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Sunday, March 22, 2015

On the Town with Buddy Beaverhausen at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Yum! The Cantonese term yum cha means "to have tea" and that is why the historic brunch cafe in Chinatown is called a "tea parlor." Nom Wah Tea Parlor was the first of its kind, opening during the Roaring Twenties. 1920 to be exact. Pre-Depression era. At the time of its debut, the one-block-long strip of Doyers Street was rife with gang wars. Despite all that, and through the upcoming economic hard times, Nom Wah has been a stalwart eatery institution in a historic district of NYC that, to this very day, has maintained much of its original charm.

Today was a sunny but cold day in NYC with gusty winds. I met with my friends Tracey and Merv. They drove down from Connecticut and met me for coffee on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street. We finally got to exchange Christmas gifts after a series of scheduled get-togethers that got cancelled due to snow or ice storms, ironically.

But today was a day to celebrate together at last. The last time Tracey and I went to Nom Wah was at the turn of the 21st Century! We went with a group of friends during Chinese New Year, where a conga line of people dressed as a dragon danced through the restaurant's narrow aisles and blessed us all. It was quite a memorable experience. Tracey was single at that time, so it was very special to introduce Merv to Nom Wah (dragon-free today).

Much had changed. Dim sun at Nom Wah used to be about waiters walking around with trays of food from which you could choose or avoid. You were charged per plate. There used to be red leather booths for large groups, too. Now all that has been replaced with utilitarian dinette tables and menus.

Still, the food is awesome! Merv ordered egg rolls and I swear they were the size of burritos! Tracey and I each ordered the steamed mixed dim sun plates with mostly delicately wrapped dumplings. I let dim sun go down on me.

There was a wait to go in, of course, and we were handed a number to hang out on the street until our number was called. The only gang wars going on in front of Nom Wah now might involve being seated. But today was peaceable, thankfully.

We cabbed back to the Village afterwards, sated and happy and parted ways once again. There's nothing like love and Chinese food I always say, even without the doggy bag!

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