Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Weaving through throngs of tourists on the narrow streets of Chinatown, I can feel the history of struggle, violence, and intrigue seeping through the soles of my shoes. The feeling gets stronger as you turn onto Doyers street, a thoroughfare infamous for violence and ill repute, even referred to as a 'cesspool of immorality'. I love the history behind NYC, and Chinatown's narrative has been particularly fascinating. And of course tea is an important element of daily life in this part of town.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been a Chinatown institution on Doyers street since the 1920s. It started out as a bakery and tea parlor, known for their Chinese confections and dim sum. It is a place to go for Yum Cha, which is the dining experience of drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum. The restaurant had a makeover last year and has become a destination for foodies and dim sum aficionados. A Tea Parlor with great history and dim sum? When Yosh O. made this the latest Ramen and Friends destination, I knew I had to attend.

I had been to Nom Wah once before, prior to the renovation. My husband and I were taking an audio tour and were instructed to sit down and order 'tea and almond cookies'. I remember enjoying both, in a restaurant that felt like a time capusle. The exterior of Nom Wah has remained the same, and the interior has kept much of its charm, with some minor updates. The tea menu immediately grabbed my attention. The prices are very affordable, and the selection is good. They offer a choice of pu-erh, oolong, green, and white, a surprisingly nice list. I ordered a pot of Shui Hisen (Water Fairy Tea). It is described as a dark and heavy oolong. With some research I discovered that this tea is very popular in Chinese restaurants, although I don't think I've ever had a version as good as this one.

The tea came in a huge pot with leaves swimming inside. The pot was more than enough for 3-4 people. I was nervous that the tea would get bitter with the leaves sitting directly inside for the duration of our meal, but the tea remained smooth. It is a hearty, strong brew, with a nice roasty flavor that is quite satisfying. It had a faint floral taste as well, which adds to the pleasant experience. This tea paired quite well with the many dishes of tasty dim sum we consumed. It was also a perfect accompaniment to the famous almond cookie I had at the end of our meal.

I can't wait to return to Nom Wah and try something new. This is a great spot to escape the chaos of the neighborhood, and linger over a pot of tea while munching a few dumplings, or a crunchy almond cookie.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor: 13 Doyers Street NY, NY 10013- Recommended
Highlights: affordable Chinese tea, dumplings, almond cookies

1 comment:

  1. So nice to learn about the selection of Nom Wah's teas from an expert. Next time I must listen to you and order a pot with some almond cookies. They look divine.