To Plan Trip

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To begin, call the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-746-6610. ( www.nycvisit.com ) for information about visiting the city. Chinatown bustles around the clock, but it is particularly busy on weekends, and only the most intrepid will drive there then. It can easily be reached by subway (East Broadway-Canal stop on the Sixth Avenue IND, Canal Street on the Lexington Avenue IRT). There is one hotel in the immediate area, the Holiday Inn Downtown on Lafayette Street (212-966-8898 or 1-800-HOLIDAY), which houses an unusually ornate and very good Chinese restaurant called Pacifica. The district is home to hundreds of restaurants, and every one of them has to be pretty good to survive at all. The author’s favorites include the Mandarin Court (61 Mott/212-608-3838), Nice Restaurant (35 East Broadway/212-406-9510), and two cheap, spartan, but excellent places popular with the local people, New York Noodle Town (28½ Bowery/212-349-0923) and the New Good Taste (65 Bayard / 212-233-3233); the editor has a particular fondness for the Great Shanghai (27 Division Street / 212-9667663), which, among its other virtues, serves steamed vegetable dumplings that are without peer on the planet. The Museum of Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry Street/212-619-4785) is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5:00 P.M. The Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13-15 Doyers / 212-962-6047), where the author’s father ate as a boy, still serves dim sum (steamed and fried dumplings and other delicacies in small quantities on little plates; the waiter computes your bill by counting the plates) as it has since it opened in 1920. Dim sum has become an increasingly elaborate lunchtime and weekend ritual; some of the most popular places include the Triple Eight Palace (88 East Broadway / 212-941-8886), the clamorous but fascinating Golden Unicorn (18 East Broadway/212-941-0911), and the Tai Hong Lau (70 Mott/212-219-1431).