"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people" by Mahatma Gandhi, Indian nationalist leader and nonviolence advocate (October 1869 - January 1948).
A culture really resides in the hearts of its people and it can be a strong bondage when you see that culture so alive outside of its place of origin. When people really have their culture at heart, they can settle anywhere in the World and live that culture strongly. Different cultures and destinations cannot destroy what you carry at heart.
This is something I saw and felt during my last trip to New York City. While looking for one of my Mom’s favorite Cantonese restaurants in New York, I was able to visit and immerse myself in the famous Chinatown area of New York.
I had never been to Chinatown before. The rustic New York buildings decorated with many Asian art and décor; the many Asian-style stores and restaurants; even seeing outside ads and murals written in Cantonese made me feel as if I was somewhere else. I felt as if I had transported myself into a place in China, where culture and traditions were as latent and so much present.
I loved walking in this area. Admiring all the stores & shops and the locals speaking in their native Cantonese and carrying on as if they were back home.
My final stop, along with my Mom and the rest of my group, was the restaurant Hop Kee - located on Mott Street. My parents had a couple of date nights back in the day (maybe early 1970s) and they have cherished this place. I heard this restaurant has been a staple on the list of best Chinese restaurants in New York City. It’s been such an iconic place that many celebrities, including Anthony Bourdain, have visited this place many times.
Here at Hop Kee you can find all the basics like chow fun, sweet and sour pork, or won ton soup. Yet, the restaurant's popularity is due to the menu of specialty items. I must admit that among the staple delicacies, I saw Cantonese-style snails and I had to try them. It was my 1st odd food eaten this year. In general, the food was very fresh and extra delicious. And it was packed – people going in and out. And one thing that I think makes this place legit is seeing Chinese and other Asian people eating in this restaurant and enjoying every bit of it.
Loved Chinatown very much. I need to go back soon and enjoy more of its Asian culture bottled in this Jungle of Concrete known as the Big Apple!