WIAW on Lindsay’s Personal Food Tour

Hey ya’ll! It is my favorite day of the week, What I Ate Wednesday, thanks to the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons (seriously go check all the posts out, you won’t regret it). I have had something very special planned for this day. Since my brother’s last day in town was Tuesday, I had planned on taking him and his friend on a personal food tour designed by me. I originally had wanted to take them on a Free Tours by Foot in the Lower East side since there are so many great foodie options, but instead on Sunday we went to brunch. I promised that I would make an epic, delicious food tour that would leave us dragging around. On top of having great food, the weather was perfection. It was so hot that I wish I hadn’t been wearing tights. Now lets get to my tour!

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First stop on the tour was Golden Steamer, which is located in Chinatown on Mott St. This local favorite, which was about a 4 and a half star on yelp, so you know it was going to be legit. The main focus of the store is steamed buns, which as you know are my favorite things in the world. They have many other options to pick from too. Classic dim sum items such as chung fung and steamed shrimp dumplings. You can either get steamed buns fresh or you can buy packages that you bring home to steam later. These contain 4 buns of whatever flavor of your choice. The best part about this place is that it is so freaking cheap.

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We started off splitting a pork bun, which was amazeballs. The pork inside was so tender and sweet from the BBQ sauce. This was probably my favorite bun that we tried. It was so soft. I definitely want to back for more of these because it was like a little cloud from the sky. Not to mention that it was like 1$. Thank god this is so far away because I would live off of these if I could.

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The second bun that we split was a red bean bun. It sort of tasted like frito bean dip inside a steamed bun. That was really interesting. I actually really enjoyed it. I tend to not like red bean paste things because sometimes it can get real funky, but this was surprisingly great. Still not as great as my pork bun, but it definitely was tasty.

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Oh the great egg custard bun. You are so hard to find always, but when I find you it is the tastiest thing I have ever had. While it is no pork bun, it is a good second. The creaminess of the egg custard goes along perfectly with the soft texture of the steamed bun. I wish I would have gotten some more of these for all of us to snack on during our walk or at least my huge trek later back to campus. Anyways so far we were 1/1 on going to a delicious, cheap, and foodie approved place. The shop is really small, which is why we had to eat all the buns standing outside. No shame.

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After our steamed buns, we headed over to Eldridge st in order to hit up the iconic Prosperity Dumpling over in Chinatown. This place is known for their super cheap dumplings with deals like 5 fried dumplings for 1$ (however this has now changed and it is 4 for 1$, but still such a good deal). They have other items on the menu like scallion pancakes, noodle soups, and other appetizers. However most people come here for the dumplings. The shop is incredibly small. There is barely any room to sit down. We were lucky enough to beat the lunch crowd, so we got to sit down and enjoy our dumplings.

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We ended up getting an order of the fried pork and chive dumplings to split. These were delicious. The outside was crispy in some spots and soft in others. It wasn’t too greasy. The dumplings were so hot, so they were really freshly cooked for us. The inside was delicious. The pork was mixed well with the chive. You could top the dumplings with three sauces, so we chose the no label dark sauce. My brother ended up shooting half of it across the table, but it eventually got onto the dumplings. It was like a sweet soy sauce for dumplings.

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We decided that we should be somewhat healthy and get steamed dumplings too. These were cabbage and pork dumplings. They were 10 for 2.75$, so still such a good deal. We had to wait a little bit longer for these since steaming takes longer than frying dumplings. These were so good. I was glad that we ended up getting a second order of dumplings. They were soft and packed with tons of flavor. It sort of reminded me of soup dumplings because when you bit inside the dumpling there was the juice from steaming the pork dumpling. We topped it again with the sweet sauce, which this time my brother didn’t spill. Winning. Off to the next place.

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Before we went to our next stop, we had to pit stop at the Bank of America because my smart little brother forgot to get any cash. This is the one problem with living in the city. There are too many cash only places in the city, so you always have to be prepared with having cash on you. Onwards to Cheeky’s Sandwiches, which is located in the Lowest East Side. This was New Orleans style place with tons of sandwiches.

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I ended up going with the Chicken sandwich, which pretty much looks like a little version of Whataburger’s famous Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. However this one had fried chicken, buttermilk biscuit, cole slaw, and gravy. This was so good. The biscuit was tender, which went well with the crispy crunchiness of the chicken. The coleslaw was a nice mix to place on top because it wasn’t gross like normal coleslaw. We ended up splitting all the sandwiches by passing them around and having a few bites at a time of each sandwich.

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My brother’s friend ended up getting the beef sandwich, which was my favorite by far. It was braised short rib, horseradish sauce, arugala, cherry tomatoes, and served on challah bread. CHALLAH. This is seriously a Jew’s favorite menu item. It was perfection. I love anything served on challah, but when you combine brisket and horseradish sauce on top of it. OMG NOM NOM NOM. I definitely am going to go back here just to get this sandwich. It is totally worth the trek.

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My brother went with a classic choice of the oyster po’boy. He may have not been born in New Orleans like my older brother and I, but he knows good seafood when he sees it. These oysters were crunchy and delicious. It was a very simple sandwich in order to keep the main focus on the oysters, so it was topped with lettuce, tomato, and a spicy sauce. I really liked it, but the sauce was a little too much for me. He loved it though. He gobbled it down and kept trying to grab it from us when it was our turn to eat it. We had ginger brew with the meal too. My brother had a passion fruit one while his friend and I had pomegranate. They were really delicious with a nice kick of ginger. Afterwards we had to walk a while to let our stomachs rest.

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Next up on the tour was Prince St Pizza, which was located in Noho. It was your pretty basic mom and pop pizza shop that has had a ton of celebrities roll through this joint. I know this because the wall is decorated with famous people and the pizza shop workers. It was a really quick get your pizza and go kind of place. Luckily there were a few tables inside, so we could sit down and enjoy our pizza.

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We ended up just getting two slices of margherita pizza to split between the three of us. I mean just look at those slices. The shop is known for their homemade mozzarella, so we obviously went with something that used it as the star. The cheese was melted so great, so when you took a bite into the pizza it just pulled and became stringy from your mouth to the pizza. I was in a food coma at this point. It was a struggle to get the pizza in my body. Afterwards we trekked back to the Lower East Side, so I could take the kiddos to Yonah Schimmels Knish Shop. I ended up just getting some Knish’s to go for my date from the other night, but the kids ended up getting a cheese knish with apple. It looked really good. I’m not sure how they ended up cramming it all into their stomachs, but props to them.

Have an awesome Wednesday! I have to go to my lab soon, which will be pretty easy today since we are just doing stretching exercises and flexibility.

Have you ever been on a food tour?
Would you ever give your own tour? Where would you go?

The Greatest Foodie Adventure

Hey ya’ll! Happy Friday. I have been crazy busy today. This morning I had an interview at the New York City Food Bank for an internship of a lifetime. I really hope I get the opportunity to intern there! It would be amazing. Then I had plans with a friend to go on a free walking tour through Chinatown from a company called Free Tours by Foot. That was probably the greatest foodie adventure I’ve been on since I’ve moved here. It was a food tour, so it was based around the food in Chinatown. We went to a ton of delicious places while learning about the culture of Chinatown and how Chinatown was developed. Lets get to the yummy part, which was the food.

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The first stop was a dumpling shop. At the beginning, I just wanted to eat anything because I hadn’t eaten all day because I had been back and forth from my apartment to places. I was excited though we were getting dumplings because who doesn’t love a good fried dumpling. I sort of laughed that the name of the place was Fried Dumpling. It probably said something else in Chinese, but our tour guide had no idea. It smelled so delicious outside. I wanted her to hurry up and explain, so we could get inside and get our nom on.

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Get in my belly. The tour guide went on to explain the the pork and chive were the most popular, so I decided why not go ahead and get that. My friend and I ended up splitting a thing of ten dumplings. They were delicious. There was a nice juice inside, the pork was really tender, and the chive wasn’t overwhelming. The dough of the dumpling was perfectly fried and crispy in all the right places. The best part of this place was that 5 dumplings only cost a 1$. Apparently this is a huge thing in Chinatown. I definitely know where I will be heading from now on. I’ll pretty much become a dumpling with prices like these. This was the perfect way to the start the tour. As we enjoyed our dumplings, our tour guide, Meredith, from Free Tours by Foot, went on to explain a little bit about herself and the company.

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The next stop on the tour was Xi’an Famous Foods. The funny thing was that I had actually creeped on this place before in one of my many yelp searches for legitimate Chinese food in New York. So when Free Tours by Foot said we were going here, I got a little foodie excited. This store has many locations in the city, which include East Village, Midtown West, and Chinatown. Of course since we were on the Chinatown tour, we obviously were going to the Chinatown shop, but it was nice to learn that there are bunch of shops around the city and much closer to where I live then Chinatown (bc this is so far away from my apartment – oh wait, so is everything that is anything, first world struggles).

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My friend and I ended up splitting the Lamb Burger. Lamb at a Chinese shop? Yes, I was a bit weirded out too. The tour guide from Free Tours by Foot said that this was a really popular item and a good snack to go since we were on a walking tour. However I definitely want to go back because she said that they were known for their noodles and soup, which are two things that are not easy to do while walking. This was delicious. The bun was steamed on the outside and the lamb inside was soft and broke apart in your mouth. It was really spicy, which I enjoyed. One lady said she was sweating, which I laughed at because it was 40 degrees outside and it wasn’t THAT spicy. There were onions and peppers packed along with the meat, which was nice. Overall it was definitely a win. You go Free Tours by Foot, you go!

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Next stop was ice cream. I know what you are thinking, who eats ice cream in Chinatown and when it is cold outside? It wasn’t that cold actually. Plus my mouth was a little spicy and hot from the lamb burger, so it was nice to cool it off with some ice cream. This place was really interesting. They had a ton of odd Asian flavored ice cream like lychee, sesame, something I can’t even pronounce, almond cookie (apparently this is some Asian treat), and others. It was hard to pick because they all looked so good.

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I ended up getting the almond cookie one since it was a traditional Chinese treat that was mashed inside of ice cream. It was really good. The almond flavor wasn’t too overwhelming and I liked the nice surprises of crunch from the smashed cookie inside the ice cream. It was definitely a sweet treat to have. I want to go find those almond cookies and try them by themselves. My friend got this special Chinese one that had butter in it along with an American flavor of cherry vanilla. Of course the tour guide laughed at him for getting an American flavor, but he redeemed himself by getting the butter one too. I was getting full at this point, so definitely my advice on food tours is to always split things!

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The next stop was Mei Lai Wah, which was sort of a bakery, but kind of a dim sum shop, which also had random things like rice and noodles. I was so pumped to go here. When Free Tours by Foot had said that we were going to be getting BBQ pork buns on the tour, I was like OMG OMG OMG YESSSSSSSSSSSS. BBQ pork buns are pretty much my thing. I have to always have them at dim sum. My family knows too that this is like my ultimate dish. Anyways food.

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This is nirvana. Not even joking. My friend ended up getting the baked BBQ pork bun, which is a sweet version of this classic dish. It is topped with a honey egg glaze. He enjoyed it so much that he went back inside to buy some steamed BBQ pork buns to try. I don’t lie about BBQ pork buns people! The greatest thing about this shop was that the buns were only .80 cents. Ummm yes. And they were huge. I will definitely be coming back here all the time. I got two BBQ steamed buns to go because I knew I would want to enjoy them later. I wouldn’t have minded trying the shrimp dumplings or the rice noodles too, but I didn’t have time to get those or eat them on the walk.

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Free Tours by Foot is great because you get to learn historical information while nomming on delicious treats. Our tour guide decided to let our stomachs digest some of the food for a bit, so she took us to a Buddhist temple, which was really interesting. It was really beautiful inside with all the ornate statues. I was happy to sit down. We had been walking for a bit and my legs were getting a little tired. Problems of an old person. Struggle bus. There was an quirky old woman there offering grapes to her relatives that had passed on. We learned that the Buddhist offer food at the alter in order to feed them in heaven. I thought that was pretty cool. Hopefully someone manages it, so that the food doesn’t spoil.

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This was our last stop on the tour. I was sad, but at the same time I was looking forward to taking a rest because I was so exhausted. This was a sweet bakery unlike the more savory one we went to in order to get the BBQ pork buns. Apparently I was the only person on the tour, besides the guide, that knew anything about classic Asian dishes. My parents raised me right giving me lots of dim sum and other Asian food.

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Once again I had to get the treats to go, and I even got one for the roomie. I know how she loves her egg custard tarts, so I was like yep definitely getting two, so we can enjoy them together when we sit on the couch and vegetate tonight. We are cool like that. I also ended up getting a coconut bun too. I was a bit interested in how it would be, so I can’t wait to see if there is cream or not inside. I love that surprise, unless it is really gross.

Anyways I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed the food tour. Free Tours by Foot will definitely be having my business again. I can’t wait to go on more foodie adventures to places like the Lower East Side or Greenwich. The best idea behind the tour is that you pay what you want for the tour. Some people can either pay nothing while others will tip the guide huge. I think it depends on your experience on the tour, how much you paid for food, and how much money you have in general. Poor college students, like myself, can tip 10$, which I think was fair because I spent a lot of money on food. I definitely recommend this Chinatown tour though!

What is your favorite Chinese dish?
Have you ever been on a food tour?