Among Chowhounds’ ongoing obsessions are zhong zi, the steamed sticky-rice wraps sold around Chinatown. Until it closed in 2008, May May Chinese Gourmet Bakery on Pell Street made some of the best. But its former employees have been keeping the brand alive, first at a busy corner on Grand Street and now at an old-time Chinatown diner, selling zhong that come pretty close to May May’s in quality. Mee Sum Café—already on hound radar for its roast-pork bao, among other things—sets out several kinds of zhong on the counter just inside the door. The one filled with lean pork, salted egg, peanut, and mung bean earns this one-word rave from 88bamboo: “YUM!!!”
Another object of periodic hound cravings is liáng pí, the cold noodles introduced to New Yorkers a few years back by Xi’an Famous Foods. Now they’ve surfaced in a different guise at Panda Dumpling House on Hester Street. DaveCook says this version, unlike Xi’an’s western Chinese take, is in the style of the northeastern Dongbei region. The translucent mung bean noodles—tossed with carrot, cucumber, vinegar, garlic, and chile—are nice and fresh, but so slippery they can be hard to eat. Look for “cold skin noodles” on the menu. As for Panda’s dumplings and scallion pancakes, the early word is: Don’t bother.
Mee Sum Café [Chinatown]
26 Pell Street (between Mott Street and Bowery), Manhattan
Panda Dumpling House [Chinatown]
107 Hester Street (at Eldridge Street), Manhattan
Photograph of zhong zi by fourunder