Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Construction Plans in Chatham Square
Jan who has been a long time customer and fan of CICF is also a well known community activist. He has always kept me in the loop of what is going on. So the latest news now is that there are plans demolish Chatham Square and complete redirect traffic flow on almost all the streets coming into the square. Why is this a big deal? Because the city wants to push through plans without getting consent of the people in the neighborhood. Many Chinatown organizations feel that the public hearings on the plans are being held so close to the release of the information and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation times for many people, that there is not possibly enough time to review the data. In Jan's words, "The way the information is being released is almost to keep people out of the loop of what is going on." Construction in Chinatown is usually always terrible unless it is very well planned out. For the businesses as well as for the residents. As is, Chinatown has an overwhelming population with narrow streets. Many of our busiest streets are one lane. Several businesses in lower Manhattan, particularly around Ground Zero constructiuon sites have gone out of business because of prolonged street construction. Many waited for years for LMDC compensation which came too late, or was not enough to sustain them.

The businesses here suffer when it is difficult to receive or complete their deliveries. When the streets are hard to navigate, customers stay away from the Chinatown area all together.

Another problem is that Chinatown has a large elderly population. It is hard for ambulances and emergency vehicles to navigate with ease. These people are our family members, friends, and neighbors. We would like to them to be cared for as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.

During 1999, there was construction done on the water main in which they had to dig up the street. When it is unpleasant to commute to the area because roads are under construction, businesses go out. During this time many businesses had gone under.

Right now we are in midst of postponing construction until the public has been notified about all the details.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chinatown Neighboring Businesses

The restaurant Yee Li on the corner on Bayard and Elizabeth street had a gas fire a couple of weeks ago. The noise was so loud that it woke up everyone in the neighborhood. A good portion of the restaurant was burned out and renovations are currently taking place. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Hsin Wong mid block.

Today, I went to Hsin Wong for my regular "som bow fan," where you get 3 dishes over rice. The owner insisted on treating me to dinner because I had treated him to ice cream on occasion a few months before. I was very touched by the gesture. Even though one of his restaurants just burned to a crisp, he chose to offer me a free meal.

Chinatown is beautiful in that way. It is a real community that cares about each other. Even though not all of us physically live in the area, the space connects us all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Best Date Spot In Chinatown!

A couple of weeks ago, Time Out NY called me. They were researching an article and wanted to know my opinion on the best date spots in Chinatown. With the economic slump in NY, guys are looking for new, cool and inexpensive places to take their dates on.

I may have already blogged about this in the past, but I think Chinatown is a fabulous place for a date!You can get a good meal at a restaurant for $5 and up. Also, Chinatown is nice and quiet in the evenings, great for walking and exploring the different streets.

If I had to name my favorite restaurant in Chinatown, it would probably be Hsin Wong which is located across the street from me. I eat there at least 3 times a week and always get a delicious and hearty meal for $5-$6.

Hsin Wong is especially good for non-Chinese guys to take their date to. They can order dishes that is unique to Chinese cuisine. Chicks dig guys who are cultured about food.

HSIN WONG RESTAURANT, 72 Bayard St, NYC, 212-925-6526

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The Asian American Writer's Workshop is having their Literary Awards Reception today and they requested for some of my CICF cakes.

My friend, Ken Chen is the Executive Director of the workshop. Ken has been making efforts to be more involved in the Chinatown community so when he asked for 200 cupcakes, I couldn't turn him down. ( I think it could also be the fact that in his past career, he was a lawyer and convinced me without me knowing?) Just kidding...

In short, I was up all night making pandan cupcakes. For those of you who are unaware of what pandan is, it's a Malaysian leaf used to flavor a lot of desserts. If you ever go to a Malaysian bakery and wonder why all their pastries are green, it is probably because they are pandan flavored. This cupcake I created was inspired by our pandan ice cream that has been a big seller at our shop.

For more details on the Literary Awards Reception, visit

Sunday, November 09, 2008


CICF recently donated cupcakes and copies of “Saturdays in Chinatown” to the El Maestro Cultural Center in the South Bronx. They celebrated the renovation of their space with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

My friend, Mabel helped her friends with the renovations. They raised money and renovated in under 10 days! I am glad to see that people are supporting non-profits.

El Maestro was founded by two brothers, Ponce and Pedro. A real grassroots organization, they do not receive any government funding. Their goal is to provide the community with a place for sports (boxing) and education for adults and children.

I hope to continue to connect children in different neighborhoods across the city through children's literature.

Taylor Poarch with a copy of "Saturdays in Chinatown"