NYCGuide

Where To Eat in Bensonhurst's Chinatown

Bensonhurst is home to Brooklyn's largest Chinatown. Here's where you should be eating.
Where To Eat in Bensonhurst's Chinatown image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Bensonhurst’s Chinatown is so expansive that it stretches into neighboring Bath Beach and Borough Park. One of New York’s most diverse areas—nearly half the population is of Chinese origin—Bensonhurst is mostly residential, but the main commercial area along 86th street is packed with restaurants.

The food options in this South Brooklyn neighborhood rival even Flushing, especially when it comes to Hong Kong-style and Shanghainese cuisine. You could eat out in Bensonhurst every day and constantly find new favorites. The only hard part is deciding whether to go back to a place you love, or try one you haven’t been to yet.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Kate Previte

Chinese

Bensonhurst

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunch
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The walls of this Shanghainese restaurant are decorated with cute anime characters contemplating equally cute, smiling dumplings. We understand the impulse to make art inspired by the food here. The chopstick wrappers even offer a step-by-step guide to drawing Mr. Bun himself. An order of pan-fried juicy pork buns looks just like the restaurant’s namesake (without the smile), but don’t stop at the buns. The xiao long bao, sticky rice shu mai, and wine chicken are all great. This is a good choice for dim sum when you don’t want to deal with an hours-long wait, or if you have kids.


When the two chefs at Mama’s Noodle House 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.


Liu’s is a small Shanghainese restaurant in Bath Beach that’s in a quieter, more residential area than many of the others on this guide. There’s one big, round table for a large family dinner, a longer table that can seat a group of six, and a handful of smaller tables. Head here for the scallop xiao long bao and the deep-fried pork wontons, which come smothered in a mind-boggling mixture of crushed peanuts, sugar, black vinegar, chili oil, and a few other things. Liu’s also makes excellent mock duck.


photo credit: Kate Previte

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At Neta Shari’s 15-course, $75 omakase, you might get three courses of uni from different parts of the world—and that’s only part of the reason why we think it’s one of the city’s best under-$100 omakase deals. Though the dining room is barely big enough for the sushi bar, there’s no skimping on quality or finesse. The starters and nigiri are perfectly executed, there’s a good sake selection, and the pace of the meal is leisurely, especially compared to other options in this price range, which can sometimes feel like a barrage of pricey seafood. Make a reservation in advance, or order from a more flexible takeout menu.


Sweet Star is a busy local favorite with all the Chinese bakery standards—excellent pineapple buns filled with either pork or custard, steamed rice rolls, zongzi—but the real reason to come here is for the bouncy, chewy sweets. Their coconut peanut mochi is super soft and stretchy: a satisfying complement to the crunchy peanut interior. The white sugar sponge cake has a chewier texture, with a honeycombed interior and a delicate, fermented flavor. Sweet Star does have seating inside, so if you’re lucky enough to snag a table, you can get right down to the business of eating through your haul.


Sandwiched between a Game Stop and a CVS, Superior Wonton Noodle is a narrow, casual restaurant that specializes in Hong Kong-style zha-jiang, a sauce made of soybean paste and diced meat that’s a cousin to Korean jjangmyeon. Grab a table and create your own dishes by combining noodle styles (rice, egg, vermicelli) with a variety of toppings, with or without soup—or just go with one of the recommended combos. We like zha-jiang on egg noodles with vegetables and brisket. The iced coffee is jet-fuel strong, and just sweet enough to take the edge off.


Pho 86 is a Vietnamese spot on 86th with acid green walls and very good pho. There’s a steady stream of delivery orders, but pho—like mountain spring water or a freshly picked berry—is best enjoyed at the source. You don’t need all of the ingredients that come in the sink-sized Extra Big Bowl, but get them anyway. The combination of bouncy noodles and the textures of five different cuts of beef (thinly-sliced eye of round, shank, tendon, trip, and navel brisket) make this soup extremely moreish. If you’re with a group, get an order of bún thịt nướng chả giò: it comes with both deep fried spring rolls and a smoky grilled pork chop.


Of the many cha chaan tengs or Hong Kong-style cafes in Bensonhurst, Like Cafe is one of our favorite places to get strong, sweet milk tea at tables that are separated by a set of colorful curtains. The mildly chaotic menu includes breakfast sets for under $10, and you should go for one that comes with a ham and egg sandwich, because both the eggs and the bread are pillowy soft. If it’s after breakfast, put together a feast of snacks with things like peanut butter french toast, curry fish balls, and beef tripe.


It’s always crowded at this noodle shop, which specializes in Yunnan-style “crossing bridge” noodles. If you want to know the story behind these noodles, just read the text of the wall mural in the dining room. A dish based on a love story could be the conversation-starter you need if you’re here on a first or second date. If you’re in the more established, soup-sharing phase of a relationship, you won’t have to choose between the original or mala broth, and can just get one of each. Don’t skip the cold wood ear mushroom and cucumber salads, and get an order of fried steamed buns.


We’d probably spend many a lunch hour at this Malaysian restaurant in Bensonhurst even if they didn’t have some killer deals, but they also happen to have some killer deals. The $10 lunch sets come with generously portioned noodle, rice, or nasi lemak options, milk tea, and a dessert. Dinner sets, which actually run all day, also include an appetizer for a total of $15. For being one of the best Malaysian options in the area (thanks in part to a fabulous salted egg chow fun and dense fish ball curry), this feels like a steal. The brightly lit, tile-floored space almost looks like a fast casual restaurant, so you’re definitely coming here to eat dinner, not go out to dinner, but there’s plenty of room—so it’s also a good option for last minute, walk-in groups.


There are a lot of Asian dessert shops in Bensonhurst. Me-Do is located directly across the street from one of the most popular—the often-crowded Mango Mango—and it's just as good. There’s only one table inside and two on the sidewalk, but all of Me-Do’s menu items are easily available to-go. Get the Durian Supreme, a tapioca and purple rice dessert packed with fresh, fragrant durian. You can add ice cream, but there’s enough going on without it. To satisfy your stranger cravings, they also have startlingly detailed sleeping bear mousse cakes in flavors like lychee, strawberry, and mango.


Come to this bustling bakery just outside the elevated train tracks on 86th street for one of two things: steamed rice rolls, or Pokémon cards. They have a great selection of both, but we’re partial to the fried dough steamed rice rolls, which are fluffy and crisp on the inside and topped with lots of scallions and tiny dried shrimp. Eat them on the sidewalk while you crack open a fresh pack of cards, maybe, and hope you get a Pikachu.


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