Nom Wah opened in 1920 and claims to be the first dim sum restaurant in New York City. Originally located at 13-15 Doyers Street as a bakery and a tea parlor, Nom Wah moved to 11-13 Doyers Street in 1968. The interior looks like a diner or luncheonette with booths along the left side and back wall and a lunch counter along the right wall. It serves dim sum all day long but rather than ordering from carts pushed around the restaurant, you order by putting an X on an order card next to the items you want. When I was there the patrons were a mix of hipsters and older Chinese customers.
The Dumplings. In light of the good reviews I had read about Nom Wah on Yelp and elsewhere I was disappointed with the dumplings. It seems like a fun place to get dim sum but not a great place for dumplings.
Vegetable – the steamed veggie dumplings had a crystal wrapper and were filled with what looked like celery, green pepper, shiitake mushroom, slivered bamboo shoots and carrot. The wrappers were a little gummy and stretchy, so these dumplings were hard to manipulate with chopsticks. The flavor was fairly bland and they were best eaten loaded up with dipping sauce.
Taro – These were filled with taro, pork, shrimp, mushrooms and dried sausage and were wrapped in a homemade tapioca starch dough wrapper – kind of a crystal wrapper. These were pretty tasty but had a very mushy mouth feel that I didn’t enjoy. The dumplings tended to stick to the inside of the steamer and were difficult to handle with the chopsticks, they were impossible to get out of the steamer without tearing the wrapper apart.
Pork and Shrimp – these come pan fried and were pretty tasty. The menu says these dumplings are unique to Nom Wah, but they seem to be available all over Chinatown now.
Dipping Sauce. There are bottles of soy sauce, vinegar and Sriracha sauce on the table, so you can mix your own dipping sauce to taste.
Location. Nom Wah is located in New York City’s Chinatown on Doyers Street, a crooked street that connects Pell Street to the Bowery. In the 1930s, as the result of frequent gang fights between Chinatown’s Tong Gangs, the street became known as the “Bloody Angle”.