Deluxe Food Market’s Turnip Cake


Deluxe Food Market is a long, narrow Chinatown shop that spans the block between Mott and Elizabeth. Elbow your way into the cheap eats emporium and it’s choices, choices, choices: Cantonese barbecue (whole sides of roast pig, lacquered ducks, floppy beef tongues) a butcher shop, a sushi counter, steamed buns, and a long row of steam tables filled with dishes like stewed tendon, myriad noodles, glutinous rice with jujubes, congee, stuffed bean curd skin, pork intestines, and Chinese broccoli.

Turnip cakes (law bock gow) are not the most flashy of the foods competing for your attention, but they are extremely cheap and very tasty. $1.25 will net you a container filled with three fat squares, pan-seared until crisp on the outside, served with a bit of black vinegar. They taste sweetly vegetal and mild, with a slight bitter edge.

The cakes are a common dim sum, but are particularly popular at the Chinese New Year, when they are considered auspicious. The cakes are made from Chinese daikon radish (law bock), which apparently differs from Japanese daikon, and is an entirely different beast than the Western turnip. The vegetable is shredded and steamed before being formed into the cake, which often includes Chinese bacon, mushrooms and/or dried shrimp.

Deluxe Food Market’s version is more austere, but nevertheless makes for a very pleasant snack or light meal.

79 Elizabeth Street