Every time I visit New York I fall just a little bit more in love. I won’t lie, a lot of that has to do with food. For international foodies like Mike and myself New York is paradise. Some people show up in the city with a list of things to do, we just have a list of foods we want to eat (To do: Xi’an Famous Foods, New York pizza, is there a Bosnian restaurant in NYC? Must find out).
That’s why when Alana emailed me to invite me on a New York City Food Tour I said yes so fast I think I startled her. Food tour! Food tour of Little Italy and Chinatown, two places I find SO interesting but just couldn’t crack. I’m always overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices- how to separate the good from the rest? It doesn’t help that after last year, Mike and I are serious chinese food snobs. Last time we went we ended up in a sub-par basement restaurant, hungry and disappointed.
So yes, I loved the tour before it even started. Despite my bias though it actually was a pretty objectively awesome experience. Ahoy New York is run by Alana Hoye, who is a New York food expert. On her blog she details how to find some of the most amazing ethnic food around the city. Her specialty though is Chinatown and Little Italy, and she’s spent the past three years perfecting this three hour tour.
So what did we discover? Here are a few of the highlights:
Classic Cheeses in Little Italy
Some of the restaurants in Little Italy are remarkably unexceptional, so instead Alana lead us to a couple of the area’s oldest local shops. Both were over 100 years old (wow) and family run (double wow). We tasted some amazing Italian cheese which just reminded me that I really have to get my butt in gear and get back to the old country one of these days (both Mike and I have some Italian heritage in need of embracing).
Cannoli! God, cannoli is so great. The authentic sicilian cannoli’s we got at Ferrara Bakery (which incidentally, is the oldest expresso bar in the country) are world famous and amazing.
Mouth Watering Dumplings
Down by the park at a dusty looking restaurant it probably wouldn’t even occur to me to enter, Alana served us seriously juicy and delicious pork dumplings. I love them so much I ate the leftover ones too.
Traditional Egg Roll
I generally associate egg rolls with hot dog carts and county fairs- those hard, kind of tasteless things smothered in soy sauce. I was blown away by the traditional egg rolls we sampled at Chinatown’s oldest dim sum restaurant. They were thin, almost crepe-like and full of flavor. I’m won over.
These are just some of the places and dishes we got to sample. In between tastings Alana and her assistant Ray filled us in on the history of the two neighborhoods (fascinating) and pointed out landmarks like New York’s first tenement building. Not to mention a TON of recommendations on which restaurants to try (and which to avoid). We left VERY full and happy, despite the fact that we were touring around on literally the hottest day of the year.
I feel like I understand Chinatown and Little Italy a little better now : what’s real, what’s commercial and what’s delicious. Plus, now I have a whole OTHER list of restaurants to try.
Thank you to Ahoy New York for the complimentary tour.