Restaurant Week spotlights Chinatown's tasty offerings
Updated: 2014-03-20 12:06
By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)
NYC Chinatown Restaurant Week, a two-week-long event showcasing the variety of Asian offerings in Lower Manhattan, gives New Yorkers and food enthusiasts alike an extra reason to explore Chinatown and learn more about the cuisine it offers, according to the event's creator.
Julie Huang, creator and producer of Chinatown Restaurant Week, said the event, now in its third year, encourages people to try something new and to break out of their comfort zone when it comes to food.
"We're all creatures of habit, but for these two weeks we'd like people to spring for Chinatown and save the same old restaurant for another day," Huang said Wednesday in an interview with China Daily. "This is about presenting a different angle of Chinatown to the rest of the world and some of these restaurants are testing new items, so I think it's a creative time for people to try new things."
"There are so many great restaurants in Chinatown and they're not all Chinese," Huang added.
This year's Chinatown Restaurant Week - a grassroots campaign created by Huang in 2012 - involves support from more than 30 community groups, features 20 restaurants and runs from March 14-30.
Mott Street is the hotspot this year as home to six of the 20 participants, including Haagen-Dazs Chinatown, which serves as this year's lead sponsor.
Some other participants in the event include the Red Egg and Peking Duck House.
William Chin, manager at Red Egg which features Cantonese cuisine in a unique contemporary setting, said that Chinatown Restaurant Week helps local business owners bolster their promotional efforts.
Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, a community development organization formed in 2006 to help bring together residents, business owners and other local groups, said any efforts to bring extra attention to Chinatown benefits the neighborhood.
"We're glad that [Huang] volunteered to help conduct Chinatown Restaurant Week, which gives a symbol that there's something that can be done to help the area," Chen told China Daily. "I always say that in Chinatown, partnership is our middle name, and the premise we like to work with is 'one more customer is better than none.'"
The timing of Chinatown Restaurant Week comes shortly after the completion of NYC Restaurant Week, which ran from Feb 17 to March 7 and featured close to 300 participants, according to online restaurant reservation site OpenTable.
New York Restaurant Week, which is not affiliated with its Chinatown counterpart, began in New York City in 1992, before becoming a nationwide concept in the 2000s, according to a 2010 post on The Atlantic's website by Tim Zagat, co-founder of Zagat Restaurant Surveys.
Sandra K. Lee, CEO and chairperson of Harold L Lee & Sons Inc Insurance Services in Chinatown, said as a small business owner she feels a "burst of energy" when new visitors begin to frequent Chinatown.
"An event such as Restaurant Week enhances and enriches Chinatown on several levels," Lee said. "First, it brings more diners to the community. Second, when there are more folks from the Asian community and the greater metropolitan area eating in Chinatown, everyone benefits."
Founded in 1888, Harold L Lee & Sons Inc still operates its day-to-day business from the original building and the Lee family celebrated the 125th anniversary of the company in 2013.
Huang said the focus for this year's event is to get more people to "pay attention and show up".
"I've seen other PR firms create restaurant weeks and I thought it would be nice to give this a shot in the Chinatown community," Huang said. "Since we're doing this every year, people can count on we're going to tweak it.
"It's a labor of love, but I think we're doing all right."
Pedestrians crowd an intersection in New York City's Chinatown on Tuesday. Shanghai Deluxe (pictured) is one of 20 restaurants participating in Chinatown Restaurant Week, an event which runs from March 14-30 and celebrates the variety of cuisines found in Lower Manhattan. Jack Freifelder / China Daily
(China Daily USA 03/20/2014 page2)