Essential Chinatown New York: A guide to the best basics

From the tastiest $1 dumplings to the karaoke joint with the most flash, here’s our guide to Chinatown New York, with the standout essentials in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

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  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Roasted duck at Pho Hoang

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Roasted duck at Pho Hoang

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Roasted duck at Pho Hoang

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Roasted duck at Pho Hoang

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    New Flushing Bakery

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    New Flushing Bakery

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Egg tarts at New Flushing Bakery

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Bubble tea at Ten Ren Tea

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Xinjiang BBQ Cart

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Fang Gourmet Tea

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Fang Gourmet Tea

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Fang Gourmet Tea

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Jmart

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Jmart

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Jmart

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Monster KTV and Café

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    Hair Manna

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    CoCo Glamour Nails and Spa

  • Photograph: Todd Coleman

    New Wenzhou Massage

Photograph: Todd Coleman

Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall

Dollar dumplings: Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall

Stuffed with juicy pork and leeks, the crunchy-bottomed dumplings doled out by this no-frills booth are worth the extra quarter. Wenzhou native He Fen Zhu—who used to sell his snacks from a street cart—mans the massive woks, refilling them with fresh-wrapped pot stickers as supplies dwindle. Four for $1.25.

  1. 40-52 Main St, (at 41st Ave), 11354
More info

Roasted duck: Pho Hoang

Vietnamese food may be the focus at this restaurant, opened in 1999, but locals aren’t lining up for the pho. Instead, you’ll find diners patiently waiting single file at the metal counter by the front window, where they offer Cantonese barbecue, including juicy, crisp-skinned ducks drizzled in sweet soy. $5.75 for ¼ duck, $10.85 for ½, $20.75 for whole.

  1. 41-01 Kissena Blvd, (between Barclay and 41st Aves), 11354
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Egg tart: New Flushing Bakery

For still-warm pastries, head to this bakeshop’s New World Mall outpost, where a stream of hungry shoppers keeps the ovens working around the clock. While the tarts come in flavors like coconut and lemon, we stick with the traditional: a wobbly egg custard cradled by a buttery, tender crust. $1.25.

  1. New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, (between Main and Union Sts), 11354
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Bubble tea: Ten Ren Tea

Bubble tea shops aren’t hard to find in this part of town, but good tapioca balls—not dense and tough—aren’t as easy to come by. Here, the toothsome orbs swim in cups of lightly sweetened green or black brews, including the classic iced milk tea. $2.50.

  1. 135-18 Roosevelt Ave, (between Main and Prince Sts), 11354
More info

Street cart: Xinjiang BBQ cart

Fill up on Xinjiang-style barbecue at this cart, usually parked across from St. George’s Episcopal Church. Meat skewers are expertly roasted over charcoal and topped with a cumin-and-cayenne spice mix popular in western China. Our favorite is the lamb, but for less than two bucks a pop, you can afford to try ’em all. $1.25.

  1. Main St, (at 38th Ave), 11354
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Tea shop: Fang Gourmet Tea

There’s more than just tea at this ten-year-old shop opened by a Taiwan native. In addition to more than 50 types of packaged loose-leaf teas—oolong, puer as well as green and black—shoppers can take brewing lessons and purchase handcrafted pots and cups.

  1. 135-25 Roosevelt Ave, (between Main and Prince Sts, suite J), 11354
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Market: Jmart

This sprawling supermarket inside New World Mall is a cook’s paradise. Push through throngs of basket-wielding shoppers for affordable grocery staples, plus hard-to-find fruits (like the spiky red rambutan from Southeast Asia) and seafood (such as live eels and razor clams). Asian snacks, including Pocky and white gourd juice, pack shelves.

  1. 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, (between Main and Union Sts), 11354
More info
Monster KTV and Café

Karaoke: Monster KTV and Café

Ascend a stairwell lined with dinosaur images and neon lights to this buzzing ten-year-old institution. There’s an extensive list of English tunes (searchable by artist or song name) waiting for you in rooms that fit between 7 and 20 warblers. Call ahead to reserve a room, especially on weekends and even if you’re swinging by before 7pm to take advantage of the half-price rates (daily 11am–7pm). 718-445-7300. $30–$49/hr.

  1. 40-52 Main St at 41st Ave (enter on 41st Ave), second floor, Flushing, Queens
Hair Manna

Blowout: Hair Manna

No-nonsense owner Manna buzzes around making sure her customers are having their needs met at this comfortable salon, where a blow-dry ranges from $10 to $20. Wait your turn on black couches and armchairs surrounding a TV that screens entertaining movies from the likes of seminal Hong Kong actor Stephen Chow. Pro tip: Be careful not to confuse the street-level entrance with Bebe’s orange awning next door. 718-461-0200, hairmanna.com. Reservations recommended.

  1. 136-11 38th Ave between Main and 138th Sts, second floor, Flushing, Queens
CoCo Glamour Nails and Spa

Nails: CoCo Glamour Nails and Spa

Within a madly popular, two-year-old mall lies this no-fuss salon, sandwiched between a beauty supply store and a clothing shop. The bustling parlor offers manicures ($8) and pedicures ($16) with a wide selection of basic OPI polish and more complicated nail embellishments. 718-661-2088.

  1. New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave between Main and Union Sts, second floor, store 210, Flushing, Queens
New Wenzhou Massage

Massage: New Wenzhou Massage

There’s no English sign for this joint, which serves up plain and simple Chinese reflexology that keeps neighborhood regulars coming back for weekly treatments—just look for the pink second-floor billboard above Curry Leaves Restaurant’s yellow awning and follow the stairs up a flight. Soothe your soles with a foot rub (60mins $25) or opt for a body massage with a brief hot-stone treatment (60mins $30); both are $5 off between 9am and 5pm daily. Splurge on any body massage or a multitreatment package (five hours of foot massages for $90, for example) to get access to the spa’s bare-bones sauna and shower facilities. 917-238-2998. Cash only. Reservations recommended.

  1. 135-31 40th Rd between Main and Prince Sts, second floor, Flushing, Queens


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Users say

1 comments
Tiffany Chen
Tiffany Chen

Native New Yorker here: Why isn't Hing Huang on 111 Lafayetteon this list?! It's incredibly cheap and even offers dim sum!

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