Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chinatown Sunday

Sunday morning I was summoned from being curled up on my bed by a knock at the door. It was SC, requesting my presence at a dim sum brunch. Having only been to dim sum one other time in my life, also with SC interestingly enough, I jumped at the chance. Brunch was organized by LA, who chose Jing Fong on Walker and Elizabeth in Chinatown. He liked it, he told me, because it reminded him of Hong Kong--he loves the chaotic, hectic nature of it all. So up and up and up we went in an elevator replete with mirrored walls and chandeliers to a giant ballroom fit for an enormous bar mitzvah. You simply don't find spaces like this in New York--more chandeliers, red walls decorated with gold dragons, endless circular tables themselves encircled by red leather banquet hall chairs and petite women in orange pushing around carts upon carts upon carts of food.

LA ordered for us--fried dough covered in rice noodles topped with soy sauce, sesame pastries filled with lotus paste, lotus leaves stuffed with pork and sticky rice, bok choi with oyster sauce, fried turnip cakes dotted with Chinese sausage, small, flaky egg custards, barbeque pork buns, and the list probably goes on and on. Cart ladies came by every few minutes and LA told them what he wanted, supplying the table with what seemed like an endless supply of goodies to nibble on. Absolutely everything was delicious. And between the 10 of us at brunch that day, the grand total was only about $12 per person. I was simultaneously elated and dumbfounded. Dim sum at Jing Fong reigns supreme, and New York will have to work pretty hard to prove to me there's something else as much fun and as exciting to do for brunch.

Post-dim sum MDP and I head to the East River to skateboard. Yes, I, Miss Manhattan, took to a skateboard. While the idea of doing it in traffic scares me half to death and going downhill makes me think of the dangers of land luging, I actually really enjoy it in the same way that people enjoy moving sidewalks and roller coasters. Come to think of it, skateboarding is a perfect medium between the two.

MDP is teaching me and while I am very much still learning, I do think I have the required muscle memory down. It's a little like choreography, pressing your foot to the ground to gain speed, then gliding then doing it all again. Press, press, glide; press, press glide. Not to mention the view along the East River is absolutely stunning: you get a beautiful sight of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge going into Brooklyn. The sun was setting and there was a light orange glow around everything. We pissed off as many bikers as we could skateboarding in the bike lane. All was right with the world.

Next was a jaunt through Chinatown to get watermelon bubble tea. MDP's favorite is at the Canal Bakery (242 Canal St), a Chinese bakery that puts real watermelon in with your tea and blends it all together. Plus, bubbles! I actually don't like watermelon that much, but even I thought it was delicious, a nice, cool treat after a skateboarding lesson.

We sauntered down the streets, peering at the different groceries selling nearly-alive sliced open fish, spiky durian, very-alive crabs, herbal medicines in boxes with tigers and smiling, mustachioed men on them. It's amazing how someone else's neighborhood can be a new adventure in and of itself.

The last stop on our tour that day was a Malaysian jerky joint near the F train. And I'm sure my mother is reading this, clutching her face. "YOU ATE WHAT?" No worries, mom, it's cool. And yeah, I ate homemade beef jerky, chicken jerky and pork jerky. While the chicken wasn't really my bag, I dug on the beef and the pork, both doused in a sweet, tangy sauce (barbeque?). In fact, I was enjoying it so much I accidentally got on a train going in the wrong direction. None of us is perfect....Luckily we have New York to remind us of that, and that there's so much of the world we haven't seen, even in our own boroughs.