Photo: Zach Dilgard
Awkwafina is Nora from Queens—and not just on TV. Before her Golden Globe win and viral rap career, the multihyphenate was simply Nora Lum, born and raised in the borough’s Forest Hills neighborhood. Now the NYC native is telling her story (or something close to it) by starring as Nora Lin in a new Comedy Central series, officially titled Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens.
In between its raunchy jokes and jabs at millennials, the show can be read as a love letter to Awkwafina’s hometown. Each episode includes City-centric Easter eggs (like a sign for Lum’s, Awkwafina’s great-grandfather’s former restaurant in Flushing), as well as scenes shot in real New York City locations. For a roundup of the latter—and a sprinkling of the former—check out our guide below. (Fair warning: brace yourself for mild spoilers).
The Unisphere. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV
During the show’s animated opening credits, you can spy various Queens landmarks—including this one, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Keep your eyes peeled for illustrations of the 7 train, street signs from intersections in Forest Hills and more NYC spots that pop up in scene transitions throughout the series.
Union Pool. Photo: Marley White
Catch a glimpse of this Williamsburg watering hole in the pilot episode. It’s the bar where Nora meets up with her friend and soon-to-be roommate, Chenise.
Later on in the same episode, Nora’s failure to launch becomes increasingly apparent while her family has dinner with her cousin, Tesla-driving Edmund (played by Bowen Yang), at this Cantonese restaurant on Chrystie Street.
Deno's Wonder Wheel. Photo: Julienne Schaer
Episode 2 may be titled “Atlantic City,” but it still features a couple of New York City locations. When Nora strolls down the boardwalk in what’s supposed to be AC, viewers can catch a brief glimpse of Deno’s Wonder Wheel and spy the sign for Paul’s Daughter, a classic Coney Island concession stand—telltale signs that she’s actually at Brooklyn’s own longstanding boardwalk.
Courtesy, Queens Center Mall
While Nora’s running into—or running after—old friends on the boardwalk, her grandma (played by Lori Tan Chinn) is fighting over seating (and limited electrical outlets) at the casino food court, which is actually the interior of this mall in Elmhurst.
Chinatown. Photo: Brittany Petronella
In episode 3, “Savage Valley,” Nora lands a job at Golden Prosperity Real Estate. On her way to work, she can be seen walking down East Broadway and Catherine Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown. If you decide to follow in Nora’s footsteps, check out the no-frills Mei Yu Spring restaurant just next door to the (not real) real estate office’s exterior.
On the way to spring her flame-emblazoned ride from “car jail” in episode 4 (“Paperwork”), Nora passes by this tribute to the Ramones in Forest Hills. You can see the mural for yourself on 71st Avenue, under the LIRR overpass.
At the end of episode 4, Nora decides to spend her shiny new paycheck on dinner with her grandma at this Flushing restaurant, where they enjoy beef noodles (which, Grandma proudly asserts, predate spaghetti).
While this popular Korean grocery store (with numerous locations in Queens and Manhattan) wasn’t used as a filming location, it does get several shout-outs in the show. Back in the pilot episode, Nora’s grandma accuses her of being a hoarder, citing several H Mart shopping baskets strewn around Nora’s messy room. Later in the season, during episode 7, “Grandma Loves Nora,” Nora gets jealous of her cousin Edmund spending time with their grandma after he takes her to H Mart and buys her a $500 rice cooker. (Based on this interview with Awkwafina, the gift speaks to the show’s autobiographical nature.)
New York Chinese Scholar's Garden. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV
Episode 8, “Grandma and Chill,” takes a break from Nora’s antics—and changes its form to a Korean soap opera—to tell the story of Nora’s grandma meeting her grandpa and coming to New York City. The story begins in rural China but was filmed at this garden in Snug Harbor on Staten Island. It was designed to mimic Chinese architecture, and does so convincingly on the show.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo: David Heald
The same episode treats viewers to montages of historic photographs of these and many more NYC locations as Nora’s grandma explores her new home in the City.
In episode 9, “Launch Party,” Nora and Edmund head to this Queens club not to party but to meet up with Jerry Harrison, the “messiah for millennial tech-based marketing.”
Jekyll & Hyde Club. Photo: Alexander Thompson
Meanwhile, Nora’s dad (BD Wong) dips his toes in the dating pond—choosing this atypical date spot to take Brenda out for a spooky dinner.
Nora, Edmund and Jerry attempt to host the launch party for their new app in this expansive Queens park. Unfortunately, it’s a disaster on par with the Fyre Festival.
The 10th and final episode of the season, “China,” sends Nora to an Irish pub all the way in Beijing (another touch of autobiography), but you don’t have to leave the City to see where it was shot. Hop on the subway to Manhattan’s Washington Heights to visit Coogan’s—the stand-in for Beijing’s real expat bar, Paddy O’Shea’s.
New episodes of Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens air Wednesdays at 10:30pm ET on Comedy Central.