When I walk around New York City, I oftentimes look at a restaurant and think, “That place looks good!” I know it’s the whole judging-a-book-by-it’s-cover dilemma, but some places just have that quality about them that calls out to me and becomes a “must-try” in my head. I bring this up because this does NOT apply when I’m in Chinatown.
Wandering around the always-bustling Chinatown streets, I find it so hard to tell which restaurants are the ones I have to go to. Sometimes a place’s reputation precedes itself like Joe’s Shanghai or I can see a bunch of people waiting outside for a table, which is always a good sign, like with Jing Fong. Then there are places like Golden Steamer, which I probably would’ve never noticed or never would have ventured into unless a friend recommended it.
It’s not that Golden Steamer is unattractive in any way. In fact, compared to other places in Chinatown,it actually has a pretty eye-catching sign out front with a blue background and a cartoon picture of buns in a steamer. It’s just the fact that the neighborhood is so jam-packed with groceries, restaurants, and little stores where you pick up food to-go like this one that it’s hard to discern the great from the average just by a quick glance.
When you walk into Golden Steamer, you’ll notice that on the left are shelves filled with buns in plastic containers that you can buy to steam at home. I, instead, went to the back where the cashier is to order off their à la carte menu. You can get steamed buns or baked buns, and if you want food other than buns, you can order dim sum dishes or rice noodles. I ordered a steamed roast pork bun–roast pork buns being my favorite type–as well as a pumpkin bun. You can’t go to Golden Steamer and not get one of their famous pumpkin buns!
The buns here are so soft and fluffy. I hate it when a bun is dry and becomes hard to chew, especially when there’s minimal filling as there’s nothing left to redeem it, but there’s no worry of that here. I thought the roast pork one was delicious, as expected, but the pumpkin bun took me by surprise. I knew that it was the bun that Golden Steamer was known for, but I couldn’t exactly wrap my head around what it would taste like or what the texture would be. My only guess is that it would taste something like pumpkin pie filling, but it definitely wasn’t that. It was more subtle, not as overpoweringly sweet, and absolutely delicious.
With the buns here costing under $1 each (mostly around 75 cents), it’s easy to make a cheap meal out of them or make it one of many food stops as you explore the gems of Chinatown.
Steamed roast pork bun, pumpkin bun
143-A Mott St
New York, NY 10013