Thursday, August 28, 2014

belated birthday celebration in Chinatown, NYC

For yet another belated birthday celebration, my best friend and I chose to celebrate in Chinatown. The New York metropolitan area is home to nine of the oldest Chinatowns and Manhattan's has got the highest population of Chinese residents in the Western Hemisphere. 

The firehouse [Old Engine Company 31] at 87 Lafayette Street
is now Downtown 
Community TV. 

My friend is Filipino Chinese and has lived and worked in New York City for over 20 years. Among many other matters we have a shared love for massages and good food. To celebrate my birthday that’s what we set out to get in Chinatown.

I took the Q Train to Canal Street and we met at Relax Foot Spa, where she had booked us an 11:00 a.m. hour long appointment. Even that early, the place was already full.

Their branch on Hester Street was a spare, no frills place, but clean and serene. Even if the space was long and narrow, it did not feel small or cramped. And although the massage chairs and foot rests bore much wear and tear they were comfortable and covered in fresh clean towels.

We booked foot massages but the full service comes with shoulder, neck and head rub downs before settling on the foot massage. The place may not have been fancy but the service was excellent. Best of all, the price was incredible - for NYC!

Our timing was perfect, as we headed off for lunch at Big Wong King on Mott Street. We both ordered and were speedily served our platters of cold roast duck and pork ribs over steaming hot rice. We had this with a ginger and scallion sauce that was absolutely to die for! 

If you are nowhere near NYC here are two recipes of this superb side dish. The Food Network recipe is as finely chopped as the sauce we had but try Momofoku’s version as well - both are divine!

The servings we got were quite healthy and in truth I could have been satisfied with half the order but it was too good to stop halfway. We washed this all down with their refreshing chilled roast barley tea.

On our way out we ordered more to take home. Then my friend took me around the corner to Mei Li Wah on Bayard Street - best known for their pork belly buns. You have the choice of ordering them in steamed rice buns or baked bread rolls. Sweet and juicy, we bought more to take home! 

On our way back to the subway we came by a row of vintage cars being lined up for a shot. I discovered later that they were shooting scenes for the latest hot TV series, Gotham. It sure was a fun filled way to celebrate my birthday! 

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