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Ate, Drank and Did: Chinatown Cheap Eats then Beer

August 2, 2010

Once again, we revisit what I ate, drank, and did this weekend.  Today, we focus on a special Chinatown cheap eats walking tour and how beer always manages to find its way into a day of food.

Chinatown, New York City.  It’s the only place you could get a full meal, and I mean full, for $3.75.  Fortunately, this weekend, I had an opportunity to take a walking tour through Chinatown, stopping at various locations for good bite sized eats.  The tour was designed by my lovely girlfriend, a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to cheap good food.  Read on for the details.  Oh, and I know what you’re thinking.  Between her and I, how are we not obese?  Who the heck knows?We began our journey immediately after getting off at the Canal Street Q Station, meeting the rest of members of the tour on the corner of Canal Street and Centre Street.  We were thrown amidst the sea of tourists, and if it wasn’t for the fact that our immediate future was filled with food from Chinatown, I would have been a very angry New Yorker.

After handing out each member’s maps (yes maps made from Google), we walked a bit and stopped at our first destination, a random fried food cart located on Centre Street between Canal and Walker.  With empty stomachs and watering mouths, we indulged in our first treat, fried fish balls.  6 for $1.  Can you really beat fishy fish balls at that price?

Next stop on the list was another food cart located on Canal Street between Baxter and Mulberry.  Known simply as the Hot Cake Cart, you get 15 small bite sized hot cakes cooked on a griddle for a mere $1.  Delicious, sweet, and pancake-y, these were delicious.  So far, so good.

We ventured onward to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for a midday summer treat.  We each got our own flavors and I had stuck with the Taro/Ube.  The girlfriend got the Black Sesame, which was a nice toasty and sesame like flavor.  Getting full.

Moving along, we walked over to Quickly, a nice little shabu-shabu, bubble tea, slush, juice and snack joint.  I, again, opted for the Taro Bubble Tea, and we all shared some crispy rice cakes.  These were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with a nice spicy flavor.  Ugh, stomach filled with liquid, tapioca, and goodness.

After Quickly, we decided to hit up our first bar, Fontana’s, for a quick recharge.  We stumbled into happy hour and among ourselves managed to order some Butternuts Porkslap Pale Ales, a Goose Island IPA, and a Fire Island Lighthouse Ale.  All great beers for a summer walking tour.  After some conversation and some catching up, we headed to our final destination of the walking tour, Vanessa’s Dumpling House.

All I have to say is this – $3.75 for 8 dumplings (2 orders), 1 Scallion Pancake, and 3 Pork Fried Buns.  And we’re done.

Finally, we took a long walk to burn off the food we just ate and ended up on St. Mark’s Place.  We looked for a bar and ended up at the Grassroots Tavern.  Straightforward and no bullcrap bartenders in a divey atmosphere with cheap beers is my kind of place.  I ended up drinking a Red Hook ESB, and a Budweiser for $8.  The Brooklyn beers were $4 a pint as well.  Unfortunately, the music selection consisted of Tears for Fears, and some other selections that sounded like demo tapes from 1980s rock bands.  The jukebox was broken.  Other than that, it was a great non-pretentious bar to end a non-pretentious day of eating.

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