Taiwan Bear House — 70.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Taiwan Bear House for a quick lunch on the July 4th holiday.  Many restaurants in Manhattan close on the 4th, but not in Chinatown.  Still, while Chinatown was generally crowded, the place wasn’t busy–only one other table was occupied. But we think our visit was pretty representative of what you can expect even if every seat is taken, because it’s a small space–there are only five tables for two and six stools–and Taiwan Bear House does not play music.  Together, these two factors ensure that eating in should be relatively pleasant.

And it was pleasant.  We were absolutely comfortable. The design elements, standing alone,  would lead one to expect a livelier soundscape, but the place was very quiet. In fact, we were surprised that the reading was over 70 decibels, but suspect that it’s due to a mechanical hum coming from the kitchen.  The hum didn’t bother us, to be frank–it sounded like white noise, and was neither annoying or distracting.

Taiwan Bear House isn’t a destination spot.  It’s a place that you order food to go or eat in and run.  The menu consists of a series of “bento boxes,” which are round containers that look like steamers that are filled with rice, vegetables (cabbage), a piece of firm tofu, some ground meat (pork?), and a protein (mostly pork or chicken).  The food was filling and tasty, and our meal was quick and quiet.  We recommend it.

HOURS

11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Bowery and Mott Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Taiwan Bear House

Forgtmenot — 73.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located in Chinatown where it merges into the Lower East Side, Forgtmenot is a laid back place that’s perfect to sit, eat, drink, and chill. It’s relaxing despite having doors and windows open to the street because this part of Division Street gets very little traffic.  There was music playing in the background, but it was fine because it actually was in the background.  Only one table was engaged in “animated” conversation, but they could be ignored for the most part.

We came to eat, but Forgtmenot probably gets more use as a bar.  It’s bigger than it looks because it extends from Division Street through to Canal Street.  The interior is divided into three separate spaces–two with bars and one smaller space in between the two.  At lunch, only the Division Street side was being served and there were some empty tables for passersby.

We were surprised how comfortable we felt given that the usual hard surface design mix was present–concrete floor, tin ceiling, and similar materials.  Maybe it was due to the oddly shaped space, or the use of textiles in the decor, or the mostly quiet crowd, but whatever the reason we really liked the space and felt relaxed and unrushed.  Conversation was not a problem, and we could easily see spending an afternoon at Forgtmenot with friends for a chat and a cocktail.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Very good service and tasty food rounded out our visit.  We added avocado to the shrimp po boy per the waiter’s suggestion and it was delicious (there’s a little heat, so ask for no hot sauce if you aren’t a fan).  We definitely recommend a visit at lunch or when it’s not packed.  Our waiter said all three rooms can get really crowded on the weekend, so if you want to visit then, or during happy hour, proceed with caution.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Ludlow and Orchard Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Forgtmenot

Canal Street Market — 77.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Canal Street Market is a food court/mall (featuring “top retail/design concepts”) that recently opened on Canal Street, in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  It’s a loud and busy place with an interesting mix of food vendors serving mainly Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine, along with some fusion mixes and a couple of sweet options.

The first thing you notice on entering the space is that the music is way too loud. The second is that management very obviously wants a young crowd–the music featured rap during our visit. The soundscape wasn’t helped by keeping the main doorway open to traffic noise from Canal Street.  Canal Street is always loud and chaotic, with constant horn honking and seemingly unending sirens. Trying to find a spot to have a quick nosh by the front of the space is a nightmare if you care about your ears.  It simply is unpleasantly loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Fortunately the soundscape is a bit better in the back of the space near the restrooms, but there is very little seating.  Instead, there is a dining area comprised almost entirely of tables and ledges for standing, with just a few areas where one can sit. And while the dining area wasn’t as loud as the front of the space, it wasn’t pleasant, just less annoying.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, we were happy to leave and surprised that the reading clocked in at under 80 decibels. Despite avoiding the 80 decibel bright line standard–we recommend avoiding any space over 80 decibels–we think it best to avoid eating at the market.  On a busy day with an open door and loud music, the space squeaks by, barely.  The food options have received good reviews, so if you want to visit we suggest avoiding the front of the space nearest Canal Street–go to the back where the standing tables are located and try your luck.  Or grab something to go.

In the end, Canal Street Market is not a comfortable space and some of the food options seemed pricey for a food court. The space borders Chinatown, so you have lots of dining options.  Proceed with caution.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. everyday (retail market hours differ)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and Lafayette Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Canal Street Market

Taiwan Bear House — 70.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Taiwan Bear House for a quick lunch on the July 4th holiday.  Many restaurants in Manhattan close on the 4th, but not in Chinatown.  Still, while Chinatown was generally crowded, the place wasn’t busy–only one other table was occupied. But we think our visit was pretty representative of what you can expect even if every seat is taken, because it’s a small space–there are only five tables for two and six stools–and Taiwan Bear House does not play music.  Together, these two factors ensure that eating in should be relatively pleasant.

And it was pleasant.  We were absolutely comfortable. The design elements, standing alone,  would lead one to expect a livelier soundscape, but the place was very quiet. In fact, we were surprised that the reading was over 70 decibels, but suspect that it’s due to a mechanical hum coming from the kitchen.  The hum didn’t bother us, to be frank–it sounded like white noise, and was neither annoying or distracting.

Taiwan Bear House isn’t a destination spot.  It’s a place that you order food to go or eat in and run.  The menu consists of a series of “bento boxes,” which are round containers that look like steamers that are filled with rice, vegetables (cabbage), a piece of firm tofu, some ground meat (pork?), and a protein (mostly pork or chicken).  The food was filling and tasty, and our meal was quick and quiet.  We recommend it.

HOURS

11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Bowery and Mott Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Taiwan Bear House

Forgtmenot — 73.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located in Chinatown where it merges into the Lower East Side, Forgtmenot is a laid back place that’s perfect to sit, eat, drink, and chill. It’s relaxing despite having doors and windows open to the street because this part of Division Street gets very little traffic.  There was music playing in the background, but it was fine because it actually was in the background.  Only one table was engaged in “animated” conversation, but they could be ignored for the most part.

We came to eat, but Forgtmenot probably gets more use as a bar.  It’s bigger than it looks because it extends from Division Street through to Canal Street.  The interior is divided into three separate spaces–two with bars and one smaller space in between the two.  At lunch, only the Division Street side was being served and there were some empty tables for passersby.

We were surprised how comfortable we felt given that the usual hard surface design mix was present–concrete floor, tin ceiling, and similar materials.  Maybe it was due to the oddly shaped space, or the use of textiles in the decor, or the mostly quiet crowd, but whatever the reason we really liked the space and felt relaxed and unrushed.  Conversation was not a problem, and we could easily see spending an afternoon at Forgtmenot with friends for a chat and a cocktail.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Very good service and tasty food rounded out our visit.  We added avocado to the shrimp po boy per the waiter’s suggestion and it was delicious (there’s a little heat, so ask for no hot sauce if you aren’t a fan).  We definitely recommend a visit at lunch or when it’s not packed.  Our waiter said all three rooms can get really crowded on the weekend, so if you want to visit then, or during happy hour, proceed with caution.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Ludlow and Orchard Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Forgtmenot

Canal Street Market — 77.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Canal Street Market is a food court/mall (featuring “top retail/design concepts”) that recently opened on Canal Street, in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  It’s a loud and busy place with an interesting mix of food vendors serving mainly Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine, along with some fusion mixes and a couple of sweet options.

The first thing you notice on entering the space is that the music is way too loud. The second is that management very obviously wants a young crowd–the music featured rap during our visit. The soundscape wasn’t helped by keeping the main doorway open to traffic noise from Canal Street.  Canal Street is always loud and chaotic, with constant horn honking and seemingly unending sirens. Trying to find a spot to have a quick nosh by the front of the space is a nightmare if you care about your ears.  It simply is unpleasantly loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Fortunately the soundscape is a bit better in the back of the space near the restrooms, but there is very little seating.  Instead, there is a dining area comprised almost entirely of tables and ledges for standing, with just a few areas where one can sit. And while the dining area wasn’t as loud as the front of the space, it wasn’t pleasant, just less annoying.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, we were happy to leave and surprised that the reading clocked in at under 80 decibels. Despite avoiding the 80 decibel bright line standard–we recommend avoiding any space over 80 decibels–we think it best to avoid eating at the market.  On a busy day with an open door and loud music, the space squeaks by, barely.  The food options have received good reviews, so if you want to visit we suggest avoiding the front of the space nearest Canal Street–go to the back where the standing tables are located and try your luck.  Or grab soemthing to go.

In the end, Canal Street Market is not a comfortable space and some of the food options seemed pricey for a food court. The space borders Chinatown, so you have lots of dining options.  Proceed with caution.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. everyday (retail market hours differ)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and Lafayette Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Canal Street Market

Nom Wah Tea Parlor– 78 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Nom Wah Tea Parlor is an old-school Chinese restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  The restaurant was thoughtfully renovated a few years back–the space was cleaned up but the decor was left unchanged.   Some version of the place has been around since 1920.  It’s a very comfortable space that is atmospheric without feeling staged.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited at lunch time.  Nom Wah was pretty busy, which accounts for the 78 decibel reading.  Truth be told, the space was more comfortable than the reading might suggest.  Nom Wah was at least two-thirds full when we first arrived and the sound level was tolerable.   As people left and the space became half full, it was mostly comfortable with the only annoying factor being low but unnecessary music and the sharp sounds of dishes being placed into busing bins (we were seated nearby).

Nom Wah is definitely worth the visit.  Dim sum is offered all day; the place is very popular for a reason.  When full, the sound level could be intolerable, but Nom Wah was almost full when we were first seated and we didn’t run away.  And, frankly, restaurants in Chinatown tend to be very busy and often are loud.  You would be hardpressed to find a better option than Nom Wah.

HOURS

Sunday through Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw.Pell and Bowery Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Kings Kitchen — 81.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In a word, no.  The kitchen noises, yelling waitstaff, and constant clatter from dishes coming into contact with hard surfaces made for an uncomfortable experience.  There were occasional pockets of relative calm during our visit, but they were dwarfed by the general cacophony.   We came for an early bird dinner on a Sunday evening specifically to avoid a crowd.  Our timing was right–the place wasn’t packed during our visit, but it was busy.  That said, 81.2 decibels for a busy but not full restaurant does not augur well.  It was plainly obvious to us that a packed restaurant would be intolerable.

The reason to go to Kings Kitchen isn’t for the decor or the atmosphere, it’s for good food that is reasonably priced.   But good food, reasonable prices, and attentive waitstaff could not compensate for the noise.  It simply was intolerable.

If you are in Chinatown looking for a nosh and see that Kings Kitchen is empty, you could take a chance and go in for a quick meal.   Otherwise, the only safe option is take away.

HOURS

6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

92 E. Broadway (betw. Eldridge and Pike Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

No website