ChoHo (the intersection of Chinatown, Soho and Little Italy)

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The micro-hood where Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown converge into a chaotic microcosm is breathtaking for its randomness. Fourth-generation Italian eateries share walls with Chinese herbalists; style mecca Opening Ceremony and Andrew W.K.'s club brainchild Santos Party House attract downtown cool kids; and street vendors hawking faux-designer handbags dodge the fuzz while keeping the tourist throngs happy. Despite its ostensible discordance, this neighborhood is full of people who know how to get along in order to get by.

The micro-hood where Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown converge into a chaotic microcosm is breathtaking for its randomness. Fourth-generation Italian eateries share walls with Chinese herbalists; style mecca Opening Ceremony and Andrew W.K.'s club brainchild Santos Party House attract downtown cool kids; and street vendors hawking faux-designer handbags dodge the fuzz while keeping the tourist throngs happy. Despite its ostensible discordance, this neighborhood is full of people who know how to get along in order to get by.

 

Tom Leung, CEO, Kamwo Herbal Pharmacy


"A lot of people say they don't recognize Kamwo anymore. It used to be this mom-and-pop herb store. We've modernized our whole operation to cater to nonlocals. Now, 85 percent of our customers are non-Chinese."
Kamwo Herbal Pharmacy, 211 Grand St between Mott and Elizabeth Sts (212-966-6370, kamwo.com)

"Right next door is good, the Paris Sandwich shop. I always liked barbecue-beef sandwiches and that kind of thing, and I always thought you could probably get white people to eat it if you put it in bread. My employees go there all the time."
Paris Sandwich, 213 Grand St between Mott and Elizabeth Sts (212-226-3828)

"You know what's a really cool place? Apotheke on Doyers Street. I think it's so great to have a sophisticated bar like that in the heart of Chinatown."
Apothke, 9 Doyers St between Bowery and Pell St (212-406-0400, apothekenyc.com)

"This will date me. When I was growing up, before video games, you had to go to the places that had pinball machines. They were these 'members only' places, and that's where the mafia would hang out. There was one on Mulberry Street—it's now a cigar place [Mulberry Street Cigars]—and one on Mott. There would be guys playing cards and smoking. They would send us out to buy cigarettes. They didn't mind us being there, because we were just little kids and we would just hang out and play pinball. As I got older, I stopped going, and Giuliani changed the scene.... Now that street-level thuggery is happening somewhere else."
Mulberry Street Cigars, 140 Mulberry St between Grand and Hester Sts (212-941-7400, mulberrystcigars.com)

 

Lou Di Palo, co-owner, Di Palo's Fine Foods


"I've been behind the counter since before I was born, literally. My great grandfather set up the first shop on Mott in 1910. In 1925, my grandmother moved the shop to Grand and Mott Streets. My father ran it for many years and my brother, sister and I took over the Di Palo's Fine Foods in 1990. We're not owners; we call ourselves caretakers. Yes, the neighborhood has changed, but we haven't changed. This is my heritage and my tradition and I belong here, and I'm going to do everything I can to stay here. We're a testament to the Italian immigrant."
Di Palo's Fine Foods, 200 Grand St at Mott St (212-226-1033, dipaloselects.com)

"Alleva Dairy is just down the block. They go back five generations, I believe, and are pioneers in the Italian-food industry. I don't look at them as a competitor. I don't have competitors; I have only friends and associates in the business. We've spent a hundred years on the same block—we're neighbors."
Alleva Dairy, 188 Grand St at Mulberry St (212-226-7990, allevadairy.com)

"I go up the block to the Chinese coffee shop, [Chiu Hong Bakery]. "One day, I told them they should have green tea. I used to bring my own tea bag and I'd use it to pay for the cup and the water, like an exchange. After about a month, I came in and she had a box of the tea, so now she always has tea for me. It's only 70 cents for a green tea. You know how much that costs at Starbucks? This is a neighborhood place, and that's what I believe in."
Chiu Hong Bakery, 161 Mott St between Grand and Broome Sts (212-966-7664)

"We cater to a lot of good chefs. Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] is a great customer of ours. He buys stuff for his own house. Frankie DiCarlo from Peasant comes in."
Peasant, 194 Elizabeth St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-965-9511, peasantnyc.com)

 

Larry Golden, co-owner, Santos Party House


"Sau Voi Corp is the best Vietnamese banh mi around. We go there all the time. It's like the coffee shop, the sandwich shop, whatever you need, all in one."
Sau Voi Corp, 101 Lafayette St between Walker and White Sts (212-226-8184)

"XO Caf has some of the weirdest dishes in New York. They've got like cheese and fish dishes, just weird combinations you wouldn't expect."
XO Caf, 96 Walker St at Lafayette St (212-343-8339)

"People seem to like Excellent Dumpling House. They're always lining up over there."
Excellent Dumpling House, 111 Lafayette St between Canal and Walker Sts (212-219-0212)

"There's an NYU dorm right here down the street, so those kids come here [to Santos Party House]. They're all doe-eyed, and it's like their first set of high heels. They hang out for a while and then sort of teeter off."
Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette St between Walker and White Sts (212-584-5492, santospartyhouse.com)

"You start to recognize people on the block. It's like, the same homeless guys, the same Chinese ladies selling bags up near Canal Street. And then there's the African bag sellers. It's definitely a game. You'll see them communicating with each other, and then the cops come, and they sort of nod to some guy in a car, and move the bags somewhere else. It's like an old-school drug deal. But it's a really sophisticated hustle."

 

Ching Yeh Chen, co-owner, Pearl River Mart


"There's one street in Chinatown—Mosco Street—that still looks the same. It's a tiny little street right near Columbus Park. The stores sell different things now, but the facades of the stores are the same as they always were."

"Peking Duck House is a good one. It's been there at least 20 years. I get the duck, of course. They persist in what they're doing, so they've made a name for themselves."
Peking Duck House, 28 Mott St between Mosco and Pell Sts (212-227-1810, pekingduckhousenyc.com)

"I enjoy shopping at the markets on Mott Street. They have some vegetables that you don't see anywhere else. It's not like going to a supermarket. Although supermarkets make it hard for smaller markets to stay open now."
Mott St between Grand and Hester Sts

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