One of the great pleasures of being in Manhattan is being able to walk for hours with no particular goal, especially in some areas like Chinatown, where the streets are no longer denominated by street numbers and one can easily get lost. I love to stroll through this neighborhood and discover the Chinese grocery stores, fish markets, and local shops that populate the area. Chinatown in NYC is quite exotic!
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, nestled in the middle of the neighborhood, was recommended to me as one of the best places for Dim Sum in New York. It first opened in 1920 as a bakery and tea parlor (tearoom). It was very famous for its mooncakes (Chinese cakes), so much so that people would line up outside the store. It also served Dim Sum, but at that time it was only a small part of the business. In 1974, the store was sold to Wally Tang, who has worked in the restaurant for the last 34 years.
A few years ago, Wilson Tang took over the restaurant from his uncle. He expanded the brand and he brought some changes to the menu. Last year he opened Nom Wah in Philadelphia and Nom Wah Nolita.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor doesn’t take any reservations. You just have to go there and try your luck. When we arrived, there was an available table right away for us. But as it was a little bit early (7pm), we chose to go for a walk and come back half an hour later. Unfortunately, the situation had changed and the table was not available anymore. Very kindly, the Chinese receptionist at the restaurant took our name and asked us to wait outside. We were not the only ones waiting. Many of us were on the sidewalk and soon in the narrow street as more and more people were coming to the restaurant. From time to time the receptionist would come outside and shout names. The lucky chosen would cheer, happy to finally be seated. The ambiance was light and friendly. It’s located next to Apotheke, a speakeasy bar, which would be a great place for a post/pre dinner drink.
Our turn at last arrived and we were very happy to be seated. The décor is authentic, and it’s kept the same atmosphere and spirit since 1968, when the restaurant moved next door from 15 to 13 Dovers St. after the end of the lease. Original tiles on the floor, red leather on the chairs, laminate tables with metal frames – the restaurant overall has an American style from the sixties. We are far from the Chinese décor and yet many Chinese families keep coming to Nom Wah Tea Parlor for the delicious Dim Sum.
Once seated, we received a plate with chopsticks, a paper napkin, a glass of water, and a laminated cardboard menu with pictures of each dish, with the name written in Chinese and English. We also received a sheet of paper with the menu listed and a pen to check the boxes next to the chosen dishes and hand over to the server when ready.
The service is quite fast, so you are not obliged to order all at once. You can take your time, order a few dishes, and order again when you are ready. Everything we ordered was excellent and for once not expensive!
We started with the house special roast pork bun – this is a must. It was really delicious! The dough is not too thick relative to the filling.
House special pan-fried dumplings, pork dumpling, pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings. They were very tasty and the portions are very generous.
The house special dumplings in soup. The broth didn’t have a strong taste but the raviolis were very good. I added a little bit of sauce to spice things up.
The Original “OG” egg roll, this was not my favorite, although our neighbors at the next table recommended it to us.
Shrimp siu mai, surprisingly the shrimp come in big pieces and you can really taste them.
Shrimp dumplings, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings, the wheat wrapper was a bit sticky and difficult to eat but it was very good, I highly recommend these two dishes.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a very good address to eat Dim Sum. The mix of flavors, smells, and the hustle and bustle of the Chinese servers transport you to China for the space of a meal.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyers St
New York, NY 10013
📞 (212) 962-6047