There are three things that Chinatown is known for: an unparallelled selection of finger-traps, top-quality DVDs, and awesomely cheap dumplings. But when it comes to the latter, how do you get the most bang for your buck? We tapped Depanneur food editor and dim sum enthusiast MacKenzie Smith for the most time- and cost-efficient way to sample some of the 'hood's best dough balls, and wound up with three hyper-close houses for housin'. Follow these directions, and you can feast on 16 dumplings for under $6.
Head to 54 Mulberry to kick things off at the aptly named Tasty Dumpling, which likes to lurk in the shadows of No Parking signs.
They fry their meat pillows to near perfection and serve 'em on only the finest of Styrofoam plates. Says MacKenzie: "As far as quality and taste, it's my number one recommendation, and they're five for $1.25, which for some reason has me convinced that they're better quality than the other $1 spots". Tasty Dumpling is also Smart Marketing Dumpling!
After wolfin' down those ritzy tidbits, head South and take your first left onto Mosco St.
Make it to 106 Mosco and you'll see Fried Dumpling, a small, three-woman operation.
If you're unsure about what to order, try the Fried Dumplings (five for $1).
Miss Smith says: "Sh*t, it's not even that good, but for some reason it's my favorite place to go. Half the items on the menu don't exist because the dumplings are all that really matter. Just hold up your fingers to show how many orders you want, grab one of the five stools, and let the ladies work their magic".
Finish up, say goodbye (you weren't raised in a barn, were you?), and continue down Mosco to Mott. Make a left, then your first right onto Pell then your first right again onto the infamous Doyers St, which should look like this.
Stop at Nam Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers), where reviews and a brief history of the location are taped to the window, informing you that this is in fact oldest dim sum parlor in NYC, est 1920.
Holy sh*t, are those banquettes?! And a tile floor!? This place is, like, an actual... uh... place!
Sayeth the MacK: "The house special pan-fried pork and shrimp dumpling [four for $3.50] is always amazing, but I think their shining star is the soup dumpling. They also sell booze, so ditch the brown-bagged sake". Hey, you're not the boss of us! Final tally: 45 minutes, 14 dumplings, $5.75.