The 20 Best Restaurants in Chinatown
Support the eateries of this historic neighborhood.
Even before NYC went into lockdown last March, when restaurants were first forced to close their doors and pivot to takeout/delivery only, Chinatown had already 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 led to a devastating drop in foot traffic and business, with some local restaurants experiencing a 70% decrease in sales by mid-February.
A year later, Chinatown has been fighting to regain a sense of normalcy since then. And with small businesses in NYC devastated by the pandemic and an end to its financial challenges nowhere near sight, the once-bustling historic neighborhood and its eateries are especially in need of our support more than ever. With Lunar New Year soon approaching, here are 20 of our favorite restaurants to check out. And as always, tip generously, wear a mask, and social distance responsibly.
Banh Mi Saigon Bakery
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 and delivery.
With its iconic dragon logo, this family-owned shop has been scooping up homemade ice cream since 1978. 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 almond cookie, 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
It’s going to require a bit of extra charm and personality for a NYC diner that debuted in the past few years and be considered legit, but Golden Diner achieves just that. At this spot from chef Sam Yoo (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Momofuku Ko) that opened in the spring of 2019, nostalgic diner classics with an Asian twist and renditions inspired by its Chinatown neighborhood are served up in a picturesque location below the Manhattan Bridge. It’s the best version of a modern diner Manhattan has seen in quite a while, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with rotating specials like Jamaican beef ddukbokki and sullung tang risotto. Yoo’s talents earned the spot a nomination for James Beard Award in 2020 for Best New Restaurant.
What to order: Chicken Katsu Club, Golden Cheeseburger, Honey Butter Pancakes
Great N.Y. Noodletown
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.
What to order: Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup, Roast Duck, Soft Shell Crab
How to order: Storefront or call 212-349-0923.
Located at the corner of Mott and Mosco St., Hop Kee is a treasured institution open since 1968. With some of the wait staff offering a friendly presence for the past 15-20 years, for many regulars, the restaurant’s signature Cantonese American dishes like crabs and snails offer much comfort and nostalgia. Since the pandemic, the eatery started an IG account last fall and customers can now dine onsite through outdoor seating available through the special DineOut NYC initiative.
What to order: Crabs Cantonese Style, Snails Cantonese Style, Pork Chop
How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-964-8365 for takeout.
Recently visited by NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, at Hwa Yuan, chef Chen Lieh Tang continues the legacy of his legendary father, chef Shorty Tang, who gained acclaim for his cold sesame noodles. Established in 1968 and known for their elegant three-story dining room with white tablecloths, the restaurant’s menu offers Szechuan dishes beyond the typical spicy variety, since according to the eatery, spicy Szechuan food is primarily enjoyed “during ceremonies, holidays, or events.”
What to order: Cold Sesame Noodles, Peking Duck, Ma Po Tofu, Shrimp with Chili Pepper
Jing Fong Restaurant 金豐大酒樓
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 now offers 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 is first come, first served.
Chef Kyo Pang’s Chinese and Malay-inspired family recipes at Kopitiam made her a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef in 2019. At this fast-casual cafe, there’s plenty of small plates and mains—both sweet and savory—to choose from, in addition to drinks and snacks. Thick-cut kaya toast with pandan coconut jam; nasi lemak (the national dish of Malaysia); Penang style hand rolled muah chee; and bandung with condensed milk and rose cordial syrup are just a few.
What to order: Chilled Spicy Sesame Noodles, Fish Ball Soup, Pandan Chicken
How to order: Outdoor seating available or call 646-609-3785 for takeout.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
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 in addition to a 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
Peking Duck House
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. Onsite outdoor seating is also available through the special DineOut NYC initiative.
What to order: Peking Duck
How to order: Outdoor seating available, call 212-227-1810 for takeout.
Pinklady Cheese Tart
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. Their newest flavor is ube, and drink options include yogurt smoothies in original, azuki red bean, chewy oats, matcha, and purple rice.
What to order: Original Cheese, Chocolate Cheese, and Matcha Cheese Tarts
How to order: Outdoor seating available
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: Heated outdoor seating available, call 212-602-9988 for takeout and 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
Located at N26 Eldridge St., 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.
Taiwan Pork Chop House 臺灣武昌好味道
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 and delivery.
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 and delivery.
Wah Fung Number 1 Fast Food 華豐快餐店
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
Owned and operated by the same family since 1938, this NYC institution is one of the neighborhood’s most iconic eateries and has a loyal clientele of both New Yorkers and out-of-towners. Located in a basement off Mott St. and accessible through a flight of stairs with its signature red tiles, during the pandemic, enjoy Wo Hop’s Cantonese menu onsite through outdoor seating made available last year through the special DineOut NYC initiative.
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.
Wu's Wonton King
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.
Xi'an Famous Foods
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. The eatery now also offers meal kits.
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.