New York, NY: NYSF First Look – Traditional Chinese Food

fried chicken (credit: NYSF)

By NYSF Contributor  | New York Street Food

(credit: NYSF)
(credit: NYSF)

We’re thankful to have engaged readers giving us tips on a regular basis. We’re not one of those websites with a bunch of writers on staff. Despite the use of “we” in our writing, New York Street Food is one person covering the street food scene in one of the largest cities in the world (plus a few other cities on occasion).

The latest great tip to come our way was from Anne of City Spoonful, who told us about a new cart on West 4th St just east of Washington Square Park called Traditional Chinese Food. Anne raved about the cold spicy noodles.

That sounded so good we wanted to try it, but just like some new vendors have a learning curve before they get to where they want to be, we had a learning curve on this new cart, and did not order what we wanted.

Neither the chef nor his partner outside the cart taking orders and handling the money spoke English, including many of the food terms. We had to point to something on the menu and use gestures to get our point across.

It was kind of like being in China, but we were just in the Village! And just as if we were in China, we made a mistake that affected our entire order.

fried chicken (credit: NYSF)
fried chicken (credit: NYSF)

Everything on the menu was in both Chinese and English, but we made the rookie mistake of thinking the English words were first and the Chinese words were underneath, when in fact the opposite was true. The English words were underneath the Chinese words. Duh!

Instead of ordering Spicy Noodles, we got the Daily Special, and instead of steamed dumplings, we got fried chicken. Certainly not the worst fate in the world, at least in the case of the fried chicken. Each dish was only $5 too.

When we ordered, the guy kept pointing to the photo of the Daily Special, which appeared to be stewed tomatoes and scrambled eggs over rice. That was what we unwittingly were pointing to in Chinese, not the Spicy Noodles.

All our attempts at getting the right order only got us the Daily Special over noodles instead of rice, but we have nobody to blame but ourself.

(credit: NYSF)
(credit: NYSF)

Usually anything with eggs is good by us, but when it comes mixed with stewed tomatoes, that’s not on our “to do” list. The egg noodles, string beans, beef and snow peas underneath were fine, but we royally screwed up this order by getting something so tomato-based.

The steamed dumpling order got messed up too, but we came out pretty good on that one. The fried chicken was really tasty.

The dish was small pieces of breaded chicken, both dark and white meat, but it wasn’t the most tender chicken you’ve eaten. In fact, a few pieces were rather tough.

But the spices sprinkled over the fried chicken made it come alive! Opening the container, the smell of cumin was strong, and we could also see and taste chili pepper flakes, salt and maybe even a little curry. Yum!

The spices sprinkled over the fried chicken were reminiscent of the spices sprinkled over the Xin Jiang Prosperity Kebabs, who were Vendy Award Finalists last year. Cumin, curry and salt were the predominant spices used in Xin Jiang’s kebabs. The fried chicken here was somewhat similar.

Now that we know how to order, it’s already time to make a return visit. We did see beef kababs in the back of the cart, and we still want to try those steamed dumplings. At 10 for $5, that’s a pretty good deal. Everything on the menu is well priced.

Thanks again to Anne from City Spoonful for the tip about the Traditional Chinese Food cart on West 4th St, just east of Washington Square Park. Correct us if you can find one, but we doubt they tweet or have a website. If so, it will probably will not be in English.