In this ever-polarizing world, there's at least one pole we can all agree on, and that pole is dim sum. From shumai served alongside a potent cocktail to rice noodle rolls that come with easy-access to a slot machine down the hall, here's a breakdown of NYC's best dim sum.
Best dim sum parlor with Pac-Man dumplings:
RedFarm West Village
You can’t say you've really experienced the New New York dining scene without sampling some the mind-blowing Pac-Man dumplings at RedFarm, where they're elevating Chinese eats to new, tastier heights (and prices). Oh, and the Katz’s Pastrami Egg Rolls? They're as good as they sound.
Best dim sum joint for an old-school Chinatown meal:
Located on one of the coolest streets in Manhattan (sorry, 3rd Ave!), this classic tea parlor has been serving dim sum since way back in 1920. Under new ownership in recent years, the place has kept the fabulous retro look, but way more importantly, upped the food game considerably.
Chaotic & classic Chinatown dim sum experience (with a bonus Champagne cart):
Jing Fong Chinatown
Grab a number, count to a million (sorry dude, there's gonna be a wait), then prepare to ascend the magical escalators to weekend dim sum glory in a sprawling dining room with a roving Champagne cart.
Best new-school dim sum:
Dim Sum Go Go Chinatown
Join the crowds digging into the huge list of dumplings that trend on the eclectic side (think fillings like bamboo), plus other creative snacks like Go Go hamburgers in steamed buns. Bonus: there are also lots of veggie options that you wouldn’t find at the dim sum dining room down the street.
Best dim sum for veg-heads:
Vegetarian Dim Sum House Chinatown
Speaking of people who only eat veggies, this is your new dim sum home. It may look like meat, smell like meat, or even taste (almost) like meat, but trust us, that “mock duck” is either tempeh, tofu, or wheat gluten… probably.
Best dim sum with a happy hour:
Red Egg Chinatown
Sure, dim sum for breakfast is always a good idea, but how about some dumplings with a side of a few cocktails after a day at the office? Red Egg does it right with 50% off the dim sum menu, PLUS wine and drinks during happy hour.
Best dim sum to bring visitors to:
Golden Unicorn Chinatown
During the Summer on weekdays, you’ll probably see a bus pull up with a few hundred European tourists tucked inside. Don’t let this stop you, because the food is still good, and just about every place is going to be crowded anyway. The carts are quick to come by, and the steamer baskets are piled high. Go hungry.
Best dim sum parlor in a mall (that doubles as a nightclub):
88 Palace Chinatown
First, you have to find it. Head under the Manhattan Bridge, look for the entrance to a small, indoor mall, and climb to the second floor. Now you’re ready for either a chill dim sum meal, a dance party with one of the hottest DJs around, or... both???
Best dim sum to blow your cash on:
Hakkasan Midtown West
If you’ve got an expense account and like your dim sum less bustling and a little more refined, ditch the rolling carts. Instead, head to this Midtown spot where they're serving modern, fine-dining takes on the Downtown fare, including scallop shumai, a king crab noodle roll, or a truffle & roast duck bun. Maybe suggest this to your boss.
When you have a late-night dim sum craving in Midtown:
Lychee House Midtown West
Dim Sum is mostly a daytime affair, which makes finding a nighttime spot a challenge. Yes, life in 2014 NYC is rough. Thankfully, Lychee House in Midtown will hook you up with their menu as late as 10:30pm, every night of the week.
Best dim sum in a food court:
Diverse Dim Sum Flushing
You won’t find a Cinnabon at this Asian food court, but you will find non-Cinnabons at one of the only dim sum joints where you order at the counter. The menu is short and sweet (ironic name, then?), but just know that the soup dumplings are the go-to here.
Best dim sum in a casino and/or race track:
Genting Palace Jamaica
Ever dream of watching a bunch of horses race while munching on rice noodle rolls? Neither have we, but we kind of wish we had been, so we could've found this dim sum “palace” inside Resorts World Casino in Queens sooner. Oh, and instead of sticking around for dessert, try your luck on the slots after lunch.
Best dim sum worth the trip:
Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant Flushing
Join the masses on Saturday and Sunday mornings for delicious plates of steamed ribs, chicken feet, and tofu skin rolls. The prices can add up a little faster here, but since this is the best dim sum in a really strong culinary 'hood, you probably won’t really care.
Best dim sum worth the trip, part II:
East Harbor Seafood Sunset Park
This part of the city is booming with dim sum joints these days, but we’re still about this gigantic spot for a weekend jaunt. Bring at least one million friends for an over-the-top feast at a spot that gets bonus points for earning the respect of TV food guy Anthony Bourdain.
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1. Nom Wah Tea Parlor13 Doyers St, New York
2. Jing Fong Restaurant20 Elizabeth St, New York
3. Dim Sum Go Go5 E Broadway, New York
4. Vegetarian Dim Sum House24 Pell St, New York
5. Red Egg202 Centre St, New York
6. RedFarm529 Hudson St, New York
7. Diverse Dim Sum133-31 39th Ave, Flushing
8. Genting Palace11000 Rockaway Blvd, South Ozone Park
9. Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant13330 39th Ave, Flushing
10. Golden Unicorn18 E Broadway, New York
11. 88 Palace88 E Broadway, New York
12. Hakkasan New York311 W 43rd St, New York
13. Lychee House141 E 55th St, New York
14. East Harbor Seafood Palace714 65th Street, Brooklyn
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Nom Wah has been around in some form since 1920. It's been a bakery, kitchen, and now it's a dim sum specialist and tea house. Today, it still maintains its vintage looks and if you want to taste their claim to fame, order the fried sesame balls with lotus paste and the almond cookie.
As one of New York's largest traditional Cantonese restaurants (it has more than 120 tables), Jing Fong has offered upwards of 100 varieties of dim sum and other traditional Chinese dishes for more than 30 years. Grab a number, count to a million (there's gonna be a wait), then prepare to ascend the magical escalators to weekend dim sum glory in a sprawling dining room.
Join the global crowds digging into the huge list of dumplings that trend on the eclectic side (think fillings like bamboo) and other creative snacks like Go Go Hamburgers in steamed buns at this Chinatown spot. They also feature lots of veggie options for those averse to meat.
If you need some pork in your bun, don’t even think about coming to this Chinatown spot. But if you’re not into eating animals, this is your new dim sum home. It may look like meat, smell like meat, or even taste (almost) like meat, but trust us, that “mock duck” is probably tempeh, tofu, or wheat gluten.
From a dude whose Father's been opening up notable NYC Asian ventures for more than 30 years (including Shun Lee Palace), this one-time Peruvian/Chinese joint's been re-conceptualized as an upscale dim sum-ery by day and "sleek lounge-like hideaway" by night.
This brick-walled West Village eatery serves up modern iterations on dim sum in a lively and trendy rustic setting. Snag a seat at a communal table and snack on quirky comestibles like egg rolls made with Katz's pastrami and shrimp-stuffed jalapeño poppers. Mains are hearty and run the gamut from cold noodles to fried rice dishes. For the most part, seasonal ingredients set the course of the menu, which changes regularly.
This Asian food court has one of the only dim sum joints where you order at the counter -- not a cart. The menu is short and sweet (ironic name?), but take note that the soup dumplings are the go to here.
This dim sum is inside Resorts World Casino in Queens is the perfect place to eat rice noodle rolls while watching horse races.
There are countless great options for dim sum in Chinatown, but the absolute best dim sum will always been in Queens -- particularly at Asian Jewels, which consistently offers authentic, fresh food and ridiculously fast cart service. Classic dim sum favorites are all here -- har gau, pork buns, spare ribs, and chicken feet -- alongside larger mains (beef, chicken, seafood, and noodle dishes). Saturday and Sundays attract the masses, so come as early as possible.
Golden Unicorn is a bustling two-storied Cantonese mainstay offering dim sum via attentive, fast-moving cart service. The uniformed service and dragon/phoenix decor add to the old-fashioned dim sum dining experience. You'd be remiss not to try the Darien pastry -- it’s uncommon in Americanized spots, and GU does it very well.
This Chinatown dim sum-ery might be tough to find, but after you uncover it under the Manhattan Bridge on the second floor of a small mall, you’re ready for either a chill dim sum meal, a dance party with one of the hottest DJs around, or... both!
Dim sum takes a turn for the swanky at this clubby Chinese in Hell's Kitchen whose flagship is in London. Hakkasan has several locations worldwide and no wonder -- the modern Cantonese fare is pretty amazing. The dim sum rocks and since it's not of the rolling cart variety, there's no need to beat the weekend brunch rush to get the freshest picks.
Finding a dim sum spot that'll serve you at night is a challenge. Luckily, Lychee House in Midtown will hook you up with their menu as late as 10:30pm, every night of the week.
Sunset Park is booming with dim sum joints, but East Harbor Seafood is probably the best. The gigantic spot offers destination-worthy Cantonese dim sum like flour dumplings stuffed with pork, peanuts, and mushrooms, and fried bean curd vegetable rolls. The place is typically packed on weekends at peak brunch time, and though a 30-minute wait is almost guaranteed, the thrill of making a game-time decision when the carts speed by is worth the wait.