New York There’s no question that Manhattan’s Chinatown is changing, with a host of new restaurant arrivals adding fried chicken and acai bowls to the neighborhood’s more traditional roster of dim sum and seafood. From standout noodle shops to a retro burger joint, here are 13 must-try spots between Allen and Lafayette, a mix of old standbys and new kids on the block. No Donnie Wahlberg, though.
Best rotisserie chicken: Papa Poule
189 Lafayette St
In a city teeming with spendy roast chickens, this takeout-only spinoff of French cafe Maman brings the dish back to its humble roots. Michelin-starred chef Armand Arnal turns out an incredibly juicy rotisserie bird that’s available whole, in sandwiches, or on top of salads. The sides are also top-notch, especially the caper- and dijon-dressed potato salad (when it’s on rotation, that is).
Best dim sum: Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyers St
You can’t write a guide to eating in Chinatown without a nod to this OG tea parlor, which has been slinging dumplings and other dim sum favorites since 1920. Second-generation owner Wilson Tang took the helm in 2010 and breathed new life into the biz (everything is made-to-order), while also maintaining its retro charm.
Best for a group: Spicy Village
68 Forsyth St
Bring your friends and order the aptly named “big tray of chicken”: a Henan dish consisting of wide, hand-pulled noodles, bone-in chicken, and potatoes stewed in sauce spiked with chili oil and cumin. The noodle soups are standout, too, and since everything is insanely cheap, you can eat your way through the menu without spending a fortune.
Best small plates: Fung Tu
22 Orchard St
Nom Wah’s Wilson Tang and Per Se vet Jonathan Wu present a more modern take on Chinese cooking at this elegant, wood-decked spot. Wu works his fine-dining magic on classics like scallion pancakes, egg rolls, and whole steamed fish, which you can pair with wines chosen by sommelier Jason Wagner.
Best ramen: Bassanova Ramen
76 Mott St
There’s no shortage of noodle shops in this neighborhood, but there's only one that offers ramen. Tucked in a Mott St basement, this cash-only noodle den prides itself on creative bowls like spicy green curry and black pepper tonkotsu.
Best healthy-yet-delicious spot: Dimes
49 Canal St
Brunchers rejoiced when this stylish canteen moved into its larger, white-on-blond-wood digs, and it’s continued to draw crowds with Instagram-ready acai bowls, nori wraps, and other health-centric eats. Don’t be afraid to go all in with the breakfast sandwich, though: it’s piled high with scrambled eggs, avocado, and cheddar cheese goodness.
Best seafood: Sing Kee
Cantonese classics and fresh seafood are the focus of this longtime Chinatown resident, where you can dig into garlicky Dungeness crab piled on noodles and flash-fried flounder. The meat department pulls its weight, too -- just try the crispy-skinned chicken or barbecue char siu.
Best laksa: Aux Epices
121 Baxter St
Husband-and-wife team Marc Kaczmarek and Mei Chau run this Baxter St bistro, a cozy oasis that turns out homestyle Malaysian cooking. Platters of lamb rendang and bowls of curry-based seafood laksa fill the pint-sized gem with a fragrant scent that should seriously be bottled.
Best non-ramen noodle shop: Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles
144 E Broadway
Come for the succulent potstickers, stay for the soul-warming bowls of hand-pulled noodles. You’ll be so busy slurping pliant strands from the aromatic broth, you’ll forgive the bare-bones service and the occasional dough-stretching smacks coming from the kitchen.
Best burgers: Genuine Superette
191 Grand St
This throwback dinette -- an offshoot of Gotham West Market’s Genuine Roadside -- offers excellent burgers, ahi tuna tacos, and brioche ice cream sandwiches courtesy of Oddfellows' pastry whiz Sam Mason. At night, you can head downstairs to the subterranean Liquorette for cocktails from barman Eben Freeman.
Best fancy dinner: Peking Duck House
28 Mott St
Dinner and a show takes on new meaning at the Chinatown staple, where its namesake dish gets paraded through the dining room and skillfully carved tableside. The juicy slivers of meat and crisped-up skin are left for diners to roll up in roti-like pancakes -- a pricey splurge that every New Yorker should make at least once.
Best fried chicken: Pies 'n' Thighs
43 Canal St
The food gods answered our fried chicken prayers when the famed Williamsburg chicken spot opened an outpost on the outskirts of Chinatown. All the BK favorites are on the menu, from the crispy fried bird to the luscious banana cream pie -- plus a Manhattan-only sourdough donut.
Best spicy food: Xi'an Famous Foods
67 Bayard St
No matter which branch of this Bourdain-approved chainlet you’re eating at, the mouth-watering hand-pulled noodles and lamb burgers always satisfy. Here, it’s conveniently located next to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory -- which you should definitely hit up after dinner, by the way.
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Patty Lee is a reporter and editor who has written for Zagat, Time Out New York, New York Daily News, and Cooking Channel. She’s been eating her way through Chinatown since birth. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
1. Papa Poule189 Lafayette St, New York
2. Nom Wah Tea Parlor13 Doyers St, New York
3. Spicy Village68B Forsyth St, New York
4. Fung Tu22 Orchard St, New York
5. Bassanova Ramen76 Mott St, New York
6. Dimes49 Canal Street, New York
7. Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant42 Bowery, New York
8. Aux Epices121 Baxter St, New York
9. Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle144 E Broadway, New York
10. Genuine Superette191 Grand St, New York
11. Peking Duck House28 Mott St, New York
12. Pies-n-Thighs43 Canal St, New York
13. Xi'an Famous Foods67 Bayard St, New York
On the opposite side of the building from its sister spot Maman, this tiny takeaway joint is turning out some impressive rotisserie chicken along with sides like deviled eggs with shaved ham, tossed potatoes, and desserts in a jar (get the salted caramel brownie).
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.
This authentic Chinatown spot is perfect for groups, offering large portions and both hand-pulled and dry-hand pulled noodles. Dishes from China's Henan province -- such as the popular and aptly named "big tray of chicken" (noodles, bone-in chicken, and potatoes stewed in sauce spiked with chili oil and cumin) have allowed Spicy Village to shine.
This is the best place for Chinese small plates.
The interior of Bassanova Ramen on the Lower East Side (bordering Chinatown) is decidedly chic and minimalist, but don't let its ascetic decor fool you -- this highly lauded ramen joint doles out bold, intense flavors by the bowlful. The cozy, subterranean space is cash-only, and an open kitchen lets you see exactly how your meal is made. Sidle up to the counter and try its trademark dish -- green-curry ramen with a soft-boiled egg.
This effortlessly cool Chinatown/Lower East Side eatery focuses on health-conscious California cuisine. The all-day menu features fruity breakfast bowls and grain-centric plates like farro risotto, spiced quinoa, and chicken couscous. Dimes may emphasize vegetables and superfoods (açai, goji berries, and hemp seed are some of the kitchen's essential ingredients), but the breakfast sandwich, made with scrambled eggs, avocado, cheddar, jalapeño, and signature hot sauce, is one for the books.
This is the best place in Chinatown to get seafood.
This is the best place in Chinatown to get laksa.
You’ll be so busy slurping pliant strands of hand-pulled noodles from the aromatic broth and eating perfectly crisp, thin-skinned pork potstickers, you’ll barely notice the bare-bones service, limited seating, or the occasional dough-stretching smacks coming from the kitchen of this East Broadway noodle house.
This Little Italy spots serves some great burgers, such as the much-loved Super Duper Stack burger, as well as things like fish 'n chips.
At both the Midtown and Chinatown locations, Peking Duck House offers up quality Chinese at white tableclothed and lazy Susan-equipped tables. The main attraction is, yep you guessed it, Peking duck. Fancy-pants waiters bring the whole made-for-sharing shebang to your table, slice it in front of you, and let you fold the succulent meat into house-made pancakes.
Pies-N-Thighs serves exactly what its name suggests. Its signature menu item is the fried chicken box that includes three pieces of fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit and choice of side -- and the pies on the dessert menu are equally noteworthy. If you're feeling guilty about going into a food coma afterwards, and take comfort in knowing all of the food and meat is certified organic and humanely raised.
Named after the resting place of the famous terra cotta soldiers, the Chinatown satellite of this New York City chain boasts incredible fast/casual (but nonetheless authentic) Northern Chinese dishes. Xi'an Famous Foods is also a family-owned chain that, one day at a time, is reintroducing the rich cuisine of their homeland, which includes cold and hand-pulled noodles, soup, and flat bun burgers.