Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Restaurants , Chinese Chinatown
Recommended
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(11 user reviews)
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 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
1/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Egg roll at Nom Wah Tea Parlor
 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
2/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
3/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
4/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
5/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
6/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
7/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
8/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

 (Photograph: Beth Levendis)
9/9
Photograph: Beth Levendis

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

New York's first dim sum house opened in 1920 at a crook in Doyers Street known at the time as "the bloody angle." That Chinatown passage bore witness to the grisly havoc of the Tong gang wars—shootings and hatchet murders—but the bakery and tea shop had a sweeter reputation: Its almond cookies and moon cakes were legendary. For more than three decades, the Choy family ran Nom Wah, but in 1974, Ed and May Choy sold the operation to longtime manager Wally Tang, who started there in 1950 as a waiter when he was 16.

In 2010, Wally Tang passed Nom Wah on to his nephew Wilson Tang, a banker at ING Direct. The 90-year-old stalwart had fallen into disrepair, so Tang gave it a remodel. He and his wife raided flea markets for vintage lamps and the restaurant's storage room for archival photographs. Tang painted the dingy green walls a mustard yellow, and cleaned decades of dust and grease off the tea tins lining the restaurant's shelves. The most important tweaks, though, were behind the scenes: Tang updated the kitchen and did away with the procedure of cooking dim sum en masse. Now, each plate is cooked to order.

Tang's nips and tucks transformed a health department nightmare into a charming old-school institution, completely unlike the chaotic banquet halls that dominate Chinatown's dim sum scene. The dining room is transportive—checkered tablecloths cover Art Deco tables and couples huddle beneath an old poster of a glam Chinese movie star. The food, too, stands apart; the dim sum here tastes fresher than the competition. Try the ultra-fluffy oversize roasted-pork bun ($1.25), the flaky fried crpe egg roll ($3.95) and the tender stuffed eggplant ($3.50) filled with a spiced shrimp-and-squid mixture.

Venue name: Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Contact:
Address: 13 Doyers St
New York
10013
Cross street: between Bowery and Pell St
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 10:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 10:30am-10pm
Transport: Subway: J, Z, N, Q, R, 6 to Canal St
Price: Average dim sum item: $5. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
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Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|11
3 people listening
Craig
4 of 4 found helpful

Been going to Nom Wah for over 20 years. It's awesome, authentic dim sum. It's been taken over by the nephew of the owner and has been cleaned up a bit, but still as charming as ever. Definitely worth a trip.

Jaime B
1 of 1 found helpful

I went with friends, and we were full after only a five plates or so! I was very disappointed in us, but really this means I have to go back a few more times before I feel like I get a real taste of the menu. The soup dumplings, egg roll and sesame dessert were the most memorable. Actually, I’m not the biggest egg roll fan, but the egg roll was the best I've ever had, ever, and totally unlike others that I've tasted as well. Nom Wah has been around for a long time and has been in the same family for a while as well. It’s a really cute place with a diner vibe, nestled on a small, narrow street of Chinatown.

Nicola  W

I've just been for a meal at the Nom Wah Tea Parlour and I was very disappointed. The food was mediocre and the waiter was surly. The restroom was a disgrace - the washbasin looked like it had never been cleaned and there was a puddle on the floor. I would never recommend this restaurant!

Peter T

Dim sum ordered directly, inexpensively and always served hot, fresh and delicious NEVER off a cart where it gets cold, could be the second or third time around, and servers couldn't care less. With Nom Wah,
the customer comes first. Don't know how the other places stay open the way they treat their diners.

Kai L

Really?!  I lost all of a lot respect for Time Out's restaurant guide when I see Nom Wah is ranked #1.  It's an Americanized tourist destination with pretentious dim sum "authenticity".  Any serious dim sum fan would not consider Nom Wah's dim sum good quality.  Simply because it tries really hard to replicate an old school ambiance doesn't necessarily make its food good or authentic.  If you want a tourist trap experience, yes, Nom Wah has a lot to offer, but otherwise, many of the other restaurant on the list serve much better dim sum than Nom Wah.    

Chloe W
tastemaker

I've been searching for the perfect NYC dim sum place and Nom Wah is it.  It's history and legacy aside, the food was delicious (I was served the largest and freshest egg roll that I have EVER seen) and I can't wait to go back.  I recommend going in a group so you can try multiple dishes.  The Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce was cooked to perfection - most other restaurants keep the bitter flavor in the stalks, but Nom Wah cooks them through so you don't waste anything.  I wish I had the capacity to eat more dumplings while I was there, but I guess I should respect my body's limits.


The strongest recommendation I have for eating at Nom Wah is ordering tea for the table.  Even if you don't like tea, it's part of the experience and really makes you appreciate where you are and what you're eating.  The white tea was a great pre-meal drink, and it was also a great cap to the meal.

david c

You guys in Time Out definitely know nothing about dim sum.  The quality of the food is good, but in terms of the flavor and nuances or originality of great dim sum is clearly lacking.  It is ok to good at best.    Seem like you are judging the food base on the ambiance or the history of the place.  On any particular day, if you walk in to the restaurant you will find tourist with their guide book speaking in any language other than chinese.  There are many superior dim sum with greater diversity in Brooklyn and Queens.  To me, the best dim sum in north america are in Toronto and Vancouver.

WS
moderator

the food here is undoubtedly great and when you get a dim sum craving at night when most places have stopped serving it, it's nice that nom wah has dim sum on its menu all day. the interior is cozy and charming compared to nearby banquet style dim sum joints. it's on a tiny, crooked street in historic chinatown that makes you feel like you're in a noir film. it's a little overpriced but never disappoints.

Bart M

I went to Nom Wah based on others recommendations. Although the selection of dim sum was diverse, what I was served was decidedly mediocre. My benchmark for dim sum is admittedly a restaurant not in New York City, but compared to my favorite, this place only rates one star.

mattscheetz
tastemaker

Nom Wah is the OG. Dim sum done the right way for nearly a century. I often take friends here when they're visiting from out of town, because navigating the streets of Chinatown to find a rundown looking Cantonese place on one of the most historic streets in the city would definitely qualify as a "cool" experience.


But Nom Wah doesn't rest on its laurels, instead continuing to pump out awesome eats time after time. If you're new to dim sum, don't worry. You can't go wrong ordering almost anything on the menu. But do yourself a favor and make sure that includes pork buns, shrimp sui mai, and some pan fried dumplings. I know soup dumplings are all the rage nowadays, but you're better off getting the ones at Joe's down the block.

david
0 of 3 found helpful

i'm glad to say i made sure to hit this spot before some ING banker got his yuppie hands on it. i saw the real thing, a time warp to another time and place. now it's probably just riding on its name. oh well! in all fairness though, i have only walked by it since its obvious remodeling, but even so, seeing a menu that looked like it hadn't had anything new on it in decades was part of its charm. this place's connection to the past has definitely been broken. i have to give it a rating so i'm simply going to give it a neutral three stars