12 best dim sum restaurants in New York City

Gather a crew to feast on a midday Chinese meal. Here are the best dim sum restaurants in New York City.

0

Comments

Add +


The Cantonese expression for eating dim sum, yum cha, actually means “to drink tea.” Its linguistic origins reach back to A.D. 3, when respected doctor Hua Tou voiced concerns about excessive weight gain from snacks. For centuries afterward, the rule of thumb was that dumplings should be no more than bite-size sidekicks to a digestion-aiding hot beverage (apparently, Bloomberg’s proposed soda portion regulations are no modern novelty). Over time, though, the delicate morsels have climbed into a leading role—calories be damned. Their star power is evident in Gotham’s dim sum parlors, where a dizzying choose-your-own-adventure smorgasbord of steamed, sautéed and sauced nibbles awaits. We’ve singled out 12 of the best spots—from kitschy banquet halls and steamer-cart chaos to sleek lounges with curated menus—to go dumpling crazy.

RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to Chinatown in NYC

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best dim sum: 12. Ping’s Seafood

    As with all ventures from Hong Kong–born chef Chuen Ping Hui—this is his third, opened in 2000—the focus is on “freshly killed” preparations of the aquatic creatures swimming in the lobby tanks. And uncomplicated seafood dishes shine during dim sum hour, too. In the dark dining room, European tourists on the hunt for China on Mott Street tightly hug tables next to fin-fare-seeking regulars—there’s barely enough room for carts to wheel by—and sample staples like rice-noodle wraps (cheong fun, $3.80) and pork shumai ($3.80). Steamed crab dumplings (xie rou feng yan jiao, $3.80) are subtly enhanced with fragments of leek and cilantro and a dab of roe. For a bit more flair, order the unabashedly hot chili peppers, stuffed with seafood and topped with lumpy, crunchy bread crumbs and slats of crispy garlic (jian niang qing jiao, $3.80). The pan-fried water-chestnut cake (ma tai gou, $2) is a lightly sweet refresher, with cool, crisp chunks of the star ingredient adding bite to the gently grilled jelly. 22 Mott St between Pell and Worth Sts (212-602-9988, pingsnyc.com)

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best dim sum: 11. Golden Unicorn

    There’s no weekend lull at the office tower housing this ’90s-era dim sum standby. Nattily dressed, iPhone-toting brunchers and Chinatown families crowd the marble lobby, waiting for miked up drill-sergeant hostesses to marshal them, via elevators, to one of two distinctly extravagant floors: the first, displaying classic Chinese pomp with bold reds and golds; the second, a paean to late-20th-century conspicuous consumption, all recessed lighting and damask drapes. On both levels, bilingual cart handlers gregariously promote their steamers above the din of gossipy catch-up sessions, making the choice between turnip cakes and barbecued-pork buns feel like the final round of a game show. The selection—which had its heyday among dim sum snobs when Boyz II Men was topping the charts—sticks to a tried-and-true set of standard bearers, and they still pass muster. Pork shumai ($3.25) are dense and chewy, a knockout punch of meat wrapped in wontons, while the steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow, $3.55) are appropriately dainty. For those still reeling from the boisterous lobby, pineapple buns (bo lo bao, $3.25) pump sugar straight into the bloodstream with their sweetened dough and syrupy tropical-fruit filling. 18 East Broadway at Catherine St (212-941-0911, goldenunicornrestaurant.com)

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best dim sum: 10. Red Egg

    In a 2012 reinvention as an It party spot, Red Egg ditched the quiet vibe that father-and-son team David and Darren Wan had been cultivating since 2008 in favor of a glammed-up, clubby scene. The lounge phase fizzled, but the mirrors-and-leather look and overcomplicated cocktails live on. Without packs of dolled-up scenesters balanced on the tufted banquettes, the mood feels a bit forced, but staying true to its roots, the dumplings still are spot-on. The pick of the menu is the eponymous Red Egg Puff ($5), a crumbly orb of pastry stuffed with a rich red-bean paste that walks the line between sweet and savory. Other notables include the shrimp-stuffed tofu (creamy cylinders of silken bean curd studded with hunks of fresh shrimp, $4.50) and the crispy shrimp rolls (deep-fried cigars of flaky pastry plump with excellent prawns, $5). Better to skip the boozy drinks—memories of the food, unlike after-hours regrets, are worth lingering on the next day. 202 Centre St at Howard St (212-966-1123, redeggnyc.com)

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Best dim sum: 9. Dong Yi Feng

    The name of this bi-level Flushing establishment roughly translates to “good kitchen,” and it’s fitting, given the solid, if unadventurous, choices available in its dining rooms. Filling a gap in the market for slowpoke souls who can’t handle hard-nosed steamer hustling, things move at a sedate pace, as cart pushers willingly linger tableside and offer advice to deliberating diners, many of them longtime regulars. Considered choices yield results like deep-fried crullers (zhaliang, $2.50), packed with sautéed bean sprouts and carrots and wrapped in soft rice noodles, making them at once juicy, crunchy and tender. Chunks of daikon in the pan-fried leek dumplings (jiu cai bao, $2.50) add an unusual crunch and radishy tang that bites through the thick golden crust. Even the simple glutinous rice balls (jian dui, $2.50), usually an afterthought, have extra-generous globs of nutty lotus-paste filling. 135-29 37th Ave between Main and Prince Sts, Flushing, Queens (718-886-8233)

  • Photograph: Whitney Lawson

    Best dim sum: 8. Dim Sum Go Go

    Having dropped into the midst of Chatham Square’s hustle in 2000 like a retro red spaceship, this mod spot and its racing-striped interiors are starting to show their age. But the streamlined selection of healthy, slightly Westernized dishes—originally conceived by Hong Kong chef Guy Lieu and French-American food writer Colette Rossant—still reels in regulars and steamer-cart-phobic tourists. Prime examples of the house style are the pumpkin cakes (nan gua gao, $3.50), a twist on the glutinous turnip cake, whose pan-fried crust gives way to a sweet, creamy center. Stuffed mushrooms (niang dong gu, $3.50), an oft-overlooked dim sum classic, make a welcome appearance, their velvety caps topped with dabs of dense, shrimp-heavy seafood paste. Sampler platters ($11.95) offer one-of-each selections for those who can’t choose (or aren’t sure how to), and in an accommodation to diners with day jobs, the steamers keep puffing until 11pm. 5 East Broadway between Catherine and Oliver Sts (212-732-0797, dimsumgogo.com)

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Best dim sum: 7. Asian Jewels Seafood

    A gilded and chandeliered palace, this Flushing staple is a proud prototype of dim sum grandeur, but when the crowds swell on weekend mornings, every available cranny (including some that possibly double as supply closets) is put to use. A contrast with the stuffy finery, the dumpling options trundling by on carts are refreshingly elemental. Shrimp dumplings ($3.95)—shaped to resemble little bunnies—are superb in their simplicity: translucent steamed wrappers bursting with thumb-size nuggets of unadorned prawn. Slow-braised chunks of eggplant (niang qiezi, $3.95) are held together with crusted dollops of dense, briny seafood paste. Offering a respite from the oceanic selections, fresh banana rolls (xiangjiao juan, $3.95) with custard and red bean paste are wrapped in crispy pastry and dusted with toasted coconut. 133-30 39th Ave between College Point Blvd and Prince St, Flushing, Queens (718-359-8600, tunseng.com)

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Best dim sum: 6. Genting Palace

    A gentle retreat from the Resorts World Casino’s slot-machine light show, this cushy joint has been lulling the gambling weary since 2011 with soothingly fluffy carpets, melodious Muzak and what seems to be the only easy access to fresh air in the entire complex: windows opening onto a seasonal terrace. Overeager staffers race to pamper, promptly offering forks to those who flinch at chopsticks and inquiring about allergies with the air of attending physicians. The menu hews to traditional fare (shark-fin dumplings, rice-noodle wraps), with a few notable exceptions. Black and white pearl dumplings (zhenzhu shaomai, $4.50), a yin-yang set of shrimp-paste balls coated in shelled (white) and unshelled (black) glutinous rice grains, have an earthy, sweet flavor and satisfying chewiness. Seafood crystal buns (shui jing bao, $4.50)—a recent addition to the menu—are summery pockets of shrimp, scallops and sweet jicama. The braised chicken feet (shizhi fung zao, $3.50) in black bean sauce are so tender, they can challenge even the most deft chopstick wielder. Equally tricky (and best nabbed with fingers) are the baked durian puffs (ju liulian su, $4.50)—the famously odorous fruit is muffled, in gracious Genting fashion, by a lining of sweet taro in crumbly bird’s-nest pastry. Resorts World Casino, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, Jamaica, Queens (718-215-3343, rwnewyork.com/new-york-dining/genting-palace)

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Best dim sum: 5. Pacificana

    Fit for a blowout, Real Housewives–style wedding, this nouveau-rococo banquet hall, opened in 2006, is a testament to how far Sunset Park’s once-derelict Chinatown has come since it first started sending up shoots in the mid-’80s. For all of Pacificana’s showy decor, though, the local families filling the perpetually packed space are just there to kick back with old favorites. Tweens play Angry Birds on their iPads while their parents read the paper and lazily reach for the steamers rolling by (or simply wait for the well-informed staff to deliver food straight to the table). The menu largely sticks to comfort-food classics, like garlicky, five-spice seasoned chicken feet (fung zao, $1.95) and soft, gingery tripe (jiang cong niu bai ye, $2.95). Crispy tofu-skin rolls stuffed with shrimp paste (fu pei guen, $3.95) are a hungover bruncher’s dream, deep-fried on the outside, salty and succulent on the inside. Stir-fried chunks of taro and pork (suantian yutou rou, $4.95) cater to a younger demographic, with a thick coating of sweet-and-sour sauce that crystallizes into a candylike coating as it cools. The teapot is the one item more fancy than folksy: Instead of bog-standard oolong or jasmine, the leaves of choice are frilly chrysanthemum flowers. 813 55th St at Eighth Ave, second floor, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (718-871-2880, pacificanabrooklyn.com)

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Best dim sum: 4. RedFarm

    Judging by the number of lithe downtown diners gamely squeezing into the cramped seats, the appeal of this dim sum innovator doesn’t seem to have dulled since its smash opening in 2011. The hand of serial Chinese restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld is evident in the whitewashed and gingham-ed “urban barn” interior, which is neatly themed to complement chef Joe Ng’s farm-to-table twists on traditional bites. Ng reimagines shumai as shooters ($14), the scallop-and-squid dumplings suspended over shots of sinus-clearing ginger-carrot bisque—an electrifying jolt of flavor rarely encountered in this muted, steamed cuisine. The shrimp-and–snow-pea-leaf dumplings ($12), embellished with black-sesame “eyes” atop dabs of red sauce, are the friendliest and most refreshing items on the menu, and the lobster version ($19)—decadently overstuffed and lounging on a bed of braised mushroom chunks—is also a delight. For those concerned that a Chinese-food-stuffed frame won’t fit in the tight quarters, good news: An Upper West Side location, coming soon, might open things up a bit. 529 Hudson St between Charles and W 10th Sts (212-792-9700, redfarmnyc.com)

  • Photograph: Whitney Lawson

    Best dim sum: 3. East Harbor Seafood Palace

    Given the way eager crowds breathlessly push to get in the door on weekend mornings, this Sunset Park hall, reliably dishing out buns since 2008, seems more like a Manhattan hot spot than an outer-borough stalwart. The wait for a table can extend into hours, and once seated, it’s jostle or be jostled in the hangarlike dining room jam-packed with local families. The mania makes sense once the dishes start appearing, though. Steamer carts move fast, and snap decisions usually result in fortuitous discoveries. Glutinous flour dumplings (chaozhou fun guo, $2.50) stuffed with pork, peanuts and mushrooms have a sweet, nutty flavor—a reminder that Southeast Asia isn’t that far from Hong Kong. The braised bean-curd-skin rolls (pei guen, $2.50) are drenched with a thick coating of sweetened soy sauce that’s soaked up by the fine, crinkly tofu wrap. Fresh noodle wraps (ji si fen juan, $2.50), stuffed with spears of chicken, celery and carrot and sliced maki-style, may have a precious presentation, but it’s worth using roughhouse tactics (if needed) to snag them off a cart. 714 65th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (718-765-0098)

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Best dim sum: 2. Jade Asian

    Just as grunge unassumingly usurped hair metal, Jade Asian has been quietly setting itself apart from the Flushing competition since 2008, bypassing a gilded-banquet-hall crescendo for modern understatement. Case in point: Light-blocking red velvet curtains are forgone for floor-to-ceiling windows. The food follows along these lines, with clean, well-crafted updates on the classics from chef-owner Peter How. Turnip cakes (jiang chao luo bo gao, $6.95) are chopped into cubes and stir-fried with chilies, scallions and bacon, turning a typically bland side dish into a spicy, crispy update on home fries. Seafood-stuffed hot peppers (jian niang qing jiao, $3.95) have a lighter filling that allows the lip-singeing chili heat to really zing. The barbecued-pork buns (char siu bao, $2.95) are meatier than most, skipping a showy, overly saccharine sauce in favor of hearty chunks of grilled meat and an impressively fluffy bao. 136-28 39th Ave at 138th St, Flushing, Queens (718-762-8821, jadeasianrestaurant.com)

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Best dim sum: 1. Nom Wah Tea Parlor

    Given Doyers Street’s notoriously grisly gang wars in the early 20th century, it’s a surprise that the original owners of Nom Wah decided to set up a dainty tea shop there in 1920, turning out reputation-making moon cakes. Today, the biggest fight on the block is the weekend wait for Nom Wah—now the oldest dim sum parlor in the city and operated by Wilson Tang, who took over from his uncle, Wally, in 2010. Vintage fixtures like red leather booths and shelves of antique tea canisters have been restored, while rattling carts of presteamed fare have been replaced with an all-day, made-to-order menu. The classics remain, though, alongside flourishes like brunch mimosas and gluten-free options. The historic house specialty, almond cookies (xing ren bing, $1.50), are as big as dinner plates and, given their dry, crumbly texture, best when washed down with a pot of tea. Roasted-pork buns (char siu bao, $1.95), gargantuan stuffed pillows of dough, explode with shredded meat and caramelized onions. Another generously portioned item, “The Original” egg roll (chun juan, $5.95), is the size of a prizefighter’s meaty fist and comprised of a soft, eggy crêpe, stuffed with shredded chicken and mushroom, and then—the coup de grâce—battered and deep-fried. It might just be the most lethal item on the street these days. 13 Doyers St between Bowery and Pell St (212-962-6047, nomwah.com)

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Best dim sum: 12. Ping’s Seafood

As with all ventures from Hong Kong–born chef Chuen Ping Hui—this is his third, opened in 2000—the focus is on “freshly killed” preparations of the aquatic creatures swimming in the lobby tanks. And uncomplicated seafood dishes shine during dim sum hour, too. In the dark dining room, European tourists on the hunt for China on Mott Street tightly hug tables next to fin-fare-seeking regulars—there’s barely enough room for carts to wheel by—and sample staples like rice-noodle wraps (cheong fun, $3.80) and pork shumai ($3.80). Steamed crab dumplings (xie rou feng yan jiao, $3.80) are subtly enhanced with fragments of leek and cilantro and a dab of roe. For a bit more flair, order the unabashedly hot chili peppers, stuffed with seafood and topped with lumpy, crunchy bread crumbs and slats of crispy garlic (jian niang qing jiao, $3.80). The pan-fried water-chestnut cake (ma tai gou, $2) is a lightly sweet refresher, with cool, crisp chunks of the star ingredient adding bite to the gently grilled jelly. 22 Mott St between Pell and Worth Sts (212-602-9988, pingsnyc.com)


Users say

2 comments
Joris B
Joris B

After your raving, yes one could say drewling, review of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, we decided to have a look ourselves (we are tourists from the Netherlands and Italy). We had high hopes that this would be an incredible experience!


Unfortunately, when we arrived at the place, we were greeted by a grumpy mainland Chinese waitress who forcefully led us to a table to our liking. Then she proceeded to leave us sitting there without a menu for 10 minutes. After ordering some drinks, which took another 10 minutes to arrive, we ordered a sampler of dim sum and spring rolls.


The spring rolls were exploding with oil and one bite was enough to fill up our grease quota for the next week. The rest of the orders were chewy, tasteless and unimaginative (having lived in Hong Kong, we know what we are talking about). The service continued to be unresponsive and grumpy throughout the meal and only improved when it was time to pay the bill...


All in all, the worst dim sum I have ever had and most likely the worst service in a Chinese restaurant ever.


Why this restaurant is on top of your list I can only guess. Maybe the fact that there were NO Chinese visitors should have alerted us before entering...


Sorry...



Guest
Guest

You didn't include HAKKASAN? I'm Chinese and I know my dim sum. Oh well, more for me then.

Food & Drink events calendar

  1. Feast of San Gennaro

    Celebrate the martyred 3rd-century bishop and patr...

  2. Harvest in the...

    The 19th annual tasting brings together 40 Union S...

  3. The Joy of Sake

    Choose from more than 300 sakes to pair with conte...

1 more event »

Time Out videos



Tweets by Time Out NY

Subscribe to Time Out New York on Spotify for playlists and recommendations from our Music team.

Check out New York's best restaurants, hottest street style, cool apartments and more.