Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan, NYC

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance!

Yesterday, on February 17th, we went to see the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown! As you may already know, Isaac and I lived in China for two years before moving to New York. We ended up going to the parade with a friend who we met in Shanghai! It was the first time we saw her since we had payday sushi and it was great to see her!

Our friend had actually been to this parade before so she convinced us to meet her for brunch at Jing Fong at 10:00. We thought it was ridiculous to meet so early when the parade didn’t start until 13:00, but she just said to trust her and we’re glad we did!

The brunch at Jing Fong was interesting. You need to keep in mind that we didn’t enjoy our time in China as much as our friend, so while she thrived in the chaos of Chinese waiters yelling and carts of mystery food rolling by, we felt like we were back in a place we didn’t love. Also, although the official menu had a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, this dim sum brunch did not.

So even though we were less than two blocks from our favorite vegan dim sum place, we were stuck eating the same two overpriced dishes, one of which was a dessert. It wasn’t the best experience but if you’re a meat eater and want to enjoy a new culture, I think you’d like this place!

The way ordering works, is that everyone gets a ticket – sometimes there will be several groups of people at one table if it’s crowded. We had two older Chinese gentlemen sitting with us which was interesting. When the carts come by, you can take plates of food and they will stamp your ticket in the correct category: small, medium, large, special, etc. Each category has a set price that is tallied up at the end.

Just like in China, not everyone at Jing Fong speak Chinese. It was really difficult for us to communicate with them to find out if things were vegan or not. Even though Isaac speaks basic Chinese! It also took 20 people to explain that we wanted two separate tickets for our group – even the two men sitting with us got involved in explaining what we want. This was a typical problem for us in China – simple things became a huge ordeal to explain and solve.

We left the restaurant after about an hour – when we first got there, it was only half full. On our way out, there were hordes of people standing in a line out the door. When we got out onto the street to find a spot to watch the parade, it was no different. There were already thousands of people standing and waiting for a parade that wouldn’t start for two more hours!

It was lucky we came early, although we did had another friend who came out at noon and he managed to find an ok spot to watch from as well. But if you want a guaranteed great spot to watch from, definitely come early. The earlier the better!

As for the parade itself, I wasn’t too impressed but I may be a little jaded. There were many impressive dragons that got better the later it got. Those and the lion dancers were amazing. But like all parades in New York, in between the cool performers were people campaigning and I hate that every parade is so political.

The police department performed too and that part was great, but I could have done without all the boring stuff in between! If you haven’t been to Chinatown or New York before, you may not know this, but most police officers in Chinatown are Chinese or of Chinese descent, which is really cool!

So this was our third parade in New York. The other two we had experienced were the Caribbean and Halloween parades and they both had similar boring political fillers in between the cool stuff. I guess they don’t get the necessary funds without agreeing to include these? I’m not really sure to be honest.

All in all, the Chinese New Year Parade was interesting to see. I definitely recommend seeing it at least once, especially if you haven’t been to China and want to experience the culture a little. The crowds to get in an out are also very authentic, and if you think being smushed by crowds of people is unique to New York, don’t be fooled and read about my description of my daily rush hour commutes in Shanghai!

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance! Did you get to see the parade? Tell me about your favorite part in the comments below.

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Best Vegan Food in China Town, NYC: Bodhi Kosher

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place in the city.

It was hard to find a vegan restaurant in China Town. Just kidding… it was hard picking one of the dozens of restaurants all claiming to have the “best vegan food in New York City.”

When we lived in Shanghai, China, the concept of veganism was not something that was understood by local people. Although it was easy to avoid animal products by ordering veggie side dishes in local restaurants, there was only one exclusively vegan expat restaurant. So even though we knew that New York is extremely vegan-friendly, we had no idea that China Town was in on the hype.

After a quick search on Google we picked a restaurant based on distance from where we were. It was raining and it would have taken an hour to go through all the options… so we walking for two minutes and found ourselves at the end of a long line outside of Buddha Bodai, supposedly the best vegan restaurant in the city.

Isaac used his Mandarin skills to eves-drop on the staff who mentioned a 45 minute waiting list. We considered waiting since the place had such great reviews, but we ended up finding another place nearby and it didn’t have a line. Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant was barely a block away from Buddha Bodai.

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant, because I was excited to browse the menu without having to check what I could and couldn’t eat. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Everything in the restaurant was, and this place also claimed to be the best all-vegan restaurant in the city. Plus, another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place.

The list of items on the menu was overwhelming. There was sushi, dim sum, all sorts of traditional dishes made out with mock meat. Like pulled pork, duck and a meat platter all made of mushrooms, stain and other plant-based ingredients that I couldn’t identify.

Unfortunately we came about three hours after dim sum happy hour, which makes every meal a dollar cheaper! Not that Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant is expensive… we spent just over $35 on a giant meat plate, a sushi platter, steamed dumplings, fried dumplings and some dim sum. We even got fortune cookies with the bill – which is not something that happens in China by the way.

We definitely hope to go back and sample some more of their delicious menu. However there’s many other vegan places we still need to eat at in China Town. One of the best things about New York is that you could eat a different restaurant every day and it would still take you a lifetime to try it all!

What’s your favorite restaurant in New York? Leave a comment below!

 

Cheap Ferries with Great Views of New York

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes. From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city…

As soon as we found out that we were moving to New York, we began booking weekend trips, sightseeing tours and ferry rides. We found a really cool sunset cruise that only cost $16 per person so we bought tickets, never wrote it down on our calendar and we ended up missing it… which was extremely disappointing.

Luckily, just two days later we decided to go to the beach and the subway took almost two hours to get us from Brooklyn to Rockaway in Queens. On our way back we decided to take the ferry to Manhattan with our friends. For the same price as a subway ride, just $2.75, we spent an hour on the ferry with a double rainbow behind us and the most spectacular New York skyline in front of us!

For about $10 we could have ordered a beer on the ferry too. Although that was too expensive for us, if you add $10 and $2.75, that’s still less than the $16 (+ tax and service fee) that we paid for the sunset cruise that didn’t include drinks… if it hadn’t been raining, we would have even gotten a sunset! Instead, we got to see the most beautiful rainbow.

The Manhattan Pier 11 ferry terminal is on Wall Street and it’s in a really cool area. There are places to eat right on the water, there are parks and cute streets to explore. We didn’t have enough time to stay there and look around, but next time we take the ferry, we hope to see more of the area!

Other than the completely free Staten Island ferry that I definitely recommend every New York visitor to take for great views of the Statue of Liberty, you can also take the ferry from the same Pier 11 to Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes.

From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city. We ended up walking to a secluded spot right by the water where we could see the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance as well as the Manhattan skyline. Once again, this ferry only cost us $2.75!

Although we haven’t done it yet, we’ve heard rumors of a $10 ferry that circles the entire island of Manhattan that runs frequently every day. Although these cheap public ferries are a great way to explore New York, if you’re looking for a proper boat tour, that is another cheap option. Subscribe to The Travel Bug Bite for more tips and info about New York City!