Culinary discoveries in the winding streets of Chinatown.
Andrew happened to be around Centre Street when I was on my lunch break from Grand Jury duty, so we met for lunch at a Shanghainese cuisine place on Bayard and Baxter. There I had a thing called a soup dumpling. Have you heard of these things? Astonishing. They’re dumplings–WITH SOUP IN THEM.
I am not messing with you. Seriously. Not like a sauce or anything–actual soup within the confines of a dumpling. You have to either pop it whole in your mouth, or pry it open carefully while balancing it on a spoon.
The streets of Chinatown, and that weird Centre Street judicial district fascinate me, because they used to be the Five Points slum described so vividly in Luc Sante’s Low Life, a great book about the old, dirty, sinister Lower East Side of the 19th Century. I don’t know precisely where the Five Points were–they renamed the streets, presumably to shake off the bad reputation. I do know that Doyers Street, which curves sharply, used to be known as The Bloody Angle.