Justice is served — and so are the dumplings

Few food options near the Manhattan courts takes business to Chinatown restaurants.

Reporting by Elizabeth VanMetre, Summer Lin, Tiffany Pennamon, and Andrea Januta for Columbia Journalism School

You can find plenty of pathos at the Manhattan Court. What you won’t find is a decent meal.

With few food options nearby, people at the court house often venture three blocks to bustling Chinatown.

As the Chinese population of Chinatown decreases, restaurants increasingly depend on tourists and non-Chinatown residents, including lawyers, jurors, and others associated with the court. The population of Chinese residents in Chinatown dropped 19 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The number of restaurants in Chinatown has also declined due to increasing rent and luxury housing prices.

The people we spoke with around the courthouse confirmed that you have to bring food or leave the area if you want to find a good meal.

Court-goers reveal lunch plans. Click below to listen.

Interviews with Nikki Thompson, Cathy Franco, Juan Arredondo, and Edward Lebeaux

Despite the rising rent prices, food bargains are still available in Chinatown:

Tiffany Pennamon and Elizabeth VanMetre share their experience ordering lunch at Fried Dumpling, located at 106 Mosco Street:

Tiffany Pennamon and Eliabeth VanMetre share their experience ordering lunch at Fried Dumpling, located at 106 Mosco Street.

Dumplings aren’t the only option. Restaurants crowd the streets and offer lunch specials and enticing aromas. There are more than ten different Asian cuisines in Chinatown including Thai, Japanese, and many varieties of Chinese food such as Cantonese and Shanghainese.

We reached out to a New York food expert. Here’s his suggestion:

Another option is Aux Epices, located at 121 Baxter Street. Mei Chau has been a restaurant owner for 15 years, including in Chinatown for the last three. This popular spot draws many people from the nearby courthouse.

Watch Below: Owner explains why the court system is important to her business.

While Chinatown is threatened by gentrification and rising rent prices, its proximity to the court house provides a steady stream of revenue.

For Chau’s French-Malaysian restaurant, the court house has allowed her business to flourish despite the decline of restaurants in Chinatown.

“Most Chinese restaurants here are 10–20 years old,” Chau says. “I probably wouldn’t have survived [without the courts] ten years ago because Chinese [people] would not come here.”

Reporting and writing by Summer Lin, Elizabeth VanMetre, Tiffany Pennamon, and Andrea Januta

Behind the Scenes Gallery:

Behind the Scenes: Edward Lebeaux, pictured with Andrea Januta and Tiffany Pennamon
Behind the Scenes: Nikki Thompson, pictured with Andrea Januta