We live pretty close to New York's bustling Chinatown. It's about a 15 minute walk, and like stepping into another world.
The streets are busy twenty-four hours a day, people sell anything and everything from impromptu stalls, and the smell of food lingers in the air. I recently saw someone buying live crabs from one of the vendors. The unlucky crustaceans were unceremoniously placed into a paper bag with tongs, and the bag continued to wiggle as the lady carried it away. It would have made quite a sight on the subway.
One of my favourite things to order in Chinatown is the soup dumpling. Xiǎolóngbāo (as they are known in Mandarin) are delightful steamed buns with a mixture of meat and rich broth hidden within. At first they are a little tricky to eat: there's a high probability of injury as the hot liquid can have a tendency to squirt onto your lap. But once you've got the hang of it, they are a wonderful thing to eat: the combination of soup, meat and bun is fantastic.
I haven't worked out how they are made yet. I suppose they are the ship-in-a-bottle of the food world.