Just a few blocks south of where the hip boutiques of Nolita give way to the small produce stands and herbal medicine shops of Chinatown lies the comparatively mammoth Elizabeth Street supermarket, Dynasty. Here’s where the bulk of one’s Asian food shopping can be done in one stop. It’s such a popular destination for this — and its prices so reasonable — that on weekends you’ll often see shuttle vans waiting outside, transporting zealous shoppers from surrounding areas as they load up for the week. Because Chinese, Thai and Japanese foods can be found in its aisles, Dynasty has also long been a trusty resource for any New Yorker looking for ingredients to impress their friends with.
like these dried bluefish, for cooking or snacking
some new teapots for that new tea
crunchy lotus root
wrappers of all tastes and textures, from wheat, soybean, rice, nori; for dumplings, spring rolls, sushi, wontons, you name it
not that you have to buy them, but chicken and pig’s feet abound
ditto for the fresh silkie chickens
Fully equipped with a medicine counter, butcher, cookware section, frozen section and even a fresh sushi counter, Dynasty is a quintessential Asian supermarket in every American sense of the word. Yet despite this proliferation of products and people, it never seems to reach the confused frenzy of carts and crowdedness as, say, Union Square’s Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I’ve never been pushed through a busy aisle, or needed to wait in a line longer than two people shopping at Dynasty, and its check-out staff are nothing if not almost maniacally efficient. It may not be the most beautiful store in appearance, nor have the most attentive staff. But unlike some Asian markets you can count on both Chinese and English signs and labels here. That’s why I recommend it to people who ask me where to buy some of the ingredients I use. And did I mention that the prices are low?
inexpensive fresh shrimp, though not the most carbon footprint-reducing choice (almost 90 percent of NYC shrimp is not domestic)
fresh, fragrant shiitake mushrooms, around $4/lb
fried tofu wedges, ready to eat
for those tired of corn starch, there’s always arrow root and water chestnut starches
sushi to go
In a way, Dynasty represents a very un-urban, specifically un-New York Chinatown way to shop. Still more bustling on any given day is the cluster of markets located further East on Grand Street. Here, food shoppers can compare on quality and prices, choosing whichever stand boasts the most fresh-looking fish, or the most crisp vegetables, on one particular day. They can even bargain with vendors, as prices aren’t stamped onto products with a red sticker. These differences make Dynasty all the more unique in its success. Its patrons know that they can score competitive prices for basics, like dried noodles or jarred sauces. Where else in New York City can you get product-of-USA sushi rice for 79 cents a pound (as I just did for an upcoming project)? Or a half-gallon jug of Michiu cooking wine for five dollars and a quarter? And when meat and produce is at their prime, you’ll only waste time making another stop.
68 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10013