Lychees in Season


June and July are a perfect time to buy lychees!   They are in season and at their most sweet and  juicy!  They usually start being sold in late spring and they are very hard to find in the autumn and winter.  As you walk around Chinatown you will undoubtedly see these golf- ball sized, red, spikyish grape-like fruits being sold in bundles on the streets and in the vegetable markets. Once you peel off the red skin, be ready to put this extremely juicy fruit in your mouth.

Most vendors sell them by the pound.  It ranges from $3.00/lb – $10.oo/lb.  Based on my experience, the more expensive they are, the more ripe and sweet they are. When you buy the cheaper ones, they tend to be less ripe- which means a less tender fruit that may not come off the pit as easily.  Sometimes they may not be as translucent. They also tend to be less sweet, but usually still pretty juicy. 

I like my lychees cold and I’ll put them in the fridge before eating them. Some of the shops in Chinatown sell lychee icees. Now that it’s in season, some places offer fresh lychees in their icees.  The icees are basically lychees topped with shaved ice and syrup and sometimes evaporated milk.  The New Pho Tu Do- (this Vietnamese place – review to come) on Bowery St (cross st Grand St)  offers it fresh.  At all other times of the year, they used canned lychees.

Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics (212) 274-0477



Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics
145 Canal St, 2nd Floor (On the corner of Bowery and Canal – Located right in front of the bridge – on the street with the temple- look for the sign with the gold bridge)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 274-0477

My smile was always something I was self concious about- until  I had it corrected, I had no idea how much I used to hide it. Now I smile so much!  I am so lucky to have found an incredible orthodontist- Dr. Jenny Zhu.  From the moment I made my appointment with Alice, I knew I had a good feeling about her office. Dr. Zhu is thorough, articulate, professional and compassionate. I felt confidant in her treatment throughout the entire time. Dr Zhu is without a doubt an incredible orthodontist and an amazing practitioner in general.  Her staff is also incredible. I can tell she instills in all her assistants that patience and quality that she expects from her own work. And I can honestly say that at the end of it, they changed my life.

Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics is THE place to go to get your orthodontics done, whether you’re in Chinatown or anywhere in Manhattan- or the Tri-State area for that matter. I would recommend anyone to travel to see her.  I had done my research and gone to quite a few consultations before I made my decision.  I realize now I was waiting for the right office. The quality of service here is unbeatable. The office is immaculately clean. The front desk is always polite and welcoming. And… wait for this….. the price was the lowest for an orthodontist (even compared to NJ- I compared a lot!) and they accepted my insurance. This is hands down Chinatown’s secret gem. Go here and save yourself the time and travel wasted on the overpriced tiny Uptown/ Midtown offices or the dingy, overcrowded Downtown offices.
Update 3/22/09
I had my retainer check appointment this Sunday. (I’m so thankful that they are open evenings, Saturdays and Sundays.)  And Dr. Zhu replaced my retainer No Charge!  I had walked in expecting to pay hundreds of dollars because that was what my friend said she had been charged recently at her orthodontist.  I am so lucky I chose the right orthodontist from the start.  I’m going in for another retainer check appointment in 3 months and I can honestly say I am looking forward to it! I love going to Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics! — I talked to a mother that was hanging out in the waiting room and she said both her and her son love it there too.
Update 8/1/2012
My niece just got her braces here this summer. It’s amazing how much she loves them.  She said she loved getting them on, she loves the office and can’t wait for her next appointment! For that Manhattan Bridge Orthodontics deserves the 2012 service award too!

Hot Mini Cakes aka Hong Kong Cakes, Pancake Balls


Hot mini cakes, also known as pancake balls or Hong Kong cakes to some, have been a staple of Chinatown street treats for as long as I can remember.  They are bite sized, round, fluffy, light, and extremely fun to eat.  It is made to order using an ancient secret Chinese pancake batter poured over a hot steel griddle.

A little bit of historical fact: the first mini cake shop was located on the corner of Mosco and Mott Street in a bright red shack.  As a child, I remember my grandfather taking me there as a reward for doing well in school.  Although that shop is no longer around, there are several street vendors that still make this delicious treat.

There’s a mini cake vendor on Bowery and Pell Street, another one down on Canal and Mulberry Streets, and possibly one on Bowery and Hester Street.  However, the best (when I say best, I mean cheapest) mini cake vendor can be found on Grand and Bowery Street.  While others sell them for 15 pieces for $1, this guy sells you 20 for $1 – what a bargain!

hot mini cakes - pancake balls

K.L. Malaysia Beef Jerky Inc.


95A Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10013, Between Grand St. and Hester St.

This family owned beef jerky joint makes such delicous beef jerky.  I do not have words to drescibe the finger-lickin’, juicy, flavorful tenderness that is found in their beef and pork jerky.  This is truly one of those times that I find my lack of foodie vocabulary has failed me. All their jerky is good.  When it comes to jerky, I like mine a little spicy.  Although they also have the plain flavors.  Pork jerky is a little more tender and beef jerky is a tad tougher.  Both taste delicious.  This beef jerky is better than any jerky you will find prepackaged and way, way better than that tough stuff they sell at this other beef jerky place on Bayard St. Cost: Approx $16 per lb.

Another wonderful treat they offer are their ha koo cho (prunella vulgaris) and sugar cane drinks ($1). These drinks are used as Cantonese food therapy.  They offer the “yin or cooling” cure for too much “yang”.  (Sympoms of yang include dry skin, chapped lips, and mouth sores.) It’s a perfect refreshing drink to go with a delicious snack.


New South Wind Restaurant


21 Division St (near the statue of Confucius)

fresh selections prepared daily - \

This eclectic restaurant located on Division Street is one of the last remaining old school chinatown joints still in operation.  The place is run by a group of middle aged no nonsense ladies who will chew you up if you get out of line with them.  Lunch time and weekends are often most hectic and screaming of orders between the front counter and back kitchen happens quite often. 

As to what to order, my suggestion are the shrimp rice rolls (ha-mai-churng) and pork stuffed tofu.  These are hands down the best you can get this side of the Pacific. 

 Order the tofu stuffed with pork at New South Wind

New South Wind has the absolute best coffee, hot or iced, in chinatwn – this is based on my personal experience as an avid coffee drinker and on trying almost all the other coffee joints in the area.    

3/24/2009 Update

New south wind is now closed after so many decades. It’s sad.

Fong Inn Too, Inc famous for their soy bean custard (aka tofu fa, hot taho)


This popular dessert in Chinese is pronounced “to foo fa” (as in do re mi “fa”).  This soy based gelatin is offered hot and cold with a side of honey.  For hot tofu fa, there’s only one legitimate place- located on 46 Mott St.  This place is so good it wiped out the competition.  Each day they make one large pot of it and oftentimes, its sold out well before their closing time of 9 pm.  Their cold tofu fa is also delicious. It is the most tender tofu fa Chinatown has to offer.  Both come with a generous side of honey.  A warning about tofu fa: it spoils quickly.  You must eat it the same day and rarely can it be saved for tomorrow.  Several times, I’ve purchased them close to closing time and by the time I popped it open to eat for a late night snack, it already went bad.  That doesn’t deter me from coming back for more though.  It’s very tasty.

There is also a family of tofufa makers who sell this dessert illegally on the street from a supermarket pushcart.  You can find father standing outside Canal St subway station (on Centre St) or mother outside Grand St subway station.  Grand St is so congested nowadays that I don’t see her there as often anymore.

Location: 46 Mott St between Bayard St and Pell St. , Across the street from Haagen Daz and the Green Tea teahouse.


Happy Time Cafe


51 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10038

Located on Bayard Street, this restaurant offers standard Hong Kong style fare.  This place has many flaws.  The menu is written in Chinese and English; however this place also offers other dishes which are posted on the walls.  The problem is that these postings are all written in Chinese!  If you don’t read the language, you will never know all the dishes that this place has to offer.  We regularly see people order delicious looking dishes, but can never find it on the menu – we can only assume that it was one of the dishes posted on the walls.  Once, we asked our waiter, “What do you have for desserts?”  And he pointed to the options on the wall.  When we said we couldn’t read it, with obvious annoyance, he read a few of them to us.  Eventually, he couldn’t tolerate it anymore and went to grab menus.   Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed! 

The service here is very so-so.  We are regulars here – we eat at this place about once every two weeks for the past years and I’m quite sure that they recognize me.  However we never receive a smile or even a thank you when we pay our tab.  The owner who works the register appears not to care too much about her customers, I get the perception that she only cares about dollars – which is not bad, but it’s just that can she not make it so obvious?  

I would put up with the so-so service if the food was actually good.  Some items are decent while others are just plain bad.  The last time we were there we decided to try their newly set up sushi menu which turned out to be a big mistake.  The Alaskan roll ($3.95) we ordered tasted decent, however the sashimi ($11.95) was cut unevenly thin and did not look or taste fresh.  We also had the sesame rice balls for dessert ($3.95).  This was supposed to be a hot dessert, but when it came, the soup base was luke warm and the rice balls were not fully cooked.  We sighed and ate what we could.  Each time we come to this place, we always hope that they may surprise us by actually making something good – but it just never happens.   

We come here because there are certain items that taste decent, but mostly because it is located across the street from where we live.