Find a Chinese restaurant in NYC
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. In 2010, the 90-year-old stalwart went through a remodel. The most important tweaks, though, were behind the scenes. Now, each plate is cooked to order and what was once a health department nightmare is now a charming old-school institution, completely unlike the chaotic banquet halls that dominate Chinatown's dim sum scene.
Xiaotu “John” Zhang may not rank among New York’s superstar restaurateurs, but his expanding Chinese chain has a cult following nonetheless. Zhang brought real-deal Szechuan food to Chelsea when he opened a branch there in 1998. His menu passionately describes the history and cooking process behind each dish, providing diners a comprehensive primer on the feast to come. Start with a sinus-clearing bowl of dandan noodles, loaded with dried peppercorns, or opt for the addictive gui zhou chicken, which combines dry-fried hot chilies and tongue-tingling Szechuan peppercorns, without a drop of gloopy sauce. If you’re looking for something milder, order a basket of eight succulent pork soup dumplings.
It's no surprise that Flushing is home to another spectacular new sichuan place. The slightly upscale restaurant serves its modern dishes, like the Tibetan-style pork rib and orange congee with millet, in a theatrical and playful fashion with bright colors and surprising plating.
Danny Bowien's relaunched Mission Chinese trades in beer kegs, paper dragons and a cramped, dive-punk Orchard Street basement for smart cocktails, banquet-hall booths and an ample, gleaming dining room in the far reaches of Chinatown. That inescapable hour-long wait for a table can be spent in the downstairs bar, but the real party is upstairs—a lively hodgepodge of bespectacled food disciples and beanie-clad millennials spinning lazy Susans loaded with pork cheeks and turnip cakes while golden-age hip-hop pumps through the room. The menu expands from oldies like the kung pao pastrami and chicken wings with new dishes, many of which show Bowien hasn’t wholly lost his edge.
Chinese hot pot, customarily stewed with thinly sliced meats, vegetables and stock, gets a brothless showcase with this East Village eatery from owner Ning Amelie Kang and chef Qilong Zhao. Named after the Chinese phenomenon of ma la (literally “numbing and spicy”), the restaurant’s starring dish is a variation on Chongqing-hailing dry pot, a stir-fry-like spread built with a choice of 52 add-ins: Meats extend from beef tenderloin to pig artery; fish fillets and squid balls can be paired with frog; and vegetables include more obscure produce like chayote and konjac noodles. Beyond the pot, diners can pull up to a 15-seat communal table or a marble-topped counter for snacks like steamed egg custard.
That a restaurant called Chinese Tuxedo would be so concerned with style isn’t exactly surprising. Housed inside an old two-story opera house on Chinatown’s Doyers Street—a winding alley that looks so stereotypically “New York,” it might as well be a Hollywood back lot—the contemporary Chinese restaurant, from the Liberty’s former owner Eddy Buckingham and general contractor Jeff Lam, is fitted with a theatrical glamour. Black half-moon banquettes, towering tropical plants and plenty of burnished brass define the sprawling downstairs dining room, with intimate two-tops perched on the theater’s mezzanine level above for ample people-watching. In another life, the clubby room could have served as the suave setting for a Scorsese mob epic—the original space, fittingly, was once the gang headquarters of the Hip Sing Tong, back when Doyers was known as the Bloody Angle. But instead of pinstripe-primped gangsters seated around its white-marble tables, you have leather-jacketed editors and long-haired downtown gents who you’ll have to look at twice to figure out if they’re that actor from that show. (They are.) The modern Cantonese cooking served at Chinese Tuxedo, however, doesn’t share the sense of occasion that’s promised by the heavily stylized room or the restaurant’s name, a reference to a turn-of-the-20th-century fine-dining destination that was once located across the street. The kitchen is led by chef Paul Donnelly, a Scotsman who previously oversaw the East Asian fusion
The dining room is certainly an unconventional backdrop for a Chinese restaurant. Dressed in farm-to-table drag with potted plants in the windows, blond wood pillars and gingham booths, the place could easily pass for another seasonal New American restaurant. And the eclectic menu is just as hard to pin down. Head straight for the family-style entrées. Although there’s a beautiful pricey steak—Creekstone Farms rib eye in a tenderizing marinade of fresh papaya and soy—the real draw for the neighborhood is the stuff that’s most recognizably Chinese, given the dearth of good Sino restaurants nearby.
Star chefs like David Chang and David Bouley call this Hong Kong–style institution a favorite for its late-night hours and consistently good eats. Do as Chang does and order the ginger scallion lo mein, or choose from dozens of noodle variations—available panfried or in broth with add-ons like shrimp dumplings, pig’s feet and beef balls. Don’t overlook the rest of the menu: One signature stir-fry features Chinese flowering chives sautéed with your choice of duck, scallops, fish or squid.
Chinese-food fanatics rejoiced when this Flushing chainlet opened this Manhattan branch. As at its Queens counterparts, this tiny East Village shop offers the cuisine of Xi’an, an ancient city in North Central China that was once a vital part of the Silk Road trade routes. The cumin-spiked “lamb burgers,” tangy liang pi cold noodles and warm tofu submerged in crimson chili oil are all must-haves.
See the best Chinese restaurants in America
The best Chinese restaurants in America, from local joints for top noodles and dumplings to a dim sum legend