Where legendary intersections are concerned, the corner of Eighth Avenue and 58th Street in Sunset Park doesn’t exactly rank up there with Haight and Ashbury or Hollywood and Vine. But bargain-loving Brooklynites ought to think of it as their own little Crossroads of the World.
A visit here begs a question. How do Chinese merchants manage to sell things so much cheaper than anyone else? Why is that lovely-looking pork tenderloin selling for $2.59 a pound? According to what logic is that sheaf of plump asparagus going for $1.50, that cantaloupe for a dollar? How is it that a pound of those tiger shrimp is priced at $4?
OK, that last one you might not want to think about too hard, unless combining the words “Chinese” and “aquaculture” doesn’t faze you. For a report on that, you may want to consult a blog devoted to ecological purity. All I can tell you is that they taste just fine, and they’re dirt cheap.
Those last two words apply to just about anything sold within two blocks of this corner, which, with numerous seafood sellers, produce peddlers, butchers and other purveyors, constitutes ground zero for shopping in Sunset Park’s Chinatown.
We could point you to a few spots — the dueling fishmongers S&P Seafood and New Dawang on opposite corners of Eighth Avenue and 58th St.; the meat counter at Wing Sing (5722 Eighth Ave.), where flank steaks in need of grilling run $5 a pound; Dragon Bay Bakery (5711 Eighth Ave.), where few of the impeccably fresh buns, tarts and other treats, both savory and sweet, break the dollar mark. But wander around with your eyes and your shopping bag open and you can’t go too far wrong.
Does it need saying that the bargains extend to local eateries? Try Thanh Da (5624B Eighth Ave.; entrance is on 57th Street), where bahn mi (Vietnamese hoagies) in a half-dozen varieties run $3.75 apiece. Or Lan Zhou Hand Pulled Noodle (5924 Eighth Ave.; entrance is on 60th St.), where bowls of the titular specialty — massaged into toothsome glory by a dough puller with the forearms of an Olympic gymnast, steeped in beef broth and topped with fresh and pickled greens — start at $4.