By Jay Lloyd

NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBS) — Sometimes the best laid getaway dinner plans go awry.  My family learned the hard way while trying to follow a Christmas “tradition.”

Last Christmas, finding myself and the whole clan in New York City, Chinatown was the ticket for dinner!

(I know, I’ve heard all the gags before about the traditional Christmas dinner for a Jewish family: a Chinese restaurant.)

Our #2 daughter set out to make the reservations. No luck on the first five tries.  But a favorite, Congee Village on Allen Street, amazingly booked us!

Now this is a place with a menu so long that you can paper the Great Wall with it.

Arriving on time, the restaurant was packed to overflowing. A horde was outside waiting to get in, and the bar was four deep.  So much for reservations.  Alas, our Chinese craving would not be satisfied that night.

But the nearby Pink Pony, a hip French eatery (top photo), was open to walk-ins, and the short ribs made up for the disappointment of the missing Cantonese.

(Jay Lloyd enjoying the chow mein at Wo Hop, in New York's Chinatown.  Don't try this on Christmas Day.)

(Jay Lloyd enjoying the chow mein at Wo Hop, in New York’s Chinatown. Don’t try this on Christmas Day.  Photo by Mary Lloyd)

So, forget tradition. If you want Chinese food in New York, pick any night other than Christmas.   If you crave the Americanized Asian flavors of a past century, try Wo Hop on Mott Street: chow mein as we knew it.

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