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Posted by on May 27, 2011 | 13 comments

Papillon Photos: New York City’s Chinatown

The second time I went to New York, I was able to explore a lot. 

One day I headed with my mom to Chinatown.   I have heard about the incredible shopping opportunities you can find in Canal Street.  The rumors were true.  The mentioned street is a shopper’s paradise.  Tons of stores offer jewelry, bags, clothes, shoes and every imaginable fashion related item.  Street owners compete fiercely for clients and hundreds of people walk around try to find good bargains.  I must admit that I liked the place a lot. 

In the other hand, I refused to leave this famous Chinatown area without finding a more authentic Asian flavor. Because non-stop, wild shopping in the streets of New York is not necessarily consider the most Chinese experience in the world (or it is?).  I took a look at my map and discovered that Chinatown extends beyond the Canal artery.  Ok, it was time to explore!!!

Shoes for sale at Chinatown

By walking one block north or south the famous street, you are able to enter a different world.  A world where some people don’t even speak English.  I am not exaggerating.  I asked several questions (about prices) and was not able to communicate.  Menus exclusively in Chinese were everywhere.

Menu in Chinese

Then, we encountered the markets were everything from snails to dry squid, from strange mushrooms to vegetables with unusual forms are sold.  I mean you can smell the market stalls from a mile away.  The dried seafood perfumed the air with a pungent and salty aroma.  Fresh bread was being baked.

Nuts for sale

Dried Squid


Hordes of goods where waiting to be sold.

Merchandise for sale at Chinatown

Of course, you don’t have an Asian market if you don’t have fresh fish and seafood.

Fresh Seafood

Fresh Fish

Things got more interesting when we found the stores full of neatly arrange remedies for all sort of ailments.  I tried to read some of the labels but they were on Chinese. 

Remedies for all sorts of ailments

They also had fresh ingredients to cure your pains and/or maladies.  Dried reptile is what you may need.

This should be good for something, or not?

But let me ask you, what is the real star in Chinatown? Without doubt, the food.  While walking around I was able to take a look at multiple street carts and restaurants.  Finally, I decided to enter a bakery where the pastries looked like the bomb.  My hunch led me in the correct direction.  The pastries were fantastic.  Specially, the Portuguese style custards.  I bought like ten to go.  The place also offered hot food at dirt cheap prices.  I had to try the string bean chicken.

Spring Rolls for sale at a street cart

String Bean Chicken with Rice

After that day, we went to more times to Chinatown.  We just loved the atmosphere, the cheap prices and, well ok, the shopping.


  1. I nave been to New York several times and never made it ti Chinatown. I think I need to go without my husband and shop until I drop!
    Jan Ross recently posted..Sushi Bar on Carnival LibertyMy Profile

  2. Everyone I know loves Canal street but I have to say I hate it! If you love to shop and bargain with tons of people around then this is the place for you. I, on the other hand, just don’t like this type of shopping! Oh who am I kidding, I am not the biggest shopper 🙂

    As was mentioned, it is very interesting venturing away from Canal Street looking for the more authentic China Town.
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Fabulous Friday – European TidbitsMy Profile

    • It is true that the place is packed. The sidewalk cannot even hold all the people walking by. That is why I am sarcastic when I talk about shopping in this area and how it can be seen as an authentic or unauthentic Asian experience. If you go to China, the shopping in the streets is very similar. Well, there is more people in China.

      It was cool to fing the other side.
      Ruth recently posted..The No Complaining Course for Travelers- Advanced LevelMy Profile

  3. This seems a lot like the Chinatown in San Francisco — there are some super touristy parts, but then it’s just a normal ethnic neighborhood once you get off the main street! Funny how that happens. 🙂
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Pole- Pedal- PaddleMy Profile

    • I haven’t been to Chinatown in San Francisco but I assume it is similar. I would like to visit the San Francisco one since it is really big. I have been to Chinatown in vancouver and that one does not look so touristy.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 11 Scene 1My Profile

  4. Nice post, Ruth — love the pics. I was in Chinatown NYC a few months ago. The shops and food markets are so amazing with things that we just don’t see anywhere else. Wish I had found that bakery you mention!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Tucking in NapaMy Profile

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