Dim “Yum,” Chinatown’s Buffet on Wheels
On a typical morning in Manhattan’s Chinatown, under the clanging subway crossing the Manhattan Bridge and amid the pandemonium of the morning commute, a nondescript building on Catherine Street offers a respite through the elevator doors that open on the second floor. Here can be found a hidden gem of comfort cuisine and cultural immersion or better known as Dim Sum.
The ballroom of the Golden Unicorn Restaurant is colorful and crammed with rounded tables and crystal chandeliers that illuminate the Chinese motif; layers of glitter have fossilized in corners, marking the years of celebrations to which the space has beared witness. The low ceremonial music threads the boisterous Cantonese banter as the procession of uniformed women push carts loaded with delicacies in bamboo steamers from table to table.
The exchange between employees and guests involves little conversing and lots of pointing. Steamer baskets are opened revealing traditional dim sum fare: shrimp shumai, dumplings of shrimp or pork or vegetables, sticky rice, pork buns, lots of fried things, and many unidentifiable offerings. You point; they place (sometimes by mistake, but that’s all part of the fun). For Dim Sum beginners, each bite is a mysterious and thrilling (and often salty) surprise. Regulars and more adventurous eaters may find chicken feet wildly appealing. Saucers ladened with taro root dumplings, turnip cakes, and custards vanish from the table nearly as quickly as they were placed.
Dim Sum spots can be found all over Chinatown, and this culinary adventure is an easy way to break out of the same-old, same-old brunch experience. Dim Sum is a social meal—it is more fun for groups. Sharing and sampling from the vast offerings means there is something for the all eaters, and even the picky ones not inclined to try the chicken feet. And, bonus! Dim Sum is not only fun and nourishing, but it’s also quite affordable.
And while down on the Lower East Side, check out the Coleman Skate Park or the Orchard Street Sunday Market, or even stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge as a post-meal excursion.
Discovering cultures is what New York is all about, so why not explore?