If you like dim sum, there are a lot to choose from in New York’s Chinatown. Nom Wah Tea Parlor sits on the elbow of Doyers, which is one of the neighborhood’s most crooked and shortest streets. It’s a relatively quiet and almost forgotten stretch but so rich in Irish and Chinese immigrant histories. There are dim sum “palaces” that are multi-floor, cavernous and heaving with activity. Nom Wah is not, rather it is instantly comfortable with the air of bygone days still lingering. Step inside and it’s a familiar feeling, maybe familial, since the business passed batons between Uncle Wally Tang to nephew Wilson Tang over a year ago. It’s heartening to see a younger generation not only bring new life to an establishment that began in 1920 but for a 30-something, former financier to see opportunity and success outside of “big business.”
You order by checking off a list of dim sum items in English. My all-time favorite dishes include the shrimp rice roll, turnip cake and sticky rice in lotus leaf. Do you know the feeling when you’re walking through a crowded and noisy restaurant, you notice little and look at nobody but for the way out? At Nom Wah, I saw everybody, which says a lot about its non-chaotic ambience and organization. I really liked the diversity of the patrons: five Asian kids in their early 20s, a family of tourists, two elderly Chinese women chatting over tea, and a group of eight non-Asian, college-aged friends.