Even before NYC went into lockdown in March, when restaurants were forced to close their doors and pivot to takeout/delivery only, Chinatown had been feeling the impact of COVID-19 from as early as January. Although NYC had no reported cases at that point, both fear of the virus and anti-Asian sentiment lead to a devastating drop in foot traffic and business, with some local restaurants experiencing a 70% decrease of sales by mid-February.
Chinatown has been fighting to regain a sense of normalcy since then, and recent initiatives like DineOut NYC by New York-based design and architecture firm, Rockwell Group, are providing much needed support to accomplish that. The program first launched in Harlem and at no cost to restaurants, provides outdoor dining spaces that adhere to social distancing and health guidelines. Rockwell Group recently debuted a community dining area on Chinatown’s Mott Street, servicing restaurants like Wo Hop, Ping’s Seafood, Hop Kee, and Peking Duck House.
According to cookbook author and culinary historian, Grace Young, the need to open our wallets and show Chinatown support is urgent. “I see street life returning, but with tourism gone, a few outdoor tables can’t possibly produce the necessary income to survive,” she told us recently. Concerned about the state of outdoor dining when cold weather returns, “we can’t -- and must not -- wait to find out. Chinatown needs our help now,” she says.
In addition to being a neighborhood advocate and educating people through her video series documenting Chinatown’s shutdown, Young orders takeout from local restaurants as often as possible. “If the hemorrhaging continues,” says Young, “we will lose the heart and soul of Chinatown, one of Manhattan’s most beloved dining destinations.”
And while there are hundreds to choose from, we recommend showing your support for Chinatown by starting with these 22 favorite restaurants.
Devoted fans of this dumpling and noodle spot could barely handle the news when its East Broadway location closed and moved to the Bowery years ago. And now with the recent announcement that its Bowery location would be permanently shuttering, it’s time to start stockpiling frozen bags of their dumplings. On the (very-dim) bright side, the August 15 closing date has been pushed back, with no new date confirmed, so grab your mask and tote bag and get to hoarding dumplings while you can. What to order: Dumplings How to order: Storefront, call 646-683-0939 to reserve frozen dumplings and bring an ice pack for its transport home
At the recently reopened Hwa Yuan, Chef Chen Lieh Tang continues the legacy of his legendary father, chef Shorty Tang, who gained acclaim for his cold sesame noodles. The menu focuses on a cuisine style that’s “Szechuan with a twist!” and looks to delight with non-spicy dishes (although there’s still plenty of spicy options to choose from), since according to their website, spicy Szechuan food is primarily enjoyed “during ceremonies, holidays, or events.” On Resy, book a table in their outdoor seating with the option of two pre-set menus; a vegetarian and another with beef and chicken, but with both including their famous cold sesame noodles. What to order: Cold Sesame Noodles, Peking Duck, Shrimp with Chili Pepper How to order: Outdoor seating available, book via Resy, takeout/delivery via DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless
While you might miss heading down that flight of stairs with red tiles off the sidewalk on Mott St. to the basement location of Wo Hop, fret not because the Cantonese restaurant’s menu is now available through outdoor dining. Owned and operated by the same family since 1938, this NYC institution has a loyal clientele of both New Yorkers and out-of-towners. What to order: Chow Mai Fun, Fried Rice, Clams with Black Bean Sauce How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-962-8617 for takeout
Opened during the pandemic, Pink Lady Cheese Tart specializes in a sweet and fluffy style of baked cheese tart that’s become popular in Japan. Three staple flavors -- original cheese, matcha cheese, and chocolate cheese -- can be purchased individually or if you go for ten, they’ll throw in an extra two for free. A new flavor was also recently added to the menu: chocolate cheese with strawberry filling, and drink options include yogurt smoothies in red bean, oatmeal, purple rice, peach, raspberry, and more. What to order: Original Cheese, Chocolate Cheese, and Matcha Cheese Tarts How to order: Outdoor seating available
Remember that joyous feeling of knowing you’re moments away from being seated as you ascend Jing Fong’s escalators with ticket in hand? Well those glory days can be relived once again, but just al fresco and at street level on their sidewalk. What can be considered as one of Manhattan’s ultimate dim sum experiences has reopened with outdoor seating and all of your Cantonese-style familiar favorites (sans the roving carts). Siu mai, har gow, spare ribs, BBQ roast pork buns, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, fried turnip cakes, and the rest of your go-to’s beckon for your return. What to order: Dim Sum, Chinese Broccoli with Fresh Garlic, Ginger & Scallion Lobster with Stir-Fried Sticky Rice How to order: Outdoor seating available, takeout/delivery via Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless
Chef Sam Yoo’s Golden Diner is one of the best versions of a modern diner that Manhattan has seen in quite a while, with a unique Asian twist. The menu at this former James Beard Award semifinalist includes what might become your new classic favorites like The Chinatown egg & cheese sando, matzoh ball soup, Korean fried chicken wings, and a cheeseburger with mushroom gochujang aioli. And save the honey butter pancakes with whipped honey butter and lemon zest for dessert. What to order: Chicken Katsu Club, Golden Cheeseburger, Honey Butter Pancakes How to order: Outdoor seating available, book via Resy, takeout/delivery via website
Open since 1968, Hop Kee is another neighborhood institution that serves Cantonese dishes to the comfort and nostalgia of many. Similar to what their well-known dishes like crab Cantonese style do for the palate, their wait staff who have been offering a friendly face for 15-20 years does for the heart. What to order: Crabs Cantonese Style, Snails Cantonese Style, Pork Chop How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-964-8365 for takeout
This family-owned shop has been scooping up homemade ice cream since 1978 and was recently visited by Mayor Bill de Blasio. With locations now in the Lower East Side and Flushing, the second generation purveyors of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory have made it easier to enjoy its core flavors like ginger, lychee, pandan, and more, in addition to a rotation of special appearances like cherry pistachio, jelly doughnut, and banana fudge. What to order: Black Sesame, Don Tot, Taro/Ube How to order: Storefront
Open since 1978, Peking Duck House is the OG master of Peking duck, a much celebrated Beijing specialty that’s prepared with a crispy skin and thinly sliced to be rolled in a wrap with a special sauce and cucumbers for crunch. At this Mott St. destination, enjoy it in a group setting through special set menus or order it a la carte along with other items that include seafood, lamb, chicken, pork, and more. What to order: Peking Duck How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-227-1810 for takeout
This popular restaurant on Mott St. has been open since 1998 and offers a Hong Kong dining experience in Downtown Manhattan. House BBQ roast pork with a honey glaze, crispy soft shell crab, abalone with homemade oyster sauce, and prawns & scallops in garlic sauce are just a few of the dishes to enjoy with a bottle of Dom Perignon (no questions asked). What to order: Dim Sum, House BBQ Roast Pork, Lobster with Black Bean Sauce How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-602-9988 for takeout/delivery or via Grubhub, Uber Eats
A single location in the basement of a Flushing mall launched the Xi’an Famous Foods empire, which now has reopened locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. Taste the flavors of Xi’an, the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi’s capital city, in signature dishes like cold-skin noodles, spicy cucumber salad, spicy & sour spinach dumplings, and spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles in soup, many of which are favorites among New Yorkers of all appetites. What to order: Cold-Skin Noodles, Spicy Lamb Burger, Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles in Soup How to order: Takeout only via storefront or website
On the corner of Bowery and Bayard, the green, yellow, and red awning of Great N.Y. Noodletown is an iconic, memory-triggering sight. NY Noodletown has been a neighborhood stalwart since 1981, serving Cantonese food with a wide ranging menu that includes noodle soups, seafood, roast meats, fried rice, Cantonese-style wide noodles, rice plates, and much more. Soft shell crabs are also back in season. What to order: Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup, Roast Duck, Soft Shell Crab How to order: Storefront or call 212-349-0923
As “the first dim sum parlor” in NYC that dates back to 1920, Nom Wah on Doyers Street regularly draws big crowds for its traditional offerings like their “O.G.” egg roll -- which actually contains egg (in crepe form layered with the crispy skin). Frozen dumplings and meal kits are also now available, and be on the lookout for their upcoming cookbook with recipes and a detailed history of this iconic locale. What to order: Dim Sum, O.G. Egg Roll, Pan-Fried Noodle in Superior Soy Sauce How to order: Outdoor seating available, takeout/delivery via website, Caviar
A newish addition to the neighborhood, this former James Beard Award semifinalist and fast-casual cafe serves up dishes with Chinese and Malay flavors inspired by family recipes. There’s plenty of small plates, mains, plus drinks and snacks -- both sweet and savory -- to choose from. Thick-cut kaya toast with pandan coconut jam, nasi lemak (the national dish of Malaysia), honeycomb cake, and bandung with condensed milk and rose cordial syrup are just a few. What to order: Chilled Spicy Sesame Noodles, Fish Ball Soup, Criss Cross ‘Shrooms How to order: Outdoor seating available or delivery via Grubhub
Located inside Canal Street Market, the Chinatown outpost of this Flushing favorite specializes in Cantonese-style rice noodles that are made with freshly-ground rice from a stone mill before being cooked in a steamer with different ingredients. Choose from the popular Joe’s Signature with beef, pork, dried shrimp, bean sprouts, and egg; the Shrimp Party! with shrimp, dried shrimp, bean sprouts and egg; separate options for beef, pork, or shrimp; and additional items like savory crepes or curry fish balls. What to order: Joe’s Signature, Joe’s Crepe How to order: Storefront, call 718-878-0828 for takeout
Long lines of customers hungry for Wah Fung No. 1’s roasted meats can still be found waiting at this popular takeout spot -- but just six feet apart. Don’t worry, though, because the line moves fast, as their succinct menu includes duck, pork, or chicken over rice. The quality and portions are a true value for its price, where a small order of the roast duck only costs $5.50. After you’ve gotten your food, head to Chrystie Street to enjoy your fare on a bench at Sarah D. Roosevelt park. What to order: Roast Duck Over Rice, Roast Pork Over Rice How to order: Storefront
Open since 1989, Bánh Mì Saigon Bakery’s concise menu gets straight to the point with all of the Vietnamese offerings you could ever want. Choose from 13 bánh mì selections including BBQ pork, grilled chicken, ham & pate, and a sauteed shrimp with lemongrass and onion. Each is served with mayo, daikon, pickled carrot, cilantro, cucumber, and hot peppers on a toasted baguette and make for delicious and portable eating anywhere. A selection of the proteins are also available over vermicelli noodles. What to order: #1: Banh Mi Saigon, #2: Banh Mi Ga Nuong How to order: Storefront, call 212-941-1541 for takeout/delivery
Wu’s Wonton King is a reliable spot for any occasion or degree of hunger. Looking for a great lunch special menu? They got you. In the mood for some wontons, sesame chicken, suckling pig, jumbo shrimp with walnuts in mayo sauce, or ginger scallion lobster? They also got you. As a favorite among many New York chefs and food professionals, this East Broadway restaurant is also popular for group dining with its communal-size bowls of wonton soup. What to order: New York No. 1 Wonton, Garlic Aromatic Crispy Chicken, House Special Dungeness Crab How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-477-1111 for takeout
Taiwan Pork Chop House is a Doyers Street staple serving traditional Taiwanese dishes. The menu includes rice bowls, soup, noodle soup, rice cakes, and specialty items like savory pan fried oyster cake and salt & pepper chicken. The pork chop over rice and chicken leg over rice both come with pickled mustard greens and are popular must-trys. Be sure to add on dessert of Taiwanese shaved ice with taro balls. What to order: Pork Chop Over Rice, Chicken Leg Over Rice, Pan Fried Oyster Cake How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-791-7007 for takeout/delivery or via website
Nestled in between several Vietnamese restaurants and an old-school Italian joint on Baxter Street, Thai Son’s expansive offerings go beyond 16 different options for pho. From appetizers, vermicelli, casseroles, seafood, or categories dedicated to pork, beef, chicken, and vegetarian items, choose from a plethora of varieties for each that will leave you satisfied with minimal Sriracha required. What to order: Pho, Braised Beef Stew, Thai Son Combo King How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-732-2822 for takeout/delivery
Dine at Shanghai 21’s outdoor seating on Mott St. and enjoy their popular soup dumplings to bring you back to your happy place, because unlike most of the menu items arriving in takeout containers, they’ll be served in their quintessential bamboo steamers. In addition to classic pork or crab meat & pork, black truffle soup dumplings are also on the menu. Add on Shanghai-style lo mein in shrimp, pork & shrimp, or seafood. What to order: Soup Dumplings, Shanghai Style Lo Mein How to order: Outdoor seating available, takeout/delivery via website, Grubhub, Seamless
At Super Taste, go for hand-pulled noodles available in multiple selections that include beef, oxtail, pork bone, eel, or vegetable & egg. Their option #1 -- which you know is going to be great because every Chinese restaurant’s #1 is -- comes in a house special soup with beef tendon, cow feet, beef stew, beef stomach, and egg. Additional items like dumplings (available for purchase frozen) and pork bao are also on the menu. What to order: #1: House Special Soup, Pork & Chive Dumplings, Hot Sesame Noodles How to order: Storefront, call 646-283-0999 for takeout
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Tae Yoon is a writer who grew up in Flushing, Queens (another neighborhood with a large concentration of Chinese restaurants). Here are some of his takeout/delivery picks.