Your Destination Guide to New York City

Destination Guide NYC - Your Destination Guide to New York, NY

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© Michael E. Lee

Home to endless markets, groceries, bakeries, street vendors, and emporiums, as well as more than 200 restaurants featuring cuisine from across China, Vietnam, and Malaysia, Chinatown offers a break from mainstream Manhattan with a little seediness and a lot of character.

An estimated 70,000 to 150,000 people populate these two square miles in the Lower East Side, making New York's Chinatown the largest in the nation and the highest concentration of Chinese in the Western hemisphere. Chinese sailors and traders began arriving in Chinatown during the mid-18th century. Emigration to the area expanded in the mid-19th century, and the community continued growing after the Chinese Exclusion Act was lifted in 1943. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which raised quotas for Asian immigrants to the United States, sparked a major boom in Chinatown's population.

Browse Mott, Mulberry, and Canal streets along East Broadway for seafood and produce stands, groceries and bakeries. Shuffle along Canal Street between Mott and Bowery streets to explore the Chinese jewelry shop district. Wander west of Broadway for a dizzying array of imposter handbags, perfumes, watches, t-shirts and souvenirs.

Multi-level Chinese emporiums such as Pearl River at 477 Broadway and Kam Kuo at 7 Mott Street are where you'll find the real treasures of Chinatown – from dishware, teas, and sake carafes to curtains, lamps, clothing, fans, and Buddha figurines – authentically crafted and reasonably priced.

Don't leave without sampling a taste of the neighborhood. For a higher-end dining experience try Peking Duck House at 22 Mott Street (former city mayor Ed Koch's favorite restaurant). For quick, easy, and cheap without sacrificing flavor, visit East Corner Wonton on 70 East Broadway for steamy soups and fresh dumplings, or Evergreen Shanghai Restaurant at 63 Mott Street for a vast variety of dishes.

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