The Best Chinese Restaurants In NYC

All of our favorite spots for Sichuan, Shanghainese, Cantonese, and more Chinese food.
Plates of food on a marble table.

photo credit: Kate Previte

The options for Chinese food in New York are vast. We have three major Chinatowns just to start, with about six more emerging. Then there are restaurants specializing in the country’s many regional cuisines, and of course American-Chinese takeout counters, still brightening up the avenues with their backlit menus every few blocks. It would be impossible to narrow down a list of all the best places for dim sum, noodles and peking duck, not to mention soup dumplings, pork buns, and Chino Latino food. But here’s a sampler of our favorites, from elegant Sichuan restaurants to Manhattan Chinatown institutions, and beyond. 


photo credit: Emily Schindler



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Have you come across a $10 bill in the depths of that tote bag? Take it to Shu Jiao Fu Zhou. Order the saucy $3 peanut noodles, and 10 steamed pork-and-chive dumplings for $4.50, and use that extra $2.50 to buy yourself a soda. The counter-service Chinatown spot always has a line, and though you’ll see a lot of people getting takeout, we prefer eating in. Wait for your number to be called and then find a seat—asking a stranger for a space at their table is highly encouraged—before dousing your dumplings in communal chili oil.

Everyone we know has a soft spot for Wu’s Wonton King on the lower end of the LES. Every night, this place fills up with big groups celebrating birthdays and graduations, seated around lazy-Susan-topped tables that can fit about 10 people. You’ll definitely want to share a lot of dishes here, because the menu is huge and everything—from wonton soup that comes in a massive bowl to whole fried crabs—is very enjoyable. Service is super fast, and it’s BYOB. We don’t need much else to have a good time.

Located in Bath Beach, Liu’s Shanghai serves both Shanghainese and Cantonese classics in a casual setting with marbled four-top tables. They have killer wonton soup, and we’re obsessed with the crispy fried wontons topped with peanut dust—but nothing on the menu beats their pork and scallop xiao long bao. Inside the thin, golden skins, you'll find whole, dried bay scallops that have rehydrated thanks to the soupy broth inside. It’s a pretty small spot in a quieter residential area, but they do have one big, round table for a large family dinner amongst the smattering of smaller tables.

White Bear is a tiny, takeout-only window in Flushing with a big menu taped above the counter. That menu has 34 options on it, but the most popular thing by far is the plate of wontons with hot sauce (No. 6). These wontons come filled with pork and vegetables, and they’re incredibly soft and just a little bit chewy. An order comes with 12, which is good for a light meal. You can also get 100 frozen wontons to go if you want to make some more at home.

Mama's Noodle House is Brooklyn's answer to White Bear. When the two chefs at this Bensonhurst favorite greet you at the door, get straight to the point and ask for the No. 5 Hot and Spicy Wontons: big, juicy balls of pork and shrimp in translucent wrappers, smothered in a sichuan peppercorn sauce that will make your lips buzz. If you have a little more room to eat, get the hot pot style fish or a noodle soup. There’s nowhere to sit inside this popular takeout spot, but there’s a fine patch of sidewalk where you can set up shop with your food.

You should pocket a handkerchief before going to Szechuan Mountain House, an East Village restaurant with a sister location in Flushing, because you might just be in a full body sweat 10 minutes into your meal. It’s not just the perspiration-inducing sichuan peppercorns that keep us coming back to Mountain House, but the fact that the umami, garlic-heavy dishes aren’t overpowered by them. Somehow, this restaurant finds balance and nuance in a furnace of the reddest mapo tofu. Skip the photo-friendly pork belly on a clothesline-esque swing, and stick to classics like la-zi chicken and the stone pot green pepper fish.

From the moment you enter, you know there’s something different happening at Potluck Club. Is it a bar, a lounge, a restaurant, or—with that big marquee inside—the concessions section of an imaginary movie theater? This Chinatown restaurant is large, pleasantly noisy, and serves food that’s a nostalgic love letter to the neighborhood, like fried chicken with scallion biscuits and chili crisp jam. Order the chicken, and don’t skip dessert. The Dole Whip soft serve topped with a bolo bao crumble is reason enough to visit.

For some of the city’s best xiao long bao, prioritize a visit to Shanghai You Garden in Flushing. You can choose between 10 varieties of soup dumplings, all dyed different colors so you’ll be able to tell what you’re eating from the exterior, tender skin. Our favorites are the classic, bright yellow crab and pork (the broth tastes noticeably crabbier and more clarified than most other versions), and a giant thick-skinned one. Get a bunch of those, cheers with your friends, and then proceed to suck out the meaty soup out with a gargantuan straw.

There’s plenty of great hot pot out there, but this Flushing restaurant is the only one where you can fill up on sauce next to an old-timey water mill, or eat your spicy tripe in a grass hut. Decked out like a rural Chinese village, Chong Qing Lao Zao is the Disneyland of hot pot restaurants. You get to pick two rich broths per pot, with spice levels ranging from mild to please-call-my-mom. Despite being three stories, this place stays packed, and there’s always a wait. For the full experience, wait the extra few minutes for a private hut or tatami seating.

A short walk away from Flushing’s Main Street, Alley 41 offers a fantastic mapo and so much more. With little touches, like ornamental brickwork, that are supposed to recall a Chengdu alleyway, it’s a slightly upscale spot for tender cumin beef, thousand layer pancakes, and refreshing pork belly and cucumber rolls in a spicy garlic sauce. Come with a smaller group if you don’t want to wait too long for a table during prime dinner time—or share any more of those chili oil dumplings than you need to. 

Fish is the main draw at this Sichuan restaurant in Sunset Park, and it’s best to come with a group and make a whole grilled fish the center of your meal. Choose between tilapia, lates, or grouper, served on a big sizzling tabletop grill, and swimming in a broth packed with chili peppers. You can add tons of vegetables and adjust the spice level to your liking. Or choose the crispy whole fish, poached fish slices in chili oil, Chongqing sour fish stew, or paper-wrapped fish that steams in its own juices with mounds of mashed garlic. There’s plenty of room, and it’s never hard to get a table here.

CheLi spotlights the seafood dominant cuisine of the region around Shanghai, all in a serene, waterfall-clad room in the East Village. Our ordering method here is to prioritize fish and crustaceans, like the meaty Atlantic blue crab soaked in floral shaoxing wine. But there’s plenty of delicious pork to be eaten, too: the stacks of red braised pork belly coated in a dark soy sauce, in particular, are requisite ordering. There’s another location in Flushing.

Asian Jewels in Flushing does just about everything at a high level. This expansive Cantonese restaurant is as ornate as an upscale conference center—and it has an abundance of carts, which circulate quickly with a wide variety of dim sum. Expect everything from durian puffs and multiple kinds of tripe to sausage buns and soup dumplings. Those soup dumplings are solid—but the peppery beef ribs and near-perfect chicken feet are two dishes in particular that keep bringing us back.

At Mr. Bun in Bensonhurst’s Chinatown, you can get dim sum and Shanghainese cold dishes at any time of day. This is especially appreciated on weekends, when we don’t get up early enough to avoid the hours-long wait at the popular banquet halls filled with roving carts around the city. Come here for sticky rice shumai, perfect xiao long bao, and pan-fried juicy buns that are ASMR-level crispy on the bottom. With anime-style wall decals and a high-energy playlist, Mr. Bun is a great casual spot to grab dim sum if there are kids or teens in your group.

Open since 1982, this Chinatown restaurant works for any occasion. Pop in for a casual group dinner, or host a birthday party with a spread of Shanghainese food and a few bottles of riesling from the shop across the street. In terms of atmosphere, there isn’t much beyond fluorescent lights and a handful of plain wooden tables, but that’s fine. The simple, meaty soup dumplings provide all the ambiance you need. Round things out with some wontons and rice cakes.

Kong Sihk Tong in Flushing is a big, pastel-and-neon wonderland of Hong Kong-style food. It’s perfect for a casual breakfast or lunch when you want to hang out for a while without spending a ton of money, since the breakfast sets are all under $10. The salted egg yolk lava French toast is our favorite dish on the menu, but the beef satay instant noodle soup is a close second. They also make the best milk tea around. On weekends, expect to wait a while for a table if you don’t get there before 10am. They also have another location in Chinatown that is cash-only.

A line isn’t always the product of social media hype. Sometimes, it’s just what happens when a place serves affordable, magnificent food. That’s the case at Wah Fung in Chinatown, where a big serving of roast duck over rice will run you less than $10. Arrive around noon, line up on the sidewalk with 30 other New Yorkers, then wait around until it’s your turn to enter the closet-sized shop and place your cash-only order. For extra credit, get some caramelized pork with your duck.

Originally opened in the 1960s, Hwa Yuan was one of Chinatown’s most popular restaurants until it closed in the 1980s, and is credited with introducing New York to cold sesame noodles. They reopened in the original space in 2017, and the noodles are still top-notch—but the real reason to come here is the peking duck. It’s carved tableside, and if you do a little digging in the pile of sliced meat, you’ll find stray crispy bits of skin. The restaurant is massive, so you can bring a big group last-minute, sit at a sizable round table, and order food until you can no longer see that table.

One of the newer spots on Chinatown's Mulberry Street, this Cantonese restaurant has a lively dining room decorated with neon, hanging lanterns, and fake foliage—and it's crowded every night. That's because Uncle Lou does so many things well—from silky wontons and hefty siu mai to chow mei fun with scallops and crispy fried bits of cuttlefish. The portions are large, so bring a group and try to snag a round table with a lazy susan in the middle. (You can make a reservation for parties of six or more.) Split a bottle of wine, and don’t miss out on the juicy garlic chicken with crackly skin.

Maxi’s is a teeny tiny cafe in Flushing specializing in Hong-Kong style noodle soup with springy egg noodles and wontons the size of a baby’s fist, both of which are made in-house. The two-bite wontons—filled with juicy pink pork and shrimp—are only one of six available toppings, but they’re a non-negotiable add. Other options include supersized dace fish balls, dumplings, and rich beef stew. Space is limited, and the food comes out fast. On a chilly morning, Maxi’s is the perfect impromptu pit stop for a bowl of hot broth and a milk tea.

This Chinatown restaurant is notable for having has several Hakka specialties on the menu, sprinkled between its banquet-style Cantonese and Hong Kong dishes. It’s a  bright, two-floor spot that recalls a hotel ballroom, with large tables—take a big group so you can try several items with roots in China's Hakka community: airy fried bean-curd cubes embedded with pork, pork with preserved greens, and the pièce de résistance—the blossom chicken, served with head-beak-and-all. It's a chicken skin stuffed with taro and shrimp, fried, and chopped into squares.

Royal Seafood makes some of the freshest dim sum in Chinatown, constantly arriving in batches from a dumbwaiter near the entrance. We especially like the silky har gow and well-seasoned chicken feet, and we appreciate that it’s never too hard to get a table here. That said, the tables are pretty close together, and you sometimes have to walk over to a cart and tell a server what you want. That might sound annoying, but it’s actually kind of charming. Expect a short wait on weekends.

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