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Chinatown restaurant guide: The best places to eat now

Our Chinatown restaurant guide points you to critic-approved places to eat in the neighborhood, including trusty favorites and the latest hot spots.

Between Kenmare and Worth Streets, Mott Street is lined with restaurants representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong; the Bowery, East Broadway and Division Street are just as diverse. The choice is overwhelming, but our Chinatown restaurant guide will help you narrow it down, whether you crave fiery Szechuan cuisine or Peking Duck; also check out our picks for cheap eats and brunch.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chinatown, New York

Grand Sichuan

Critics' pick

Grand Sichuan’s comprehensive menu comes with an annotated booklet describing the history and cooking process for each of the 100-plus dishes. Szechuan cuisine is based on heat, so prepare for a meal that is not only mouthwatering but eye-watering as well. The dandan rice-noodle starter, loaded with dried peppercorns, will open your sinuses. Waiters routinely caution those who order the memorable braised beef in chili sauce—it’s an inferno on a plate. Panfried au zhao chicken offers equally addictive flavor with less heat. Experiment, because gems abound on the menu, and you have nothing to lose but your fear of fire.

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Lower East Side

Peking Duck House

Critics' pick

Your waiter parades the roasted duck past your party before
placing it on the center show table. A chef brandishes his knives dramatically, then slices the aromatic, crisp-skinned, succulent meat with great flair. Folks at other tables drool with envy. (Don’t they know that this establishment doesn’t require you to order the specialty in advance? Pity.) Select the “three-way,” and your duck will yield the main course (complete with pancakes and plum sauce for rolling up the goods), a vegetable stir-fry with leftover bits of meat and a cabbage soup made with the remaining bone. Yes, the menu lists many dishes besides Peking duck, but reading it will only delay the inevitable.

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Chinatown

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

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 Tang passed Nom Wah on to his nephew Wilson Tang, a banker at ING Direct. The 90-year-old stalwart had fallen into disrepair, so Tang gave it a remodel. He and his wife raided flea markets for vintage lamps and the restaurant's storage room for archival photographs. Tang 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. Tang's 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; the dim sum

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Chinatown

Oriental Garden

The first thing you see at Oriental Garden are the crabs waving their claws in a front-window tank. That’s a good sign, for this Chinatown stalwart—done up in the requisite dining-hall décor and bright lighting—specializes in fresh, Cantonese-style seafood, embracing a lengthy menu of dishes like steamed whole fish, glazed prawns with broccoli and clams galore. The dim sum offerings are also copious. Prices are a tad higher than the neighborhood’s surrounding options—a bowl of shark’s fin soup is yours for $68. But such exorbitance is balanced by the $7.99 prix-fixe lunch, served weekdays.

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Chinatown

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