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Chinatown in NYC: A guide to Gotham's Chinese food and culture

Your definitive guide to Chinatown in NYC—downtown Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park—with throwdown dim sum feasts, wallet-friendly snacks and life-affirming noodles.

Photograph: Rick Lew
Chinatown in NYC

From its beginnings in the 19th century, Manhattan's Chinatown evolved into a thriving hub for Chinese food and culture. The population—and cuisine—skewed heavily Cantonese until the 1980s, when an influx of immigrants arrived from provinces like Fujian and Henan. As the downtown community overflowed, Chinatowns blossomed in other New York City neighborhoods—Flushing, Sunset Park and most recently Elmhurst—and the offerings have diversified. Across the boroughs, you’ll find restaurants serving mouth-numbing Szechuan, cumin-spiced Dongbei and smoky Hunan specialties, along with budget salons and artisanal tea shops. Here's the ultimate guide to Chinatown in NYC.

Best Chinese food and culture in NYC

Restaurants

Gotham's original Chinatown

Food adventurer Robert Sietsema takes a look back at the historic ’hood.

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Restaurants

Chinese noodle explainer

Use our primer to brush up on six types found around New York City.

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Best Chinatown bakeries

Egg tarts, sponge cakes and more delectable Chinese pastries.

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Regional Chinese restaurants

Explore China’s diverse range of cuisines without leaving town.

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Restaurants

Essential Chinatown

Neighborhood maps of the basics in Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park.

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Restaurants

Best dim sum spots

Gather a crew to feast on a midday Chinese meal at one of these 12 joints.

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Review: Lao Dong Bei

Restaurant critic Daniel S. Meyer weighs in on the Flushing newcomer.

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Restaurants

The new Chinatown

Elmhurst joins Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park as an East Asian bastion.

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Restaurants

"The Chinese-Americans"

Photographer An Rong Xu documents Chinese-American life.

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Shopping

Shopping: Style passport China

Find trappings of the world’s most populous nation around town.

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Event: Chinatown History

Take a walking tour starting at the Museum of Chinese in America.

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Restaurants

Food porn from Chinatown

Click through our mouthwatering slide show of more than 100 bites.

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Related coverage of Chinatown in NYC

Things to do

Chinatown neighborhood guide

Chinatown, New York, is known for food, but the busy nabe has other attractions too. Here’s our guide to the best restaurants, bars, shops and things to do. Take a walk in the area south of Broome Street and east of Lafayette, and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered not just a different country but a different continent. Mott and Grand Streets are lined with stands selling exotic foodstuffs such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans, while Canal Street glitters with cheap jewelry and gift shops. Here you’ll find restaurants representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries and shops. As Chinatown—New York City's largest Asian community—continues to grow, it merges with neighboring Little Italy and the Lower East Side. To gain cultural insights, stop by the Museum of Chinese in America.RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of things to do in Manhattan You might also like $1 Chinatown eating walk Knockoff Prada bags aren't the only bargains in Chinatown. The neighborhood's tasty snacks are more enticing, more legit and can be had for a buck or less. Start: Prosperity Dumpling, 46 Eldridge St between Canal and Hester StsEnd: Hong Kong Supermarket, 109 East Broadway at Pike StTime: 2 hoursDistance: 1.17 miles Photograph: Deniz Ozuygur 1 Bring your appetite and start at Prosperity Dumpling (46 Eldridge St between Canal and Hester Sts, 21

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Restaurants

Best food in Flushing, Queens

Tian Shan Shish-KebobFollow the aromatic clouds of smoke to this corner street cart, where a dollar buys a juicy, charcoal-sizzled lamb skewer flecked with red pepper—a favorite in the Xinjiang region. Corner of Main St and Maple Ave (no phone) Corner 28Out of a to-go window comes orders of shellacked Peking duck hacked into moist, skin-on morsels, then shoved into plump buns and finished with scallions and hoisin—unparalleled luxury for a buck. 40-28 Main St at 40th Rd (718-886-6628) White BearThis cramped sit-down nook specializes in myriad dumplings and perfect pork-and-chive Szechuan wontons ($4.50), boiled plump and showered with pickled cabbage and a red slick of sesame oil and crushed peppers. 135-02 Roosevelt Ave, entrance on Prince St between Roosevelt Ave and 40th Rd (718-961-2322) Temple CanteenForget East 6th Street: Flushing has some of NYC's finest South Indian food, especially the paper-thin dosas at Hindu Temple Society's basement commissary: The cracker-thin, crunchy Hyderabadi dosa (served weekends only, $5.50) is amped with green-chili chutney, while the buttery paneer ($5.50) is packed with spongy cottage cheese. 45-57 Bowne St between Holly and 45th Aves (718-460-8493) Nan Xiang Xiao Long BaoA dinging timer signals your six pork-and-crab soup dumplings ($6.50) are ready. They're served in bamboo steamers, thin wrappers sagging with rich, slurpable broth. Quite possibly New York's best Shanghai-style soup dumplings. 38-12 Prince St at 38th

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Things to do

Sunset Park $1 eating walk

Feast like a king on items that cost less than a buck in Brooklyn's Chinatown. Start: 6023 Eighth Ave between 60th and 61st Sts, Sunset Park, BrooklynEnd: Seventh Ave at 44th St, Sunset Park, BrooklynTime: 90 minutesDistance: 1 mile 1 Armed with an empty stomach, begin your cheapo culinary adventure at the sprawling Hong Kong Supermarket (6023 Eighth Ave between 60th and 61st Sts, 718-438-2288), which has the neighborhood’s best beverage selection. Cans of Vietnamese iced coffee (99) or soy milk studded with tapioca balls (99) are appealing, but a better accompaniment for the coming comestibles is the lightly sweetened Foco mango juice (79). 2 After weaving your way past the greengrocers and fishmongers that line Eighth Avenue, pop into the colorful Dragon Bay Bakery (5711 Eighth Ave between 57th and 58th Sts, 718-853-8188). It stands apart from other humdrum bakeries in the area by dressing its counter ladies in bright orange shirts and serving the wonderfully bizarre hot dog cookie ($1): a fully cooked wiener encased in an almond-topped croissant. It’s breakfast by way of lunch. 3 If you’d rather stick to more familiar-looking foods, walk one block north to a nameless metal cart that’s usually parked on the corner of West 56th Street in the late afternoon. More than a dozen dollar skewers, including fried tofu, Chinese broccoli, squid and—our personal favorite—lamb, are sizzled over charcoal and cooked until they have a crunchy brown crust. Take our word for it: This

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Restaurants

Nouveau Chinese restaurants

New Chinese restaurants Yunnan Kitchen, Mission Chinese Food and more breathe new life into the ancient cuisine in NYC. Chinese food has long been a part of the city's culinary canon, with dumplings as ubiquitous as pizza and bagels, and dim sum a cherished weekend brunch tradition ranking alongside eggs Benedict. But lately Chinese cuisine seems to be having a moment. In 2009, Flushing’s Xi’an Famous Foods opened its first Manhattan outpost—a modernist takeout joint with critic-approved, mouth-tingling plates, proving that traditional chow could be successfully paired with a contemporary setting. Last August, the lovely RedFarm, from restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld and dim sum maestro Joe Ng, beckoned fooderati to the West Village with inventive, locavore-minded dishes and a charming farmhouse-inspired dining room. And the revolution didn’t stop there. Here, we look at the latest newcomers bringing exciting flavors, sharply appointed interiors and a buzzworthy pulse to Gotham’s dining scene. The edgy Cali import: Mission Chinese Food James Beard Rising Star chef nominee Danny Bowien thrilled New Yorkers in May with one of the year’s hottest openings—a Lower East Side outpost of his wildly popular San Francisco eatery. Like the West Coast original, the New York joint is notable for both its charity (75 cents of every large dish is donated to a nonprofit) and inspired plates made with top-notch ingredients. The setting: The digs are decidedly downtown at this 39-seat spot, where d

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