Shorty Tang Noodles — 76.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Short Tang Noodles is an homage to its namesake, who is credited with introducing cold sesame noodles to New York City.  According to Grub Street, Shorty Tang’s cold sesame noodles were considered the best, and his son and grandson have opened a place as a tribute to him using his original recipe.  So of course we ordered the cold sesame noodles when we visited Short Tang’s for a lunch time nosh.

There are lots of hard surfaces at Shorty Tang’s–tile floors, a wall of glass in the front, tiled back wall, and a semi-open kitchen–but the place was tolerable because background music, though unnecessary, was playing at a low volume. Even though one front window was open to 8th Avenue, street noise didn’t contribute much to the soundscape. Maybe it was dumb luck, but 8th Avenue was surprisingly calm during our visit–there were no sirens or honking.  We must note that the restaurant wasn’t full while we were there, and it will naturally be louder if packed, but for a half full lunchtime visit it was perfectly fine.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

So how was the signature dish?  Pretty good, but not life changing.

Overall, the room leans toward live, with competing layers of noise, but it was tolerable at lunch time.  If crowded, it’s likely that the live space will be overwhelmed.  And be aware that voices carry here, so if there’s a screamer among the other patrons, you will hear them loud and clear.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 14th and 15th Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Shorty Tang Noodles

Han Dynasty (East Village) — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The East Village location of Han Dynasty was less than half full when we arrived for lunch, but it quickly filled up and was at least half full by the time we left.  Overall we found the space merely tolerable, which raises concerns for the noise levels when the space is packed.  Han Dynasty has lots of hard surfaces with few few elements that could absorb sound, though unframed art work may have mitigated noise a hair.  Once again there was one overarching factor for the less than optimal soundscape: the music was too loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Yes, it could have been worse–our ears weren’t bleeding, after all–but we found the space to be  rather live, and the music (odd choices, by the way) just dominated the soundscape.  There were lots of work groups in the place and they were chatty, but their voices were manageable.  If the music were lowered a couple of notches, the space could have been comfortable.  It was, instead, merely tolerable, and that depended, more on less, on the song that was playing at any given time.

Han Dynasty offers very reasonable and tasty lunch specials.  If the place is packed and the music volume is as loud as it is at lunch, the noise level  probably will be intolerable.  That said, we tolerated the noise level during our visit, but wish it was better.  Why not aim for comfortable?  We suggest that you proceed with caution.

HOURS

Sunday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 12th and 13th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Han Dynasty–East Village

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