In this solo dining adventure, Gary had a college buddy visiting NYC for the weekend and they decided to hit up a few places in Chinatown – Paris Bakery for bánh mì and Prosperity Dumpling for, well, dumplings. After gorging on Asian food, the last stop was in Midtown for dessert at Bouchon Bakery.
One of my favorite things about living in New York City is the wealth of variety when it comes to food. High end cuisine – check. Ethnic foods that will satisfy just about any diaspora – check. Excellent food in all corners – check. These characteristics were what my friend JP and I had in mind when we had a few hours to kill in Manhattan.
We started our day off strong with a stop in Chinatown’s Paris Sandwich for bánh mì and Vietnamese coffee. We each ordered the #1, the Paris Special, which is a traditional bánh mì – Vietnamese cold cuts, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, and, if you order it spicy, sliced jalapenos.
In the realm of cheap bánh mì, Paris is considered the favorite among most because of the quality of their baguettes – crusty with a soft, chewy interior and warm. The consistent excellence of their baguettes might have to do with rapid turnover, thus keeping the supply perpetually fresh. It’s the perfect foundation for their delicious sandwiches as it has just enough give that it’s not tough but it doesn’t fall apart from the moisture created by the fillings. There isn’t as much filling as some other places in Chinatown but the baguette here is above the rest.
On a side note, we didn’t get to eat our sandwiches inside of Paris. It was a busy late morning and every table was filled. What really bothered us were the two guys who lingered at their table after finishing their meal, oblivious to the people who were standing around looking for a place to sit. I didn’t mind not having a table to eat at–we ended up eating outside on some benches outside of a school on an unseasonably warm day–but it was absolutely inconsiderate of them to continue their conversation minutes after they were done eating. Okay, I’ll stop whining now.
After eating our bánh mì al fresco, we walked over to Prosperity Dumpling. This place is literally a whole with three stools each on opposite walls and a counter to order from between them. Ambiance, or lack thereof, aside, their fried dumplings and fried buns were crispy, porky perfection. At five dumplings for $1 and four buns for the same price, it’s an absolute steal here.
What better way to end an afternoon of eating than with dessert? Since we’ll never be able to afford Per Se in this lifetime, the only way we’ll get to sample any of Thomas Keller’s food is at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center. We ordered a chocolate macron and the TKO (Keller’s interpretation of the Oreo). The buttercream in the macaron was sweet, rich, and thick, almost like a ganache while the TKO was better than any Oreo you’ll ever get from Nabisco.
Chinatown, a great place to go to for cheap food that just happens to taste great. Between our bánh mì and dumplings meals, we made out like bandits, paying $14 total for both. Getting full on the good stuff for less than $10 a person in New York City? An excellent time! Topping the day off with my first ever visit to a Thomas Keller joint? That’s just how JP and I roll when we’re hunting for the best food experiences out there.
Prosperity Dumpling. 46 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002. [View Map] (212) 343-0683.