Neighborhood Eats: Classic dim sum at Jing Fong in Chinatown

Lauren Glassberg Image
Friday, October 9, 2020
Chinatown favorite offers classic dim sum experience during pandemic
In this latest edition of Neighborhood Eats, Lauren Glassberg gets a taste of Chinatown's Jing Fong and its famous dim sum.

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- During the coronavirus pandemic, Jing Fong has continued to serve up its authentic Cantonese-style dim sum and family-style dishes in Chinatown while sticking with just outdoor dining.

"We went from 800 seats inside to 20 seats outside," Jing Fong's Truman Lam said.

That's 97.5% reduction of seating and yet, the idea of re-opening Jing Fong for indoor dining is daunting.

"Our space is too big we have 25-26,000 square feet inside. Our main dining room is on the third floor, our kitchen is on the second floor, our lobby on the first floor. Just the manpower we need to run those 200 seats we would have to double the staff and we don't know if we would have that business," Lam said.

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Third-generation owner Truman Lam is all about keeping costs low right now.

The menu of dim sum items has been edited down from 100 items to 35.

Only one wok is in use these days and the dim sum cart is in long-term parking, even the escalator is turned off to save electricity. But, customers keep coming.

"Usually the dim sum experience is with the cart rolling by, but it's the best we can have right now. I'll take it," one customer said.

"It just warms the inside soul. I really feel like it's nice to fill your body with something nourishing and something inexpensive," another said.

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"The ha gow, spare ribs, rice noodle rolls a lot," Lam said.

"I just like to support the local businesses since they're like all kind of going out of business," a third customer said.

Jing Fong's Upper West Side location is offering indoor dining and Lam hopes he can resume some sort of indoor dining in Chinatown next month with the hopes of recapturing some of what this institution is all about.

"We were getting a real diverse people there. Local Chinese who've been coming to us for 30-40 years, we have tourists, people like me. I bring people who've never experienced it before it becomes a huge melting pot," Lam said.

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