The kitchen at this slender spot on Elizabeth Street is barely large enough to hold its three staff members. One runs the cash register, another prepares all the food, and a third runs in and out, scouting ingredients and other necessities from the surrounding neighborhood. Yet from behind this counter some of the best cheung fun, or Cantonese-style steamed rice rolls, in Chinatown can be savored.
In a dish this simple, every detail matters. At Yi Ji Shi Mo, the cook grinds rice for flour in a stone mill fresh every morning and steams each batch of cheung fun to order. The resulting wrappers are thinner than their commercial counterparts, with a texture verging on ethereal and just the faintest hint of chew. Seasonings err on the lighter side, allowing the quality of the ingredients to really shine.
Opened in 2019, the restaurant is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, but the word is already very much out. Despite the lack of tables or seating, customers faithfully pack the joint each morning to grab their breakfast to-go. Order the Shrimp Party roll, filled with both fresh and dried shrimp, cilantro, and egg, or the Signature, which adds in roast pork, and eat it immediately on the street corner.
Know Before You Go
Like many businesses in Manhattan's Chinatown, this spot is cash-only.