The Best Places to Eat Dumplings in Chinatown and Across NYC
Foster wealth and good fortune in the Lunar New Year and Year of the Tiger.
Lunar New Year is typically a bustling time for the many enclaves of Chinese communities across NYC. From downtown Manhattan’s Chinatown to Sunset Park in Brooklyn or Flushing in Queens, especially before COVID-19, their streets would traditionally burst with lion dancers and revelers ushering in a fresh start for the holiday.
However, since the pandemic, many Chinese restaurants across the city continue to struggle because of COVID-19 and continued anti-Asian sentiments. So with the Year of the Tiger just around the corner, it’s a great time to support culinary institutions in Chinatown and beyond to pick up one of the holiday’s most celebratory foods: dumplings.
"Dumplings signify good fortune and wealth for the new year as they are shaped like little purses,” says chef Anita Lo, the cookbook author and award-winning force behind the now closed Annisa. “We all could use a little luck this Lunar New Year, so why not consume a plate?” For home cooks looking for tips from Lo, tickets to her virtual step-by-step demo of her pork, shrimp, and chive dumplings on 100 Pleats on January 27 are still available.
But for New Yorkers craving the skills of professionals, consider a trip to these 13 establishments in Chinatown, or one of its Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens counterparts, instead. “Chinatown businesses have been hurt particularly badly in the pandemic,” says Lo, “so do go to the experts if you’re not going to make your own."
After the closure of its original Elizabeth Street location last March (which brought heartache to many New Yorkers), this past December saw Jing Fong’s triumphant return to Chinatown with the debut of their new Centre Street restaurant. Now, diners can once again eat at what’s often been heralded as one of NYC’s ultimate dim sum experiences for Cantonese-style favorites on roving carts. Siu mai, har gow, spare ribs, BBQ roast pork buns, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, fried turnip cakes, and more are just a few of the signature items to help get festive for the new year.
This contemporary destination for Northern Chinese cuisine offers much glamour in a gorgeous Midtown space with multiple floors/dining areas, a brightly lit hallway stacked with champagne, and an art deco aesthetic. Along with signature dishes like its Flaming Duck and Wagyu Beef Millefeuille, a dedicated menu section of dim sum items include Rose Champagne Shrimp Dumplings and Crystal Lobster Dumplings. And with plenty of large banquettes, make a special night out of your visit alongside your family or crew.
The Instagram crowd flocks to the Cheng sisters’ shops for their monthly specials, but menu mainstays are the reason to add them to your dumpling rotation. The original Mimi Cheng’s, named after Hannah and Marian’s mom and opened in 2014, was inspired by the matriarch’s signature zucchini and chicken filling, while the Mighty Veggie is a satisfying meat-free alternative. With three locations in the East Village, Nolita, and Upper West Side, all of their dumplings use locally-sourced ingredients from purveyor’s such as Pat La Frieda, Pino's Butcher Shop, and Satur Farms.
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao 南翔小籠包
Originally opened in 2006, this soup-dumpling heavyweight in Queens reopened at its current location in 2019 with both an expanded dining room and menu. In addition to Northern Chinese cuisine, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang fare, Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao offers 11 varieties of xiao long bao to choose from—including a multicolored Lucky Six sampler and luxe add-ins like scallop or truffle—but the tried-and-true signature is the way to go for XLB purists. Frozen dumplings in packs of up to 50 are also available.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Established in 1920 and now helmed by first generation New Yorker, Wilson Tang, Manhattan’s oldest dim sum parlor now has locations across Manhattan in addition to Philadelphia and Shenzhen. Expect all of the classics (siu mai, har gow, xiao long bao) but their Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings are the real knockout. The open-faced beauties hold plump fresh shrimp and greens in translucent, nearly melt-in-your-mouth wrappers. Packages of Nom Wah’s frozen dumplings are also available for local delivery and nationwide shipping.
Shanghai Asian Cuisine • 上海小館
Before opening their new Centre Street restaurant in December, regulars of the former Jing Fong location have likely breezed right by hole-in-the-wall spot Shanghai Asian Cuisine. Here, the soup-dumpling specialists do their hometown proud with delicate, thin-skinned xiao long bao filled with pork by itself, or together with crab or scented with truffles. Though not traditional by any means, their take on Sichuan wontons pack a spicy, slightly sweet kick for dumpling eaters who like a bit of heat.
Shanghai You Garden
Whether pan-fried pork buns (sheng jian bao) are considered a dumpling may be up for debate, but there’s no denying that Shanghai You Garden’s crispy-bottomed parcels are a standout. With a second location in Bayside, the soup dumplings at this Queens restaurant are also excellent and come filled with pork alone or pork paired with crab, shrimp, or squash. Frozen dim sum can be purchased for local delivery to Manhattan, New Jersey, Long Island, and upstate by emailing: email@example.com.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine
Fans of Shu Jiao Fu Zhou were thrilled to see the popular Fujianese restaurant—a favorite amongst the city’s large immigrant community from China’’s southeastern Fujian province—recently reopen in a new space on 295 Grand Street. Here, devout regulars line up to pick up its signature Peanut Noodles and boiled Pork & Chive Dumplings. A pork and cabbage variety is also available and frozen bags of both flavors are available to take home for stashing in freezers.
New Yorkers once packed this pint-sized restaurant—which specializes in cuisine from China’s central Henan province—for its heaping Big Tray of Chicken noodle dish, but diners shouldn’t sleep on Spicy Village’s Homemade Steamed Pork Dumplings. They’re drenched in a spicy scallion sauce and finished with a generous sprinkling of fresh cilantro and chopped scallions. While you’re at it, try the soup dumplings, too.
True to its name, the potstickers at this Mulberry Street dumpling house are some of the tastiest—and at less than two bucks a pop, possibly cheapest in NYC. Served five to an order in plastic clamshells, the options come with different fillings, but the first menu combo of chives and pork is by far the most popular. The dumplings are Beijing-style, which means the skins are on the thicker side and hold up beautifully to both pan-frying and boiling.
White Bear 白熊
Located at the last stop of the 7 Train and perhaps Queens’ most talked about dumplings, these floppy wontons deserve all the praise and then some. The silky pork-stuffed parcels are excellent on their own, but reach a whole new level of greatness when smothered in house-made chili oil, pickled vegetables, and fresh scallions. For White Bear newbies, the menu item to know is the Number 6: A dozen pork wontons with pickled veggies and a spice rub, all topped by a drizzling of chili oil.
Xi’an Famous Foods
Founded by Xi’an native David Shi and now run in partnership with his son, Jason Wang, Xi’an Famous Food has locations across Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. The eatery might be best known for its hand-pulled noodles, but its two dumplings—one lamb, one spinach—deserve just as much of the spotlight. Jam packed with chopped spinach and bouncy vermicelli, the vegetarian option has a slight edge. The hefty bright green bundles arrive in a bowl of vinegar-spiked chili oil that brings just the right amount of heat to the entire affair.
Yun Nan Flavour Garden
Noodles may get top billing here, but the dumpling soup is no quiet sidekick at this restaurant operated by immigrants from China’s Yunnan, known for incorporating the spice and herbal flavors from neighboring Southeast Asia. At this Brooklyn spot, with plump pork wontons submerged in a spicy, tangy broth that’s a trademark of the province, the bowl nearly upstages leading actors like the restaurant’s signature crossing bridge noodles and chilled rice noodles.