Gentrification in Chinatown: The Nom Wah Tea Parlor Poll

Photo via Nom Wah Tea Parlor's Facebook page. Wilson is the tall guy in the center.

The historic Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers Street has been serving some of the best dim sum in Chinatown for generations. These days, the New York Post reports, it’s also one of several businesses making Chinatown a “hot” nightlife destination.  In the past year since 32-year old Wilson Tang restored, updated and reopened his family’s restaurant, he has become a popular guy both in the mainstream and social media worlds.

Just the other day, Wong Fu Productions, the YouTube sensation, were in the restaurant to shoot a video for Asian supergroup Magnetic North & Taiyo Na (see photo). As the Post article points out, some people (including City Councilmember Margaret Chin) welcome the new nightlife scene in the neighborhood, where the “sidewalks are rolled up by 9 p.m.” Others, however, are dismayed, seeing the threat of gentrification as “hipsters” and other “tastemakers” descend on Chinatown.

Wilson, who sees himself in a totally different realm than his upscale Doyers Street neighbors (Apotheke, Pulqueria), has mixed feelings:

Tang says he and his family are part of a growing Chinese minority that’s remained living in the area as gentrification has driven others away. Having very little contact with his new neighbors on Doyers Street, Tang describes their arrival as “a double-edged sword… The pros are that it brings a different demographic to the area — the Europeans, the hipsters, the fashionistas,” says Tang.“ The cons are that it brings a lot of noise and rowdiness — with people throwing up in the street, and all.”

What do you think about the topic of gentrification in Chinatown? Wilson has posted an opinion poll on Nom Wah’s Facebook page.  Click here to express your point of view.