I have been to NYC's Chinatown more times than I can count, but I always feel overwhelmed and uncertain about where to eat and what to order when I get there. I've scoped out a great place for pork buns and I know a solid spot for noodles, but that's about it. I'm totally uniformed when it comes to they various styles of Chinese cooking, the dishes they are known for and even how to eat them. Not to mention, what are all those sauces?! I desperately needed the inside scoop so I reached out to Scott, the founder of Ultimate Food Tours, and asked if I could join a Chinatown Food Tour the next time I was in the city.
What happened next, blew my mind. I've been on food tours in NYC that are excellent, but this tour was outstanding! The group gathered in a local park to start the tour. From there we walked to five local establishments where it was clear that Scott had developed great relationships with the owners. We were warmly welcomed in to each one, seated at our own reserved table and brought out a unique dish. Scott described each dish, the style/region of Chinese cooking that it represented, how to go about eating it and how to apply the various sauces.
I especially loved the fresh soup dumplings and crispy marinated cucumbers at our second stop, Spicy Village. I've never experienced the process of picking up the dumpling (without breaking it!), biting off the top and then pouring in some sauce before eating it whole. Scott demonstrated the process and by our second one, we were all experts!
The tour is just under three hours, which gives plenty of time at each stop to enjoy the food without feeling rushed. It was also lovely to get acquainted with the other tour guests. Scott is a great host and conversation facilitator; he makes it easy to connect and strike up conversations around the table.
It's worth mentioning that this tour is truly in the heart of the Chinatown neighborhood. These establishments serve the people who live there. Of course there are some tourists, but they are not primarily in the high tourist areas. This tour feels a little "behind the scenes", which I absolutely loved. You learn about the history of the neighborhood, where it's come from and where it is now.
I couldn't recommend this tour more! The Chinatown Food Tour is offered 5 days a week and additionally, Ultimate Food Tours hosts an Iconic Foods of the Lower East Side Tour, Famous Jewish Foods of the Upper East Side Tour, Times Square Food Tour and SoHo Dessert Tour (sign me up!!!). Booking a tour is simple (their website is fantastic) and Scott and team have incredible customer service. Whether you're a NYC visitor or a local entertaining out-of-town guests, a food tour with Ultimate Food Tours is the best way to experience NYC!
If you're going to New York City for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, it is helpful to work with an NYC travel expert. I will help you navigate the logistics of timing, budget, and travel party dynamics while incorporating your unique needs and interests. Reach out! Let's plan your trip together.