Food and Leisure

There’s no town like Chinatown

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star

MILLIE: A dear friend once warned me to prepare myself for that time when Karla would be all grown up and I would find myself alone a lot.  I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I can’t believe it’s been two months since Karla left for New York to take a professional culinary course at the International Culinary Center.

I realized I kept myself so busy at work that I hardly had time to really miss her; plus, with FaceTime and Viber, it’s like she never left at all. Well, except during mealtimes. I would sometimes find myself eating alone so I would go to our favorite eating places.

KARLA: Being away from home makes me miss Asian food so much. Usually, back home, Mom and I would have either adobo or sinigang, if not both, and Chinese food and Japanese food on a weekly basis. That is a must for us. So, being in the US, although I am in the kitchen all day and surrounded with good food, I find myself craving Asian food, like, all the time. I’ve been discovering Chinatown with one of my friends and she’s been taking me around. Although she is American, her family is from Taiwan and she grew up with Asian food as well. The two of us often go out for an early dinner.

New York’s Chinatown doesn’t make me feel like I’m in New York at all. I actually feel like I’m in Hong Kong and I love it. It’s funny how one minute you’re on Broadway and feel like you’re in New York’s shopping district, then take a turn and feel like you’re in Hong Kong. Then, a few blocks down, it’s like you’re in Italy with all these pizzerias in a line. Still, we always end up in Chinatown, which I don’t mind at all.

One of the first restaurants we ate at is called XO Kitchen on Hester St. As soon as you walk in, there are photos all around with pictures of food from their menu. Chinese and English names are on it and since some of the servers don’t know how to speak English, all you need to do is point. We ordered the dried scallops with salted duck egg fried rice, pan-fried pork dumplings, turnip cake, hakaw (shrimp dumplings) and pork chops. We clearly ordered for more than two people and ended up so full and had to take home some food. But boy, that was good. It was so good that when I got home, I fell asleep on the couch. (Laughs)

MILLIE:  I started to miss my comfort food at Gloria Maris so I went alone one afternoon that I was in the Greenhills area. I ordered my usual favorite dim sum piece, siomai. Aaah! So yummy. I ordered the roast duck and was happy to have it all to myself for once. And, just to tease, I took a picture and sent it to Karla with the message “Look what you’re missing.” Since we frequent the place, the servers kept asking why I was alone and were actually looking for Karla. I guess no one noticed I was eating for two.

KARLA: After seeing Mom’s photo of roasted duck, I definitely was craving some. So again in Chinatown, we found this restaurant called 218 Restaurant on Grand St. that serves roasts. There are a lot more restaurants that have this. I hear Hop Kee on Mott St. has very good roast duck as well. Will definitely check that out soon. We also ordered the sizzling beef short ribs at 218 and absolutely enjoyed it with salted fish and chicken fried rice.

I think, though, that the cheapest discovery we’ve had so far is Deluxe Food Market on Elizabeth St. It’s a food market where you can also get fresh seafood and meats, etc., but towards the end of the market, they have different counters selling ready-to-eat food. Food is displayed in an enclosed counter, pretty similar to what we call “turo-turo” or “point-point,” where you just have to point at what you want.

We ended up getting the pork spareribs, chicken and dumplings — all for $10. There is also a separate counter for roastings, which is where we got the crispy suckling pig on the next visit. Since it’s a food market, we got all of these to go and would eat it at my friend’s apartment, but there are high tables there if you want to eat right away. I can’t wait to discover so much more.





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XO Kitchen is located at 148 Hester St., New York City; 218 Restaurant is located at 218 Grand St., NYC; and Deluxe Food Market is located at 79 Elizabeth St., NYC.

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Send email to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and quichethecook.ph@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook:  Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

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