I've only made the occasional jaunt to Brooklyn's Chinatown, so when I heard that Slow Food was putting together a full-blown foodie tour of the area, I immediately bought a ticket.
And for a sunny Saturday morning, it was "just the ticket!"
Myself and nine other gourmands met up with culinary walking tour guide Liz Young at the corner of 8th Avenue and 61st Street to learn that Brooklyn's Chinatown began in 1985 due to three factors: low rents, easy subway access to Manhattan's Chinatown, and an ancient Chinese belief in the number "8" as being a powerful force of good luck and prosperity.
Who were we to quibble with time-honored Chinese teachings? Besides, we were feeling awfully lucky ourselves once we took a seat at local dim sum palace Pacificana, with its bright, spacious dining room and bevy of carts clanking by our table, emitting a series of heavenly aromas.
We hailed over several carts and soon our lazy susan was bursting at the seams with the requisite dim sum fare: delicate Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, Pan-Fried Turnip Cakes, gelatinous Chicken Feet, Spicy Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Paste, glossy Baked Pork Buns (pictured above), Shui Mai Dumplings, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, and much, much more. But, it was a house specialty of crackling, crisp Roasted Suckling Pig (pictured below) that had us at "hello." Perhaps, next time, we'll simply bypass the carts and go straight for the swine!
Sated, we ventured up and down 8th Avenue, taking brief stops in a Chinese liquor store and...
...then taking a sharp turn onto 7th Avenue and 56th Street to partake in light-as-air Scallion Pancakes, hand-rolled and flash-fried before our eyes at Family Dumpling (said hand-rolling pictured below).
Mind, you the shop's house-made dumplings looked every bit as tempting.
Nevertheless, I knew we still had stops for faux Shark's Fin Soup and Bubble Tea ahead, so I resigned myself to purchasing some frozen dumplings for reheating at a later date.
Other goods tantalized me as well as we marched back onto 8th. Fresh lychees still on the branch were irresistible. Exotic sauces at Hong Kong Supermarket beckoned. Whole honey-lacquered Roasted Ducks called out for me to bring them home. Seafood shops were brimming with treasures from the ocean, ranging from jumbo shrimp to geoduck.
But the real seafood surprise presented itself in a large garbage can outside one of the seafood stalls.
Pets or meat? You decide.
Meanwhile, when it comes to me and Brooklyn's Chinatown, no decision is necessary. I'll most definitely be going back.