Established in 1920, Nom Wah Tea Parlour is the oldest dim sum joint in New York City. It is located on Doyers Street, one of the tiny backstreets that was the cradle of New York City's Chinatown.
Nom Wah is located at the notorious "Bloody Angle" of Doyers Street where in the heydays of the Chinatown triads, rival tongs 黨 (gangs) ambushed each other at the blind corner around the bend. Nom Wah, the only original Doyers Street establishment that survived till today, was witness to the storied street's much more colourful but violent past.
Inside Nom Wah, it was quite small for a dim sum hall. It was bright and clean, and wasn't too crowded at lunch on a cold, raining January Monday. On weekends, lines form outside the restaurant.
There were still reminders of Nom Wah's pedigree and heritage including the original patterned mosaic flooring, yellowed by age.
There were no dim sum trolleys and customers check off their choices on a menu slip.
There was a row of booths like a diner. The walls were decked with framed photographs of celebrities that visited Nom Wah.
There was a row of bar stools.
There were also window seats at the corners for those who like to watch the goings on on Doyers Street while they dine.
I ordered a small selection for tasting.
The rice rolls with shrimp at USD4.50.
The rice rolls were clean tasting, smooth but a little thick. The shrimps were fresh and had a nice soft spring. The rice rolls were doused with a mildly savoury brown sauce that tasted a little flat as it lacked layers.
The shrimp dumplings at USD4.50.
Fresh shrimp and fish paste wrapped in a snowy rice shell. Same fresh, slightly springy shrimps while the tender rice shells were thick and a little stiff.
I was wowed by Nom Wah's "Original Egg Roll" at USD7.00.
The egg rolls had very interesting textures.
The golden hued, light and brittle crispy outer shell wrapped a soft egg roll which was stuffed with warm, mushy soft, juicy fillings. The textures were a joy to bite. I also like it that the egg roll was not greasy at all.
The egg roll was a blend of egginess, very mild savouriness from the chicken, preserved vegetable and marinade, and sweetness from the braised turnips.
Nom Wah's Original Egg Roll is a Must Try.
Each table had a dolly of condiments.
The oyster sauce tasted flat. Probably commercially bottled.
The "duck sauce" had a delicate tart and sweet flavour and it went well with Nom Wah's Original Egg Rolls.
Even though Nom Wah is a tourist trap, I still recommend a visit for it's history and also because the dim sum is among the better ones in New York City's Chinatown. The service is pleasant and friendly too.
(If you like to experience dim sum in Manhattan Chinatown closer to what it is like in Asia with giant dining halls, crushing crowds, loud noisy banter, steaming dim sum squeezing between tables on hand pushed trolleys and rushed, frenetic,
Read more about the legendary Doyers Street here. The short bendy backstreet has lots of amazing twists and surprising turns in it's long colourful history.
Restaurant name: Nom Wah Tea Parlour
Address: 13 Doyers Street, NYC New York
Hours: 10:30 am to 9:00 pm
Date visited: 12 Jan 2015
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