Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Review by: Georgia Kral

In New York City, getting a reservation at a hip new restaurant is a badge of honor, often resulting in a feeling of euphoria as if a race or contest has just been won. But while it’s my job to stay in the know about new restaurants, it’s the classics that always seem to charm me most.

Take Nom Wah Tea Parlor. The oldest Chinese restaurant in New York City is tucked into the rounded turn on Doyers Street, which back in the day was nicknamed “the bloody angle” due to gang/ mob violence and is likely the only block in Manhattan shaped like a fish hook. It’s been here since 1920 and is open all day, every day serving dim sum, rice dishes, baked goods and tea. The interior feels like a cross between a bistro, a classic diner and a well-oiled machine of a restaurant. There are red leather booths, checker-tiled floors, soda fountain barstools at a counter. It’s perfect.

The dim sum is ordered by using a piece of paper and a golf pencil: fill it out, hand it to your server, dishes appear. Prices are fair for today’s Manhattan. Ten dim sum dishes and a pot of tea totaled $61.

Here’s what we ate: egg rolls, turnip cakes, cilantro and scallion rice rolls, rice rolls with spare ribs, shrimp cake-stuffed eggplant, chicken and cabbage dumplings, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings, roast pork bun, pork siu mai and stuffed tofu skins.

While all the dishes were tasty, it was egg rolls, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings, and rice rolls with spare ribs that were the winners in this foodie contest. Quirkily called the “OG” egg roll, Nom Wah’s is built on a foundation of egg: chicken and mixed vegetables (celery, water chestnuts, cabbage) are stuffed into an egg crepe, which is then dunked in batter and deep fried. When people talk about food having texture, this is what they mean: the outside is crispy, the egg crepe creamy and the inside mushy and crunchy.

Shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings are a specialty and are as beautiful as they are delicious. Delicate rice wrappers circle the fillings and then the whole package is steamed. Nuanced and light, this dim sum dish is almost a palate cleanser between the deep fried egg roll and the spare ribs.

Speaking of spare ribs, served here either on their own or over precisely chewy and springy rice rolls, they are briny and fatty. I love them with the rice noodles because of the delicate and smooth feeling of the rolls next to the pork. Again, texture.

The next time you’re considering a hot spot, remember this: Nom Wah Tea Parlor has nearly 100 years of experience!

What To Eat

Shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings

DISH
House special roast pork bun

DISH
Spare ribs with rice roll

DISH
Turnip cake

DISH
Stuffed eggplant

DISH
OG egg roll

DISH

Nom Wah Tea Parlor Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Nom Wah Tea Parlor?

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