Q: I love eating out in Chinatown, but I’ve been there so many times that the thrill is gone.
A: For a fresh take on the Chinatown experience check out Brooklyn’s version. Centered around the Eighth Avenue stop on the N train, a golf swing from the Verrazano, and running from 62nd Street all the way to 41st Street along Sunset Park’s Eighth Avenue, this cozy district is like a sleepy Chinese village transported to Kings County. Stroll past the mah-jongg players and ginseng shops, smell the blessed incense at the Fan Yin Temple, and take home some softshell crab. Here are a few of the neighborhood’s must-see destinations:
Jade Plaza Restaurant (6022 Eighth Avenue; 718-492-6888). Don’t be scared off by the severed shark fins mounted on velvet; Jade Plaza dishes out a mean dim sum. Start with the shrimp dumplings and continue on to the provincial Ha Chao, a flat rice noodle filled with beef and drenched in sweet soy sauce.
Tin Wah Bakery (5612 Eighth Avenue; 718-567-7880). Slide between tables of chatty teenage girls and laconic old men and order a sweet from one of the friendly bakery ladies, who’ll likely recommend either the Sui Mi Bo” (a bun with sweet corn and ham) or the yummy, sugar-happy Night Yao Bo (a bun with coconut and a strip of whipped cream).
K-Lee Merchandise (5512 Eighth Avenue; 718-436-2048). Though somewhat clinical and fluorescent, this eclectic shop of Chinese paraphernalia offers everything from tiny friendship envelopes (given for good luck) to custom bamboo calligraphy brushes. Even the most hard-to-please shopper is unlikely to leave empty-handed.