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Best Street To Entertain An Impecunious Crowd New York 2002 - MOTT STREET

"We're showing up around noon," we tell the kind folks at Vegetarian Paradise 3 (33 MOTT STREET, 406-6988) when there's a big crew coming for brunch. "There'll probably be about 15 of us." We turn up a little early to hold the space, then ignore the main part of the menu, order one of every kind of dim sum it lists, and pass them around. After we've feasted, we collect eight bucks from everybody, and still end up tipping 30 percent or so. Then we waddle down to Chinatown Fair (8 Mott Street), reminisce about the tic-tac-toe chicken, and watch terrifyingly coordinated kids put the arcade games through their paces. Finally, we head back up to Saint's Alp Teahouse (51 Mott Street, 766-9889), sip bubble tea, and gossip until there's nothing left but a few tapioca pearls. Total cost: about the price of a movie and popcorn, with much more conversation.
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