This part has less to do about food, but food in Chinatown. I’d like to explain what Chinatown is really like to make it less intimidating.
If you aren’t Chinese or remotely Asian, they’ll bring you a fork at restaurants. Don’t be offended. It’s just so that they can cover their bases. The way to communicate best is through hand motions and facial expressions. You can talk but if they don’t understand English, it’s your best bet.
Luckily in Chinatown, many restaurants post their menus in the window. You can see the prices, what they sell and the descriptions of the food. But the actual quality of the food is up to you to find out. There is the traditional Chinese way of making food and the Americanized way. More restaurants are leaning towards the Americanized way because that’s where a lot of their income is coming from. And when it comes to trying new foods, sometimes it’s better not to know. They usually have the favorites of most people from General Gao’s Chicken to lesser known foods like Chicken’s feet. And if you’re one to worry about how much grease is on your food, Chinese food is greasy; get used to it.
One of the biggest draw now days is Dim Sum. Dim Sum is usually served around brunch to early afternoon. It consists of steamed or baked (usually pork in the middle), dumplings, noodles, etc. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, going to dim sum is difficult if not impossible. Those who have never eaten dim sum generally lean towards the bakedpork buns over the steamed. The steamed baked pork buns usually have barbecue pork in the middle with an extremely doughy outside. The baked has a honey glaze over the top. It’s less doughy than the steamed buns. It has a honey glaze over the top. The dumplings have a thin wrapping around meat, usually pork, shrimp and even chicken. Sometimes the dumplings even have a mix inside like spinach and shrimp, etc. Basically dim sum involves meat, very little does not. It’s fairly cheap and filling.
Chinatown is only as intimidating as you make it. Don’t be scared. If you act respectfully, nothing bad will happen. There is an Asian motif from McDonalds to their phone booths, they have those green tiled roofs like the pagodas. There are stores you might be wary to use a credit card in but Chinatown is Chinatown. Chinatown has so much to offer, but first you have to get your foot through the gates. Cheap food and groceries, specialty items like martial arts goods and cheap novelty presents. Yes, it’s dirtier than Shaws. It’s a jumble of cultures; they’ll welcome you if you welcome them.