Mosco Street is one of Chinatown's little secrets. While it lies near the neighborhood's heart (it runs between Mott and Mulberry just north of where the two dead-end into Worth Street and the Bowery), it's an empty-looking passage that's often overlooked. For years I'd heard tales of an amazing, cheap dumpling place on Mosco (Gourmet's Editor, Ruth Reichl, mentioned it), and intended--some day--to find this mysterious, hidden street.
Throughout the late 90s I'd often stop by the Hong Kong Cake lady's stall just off Mott (she disappeared a few years ago, and I hope she's enjoying a happy retirement), but I'd never actually looked up at the street sign above or wandered down the little hill towards the south end of Columbus Park (the former location of Five Points, which Martin Scorsese revisited in Gangs of New York). But finally one day, during one of my wanderings through Chinatown 3 or 4 years ago, I spied a street sign above the abandoned Hong Kong Cake stall: Mosco! Was this truly the street I'd heard about? Had it been right here under my nose for all these years?
I took a right turn, and there it was: Fried Dumpling. A dingy hole-in-the-wall, I stepped through the door to find 3 women making nothing but beautiful pork and leek dumplings: one was sitting at a table with a bucket of the ground pork and leek mixture, making dumplings; another was rolling dough; and a third was cooking and serving customers. These juicy, partially steamed/partially fried gems are 5 for $1, and well worth the trek. You can also buy bags of frozen, uncooked dumplings, but they're just not the same. I'd suggest ordering the already-cooked version to go and reheating them in a skillet.
Right next door to Fried Dumpling is Bangkok Center Grocery. Clean and well-organized, the owner, Premjit Marks, is helpful and friendly. The store carries a variety of Thai ingredients including curries (canned and fresh), noodles, green peppercorns, hot sauces, Kaffir lime leaves, sausages, frozen meats, and fresh herbs, which arrive Wednesdays.
An aside: Scorsese's Gangs of New York is loosely based on part of Herbert Asbury's 1928 book. I actually found its most interesting part to be the chapter on Chinese gangs, which, in their day, ran the show on Doyers, Mott, and Pell Streets. Doyers street, at the height of the gang wars, was called "the bloody angle" because people would hide, then attack as their enemy rounded the corner. Asbury also tells the story of a Chinese comedian who was murdered by a rival gang member. After the comedian's guards thought he was safely in his room for the night, the murderer shimmied down the air shaft, crawled in the window, and killed him.
Fried Dumpling is at 106 Mosco Street. Bangkok Center Grocery is next door, at 104 Mosco.