New York’s best Chinatown restaurants are more than dim sum and Peking duck—although, the downtown neighborhood is rife with fantastic options for both. No, the food possibilities expand well beyond some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants to include creative Mexican restaurants and Cali-coolcafes. Whether you’re looking for traditional soup dumplings or French-Malaysian fare, these Chinatown restaurants have something for you.
RECOMMENDED: Full neighborhood guide to Chinatown NYC
Best Chinatown restaurants
Slippery noodles submerged in rich, concentrated broths are the stock-in-trade (no pun intended) at this peach-tiled Chinatown spot. Dozens of options include searing teochew chili paste with flat noodles and potent mustard greens. Service is brisk and the language barrier impenetrable for non–Chinese speakers, but the taste-to-cost ratio is slanted ridiculously in your favor.
A hole-in-the-wall temple to the cuisine of China’s Henan heartland, Spicy Village is a pilgrimage site for adventurous eaters and regional cuisine purists. The illustrated wall-mounted menu boasts noodle soups, dumplings, soup dumplings and their Big Tray of Chicken, made up of bone-in poultry chunks and potatoes marinated in Budweiser, chili oil, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns.
The Malaysian café is now bigger and (arguably) better with an all-day menu of affordable small plates and snacks like nasi lemak in a new cutesy location down the block.
Housemade wheat noodles are served in the broth of your choice at this tiny Chinese eatery. Lines are long but move quickly with everyone eye these inexpensive and tender plates of noods. When it's nice out, take you meal outside to the tables and chairs they set out on the street.
One of the city’s most talked-about Chinese menus can be found at this San Francisco import on the fringes of Chinatown. But don’t expect traditional dishes here—Mission Chinese Food celebrates an American take on Asian cuisine in all of its lost-in-translation charm. Though the buzz has simmered since chef-owner Danny Bowien first appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, on the NYC scene, the focus is still on searing hot Szechuan flavors in in-your-face dishes like thrice-cooked bacon, mapo tofu and kung pao pastrami, plus supersized family-style feasts of roast duck and prime rib.
Over the years, Great N.Y. Noodletown 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 a flavorful chicken broth) ordered with roasted pork, duck, chicken or ribs.
At this SoCal-inspired café, the lineup can change weekly. Expect colorful plates with equal parts Japanese, South American and Mediterranean influences. The menu has highly Instagramable dishes for any time of the day, including a stellar breakfast menu.
For some, Jing Fong might be intimidating: It’s marked by giant escalators, a vast dining room and walkie-talkie–toting waiters marshalling diners. But it has remarkable dim sum. The shrimp shumai with glass noodles is exceptional, as is the ground pork and shrimp wrapped in a big black mushroom. The freshness and originality of its most mundane offerings keep people coming back for more.
Housed inside an old two-story opera house on Chinatown’s Doyers Street, the contemporary Chinese restaurant is fitted with black half-moon banquettes, towering tropical plants and plenty of burnished brass define the sprawling downstairs dining room. The menu offeres takes on Chinese classics including dumplings and noodles that are as refined as the space itself.
Part of a local Chinese-food chain featuring the mouth-tingling cuisine of the ancient capital of Xi'an along China's Silk Road, this spot bears the same short menu of spicy noodles and cumin-flavored burgers but in roomier digs. A mix of antique touches (porcelain figurines from the Ming dynasty) and modern effects (framed photos of the late Anthony Bourdain) decorates the 40-seat restaurant.
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. Yes, the menu lists many dishes besides Peking duck, but reading it will only delay the inevitable.
The first thing you see at Oriental Garden are the crabs waving their claws inside a front-window tank. That’s a good sign, for this Chinatown stalwart (with brightly lit dining-hall decor) specializes in fresh, Cantonese-style seafood and embraces a lengthy menu of dishes such as steamed whole fish, glazed prawns with broccoli, and clams galore.
Talk about a melting pot: A French and Chinese husband-and-wife team—Marc Kaczmarek and Mei Chau—is dishing out traditional Malaysian food in Little Italy. The 550-square-foot spot is humbly outfitted with old-fashioned tin ceilings, exposed brick and black-and-white tiled floors, and features a rotating selection of Kaczmarek's colorful photography of Manhattan street art.
Even in the city’s dim sum center, Royal Seafood stands out from its neon-ceilinged, cart-toting neighbors with its meals served family-style at large communal tables. While classics like chicken feet, turnip cake, short ribs and a host of deep-fried dishes lure the brunch-hour rush, it’s the off-the-menu lobster that garners rave reviews well into the evening.
One of New York's first dim sum houses opened in 1920 at a crook in Doyers Street referred to as "the bloody angle." That Chinatown passage witnessed the grisly havoc of the Tong gang wars, but the bakery and tea shop has a sweeter reputation: Its almond cookies and moon cakes were legendary. Come for the dim sum, where each mouthwatering plate is cooked fresh to order.