Posted by: Josey | January 27, 2009

Chinese New Year in New York City’s Chinatown: Don’t Miss It

After planning for my upcoming trip to China all day on Sunday, there was only one place I was going to eat dinner: New York City’s Chinatown. After reading about the Xiǎolóngbāo (soup dumplings) I might eat in Shanghai, and the Miantiao (noodles commonly stir-fried with vegetables or boiled in beef broth with cilantro) I might eat at the Donghua Men night market in Beijing, I was craving their Americanized culinary counterparts. So Jeff and I bundled up and headed over to Joe’s Shanghai on Pell Street.

As we walked down Mott Street through Nolita, a booming drum beat in the distance gradually became louder. The Chinese New Year Celebration was beginning already? Yes! We crossed the street and joined a crowd of people to watch a special lion dance performance, consisting of two men doing acrobatics in a surprisingly expressive—blinking, nodding—lion costume. (It’s the Year of the Ox, but the Chinese believe lions possess protective powers.)

Once again, Jeff and I were treated to dinner and a show.

We were seated right away: unheard of at Joe’s Shanghai, but lucky since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was almost 7:30pm. Eight people always sit at the tables at Joe’s Shanghai, whether you’re family or strangers—or semi-celebrities: Last time we sat with Lizzie Grubman. This time, two young Chinese girls were given the chairs next to ours, but they were having trouble communicating with the waiter in Chinese. (Maybe one was speaking Mandarin while the other spoke Cantonese?) So, despite persistently, hushedly prodding Jeff to start a conversation with them—”Jeff, seriously, please! I could really use a friend in China!”—he didn’t think he’d have much luck in English. We did, however, learn a new technique for eating soup dumplings, which I will undoubtedly employ while in the “real” Shanghai. (I’m sure that will help me blend in.)

If you’re in New York City, it’s not too late to check out Chinatown’s 2009 Chinese New Year festivities: This year’s parade takes place on February 1st. I attended the parade last year and, in addition to the chaos and high energy, I found it fascinating—not to mention snapping some fun photos:




  1. I love those dumplings.

  2. Wow, you’re going to China? How exciting!

  3. When are you going, why are you going, and take me with you!

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