If you ask a New Yorker where to find the most authentic food in Chinatown, they might suggest the dim sum at the circa-1920 Nom Wah Tea Parlor, or that you haven't lived until you've had a three-way at the Peking Duck House (the signature roasted duck, served three ways). You'll find both of these restaurants in the densely populated Lower Manhattan neighborhood where taxi drivers traditionally head when tourists jump in the cab and say, "Chinatown."
But increasingly, if you ask a New Yorker where to find the most authentic food in Chinatown, they might reroute you to Brooklyn. Devotees of hot pot, a fondue-esque specialty from China's Fujian Province, are lining up at eateries in Sunset Park, Brooklyn's first Chinatown. In Bensonhurst, the annual Festa di Santa Rosalia remains a testament to the area's Italian heritage, but this middle-class neighborhood now claims the highest concentration of Chinese immigrants in the borough. Chinese residents comprise the largest immigrant group in Brooklyn; the Chinese population in New York City is the largest outside of any Asian city.
Seismic cultural shifts that occur as one immigrant population eclipses another are a classic part of New York life and are now responsible for dim sum and dumplings outnumbering pizza joints and spumoni shops. Yet rapidly rising rents and the frenetic pace of gentrification are resulting in a parallel form of Chinese migration, focused on money: foreign buyers, including extended members of Chinese families, who view Brooklyn real estate as a secure, high-return investment.
Since the Great Recession, snapping up prime real estate in coastal American cities, sometimes sight unseen, has become an increasingly popular sport with China's wealthy. In 2014, for the first time, the Chinese bought more Manhattan apartments than did the Russians, according to Reuters. The strength of the U.S. dollar compared to the fragile yuan is making China's middle class a major force in the Brooklyn real estate market. The existing cultural infrastructure of its Chinatowns aside, the potential profit margin of owning property in Brooklyn's up-and-coming areas is hard to beat.