I had such a bad time with smoke in the East Village for a while that I was reluctant to go in the direction of the smokey ruins. Last Wednesday, I made my first exploratory walk to Canal St., in that case down Mulberry St. But my first stop was Mooza, on Orchard St. A friend and I had delicious cocktails. I was surprised how empty the place was at 9:15 P.M. It was sad to see the empty streets - empty for the same reason that I hadn't been hanging out there. On that evening, I didn't smell any smoke until I reached Canal St., and there, only a little.
So I decided to go to Chinatown on Monday. I passed by the former location of the Silver Palace and noticed a sign for Dong Khanh. I went upstairs. The head waiter explained that there was a new boss, but the same staff. I ordered shrimp dumplings and chicken with celery. The dumplings were as I remembered them from Silver Palace, and the chicken meat was unusually tasty; the chicken dish was a little oily, but that's to be expected, as vegetables are usually deep-fried in Chinese restaurants. The scene was interesting. Around 6:30, Chinese-language (probably Taiwanese, I figured) pop was turned on, and couples began to dance. Anyway, the food was pleasant, and I look forward to going back for dim sum. The air was good that evening until later, when I was glad I had brought a gas mask and didn't find the air quality good until I had reached Rivington St.
Yesterday, I went back to Chinatown again and patronized New York Noodletown. The falloff in patronage is noticeable there, too. The air quality was acceptable yesterday. Oh, I got my standard beef muscle/shrimp dumpling noodle soup, and it was the same as usual (perhaps slightly fattier than it used to be a few months ago, but pleasant).
Chinatown is open for business and functioning. Go, but bring your gas mask just in case you need it; everything depends on what the salvage workers at the World Trade Center site turned up on that day and what direction the wind blows. But as for me, I was happy to be back in my beloved Chinatown.