Chinatown Tour with NGI

Since I took my last two classes at Natural Gourmet Institute, I’ve taken two more and not blogged about them yet. These were both quite different than the other two. The more recent one was a Healthy Japanese Cooking Class, which I will post about sometime in the next few days. The one I took back in May was very different- a tour of Chinatown.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and didn’t step foot in the state of New York until I was in college. I lived in Connecticut for the last few years, made a few more trips into NYC (the train is expensive!) but of course last summer I took a job in Westchester, so now I live here. So, it was high time I learned more about the city! When I saw that there was a class that combines learning about food along with learning about the city, I thought that would be fabulous!

This class didn’t take place at NGI, of course. We met at the Tourist Kisok right in Chinatown. Which made sense, since we were pretty much all tourists. 🙂 Upon arrival, out instructor had sesame red bean buns from Dragon Land Bakery for us to eat!


Very, very tasty. I was glad I had forgone breakfast!

After we all met and had our buns, we headed over to the Mahayana Buddhist Temple. The day wasn’t all about food- it was about culture, too.


There was a really big Buddha.


And many other beautiful items, including this drum and bell!


View outside the temple.

The next several stops were a flurry of various markets. All of the markets we went to had some type of animal products. Some were a little more obvious than others, but it’s something to be aware of. I certainly learned about where to find Asian specialty food items!

We had lunch at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House. In case you hadn’t noticed, I am the “picky vegan,” so there were a few things ordered that were definitely not up my alley- for instance, I refuse to even try something with the word “fungus” in the title. On the other hand there were some really tasty things that I probably wouldn’t have thought to have ordered!


To be honest, I can’t remember all of what we had here, but a lot of it was really good!


I don’t remember what this Chinese Broccoli is wrapped it, but it was good!


Near the restaurant- I think this is Doyers Street.

The rest of the afternoon included a few more shops, and a stop for bubble tea. Unfortunately, I hate bubble tea, but I did find I was in good company on that front. 🙂 A few of us waited outside on that one!

We finished off the day at Columbus Park. It was a nice end to the day, especially because there was a concert going on!


The man behind the singer is playing the Erhu, which I’ve always thought is a pretty cool instrument.

All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable day. So what kinds of things would be good to know?

  • This class probably isn’t for you if you already know Chinatown. It’s focused more on the culture than on the food. You may pick up little tidbits here and there, but this is definitely a tour, not a Chinese cooking class.
  • This class is for you if you’re an out-of-towner! Other people in the class were visiting from Australia, Canada, various places in Europe, and Washington DC. Some arranged to take other classes at NGI in the days preceding the tour, making it a culinary vacation. The couple from Washington DC took the bus up that morning and were just staying overnight. Interesting crowd! This class is also for you if you’re a recent transplant, like myself. 🙂
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Chinatown isn’t very big, but you’ll be doing a lot of walking!
  • Bring a bag- it’s okay to do some shopping along the way, and you’ll want an easy way to carry your purchases around.

I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn more about the area. Given where all of my fellow class/tourmates were from, I think it also makes for part of an awesome vacation.

Speaking of vacation…

18 Days to Vida Vegan Con!

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