Catch it: Susan Lee’s Food Journey in Lower Manhattan

My joy of walking always brings an unexpected adventure where I am learning something new, meeting another on their journey of changing a course, taking a chance, like deciding to be a Candidate for City Council in Lower Manhattan’s First District. That would be Susan Lee.

Several weeks ago, I met Ms. Lee. At the same time, she passed out campaign flyers, speaking with neighbors, bystanders in her community of big and small businesses, and generations of families who still reside in Lower Manhattan. As we were chatting, I was curious about her take on the thriving restaurants in the neighborhood, and here is our conversation.

WDM: What do you like about living in Lower Manhattan?

SUSAN LEE: It is a unique district where each neighborhood has its own distinct characteristics. It’s a mini melting pot! I can walk around the district and feel the immersion of culture and heritage without having to leave the country. I love Lower Manhattan!  

And the food! We have some really great restaurants in the district, such as a delicious babka from Moishe’s Bakery, and Spanish food from El Castillo de Madison in the Lower East Side, yummy brunch from Citizens of Bleecker at Washington Square, Wonton Noodle from Noodletown in Chinatown, Italian from Attraversa, and Sushi from Sushi of Gari in Tribeca, and a French bistro called Le Parisienne in FiDi.  

WDM: What was your go-to restaurant with friends before COVID-19?

LEE: My go-to restaurant before COVID-19 is Pings on Mott Street in Chinatown. My family celebrates every holiday and birthday there. It’s our go-to spot because the food is amazing, the staff is very friendly, and they are always willing to accommodate my last-minute reservations.

I came to the United States when I was six years old. My family came from Hong Kong, and Pings cooking is following that tradition. Whenever I go there, it brings back fond memories of my travels to Hong Kong. I especially love their live seafood tanks at the front of the restaurant. You can go up to the tanks and examine the freshness of the seafood. After you decide what you would like to eat from the tanks, the staff brings it to you for approval before taking it to the kitchen for preparation. Fresh seafood is a must at Ping’s. My other go-to dish there is their salted baked whole chicken which you need to reserve in advance. It is so yummy!  

WDM: What is your favorite restaurant now?

LEE: This question is a tough one; it’s like asking a mom which child is her favorite. To be fair, I am a creature of habit. I like routines and having go-to spots in my neighborhood is such a blessing. For Japanese, I love Takahachi. For Italian, I love Max. For Mexican, I go to Tanjin. We love to go to 1803 for drinks. For breakfast, it’s Bubby’s. For Hong Kong Style Breakfast, we love going to Kong Shik Tong. And for Japanese pastries, Takahachi Bakery. I probably go to one of these at least once a week.   

WDM: What makes Tribeca vibe great for dining?

LEE: My husband and I love outdoor dining. It affords us the opportunity to people watch. One time, we saw this celebrity couple walking with their kid and dog like everyone else. People from all walks of life are coming and going, doing their thing.  

Now that I am campaign full-time, I don’t really have much time to cook. I am so lucky because we have all these amazing restaurants in our neighborhood. But it’s also sad to see some of our neighborhood gems closed due to the pandemic. With an increase in vaccination, I hope more residents will begin to feel comfortable dining out and enjoying this wonderful neighborhood.  

WDM: What are two comfort foods do you keep in your kitchen?

LEE: Cookies and tea. I was probably a cookie monster in my former life. I have a stash of Girl Scout cookies in my pantry. I’ll have some Thin Mints with a cup of Earl Grey. Although my husband just corrected me and said neither qualifies as food!  

WDM: It takes courage to run for New York City Council. How do you plan to celebrate your accomplishment after the Primary Election on June 22, 2021?

LEE: I am going to take my team out to dinner! They worked so hard on this campaign, and I am nothing without their love and support. I would love to take them to Hop Lee Restaurant on Mott Street. After that, I would sleep for a couple of days! I haven’t had a day off since I launched my campaign in December!

Thank you, Candidate, Ms. Susan Lee, and catch more about her plan of “Common Sense Leadership,” at http://www.susanleenyc.com.

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