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100 best New York restaurants: Chinese restaurants

The best New York restaurants that specialize in Chinese food range from noodle shops and dim sum parlors to hyper-regional Szechuan and Xi'an kitchens.

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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

100 best New York restaurants: RedFarm

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100 best New York restaurants: New York Noodle Town

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Photograph: Annabelle Nyst

100 best New York restaurants: Xi'an Famous Foods

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Photograph: Dominic Perri

100 best New York restaurants: Spicy & Tasty

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100 best New York restaurants: Nom Wah Tea Parlor

New York has a long lineage of Chinese restaurants, from swank stalwarts in Midtown to destination-worthy Szechuan fare in Flushing. With some of the best New York restaurants serving pork buns, dim sum, Peking duck and ma po tofu, even the most seasoned eaters may be overwhelmed. That’s where we come in. We’ve unsheathed our chopsticks at Gotham’s greatest and most authentic Asian eateries, and distilled it all into this tidy list of the best Chinese restaurants in NYC. Did we miss your favorite spot? Join the conversation in the comments.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants

RedFarm

Critics' pick

Restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld and head chef Joe Ng (Chinatown Brasserie) offer a playful homage to the golden age of Chinese fine dining at this groundbreaking eatery. The farm-to-table decor makes an unconventional backdrop for a Chinese joint, and the eclectic menu is just as hard to pin down. You might begin with a few old-school Chinese-American bites, like room-temperature shards of extra-crispy spicy beef, and playful seafood dumplings dressed up to resemble Pac-Man characters. Some of Ng’s creations can be extraneously showy, but he turns out plenty of hits: sautéed black cod with black bean and thai basil, and a beautiful Creekstone Farms rib eye, all served family-style. In a neighborhood with a dearth of Sino options, RedFarm isn’t just filling a void—it’s reinventing a genre.

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West Village

New York Noodle Town

Critics' pick

Over the years, New York Noodle Town has proved that it can deliver on the promise of its name. Choose from panfried selections (boiled angel-hair noodles that are lightly fried for a crunchy-soft texture) or softer preparations (served floating in flavorful chicken broth); they can be ordered with roasted pork, duck, chicken or ribs. Suckling pig is also a treat, but the supply usually runs out by 8pm. In a signature combination, Chinese flowering chives are sautéed with duck, scallops, fish or squid. The chives lose their pungency and sweeten in the flash of heat, making them a great accompaniment to delicate fowl or seafood.

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Chinatown

Xi'an Famous Foods

Critics' pick

This Chinese chainlet, with eight additional locations around NYC, highlights the mouth-tingling cuisine of Xi'an, an ancient capital along China's Silk Road. The short menu features cumin-spiked “lamb burgers,” tangy liang pi cold noodles and warm tofu submerged in crimson chili oil, along with the cultish lamb-face salad. Unlike its sparely appointed siblings, this location features a mix of antique touches (porcelain figurines from the Ming dynasty) and modern effects (framed photos of frequent customer Anthony Bourdain) in the 40-seat dining room.

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Chinatown

Spicy & Tasty

Critics' pick

Any serious trip to Flushing for volcanically spicy Szechuan food should begin here. Revered by in-the-know regulars, this brightly lit eatery serves plates of sliced pork in garlic sauce and beef tripe in hot pepper sauce that’s sure to set even the most seasoned palate aflame. Make sure to stock up on cold-bar options, like zesty sesame noodles, crunchy chopped cucumbers and smooth, delicate tofu—you’ll need the relief. Service is speedy and mercifully attentive to water requests.

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Queens

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Critics' pick

New York's first dim sum house opened in 1920 at a crook in Doyers Street known at the time as "the bloody angle." That Chinatown passage bore witness to the grisly havoc of the Tong gang wars—shootings and hatchet murders—but the bakery and tea shop had a sweeter reputation: Its almond cookies and moon cakes were legendary. For more than three decades, the Choy family ran Nom Wah, but in 1974, Ed and May Choy sold the operation to longtime manager Wally Tang, who started there in 1950 as a waiter when he was 16. In 2010, Wally passed Nom Wah on to his nephew Wilson Tang, a banker at ING Direct. The 90-year-old stalwart had fallen into disrepair, so the young Tang gave it a remodel. He and his wife raided flea markets for vintage lamps and the restaurant's storage room for archival photographs. They painted the dingy green walls a mustard yellow, and cleaned decades of dust and grease off the tea tins lining the restaurant's shelves. The most important tweaks, though, were behind the scenes: Tang updated the kitchen and did away with the procedure of cooking dim sum en masse. Now, each plate is cooked to order. The nips and tucks transformed a health department nightmare into a charming old-school institution, completely unlike the chaotic banquet halls that dominate Chinatown's dim sum scene. The dining room is transportive—checkered tablecloths cover Art Deco tables and couples huddle beneath an old poster of a glam Chinese movie star. The food, too, stands apart. Try the ultra-fluffy oversize roasted-pork bun ($1.95), the flaky fried crepe egg roll ($5.25) and the tender stuffed eggplant ($4) filled with a spiced shrimp-and-squid mixture.

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Chinatown

Comments

2 comments
Tiffany Chen
Tiffany Chen

Native New Yorker here: must add Hing Huang on 111 Lafayette to this list also! It's incredibly cheap and right off all the Canal Street stops on the train. I've been to all 4 of the aforementioned restaurants and Nom Wah is also pretttty damn good.

Omar
Omar

great st