Review of Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Check out our owner’s review of her recent trip to Nom Wah Tea Parlor:

Let’s face it - I moved to New York for the food. Before I met my husband, I was a really picky eater and unwilling to venture beyond my comfort zone. My husband encourages me to try new things, and now, most of our adventures revolve around food (and beer, of course). We’ll try almost anything once. We’re those people who order the weirdest thing on the menu just to be different and freak out our friends.

When it came time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary of dating this past November, we wanted to try something we never had before. We went all out for our first wedding anniversary in October, so we wanted to stay low-key and certainly local. After all, New York City is our special spot together. I had been wanting to go out for dim sum since the summer, but we just never made the time. So on a cold, rainy November Saturday, that’s exactly what we did.

 The food was so good that we never even stopped to take a "before" photo.

The food was so good that we never even stopped to take a "before" photo.

I am the Queen of researching those “best of” lists. I pretty much only eat at places that are listed on Thrillist, Eater, and Timeout. That’s how my husband and I found Nom Wah Tea Parlor; I was researching “traditional Chinese food NYC,” and that particular restaurant kept popping up. Turns out, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been around since the 1920s and is the oldest dim sum restaurant in New York. It continues to get mixed reviews on Yelp, but we always take those with a grain of salt.

We arrived around noon on a Saturday, so the wait was about 45 minutes. We put our name in with the host and waited outside. Rumor has it, if you walk away, they give your table away, so we weren’t taking any chances.

Finally, our number was called, and we were seated at a table for two towards the back. The restaurant (like most of the good ones in New York City) is very small and the tables are packed in tightly. We were so close to our neighbors that one of them offered to share his vegetables with me. Normally, I like my own personal space, especially when dining out. However, there are sacrifices I’m willing to make for a good meal, and that is one of them.

Unlike the other dim sum houses in the city, Nom Wah Tea Parlor does not have carts. You place your order on a piece of paper by checking off the items you would like to eat, and then servers bring them to your table when they are ready. I actually prefer this style of ordering, as it allows me to know what is coming (could I be any more of a planner?). My husband let me do the ordering (I handle the food ordering and he handles the beer ordering - it’s a nice balance in our relationship), so I chose the house special roast pork bun, shrimp siu mai, vegetarian dumplings, Shanghainese soup dumplings, and the original “og” egg roll. My husband also suggested we add in the shrimp rice roll, so we did.

My favorite was the Shanghainese soup dumplings. As the name suggests, these dumplings are filled with broth, pork, and vegetables. They’re served with little spoons so you can catch any of the broth that drips from the inside. They were deliciously warm and savory - perfect for a cold day.

We also really enjoyed the house special roast pork bun. This came exactly as described - a steamed bun stuffed with roasted pork. The pork had been slow cooked for several hours, and was almost barbecue in style. The bun was huge - great for sharing.

Service at Nom Wah was quick and to the point. Servers took our orders, brought out our food, refilled our waters, and brought the check. Some people prefer to have more of a conversation with their servers, but I personally don’t, so I really enjoyed this experience.

Overall, I would highly recommend Nom Wah Tea Parlor. It is a classic New York City restaurant steeped in tradition. My tips for you:

  1. If you go on a weekend, make sure you are not starving when you get there. You will wait outside for quite some time.
  2. Order the Shanghainese soup dumplings. You will not be dissapointed.
  3. Order lots of items to share. That way, you get to sample a number of different things.