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The Nom Wah Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 100 Years at New York City's Iconic Dim Sum Restaurant

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For the last 100 years, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been slinging some of the world’s greatest dim sum from New York's Chinatown. Now owner Wilson Tang tells the story of how the restaurant came to be - and how to prepare their legendary dishes in your own home. Nom Wah Tea Parlor isn't simply the story of dumplings, though there are many folds to it. It isn’t the story of bao, For the last 100 years, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been slinging some of the world’s greatest dim sum from New York's Chinatown. Now owner Wilson Tang tells the story of how the restaurant came to be - and how to prepare their legendary dishes in your own home. Nom Wah Tea Parlor isn't simply the story of dumplings, though there are many folds to it. It isn’t the story of bao, though there is much filling. It’s not just the story of dim sum, although there are scores and scores of recipes. It’s the story of a community of Chinese immigrants who struggled, flourished, cooked, and ate with abandon in New York City.  (Who now struggle, flourish, cook, and eat with abandon in New York City.) It's a journey that begins in Toishan, runs through Hong Kong, and ends up tucked into the corner of a street once called The Bloody Angle.  In this book, Nom Wah's owner, Wilson Tang, takes us into the hardworking kitchen of Nom Wah and emerges with 75 easy-to-make recipes: from bao to vegetables, noodles to desserts, cakes, rice rolls, chef’s specials, dumplings, and more. We're also introduced to characters like Mei Lum, the fifth-generation owner of porcelain shop Wing on Wo, and Joanne Kwong, the lawyer-turned-owner of Pearl River Mart. He paints a portrait of what Chinatown in New York City is in 2020. As Wilson, who quit a job in finance to take over the once-ailing family business, struggles with the dilemma of immigrant children - to jettison tradition or to cling to it - he also points to a new way: to savor tradition while moving forward. A book for har gow lovers and rice roll junkies, The Nom Wah Cookbook portrays a culture at a crossroads.


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For the last 100 years, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been slinging some of the world’s greatest dim sum from New York's Chinatown. Now owner Wilson Tang tells the story of how the restaurant came to be - and how to prepare their legendary dishes in your own home. Nom Wah Tea Parlor isn't simply the story of dumplings, though there are many folds to it. It isn’t the story of bao, For the last 100 years, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been slinging some of the world’s greatest dim sum from New York's Chinatown. Now owner Wilson Tang tells the story of how the restaurant came to be - and how to prepare their legendary dishes in your own home. Nom Wah Tea Parlor isn't simply the story of dumplings, though there are many folds to it. It isn’t the story of bao, though there is much filling. It’s not just the story of dim sum, although there are scores and scores of recipes. It’s the story of a community of Chinese immigrants who struggled, flourished, cooked, and ate with abandon in New York City.  (Who now struggle, flourish, cook, and eat with abandon in New York City.) It's a journey that begins in Toishan, runs through Hong Kong, and ends up tucked into the corner of a street once called The Bloody Angle.  In this book, Nom Wah's owner, Wilson Tang, takes us into the hardworking kitchen of Nom Wah and emerges with 75 easy-to-make recipes: from bao to vegetables, noodles to desserts, cakes, rice rolls, chef’s specials, dumplings, and more. We're also introduced to characters like Mei Lum, the fifth-generation owner of porcelain shop Wing on Wo, and Joanne Kwong, the lawyer-turned-owner of Pearl River Mart. He paints a portrait of what Chinatown in New York City is in 2020. As Wilson, who quit a job in finance to take over the once-ailing family business, struggles with the dilemma of immigrant children - to jettison tradition or to cling to it - he also points to a new way: to savor tradition while moving forward. A book for har gow lovers and rice roll junkies, The Nom Wah Cookbook portrays a culture at a crossroads.

30 review for The Nom Wah Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 100 Years at New York City's Iconic Dim Sum Restaurant

  1. 4 out of 5

    emily

    Not a great book cover; almost didn't pick it up because of it, but the stories and the recipes are so brilliant - so brilliantly written, so brilliantly arranged, and so brilliantly presented. It's not the kind of book one picks up if you're looking for 'gourmet'/'secret-recipe' types of dim sum, but that did not bother me because I feel like Tang covered enough dim sum recipes - so simple and 'basic' that anyone could make at home. Also, bear in mind that this is an American Chinese cookbook, Not a great book cover; almost didn't pick it up because of it, but the stories and the recipes are so brilliant - so brilliantly written, so brilliantly arranged, and so brilliantly presented. It's not the kind of book one picks up if you're looking for 'gourmet'/'secret-recipe' types of dim sum, but that did not bother me because I feel like Tang covered enough dim sum recipes - so simple and 'basic' that anyone could make at home. Also, bear in mind that this is an American Chinese cookbook, so there are a few recipes that aren't 'authentic dimsum recipes', but in my opinion they're still very good recipes. I don't know enough about China (only been there on short, touristy kind of holidays), but I lived in HK for a few months when I was around 16 y/o - and oh my days - reading this cookbook makes me sigh with nostalgia (even though technically it's a book about New York, and not HK). Also, I really miss dim sum (no more 'yumcha' sesh with the global pandemic still on-going). I suppose I am one of those mad ones who makes their own 'dumpling skins' from scratch (but I probably wouldn't if I live in HK or China). I mean - it's mostly due to the fact that I've not had any luck in finding great 'dumpling skins' in the shops (LDN). “Though I’ve included some recipes for dumpling skins, only masochists make their own wrappers." I really enjoyed reading this cookbook. Tang's humble and friendly tone really wraps it all up really well - in like a cozy dimsum basket kind of way. He credits his staff and other people involved in this project whenever he can, which I really like. If you're not a cook/you're not interesting in cooking, even reading the stories of the people in the book is more than worth your time methinks. The photographs that come with them are so well done too. My favourite recipe in the book is definitely the Turnip (/Daikon) Cake recipe. It's not like I don't have a recipe or two of my own from my mates' mothers, but looking at the gorgeous photograph of the well-fried, golden, crispy-on-the-outside cakes on the pages of the cookbook seriously makes my heart swell with excitement. It's without a doubt one of my favourite dim sum dishes. So maybe this is just my biased opinion, but nevertheless - it's a recipe that stands out in this very lovely cookbook.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I'm leaving this unrated because I haven't actually tried any of the recipes. I enjoyed reading the stories of the history of the Nom Wah restaurant and looking at the recipes made my mouth water for the delicious jiao zi and bao zi I used to eat from street vendors in China. However, I would need a lot of specialty ingredients (and also would need to search for a grocery store in my Midwestern city that carries them) to make these recipes and my grocery budget just doesn't allow for that. I did I'm leaving this unrated because I haven't actually tried any of the recipes. I enjoyed reading the stories of the history of the Nom Wah restaurant and looking at the recipes made my mouth water for the delicious jiao zi and bao zi I used to eat from street vendors in China. However, I would need a lot of specialty ingredients (and also would need to search for a grocery store in my Midwestern city that carries them) to make these recipes and my grocery budget just doesn't allow for that. I did appreciate the instructions for utilizing what kitchen supplies most American cooks have on hand to create a steamer, but if I *did* have the budget for specialty ingredients I would probably also spend some money on a bamboo steamer as well. Maybe one day! I would love to perfect making dumplings at home!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anela

    You will never find me sitting down with a cookbook and reading it straight through but that’s exactly what I did with this one. I rarely use them to begin with being what I like to call a “pantry cook” guided by the throw it in and taste it as you go method. Through Covid I’ve been isolated in a very white area as a mixed-race Asian adult and found myself missing Boston Chinatown the comfort of the rows of Asian greens at the grocery stores and the egg custard buns from the dim sum place I’d go You will never find me sitting down with a cookbook and reading it straight through but that’s exactly what I did with this one. I rarely use them to begin with being what I like to call a “pantry cook” guided by the throw it in and taste it as you go method. Through Covid I’ve been isolated in a very white area as a mixed-race Asian adult and found myself missing Boston Chinatown the comfort of the rows of Asian greens at the grocery stores and the egg custard buns from the dim sum place I’d go to every new year. I’ve spent most of this pandemic trying to reclaim my relationship with the foods of my Chinese Malaysian culture and the foods that I’ve always seen as too much work. This book was a treasure and all the stories have hit me hard now in this turning point moment for what community means and what moving culture forward with respect to its history can look like. That being said I have yet to actually try the recipes themselves but will definitely be working my way through them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ember

    Reading this brings me back to childhood, roaming around Chinatown with my grandmother and eating dim sum. The stories about different local businesses and people were fun to read and I’m looking forward to trying my hand at making many of these recipes!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    I don't know what drew me to this cookbook (I've never been to Nom Wah Tea Parlor and had never heard of the place before seeing the book) but it sounded like an interesting read. I enjoy food and restaurant histories so this seemed like a fun read. It was Thanksgiving week so food seemed like a fitting feed. I can't say I know much about the cooking techniques or authenticity or how good their food is, etc, but the book was enjoyable. A mix of recipes of foods you probably know (dumplings, fried I don't know what drew me to this cookbook (I've never been to Nom Wah Tea Parlor and had never heard of the place before seeing the book) but it sounded like an interesting read. I enjoy food and restaurant histories so this seemed like a fun read. It was Thanksgiving week so food seemed like a fitting feed. I can't say I know much about the cooking techniques or authenticity or how good their food is, etc, but the book was enjoyable. A mix of recipes of foods you probably know (dumplings, fried rice) plus maybe items you're not as familiar with (mooncake, perhaps, but your experience may vary). There are some nice pictures and history of the foods, the restaurant, the author's family, etc. There's not much more to say. As an e-book I'm not sure how well this looks as a physical cookbook or how well it works (whether you can prop it up) or not. But if you're someone who just enjoys reading cookbooks and/or food/restaurant histories (especially if you've been to or are a fan of the restaurant!), this might not be a bad read. Library borrow for me and that was best. For the right person, though, this could be a great buy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    theladyv

    A true treasure - more than a collection of recipes, this cookbook features NYC Chinese Americans whose stories are reminiscent of my own. Wilson Tang captures the spirit of NYC Chinatown - resilient, determined, endlessly creative, and full of immigrant hustle. What a joy to have these recipes, people, and Chinatown businesses captured here - I didn’t know most of the backstories of these shops that I have been going to for years! Nom Wah Tea Parlor has long been one of my favorite places for y A true treasure - more than a collection of recipes, this cookbook features NYC Chinese Americans whose stories are reminiscent of my own. Wilson Tang captures the spirit of NYC Chinatown - resilient, determined, endlessly creative, and full of immigrant hustle. What a joy to have these recipes, people, and Chinatown businesses captured here - I didn’t know most of the backstories of these shops that I have been going to for years! Nom Wah Tea Parlor has long been one of my favorite places for yum cha and I’m looking forward to trying out these recipes at home. Don’t hesitate to buy this book and then get out there and support your local Chinatown or Chinese restaurants! As Tang points out, these businesses are more than the food they serve - they are living histories. And they are in danger of disappearing, were it not for the grit, commitment and passion of their owners. Tang has done his part - now we have to do ours.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Klein

    I think I heard about this book through Audiofile podcast and I really enjoyed it. You might think it would be odd to listen to a cookbook, but Tang made this not just about the recipes. It started by saying that the recipes would not be read, but that the reader could access them through the publishers website. Instead, it focused on the history of not only Nom Was, but Chinese cooking itself. I always wondered why Egg Rolls were called egg rolls and now I know. For fun facts and more culinary en I think I heard about this book through Audiofile podcast and I really enjoyed it. You might think it would be odd to listen to a cookbook, but Tang made this not just about the recipes. It started by saying that the recipes would not be read, but that the reader could access them through the publishers website. Instead, it focused on the history of not only Nom Was, but Chinese cooking itself. I always wondered why Egg Rolls were called egg rolls and now I know. For fun facts and more culinary entertainment, this is a good one to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Outstanding! This is one of those books that not only has the reader wanting to make all the recipes, but has interesting and amusing writing in between. Each major chapter is followed by a section of biography of someone important to the restaurant, or a few pages about other important local businesses, or whatever. And Mr. Tang sure knows how to crack a joke! I’m not entirely ready to return this to the library!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kay Kelly

    Must have Cookbook This cook book is a treat. Nom Wah is one of my most favorite restaurants in NYC. The scallion pancakes are light and the dim sum are flavorful and beautiful to look at. I just had to have the recipes. Included are stories about other Chinatown institutions, such as Pearl River Mart, a fun place to shop for Oriental goods.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Leong

    Missing Chinatown! Good easy read about a fascinating town within a town! I applaud all of these spirited people preserving the old while growing with new ideas and products. Pray they can withstand COVID and self isolation!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shaida Hossein

    Interested in dumpling dipping sauce, plain cheung fun, scallion pancake, egg fried rice, pan fried noodles, garlic eggplant noodles, sloppy joe noodle, salt and pepper shrimp, Cantonese style beef filet, fried sesame balls with lotus paste

  12. 4 out of 5

    Offbalance

    While the recipes were a little out of my ability range, the stories more than made up for it. Definitely plan on heading back to Nom Wah in the very near future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    so much more than great recipes and photos.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

    some recipes and some flavors may not be perfect, but I think some of the guidelines are pretty helpful

  15. 5 out of 5

    FrankieBeans Indisguise

    Enjoyed the story and might try a couple of recipes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    db

    The recipes and techniques taught in this book are wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed cooking with this book and then of course, enjoying the food.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashani

    The-dumpling-heaven-at-home-anytime- BOOK ! Gonna grab my copy soon and make some ! This library read is way to delicious to return to... So Im gonna buy me this one !

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The recipes and techniques were great, especially the specific ingredient brand recommendations. The stories about first and second generation immigrants were also interesting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate K. F.

    This is an amazing cookbook and record of a community. The interviews and stories in the beginning of the chapter really create a wonderful portrait of New York's Chinatown and the recipes make me want to cook. I actually went out and stocked my kitchen with recs from this book and while I haven't had a chance to cook anything yet, my library hold went up. I want to since the author made the recipes accessible and easy to understand as well as sounding delicious. When travel is possible again, I This is an amazing cookbook and record of a community. The interviews and stories in the beginning of the chapter really create a wonderful portrait of New York's Chinatown and the recipes make me want to cook. I actually went out and stocked my kitchen with recs from this book and while I haven't had a chance to cook anything yet, my library hold went up. I want to since the author made the recipes accessible and easy to understand as well as sounding delicious. When travel is possible again, I want to go and explore NYC's Chinatown with this book as a partial guide, it also helped me look at the places in my neighborhood in a different way.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zandra Drugan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Sperber

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rice

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hui Wen

  25. 5 out of 5

    Iris Ang

  26. 4 out of 5

    LibrariAnne

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Holland

  29. 5 out of 5

    AllBookedUp

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

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