Bolo Bao) left. (Way better than their standard pork bun).
c. Enjoy your pillow of goodness as you walk to Joes
d. Enjoy 8 soup dumplings / $7.50 for lunch