In the span of one Chinatown block, you can take a quick trip around Asia — all you need is your appetite.
On Mott Street between Mosco and Worth, rows of colorful pavilions line the sidewalk. Thanks to DineOut NYC — a pro bono initiative launched this summer by architectural firm Rockwell Group, in partnership with NYC Hospitality Alliance — nine restaurants slinging dishes from Hong Kong, Japan and even Malaysia can all serve their food al fresco.
With an assist from the city Department of Transportation and local Chinatown agencies, the tantalizing stretch is currently closed to traffic, and marks DineOut’s first communal dining space that multiple restaurants can use.
The result? An appetizing escape from car congestion and the potential risks of indoor dining, speckled with stunning seasonal decorations. Here, some of the tastiest treats that Mott Street has to offer.
Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen serves up dishes from Thailand and Malaysia, with the bulk of the menu nodding to the latter.
“Malaysian food [has a] more savory taste [than Thai food] — it’s not too sweet, not too spicy,” said 39-year-old co-owner Erik Cheah. He said you can also taste its international influences: “When you’re dining in Malaysian cuisine, the menu usually has some Chinese food, some Malay food, some Indian food and some Thai food.”
One of Wok Wok’s most popular menu items is Indian-influenced roti flatbread, which is a Malaysian breakfast staple. The Original Roti, $4.25, comes with a serving of curry potato and chicken on the side. Meanwhile, for more of a Southeast Asian flavor, grab a $15.95 entree of lemongrass chicken stew, with turmeric and coconut-flavored rice.
Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week. 11 Mott St.
The wonton soup at Noodle Village — a Hong Kong-style eatery — is a point of pride for the restaurant. “The traditional Hong Kong wonton better have pork and shrimp to make that dumpling,” said 47-year-old owner George Eng, adding that typical wontons around the city skip the pork.
This $6.80 soup is Noodle Village’s most popular item; for $8.05, you can get it with duck-egg noodles, which stay al dente in the hot broth. Heartier fare includes hot pot rice, a crispy dish made with a blend of medium- and long-grain rice for better texture. “The rice comes out like comfort food,” Eng said. He recommends topping it with pork and salty fish for $11.50.
Open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. 13 Mott St.
Just because it’s Chinatown doesn’t mean you can’t get Japanese classics — among them ramen, the slurpy comfort-food noodle soup.
And any die-hard ramen connoisseur will tell you it’s not the toppings that make a good bowl, but rather what’s underneath. “Our ramen, I would say, is mostly [about] the broth,” said Brian Hong, 25, a store manager. “The broth is like a thick white tonkotsu, which is a pork broth.” For $12, grab the fan favorite Spicy Ajisen bowl, which comes dressed with pork belly and spicy ground pork.
The appetizers are popular too. Hong said customers buzz about the $8 gyoza dumplings, which are stuffed with pork and veggies “all made from scratch by our kitchen,” as well as the $6 crispy agedashi tofu.
Open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week. 14 Mott St.; AjisenRamenNYC.com
This Cantonese-style restaurant is both kosher and vegetarian. While the latter is a nod to the local population of Buddhists, “the step from vegetarian to kosher is relatively easy,” said manager and co-owner Lawrence Lau, 36, because many of the Jewish law’s strictest rules have to do with the handling of meat.
Here, diners get classic dishes made with alternative-meat products, such as tofu and seitan. One must-have: General Tso’s chicken, made with deep-fried chunks of soy protein, tossed in a savory, sweet and spicy sauce ($15.95 for an entree). The barbecue vegetarian meat — similar to “the Chinese roast pork that you see hanging in Chinatown windows,” said Lau — is seitan that’s treated to give it a satisfying texture ($11.95 for an entree).
Open 11 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 5 Mott St.; Buddha-Bodai.com