61 Bayard St, New York, NY | Directions 1001340.715253 -73.998030
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Chinatown
Best Hole in the Wall Restaurant/Ice Shop – Pre-warning: If you don't want to deal with waitress who barely speak English or if you like paying tax, don't come here.
I have been going to Chinatown almost every weekend for the past year and half but I have never even thought about walking into Yuen Yuen,. The reasons are mainly three-fold. First of all, the Chinese name itself indicates the restaurant is an ice dessert place. Secondly, the menu they posted outside says not only regular Chinese ice desserts but also snake soup. Finally, it just doesn't seem too happening in there.
Nevertheless, after reading an article from Not For Tourist NY, I realized this must be done. Yes, I have to go there to eat it myself! So my boyfriend and I paid our first visit on a muggy and humid Sunday afternoon.
We walked in and it was pretty much deserted. I hesitated for a second there and thought about turning around and leave. But I must give NFT a chance and try it for myself. So we sat down and looked over their menu. Wow everything there is almost all under $5 and I could see a lot of Cantonese/Toisanese dishes on there as well as a pretty complete menu of Chinese desserts. Oh and of course there is a long menu of the Chinese herbal cuisine with ingredients such as snakes, pigeon, ox tail and turtle.
We ordered the standard beef chow fun, spare ribs stir-fried with black bean over fun, cold almond milk and watermelon ice. The ordering process was kind of difficult because the lady doesn't even speak Mandarin! I had to use my broken Cantonese and some Chinese to order as well as pointing around.
The result surprisingly was very rewarding. The cold almond milk was sweet and rich. My watermelon ice is merely $2 with tons of chopped watermelon cubes inside a milky drink. My boyfriend's Beef chow fun comes on a huge tin plate and the flavor is absolutely great. My dish, spare ribs over fun was equally delicious. Both of our dishes are just a little over $5. When we pay the bill, there is even more surprise! They don't charge you tax!
Our virgin trip to Yuen Yuen is a huge success. I can't wait to try more items on their menu despite the difficulty to communicate with the staff here. Maybe some of those herbal snake soup?
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