It’s actually pretty easy to find great Chinese food in New York, but if you’ve already tried the critical darlings, or you want to escape the crowds and the trendy favorites (see: Great NY Noodletown, Xi'an Famous Foods, RedFarm…), check out these hidden gems, all of which have a little less fanfare and fewer Instagram-happy fans.
The 12 best under-the-radar Chinese restaurants in NYC
This place has been an industry favorite over the years, but it rarely gets much attention anymore. That’s good for you, because you don’t have to fight the crowds to get a late-night whole fish feast or a seafood lunch special that’s one of the best (and tastiest) deals in Chinatown.
Lower East Side
Not all authentic Chinese food has to be served from a total hole-in-the-wall, and this Lower East Side restaurant proves the point. Here, you get to experience both a comfortable and cool dining room alongside unique cuisine based on recipes from the Yunnan province. That includes things you can’t find at your run-of-the-mill spots like Spicy Pulled Pork Cold Noodles with chrysanthemum and chili oil, lamb meatballs, and Ma La Chicken Wings with the tingly numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Also: house cocktails! like a Chrysanthemum Daiquiri and Chinese Michelada with Tsingtao, ginger beer, fresh lemon juice, soy, and Sichuan peppercorn.
Smack dab in the middle of hipster fantasyland, this delicious(-despite-being-vegan) restaurant comes through with a sprawling pan-Asian menu. Go with the black pepper seitan with Chinese broccoli, plus the pineapple fried rice and bowls of soba.
While longtime Chinatown dens like Wo Hop, Peking Duck House, and Hop Kee (a Bourdain favorite) grab a lot of the attention, this divey dining room lined with signed dollar bills keeps it just as real. Old-school Chinese-American plates like shrimp chow mein bring back childhood memories and pack all the flavors you're expecting -- especially at 3am. And definitely don’t sleep (get it?) on the snails with black bean sauce or the whole fried fish, which are favorites of Nick Anderer (pictured), the chef behind hot pizza spot of the moment Marta.
Upper East Side
It might not have the elegant atmosphere of other Peking duck restaurants in town like the buzzier (and excellent in its own right) Decoy under RedFarm, but the price is right. You can choose between a whole or half a bird and both come with the standard cucumbers, scallions, and Chinese pancakes. It also has some interesting specials, but you’re best bet is going with the namesake dish.
It’s fitting that Phoenix Garden has a very unhip location in Midtown, because there’s no flash here. It is just taking care of business with a crazy-long and occasionally exotic menu of filling Cantonese eats like fried and stuffed crab claws, lobster in pepper and black bean sauce, Salty Backed Pork Chop, and sliced conch with young chives. And with a BYOB policy, it’s worth braving the rush hour madness.
While Han Dynasty continues to draw huge lines ever since the New York Times gave it a thumbs up, there’s another spicy joint just a few blocks away where you won’t have to wait or contend with Padma Lakshmi lingering at her table for three hours before you can sit (true story). Hot Kitchen delivers all your Szechuan favorites without the huge packs of hungry diners fighting to get in.
With a vintage Tiki bar throwback interior that’s all bamboo and kitsch, plus well-done Chinese-American comfort food like pu pu platters “on the fire” and Yuen Young Hip Steak (chicken breast and steak with Chinese vegetables), if this place was in hipster Brooklyn and new, the lines would be down the block. But here, it’s just families and neighborhood locals out for a Friday feast. Take full advantage of the Tiki drinks like the Tabu For Two that has the amazing description of “a frosty froth of fine rums, lemon, and lime w. liquors”.
We respect the s**t out of a place whose name gets right to the damn point. So if you’ve tried all the trendy favorites for dumplings and hand-pulled noodles, maybe it’s time for a trip to Bensonhurst for HPN&DH's noodles loaded with everything from spare rib, to lamb, to beef tendon.
It’s a known fact that Flushing is an eating paradise with shiny malls, dim sum palaces, and everything in between. One place, though, stands out just based on the fact that it doesn’t always get the big press. Fu Run is serving up delicious Northern Chinese specialties that you probably haven’t tasted ever before, but should. Great example? Muslim Lamb Chops. Boosh.
Way down past the Manhattan Bridge is a tofu factory (always a good sign of an under-the-radar joint) that also dishes up freshly made rice noodle rolls out of a tiny window. It might not be everyone’s idea of a sophisticated lunch, but for a buck and a half, we dare you to do better when it comes to flavor-versus-price ratio.
You could go to Flushing every time you’re headed for Chinese food in Queens, but then you'd totally miss out on East Ocean Palace -- a Forest Hills joint where they’re rolling out classic dim sum on the weekends and plates like yin yang fried rice and country-style salt-baked half chicken. The tables are huge, and the more people you bring, the more dishes you can try.
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1. Fuleen Seafood Restaurant11 Division St, New York
2. Yunnan Kitchen79 Clinton St, New York
3. Wild Ginger212 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
4. 69 Chinese Restaurant69 Bayard St, New York
5. Chef Ho's Peking Duck Grill1720 Second Avenue, New York
6. Phoenix Garden242 E 40th St, New York
7. Hot Kitchen104 2nd Ave, New York
8. King Yum18108 Union Tpke, Fresh Meadows
9. Hand Pull Noodle & Dumpling House7201 18th Ave, Brooklyn
10. Fu Run40-09 Prince St, New York
11. Sun Hing Lung Co.58 Henry St, New York
12. East Ocean Palace11315 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills
This place has been an industry favorite over the years, but it rarely gets much attention. That’s good for you, because you don’t have to fight the crowds to get a late-night whole fish feast or a seafood lunch special that’s one of the best (and tastiest) deals in Chinatown.
Highlighting the flavors of China's most "fertile" province, Yunnan Kitchen uses a "light-handed" approach to reproduce its namesake region's diverse fare, creating bite-size morsels contrasting deftly cooked meats with oft-raw produce, and dishing 'em out to a specially designed communal table surrounded by a collector's den's worth of artifacts: a hanging 19th-century tiger rug, loads of teapots, and, from Beijing, a "Lucky Cat" so... it's a dog?
Smack dab in the middle of hipster fantasyland, this delicious vegan restaurant comes through with a sprawling pan-Asian menu. Go with the black pepper seitan with Chinese broccoli among other goods like the pineapple fried rice and bowls of soba.
This divey dining room lined with signed dollar bills keeps it real with old-school Chinese-American plates like shrimp chow mein, bringing back childhood memories and packing all the flavors you're expecting -- especially at 3am.
This UES institution specializes in solid Chinese fare and most importantly, affordable (and good) Peking duck. You can choose between a whole or half a bird, both of which come with the standard cucumbers, scallions, and Chinese pancakes. The restaurant falls somewhere between elegant and shabby -- basically, it's just a great neighborhood spot.
Phoenix Garden is an under-the-radar Chinese restaurant in Murray Hill with a crazy-long menu of Cantonese eats like fried and stuffed crab claws, lobster in pepper and black bean sauce, and sliced conch with young chives. All the familiar stuff -- sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, and lo mein -- is there too. With a BYOB policy and no-corkage fee, PG is one of the best deals in Murray Hill. Heads up: it’s cash-only.
Hot Kitchen in the East Village delivers all your Szechuan favorites without the huge packs of hungry diners fighting to get in.
King Yum in Fresh Meadows is probably the only Chinese restaurant in New York whose interior is decked out like a vintage Tiki bar. Seriously. The neighborhood spot is filled with families feasting on Cantonese-American comfort food and thematic specialities like Chicken Hawaii (deep-fried chicken with pineapple, lichee, and flaming rum sauce) amid bamboo huts. Of course, a meal at King Yum isn't complete without a Tiki cocktail (Mai Tais! Pina Coladas! Frozen Diaquiris!).
As the name suggests, this Bensonhurst Chinese offers ridiculously good hand-pulled noodles topped with everything from pork bone and lamb to beef tendon and spare rib, and steamed or fried dumplings. The prices are more than reasonable, and nothing on the menu is more than $10. The spot is pretty bare bones and though delivery is available, you should definitely eat there because after all, dumplings are best consumed when piping hot.
This Flushing spot specializes in northern Chinese delicacies from Dongbei, which means spicy and over-the-top dishes that you won't find anywhere else in the city and probably haven't tasted before. Take the Muslim lamb chop, a fall-off-the-bone tender chunk of meat generously seasoned with cumin, chiles, and cloves. Fu Run's no-frills and basic exterior means it often gets overshadowed by Flushing's surrounding malls and dim sum palaces, but that's all the more reason to eat at this untapped gem.
At Sun Hing Lung Co., you can expect some of the best rice noodle rolls in Chinatown. Order through the small take-out window, and make sure you ask for some egg thrown in!
This Forest Hills Chinese serves mindblowingly good dim sum and a laundry list of authentic Cantonese fare. The dim sum carts feature greatest hits and more unfamiliar plates, so your best bet is to fill one of the huge tables with your 20 closest friends and try as many dishes as possible.