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January 8, 2011 / Katie

A Walk Down Doyers Street

Doyers at night

photo courtesy of Ralph Mase’s Weblog

Charmingly crooked and hidden away from the bustle of Chinatown, Doyers is hands down my favorite street in the neighborhood. With a storied, and sometimes bloody, history, walking down Doyers Street is like stepping back in time.

Reasons abound for why this one-block street with a sharp bend in the middle, completely lacking in functional purpose, came to exist. Some say the snaking street was designed after the zigzag pathways Chinese built to ward off evil spirits, who were said to travel only in straight lines and were unable to follow twisted paths.

Others claim it was a kind of death trap; indeed, Doyers was often referred to as the “Bloody Angle” during the early 20th century due to the number of violent deaths that resulted there from clashes between Tong gangs.

The most plausible story is that of Hendrik Doyer, a Dutch immigrant, who originally bought the land and operated a brewery–the street was simply the driveway leading up to it for deliveries and pickups.

While those early, wild days of New York City living are long gone–you probably won’t encounter a Tong face-off on Doyers any time soon–the street retains its fabled mystique and is full of good eats and drinks sure to impress any date (especially after you’ve told her all about its legendary past; you can thank me in the comments section).

Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers This dim sum shop claims to be the first of its kind in Chinatown and has been doing business since 1920. Step inside and you’ll find its claims to be true–Nom Wah is as old school as it gets. Satisfy your Sunday morning cravings with a few cha siu baos (roast pork buns) and one of their famous almond cookies.

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles 1 Doyers True to its name, this noodle joint is tasty, cheap, and has a surly noodleman who will hand pull noodles while you wait. Try the roast duck hand-pulled noodles or the pan-fried chicken & shrimp knife-peeled noodles. Don’t be surprised if you show up on a Friday night and find a room full of laowai noodle-slurpers!

Excellent Pork Chop House 3 Doyers A great little chophouse one door down from Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles that serves traditional Taiwanese fare, including, of course, fried pork chops. I recommend the fried chicken leg over rice, followed by a shaved ice dessert aka baobing.

Apotheke 9 Doyers Like most New York speakeasies, this bar tends to be a bit on the pretentious side. If you can swallow paying $15 bucks and up for a cocktail, though, then their specially prescribed drinks, made with an array of exotic herbs and fruits, are sure to quench your thirst. The bar has a cushy, velvet interior and some nights you may even be greeted by a puss in boots-esque doorman.

Sarnur 18 Doyers If you’re feeling adventurous, descend down the staircase entrance into this subterranean Malaysian restaurant. The place is decked out with Malay flair and batik tablecloths, which gives the restaurant a homey feeling. Be sure to try the roti canai (naan-like bread with curry dipping sauce), char kway teow (a signature Malaysian dish made of stir-fried rice noodles, shrimp, and runny egg yolks) and beef rendang.

Cheers!

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8 Comments

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  1. Jared / Jan 8 2011 7:48 pm

    Great post! I have walked up and down Doyers many times but have not stopped to eat at any of the establishments there. I am going to make it a priority to eat there soon.

    I am a little familiar with the history of Doyers and much of what you mentioned in the post. I also know a bit of Doyer’s filmography, in Hong Kong cinema as well as US cinema. I mention the ‘Bloody Angle’ on a few of my own blog posts. Below is a link to a small scene from the 1990 Abel Ferrara film KING OF NEW YORK, featuring a gang shoot-out on Doyer’s:

    Again, great post, and thanks for the restaurant suggestions =)

    • Katie / Jan 8 2011 8:00 pm

      Whoa, what an awesome clip! It illustrates perfectly the kind of violence I was talking about. I forgot to mention in the post that there used to be a Chinese Opera House/Theatre on Doyers. Apparently it had a secret passageway in the basement that lead out to Bowery–I guess that’s where our guy got caught. I will have to watch that movie now!

      • Jared / Jan 8 2011 8:10 pm

        Yes, I knew about that opera house as well =)

        Doyer’s was also used in a shoot-out scene in the HK film, New York, Chinatown. Chow Yun-fat kicked a can down the street in An Autumn’s Tale. And Maggie Cheung walked through, reflecting on the news that Teresa Teng had passed away in Comrades, Almost a Love Story.

        http://inthemoodforgwailo.blogspot.com/search/label/New%20York%20Chinatown

        I posted a link to your Doyers post on my Facebook page. I hope that is ok? =)

  2. Katie / Jan 8 2011 8:19 pm

    Love it. You are a Doyers Street expert!

  3. Brad F. / Jan 8 2011 8:53 pm

    Hi again! Do you know if the Malaysian restaurant serves satay?

    Looks like this: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7uBC0kR5n74/Sw028aeVP0I/AAAAAAAABWY/56rPIt7rQ-c/s640/DSC03963.JPG

    Really miss that stuff. Comes with a peanuts sauce dip.

    By the way, what’s going on with your blog design?

    • Katie / Jan 8 2011 9:07 pm

      I’m not 100% sure, but they should serve satay. If you’re looking for a place that is a little more upscale but still affordable, my go-to Malaysian restaurant is Nyonya on Grand Street: http://www.yelp.com/biz/nyonya-new-york

      About the blog design–I just decided it needed a fresh, new look!

      • Brad F. / Jan 8 2011 10:41 pm

        Thanks for the tip. When I was in Asia I found that the best food didn’t always come from the prettiest looking, or priciest restaurants, but… this isn’t Asia. I really should start using Yelp more.

        I’ll check out both places, and unless I get forgetful, I’ll let you know which I thought was better, in terms of satay at least. =)

  4. whaddayameandoihaveroomfordessert / Jan 8 2011 11:09 pm

    doyers is ALSO MY FAVORITE STREET!! and i know EXACTLY what you mean about feeling the history all around you–chinatown is, for me, the most evocative neighborhood in all of new york for this. thanks for the post 🙂

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