There’s more to Chinatown NYC retail than cheap jewelry emporiums and surreptitious dealers of designer knockoffs—chic boutiques are spilling over from Soho, Nolita and the Lower East Side. Purveyor of cult clogs No. 6, as well as one of our favorite avant-garde record stores Downtown Music Gallery have some of the best shopping in NYC. And once the shopping fatigue sets in, retire to one of the best bars in Chinatown or grab a bite. Check out our ranked list below!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chinatown NYC
The best shops in Chinatown New York
Once you ring the buzzer to Morgan Yakus and Karin Bereson’s boho-chic boutique, you’ll feel as though you’ve been invited into an impossibly stylish friend’s closet. Half European vintage, half new designs, the store specializes in statement pieces from local and international talents like Electric Feathers, Stine Goya and Henrik Vibskov. You’ll also find No. 6’s own clog and boot line ($230 to $450), bags from Wendy Nickel, and crocheted metal earrings, cuffs and necklaces from Arielle de Pinto and AESA round out the collection.
It's easy to find Tony Moly's Will Wonka–esque makeup line in New York—you can get its fruit-shaped lip balms at Urban Outfitters and Sephora—but first-timers should flock to the Chinatown shop to test out the brand's full range of beauty loot in cute-as-hell packaging. Grab the best-sellers: Panda's Dream brightening cream ($14) to achieve that dewy look and Tony Moly mask sheets ($3), which lock in moisture during your next Netflix binge.
Many landmarks of the so-called downtown music scene, including Tonic and Tribeca’s Knitting Factory, have shuttered in recent years, but as long as DMG persists, the community will have a sturdy anchor. The shop, which relocated from a plum Bowery spot to a Chinatown basement, stocks the city’s—and perhaps the world’s—most impressive selection of avant-garde jazz, contemporary classical, progressive rock and related styles. An entire CD display devoted to John Zorn’s Tzadik imprint illustrates the store’s die-hard devotion. It’s doubtful that even the composer’s apartment contains such an encyclopedic array.
The focus at this minimalist menswear store in Chinatown is a well-edited mix of under-the-radar international and New York labels, curated by co-owners Elizabeth Beer and Brian Janusiak. Earth-toned clothing is hung neatly along half a dozen racks lining the perimeter of the shop, and include the store’s own brand, Various Projects, which features gems like a nanotechnology button-down shirt with built-in anti-perspirant and aloe ($180). While pricey, the pieces here have an uncanny attention to detail.
At the only U.S. locale of this Beijing company, the wallpaper on the immaculate shop’s back wall explains how the Chinese tradition of giving chopsticks spreads happiness. Gift-hunters can choose from more than 200 different styles, many of which are hand-painted and crafted from materials like mahogany, ebony and sterling silver. Pick up colorful plastic sets for everyday use, or pony up for special-occasion sticks, like the handmade, seashell-inlaid sets with 20 layers of lacquer.