Lunch From Two Chinatown Carts Is Better Than One
If you’ve ever taken the J,M,Z (soon to be just the J) line to the Canal St. stop, I’m sure you’ve either seen or smelled the food from the two carts sitting on Centre St. between Walker & Canal. I’d always wondered where the strong scent of fried chicken was coming from as I came up out of the subway as there were no obvious restaurants or Popeye’s within sight. I was actually on my way to review another place when I figured out the source of the smell and decided to instead check these two dueling carts out for a super-cheap lunch. Find out if I won or lost this gamble after the jump.
Sure, there are tons of dirt-cheap things to eat in Chinatown, but you up the ante when you throw those eats on a cart. At first I thought one of these carts I saw might be the tripe cart that was written about a couple of years ago, but they’re not.
The first one, which I will dub the Rice Noodle cart, was manned by two friendly ladies dishing up a carb-fest of rice noodles, lo mein and fish balls in various combinations. They also have tripe and squid.
I went with the rice noodles with fish balls, small size ($1.75) because I didn’t want to get hit with a massive amount of food. First the rice noodles were dished up, then a few fish balls and finally the whole thing was topped off with sweet soy sauce, sesame and scallions. Yes, some may consider this merely a snack, but a medium size of this would have left me seriously full because of the gut-filling power of the rice noodles.
Next, I walked past the fruit seller next door to get to the other cart, which I will call the Fried Snack Cart. There was a vat of oil bubbling away and some small egg rolls, fish balls, tofu and chicken on sticks, and fried chicken drumsticks to be had along with a couple of other snacks. Everything was, of course, $1 or $1.25. I went with a piece of fried chicken ($1) although I was tempted by the skewer of fish balls.
This was a wise decision because this freshly-fried piece of chicken was pretty much awesome and still hot even after a 15 minute subway ride. I was sad that I only got one piece.
For a grand total of $2.75, this lunch was reasonably filling, although obviously if you’re a hearty eater you could get a crapload of food for $5. The only downside is there’s not really a place nearby to sit down and eat, but as it’s only a couple of stops to the financial district, you could risk the evil looks of others who don’t appreciate pungent food. Personally, I would endure many dirty looks for that $1 fried chicken leg.
Chinatown’s Rice Noodle Cart, Fried Snack Cart: Centre St. (btw. Walker & Canal)