Tag Archives: Chinatown

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Forlini’s

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Forlini’s

Forlini’s has been serving Italian food since 1943. It is on Baxter Street below Canal in Chinatown. What newcomers to New York may not realize is that Little Italy used to be much larger, and there are remnants of it sprinkled throughout Soho, Nolita, Little Italy and Chinatown. (The houses my family moved to from Italy are on the part of Mulberry Street in Chinatown.) The restaurant’s menu says it serves Northern Italian cuisine, but it has a lot of Southern Italian cuisine as well. In addition to being a classic Italian restaurant, it is also a classic New York restaurant and a must for anyone wanting some NY nostalgia.

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Ramen Week: Day 2: Bassanova Ramen

Bassanova Ramen is a new ramen place in the heart of Chinatown.  The menu at Bassanova is scant–only three types of ramen with broth.  They also have a menu with a few ramen dishes without broth.  The ramen here is a bit pricier than other ramen shops and pricier than the restaurants in the area.  Below is a picture of the broth ramen dishes.

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The décor has a modern design and sleek, clean feel.  The most unusual thing is the utensils–extra-large chopsticks.  The waitress asked me if that would bother me, but I had never used large chopsticks so I went in with an open mind.  I didn’t have a problem with them at all.  The spoons were also larger.

I ordered the tondaku ramen with a tonkotsu, or pork, broth.  I was surprised that there were more noodles than broth, as I understand the broth to be the showcase of a bowl of ramen (although ramen are the noodles).  However, it was very flavorful.  The noodles were thin and tasted good.  The broth was rich and dark, a bit oily, but the right amount of salt to make it flavorful but not too salty.

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Given that there is a menu of ramen dishes without broth and that there was more ramen in the bowl than broth, I think Bassanova Ramen’s focus is the ramen.

Sweets Week: Day 6: Taipan Bakery

If the line at Taipen Bakery in Chinatown is any indication, this is one popular bakery.  I also tried to get mooncakes here back in September, and they were sold out.

The bakery has breads and pastries that are self serve and then there are cakes and pastries in the case.  When it’s crowded, it’s a little confusing as there is no real line, but there are many counter clerks and they will get to you…eventually.  Since I’m in love with coconut cream buns, I got one of those and then I saw this bright orange cake with the cutest triangular shape to it.

taipan

So a friend of mine had the idea of toasting the coconut cream bun in the oven, and let me tell you what a good idea that was.  I like them as is, but when toasted, the cream gets all melty and it’s another level of delicious coconut bun.  The orange cake was a little strange.  It did taste like orange, but in a fake way.  Maybe it’s just not to my taste, but it sure is cute.

Two for Tuesday: Ice Cream

I’m going to do a Sweets Week, since we kicked off the week with Italian bakeries. So this week’s Two for Tuesday is ice cream. I can’t believe I haven’t written about my favorite ice cream shop yet. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has the creamiest, yummiest ice cream in NYC. They also have a wide variety of standard American flavors like strawberry cheesecake and Oreo, but my favorites are the Asian flavors like ginger, black sesame, red bean, taro, lychee, pandan and even durian!

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In the picture above, I have my favorite flavor on the bottom, almond cookie, followed by taro and red bean.  Yum!  While Chinatown ice cream is a classic, having been in NYC for 28 years, there are always new ice cream places popping up.

Davey’s Ice Cream is a new ice cream shop in the East Village.  A very cute shop, Davey’s has a limited menu of ice cream, but the staff is super friendly and very enthusiastic about the ice cream.  I got vanilla and sweet corn.  I was hoping it would be more creamy than it was, but the vanilla had a very pure vanilla flavor.  I am also a fan of corn ice cream, and I guess I was expecting it to be more like the corn flavor at Sundaes and Cones, a flavor I love.  However, it tasted more like the buttered popcorn jellybean from Jelly Belly, with caramel swirls.

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