I was never a huge fan of asian cuisine until I moved to New York City…and realized how broke I actually was compared to everyone else. Lucky for me though, I discovered a new part of myself through my brokeness, like how I have to get a milk tea every time I pass Chinatown, how I like my dumplings fried more than boiled (don’t hate), or even the fact that I know what kim-chi is now. I’ve lived, and still living, the broke New Yorker lifestyle and through that, I’ve successfully discovered where to get your asian fix in Manhattan. Enjoy!
213 Grand St
All-time fav’ vietnamese joint in Manhattan right here, y’all. Not only is Asian food somewhat vegetarian-friendly, but Paris Sandwich made an effort to cater even more to us vegetarians by offering their Veggie Chicken Baguette for $5.25. YES, Paris Sandwich, YES! On top of that, they have $1 milk tea – and this is THE place to get your milk tea (not to mention, the cups are pretty stylish if you ask me). I liked it so much, I took the used tea bag, went to the Chinese grocery store around the corner, and asked an employee if they had it. My roommates looked at me a bit weird when I got home with a box of 100 tea bags all written in Chinese.
Deal with it, haters.
No-name Chinese Dumpling Place
Somewhere on Mosco St.
One day I was walking to my $10 round-trip Philadelphia bus (lol) when I noticed this hole-in-the-wall Chinese dumpling stop. For $1.50, I’ve got a milk tea (although not as good as all the others, I will admit), five fried vegetable dumplings, and even an angry Asian woman yelling at me. You should definitely go!
17 Mott St.
Wo Hop was introduced to me by a friend when I told her I wanted something low-key, a bit hidden, and Asian. She took me directly to Wo Hop, except that it was closed that day, so we went back a week later. Just the fact that my friend was willing to take us completely out of the way a second time to come back to Wo Hop had me convinced it was going to be something worth remembering. Once inside, the restaurant, which yes, is a basement restaurant (trust me, I was on the lookout for rats, but never found one), was filled with what looked like Native New Yorkers. In fact, it looked more like a scene out of Seinfeld than anything else. Police officers, Long Island families with thick New York accents, and a few asian families all co-existed peacefully. I loved it.
118 Eldridge St.
I don’t know if it’s just my friend circle or if this place is actually to rave about, but when I want real dumplings, I go here. It’s the classic dumpling house. They have two locations, one in Lower East Side, and one on East 14th Street. The LES location has the authenticity and cheaper prices; the 14th Street location has convenience (proximity to multiple subways), fried vegetable dumplings (which the other location doesn’t have), and a bigger seating area. I’m also a huge fan of their coffee, which I believe is actually just instant coffee, but it reminds me of simpler times when I lived abroad in Quito and my host grandma would make me some.
Hell’s Kitchen 46th Street Lunch Specials
46th St. & 9th Ave.
If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant, where you’ll have to tip (unlike all the other order-at-the-counter-then-sit places), head to Hell’s Kitchen. Centered around 46th Street, you’ll see Thai restaurants after Thai restaurants, and if you’re lucky enough to be there between 11am-2pm, your lunch shouldn’t cost you more than $8. But these restaurants don’t just offer a one-course lunch, they offer a three-course lunch (I use that term lightly, but these are technically three-course meals), including an appetizer of egg rolls, dumplings, or soup; a Thai Iced Tea or Thai Iced Coffee (GET THIS!), or soda; a big entrée that you can split into two servings if you’re that broke; and to top it all off, a little bowl of ice-cream.
My personal favorites: Bangkok House or Yum Yum Thai.
12 West 32nd St.
Once upon a time when I had a South Korean language buddy named Ji-Won, or G-1 as she put herself in my phone contact list, I would frequent this place weekly. When you first walk in, you’ll pass a hot and cold buffet, which I used to get every time, until I discovered they had pre-made lunch boxes near the back. Kim-chi rice + and egg for $4.50 is not something I can find just anywhere.
46 Eldridge St.
I don’t know if this is a thing or if I’m just making this up, but I think I heard that there’s a rivalry between Prosperity Dumpling and Vanessa’s Dumplings. Personally, I could never step away from #TeamVanessa, but I had to try this place out as well, especially since it’s located just right down the street. I went with my typical boiled veggie-dumplings with milk tea, and here’s my gastronomical review (of something I paid $2 for): the veggies inside the dumplings were tastier, which might have been due to the amount of soy sauce I put on them, but the actual dumpling exterior felt a bit undercooked. That, and just the fact that you have about two steps to move around since the place is really…well, quaint. I’d recommend it more for a summer day, than a super frigid winter day where there won’t be much space to sit inside.