What do you do on Christmas Day in New York City, when few places are opened for people to kill time? Hang around in Chinatown, of course, and that’s what we did.
Armed with cautious minds and disappointment at spending Christmas in (of all places) Chinatown, we found ourselves lost in seedy and grotty neighbourhoods where strangers came up to us peddling fake Rolexes and thrusting little turtles in plastic tanks right in our faces. Chinatown in New York City is incredibly huge and spread-out, nothing like the teeny, compact and better-kept Gerrard Street in London, so getting lost was a problem and it certainly felt like safety would become an issue if we were outnumbered.
We decided to shadow some other tourists who clearly knew where they were headed to, and ended up on what seemed like a main street full of eateries (Mott Street?). Lunch here became apparent by virtue of a lack of choice and we peered through dark-tinted windows to gauge the lunch crowds before making our.final.decision.
Lunch was thankfully not as bad as I thought it would be. We ate at the busiest eatery with tonnes of Chinese diners and had decent roast meats with rice and noodles. We took a walk further down Mott Street after lunch, wound up more deflated than ever at the lack of anything remotely interesting, and made a U-turn back to the subway on Canal Street.
Then….we found Taipan Bakery!
It was bustling, people were going in empty-handed and coming out with boxes and bags of buns, cakes, and tarts. I was determined to join the crowd to see what the fuss was all about, and we ended up with two Portuguese egg tarts, two green tea-flavoured ones and a vanilla buttercream sponge cake with strawberry jam.
We left for Wall Street, took some photos at the New York Stock Exchange, walked to South Street, sat down on one of the concrete benches to have a look at the Brooklyn Bridge, and savoured our souvenirs from Taipan. The trip to Chinatown suddenly made sense. The egg tarts were goooooooood with flaky shells and creamy custard. The green tea ones were particularly delish and incredibly fragrant; I’m not kidding when I say that we had green tea-perfumed breath for the rest of the day. The buttercream sponge cake was fluffy and the cream was whipped to the lightest texture; it reminded me of my childhood when my parents would buy me similar cakes from neighbourhood bakeries, only better!
So, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Chinatown, stop by Taipan Bakery for a little snack, everything is really cheap and you’re bound to find something delectable to munch on.
Taipan Bakery is located at:
194 Canal Street, New York, NY 10013