There are so many good restaurants in Chinatown that picking one can be about as overwhelming as choosing a name for your firstborn child or deciding which non-stick pan to buy at Bed Bath & Beyond. Fortunately, you now have this guide. It’ll help you figure out exactly where you should be eating, whether you’re looking for hand-pulled noodles, humongous lazy susans, a hot pot place that also has self-serve ice cream, a dim sum spot that’s older than your grandpa, or vegan caesar salad. Some of the places on this guide are technically a block or two outside of Chinatown - but much like alpacas and kiwis, borders are fuzzy, confusing, and not that important. So just take a look at all 37 spots, pick one that looks good, and start planning a night out.
Hwa Yuan Szechuan is a reboot of a restaurant from the ’80s, but unlike the last Ninja Turtles movie, this is a rebirth we’re extremely down with. It takes up two pretty huge floors, has very large round tables, and serves Chinatown’s best Peking duck. They also have really good sesame noodles, soup dumplings, steamed fish, crispy beef, and mapo tofu. It’s pricier and a bit more upscale than many of its neighbors, but absolutely worth it for the excellent food.
A big group lunch at Jing Fong is one of the best dim sum experiences you can have in Chinatown. You walk in and tell someone with a walkie talkie how big your party is, then you take an escalator up to a massive dining room (which is almost half an acre) filled with big round tables, and a stage in front for special events. Once seated, you’ll be surrounded by roving dim sum carts, and you should definitely prioritize the fried turnip cakes, fish balls, and egg custard buns from the roving dim sum carts.
Another excellent choice for dim sum, Golden Unicorn is ideal for both celebratory big-group meals and casual brunches. It’s a two-story space with huge round tables covered in white tablecloths, and there’s a decent chance you’ll be seated next to a birthday party or wedding reception when you come. Get some pork buns, rice rolls, and at least one order of har gow, and get here around 10am on weekends if you want to avoid a very long wait.
If you want to impress anyone with excellent soup dumplings, take them to Deluxe Green Bo. In addition to the soup dumplings (which are incredibly meaty and come with a combo of crab and pork), we love the rice cakes with shredded pork and cabbage, as well as the hot and spicy wontons that come with peanut sauce, sesame seeds, and chili oil on top. The space isn’t huge, so we wouldn’t recommend bringing more than four people here with you - but it’s great for a few out-of-towners if you’re playing host.
Wu’s is our go-to spot for a group dinner in Chinatown. It’s BYOB, so most groups have ice buckets next to them filled with everything from Alsatian riesling to American IPAs. Every big round table has a humongous lazy susan, which you’ll inevitably cover with shareable dishes like a huge bowl of wonton soup, fried Dungeness crab, and Peking duck served in bao buns. After you finish everything in your ice bucket, keep the night going at 169 Bar a few feet away.
Despite its name, you shouldn’t be coming to Noodle Village for noodles. You should be coming here for Chinatown’s best wonton soup (and you should get it without the noodles, which are confusingly not great). You should also come for their excellent soup dumplings, which we think are better than those from Joe’s Shanghai around the corner. While it can get busy here during the day on weekends, it’s usually a great bet for a weeknight dinner.
Royal Seafood is just one big carpeted room on Mott Street full of huge round tables, and it’s another great dim sum in Chinatown when you’re with a lot of people. Since it gets busy at brunch on the weekends, we suggest banding together with a few coworkers during the week and threatening to quit if you can’t get an extra-long lunch break. Once you’re there, cover your table in siu mai, pork buns, rice rolls, and spare ribs. And when you’re ordering from the carts, make sure you get plenty of food. It sometimes takes a while for them to recirculate.
August Gatherings is an upscale restaurant on a very busy stretch of Canal Street. On the menu, you’ll find things like boiled chicken and fish ball soup, as well as some more experimental stuff like foie gras steamed tofu, ribeye with papaya, and a plate of truffle-y short rib noodles that wouldn’t be out of place at an Italian restaurant. Skip that pasta, and go for some roasted duck and pork belly. The comfortable, earth-toned dining room is a great spot to grab a nice dinner with some out-of-towners, in-laws, or a couple of friends on a Friday night when you want to spend some money (it’ll be about $50 per person) on dinner but don’t want anything too loud.
Dim Sum GoGo isn’t just one of the best dim sum spots in Chinatown, it’s also the most convenient. It’s open from 10am to 11pm every day of the week, which means you can eat shrimp dumplings and rice rolls for dinner (most other places close after the brunch and lunch rush). From a convenience standpoint, it’s also a good place to dine solo, thanks to their dim sum sampler, which includes 10 different types of steamed dumplings, with both meat and vegetarian options. In general, variety here is strong, with dumpling options like duck and crab in addition to the more usual suspects.
There are two things you need to know about Peking Duck House. You can probably guess the first - this place serves really good Peking duck. The long menu has lots of other options (like dim sum, mala chicken, and a giant plate of seafood with scallops and shrimp), but you come here for the juicy, crispy duck that’s carved tableside. The second thing to know about this Chinatown spot is that it’s BYOB. Combine the two, and you get a pretty ideal group dinner option. The two-floor space has a bunch of big tables for large parties, but this place is very popular, so you should make a reservation by phone ahead of time.
Since it’s down an obscure alleyway on Bowery, you’re probably not going to stumble into West New Malaysia randomly. But you should make a point to come here for some excellent Malaysian curries, big bowls of soup filled with seafood, and shareable entrees like sauteed chicken that’s perfectly tender and covered in spicy shrimp paste. The menu is huge, but no matter what you order, make sure to get the crispy, fried prawns with salted egg. And if you come at lunch, lots of the entrees are offered for less than $10.
If you’re looking for a bowl of pho in Chinatown, go to Nha Trang One. It’s a casual spot on Baxter Street that’s perfect for weeknight meals, and it’s also great for when you have jury duty and would rather not get your lunch from a vending machine. We especially like the chicken pho, and if you want to supplement it with something else, go for the grilled pork rolls.
Just a few blocks from Nah Trang One, you’ll find Nha Trang Centre. It’s a bigger space that’s better for groups - but it’s from the same people, and it has the same menu. So if you can’t decide between the two, just flip a coin.
Even on a Monday night, you might find it difficult to get a table at Spicy Village. And there are several reasons for this. First off, the space about the size of a tollbooth. It’s also BYOB, and the noodle-heavy Henan food is very good and pretty inexpensive. The big tray chicken (with noodles) should always be on your table here, and you should bring one or two people to split it with.
Walk down Mott Street, and you’ll probably see a line of people waiting to get into a little door in between Wo Hop and Hop Kee. That’s when you know you’ve made it to Shanghai 21 (formerly known as Shanghai Asian Manor). This spot should be on the shortlist of places to go if you’re with a group and someone has demanded soup dumplings. Both the crab and pork options have an impressive amount of broth in them, and they’re delicious.
It’s 3am and you’re in Chinatown with a few friends who have decided a second dinner is in order, and no one wants to pay much more than $5. Make sure someone has cash and go to Great NY Noodletown for some pan fried noodles or roast pork with rice. You’ll know you’ve made it when you see the ducks hanging in the windows on Bowery, calling your name. They’re open till 4am.
If you want dim sum and you don’t want to sit at a big round table for two hours, go to Dim Sum VIP. It’s a small place on Mott Street with an all-day dim sum menu, and it’s a good spot for a quick lunch or dinner. Bring a small group or stop by for a solo meal, and order the crispy shrimp rice rolls.
At this cash-only spot on Doyers Street, there are seven different types of hand-pulled noodles that you can have either in soup or pan-fried with the option of adding on various types of meat, seafood, and vegetables. If that sounds overwhelming, just do as we do and get the thicker, knife-cut noodles pan-fried with roast pork. No matter which route you go with your noodle order, make sure to get a side of fried pork dumplings.
While the name might lead you to believe otherwise, Thai Son is a Vietnamese restaurant, and it’s where you should be having big, family-style meals. It’s right near the courthouse on Baxter, and there’s a smoothie bar up front and a pretty strong incense smell when you walk in. Skip the pho and prioritize the barbecue pork, some summer rolls, and banh xeo (massive egg crepes).
If you’re looking to have a great solo meal or a casual date with someone who you don’t know well enough to share food with yet, come eat pho at Pho Bar. The menu has a few different beef broth variations that correspond to how long they’ve been cooking (8, 16, and 25 hours). Which explains the neon sign on the wall that says “crazy rich broth,” and the 25-hour soup is predictably rich and beefy. In the event that you and your date do want to split something, though, make it an order of lemongrass chicken wings to start - they’re messy and coated in a sweet chili sauce.
Hometown Hot Pot is an ideal place for a fun big-group dinner when you want to know exactly how much you’ll spend and be certain of the fact that no one will leave hungry. It’s an all-you-can-eat hot pot place (that also does barbecue), and it’s an attractive space with some big round tables that can fit groups of 12. There are some very good broths (like ma la, curry, and tom yum), and the ingredients are high quality. Get a lot of beef to throw in your hot pot, and make a reservation if you’re eating with six or more people. This place gets busy.
Let’s say Hometown Hotpot has a long wait, and you’re with a bunch of people who will revolt if they don’t get some hot pot. Try 99 Favor Taste. It’s just down the street, and it’s also all-you-can-eat. We like Hometown a little more, but this is still some solid hot pot with a big selection of ingredients and lots of sauces to choose from. Plus, it’s BYOB.
Hou Yi Hotpot is another all-you-can-eat hot pot place, and while it’s considerably smaller than Hometown Hotpot and 99 Favor Taste, it doesn’t get quite as busy. It also has an all-you-can-eat, self-serve ice cream bar, which is a magical thing that every restaurant should have. Bring a small group, and get a meal here before going out on the LES. Just be aware that even the “medium” spicy broths are still spicy enough to make you consume several gallons of water.
Mei Li Wah is a Chinese dim sum spot that makes some of the best pork buns in the city. The buns come in a few varieties, including steamed, baked, and there’s even one with chicken and egg in addition to pork, too. The baked ones with barbecue pork are the best, though - these things are perfectly soft, with a golden brown top, and caramel-y pieces of pork steaming on the inside. While there are plenty of people who come to Mei Li Wah to pick up buns and leave, you can also sit down and have a full meal here that involves some pretty good rice rolls and fried rice dishes with eggs, vegetables, and sausage mixed in.
For $1.25, you could get a ride on the subway in 1992. In present day, that amount could get you a steamed pumpkin bun at Golden Steamer. The price has actually gone up from under a dollar in recent years, but it’s still a highly reasonable amount to pay for something that tastes this good. This little bakery on Mott Street serves plenty of bun varieties, from pork to egg yolk, but they’re most famous for the one filled with pumpkin custard. They always come out piping hot, and after eating one, you’ll want Golden Steamer to become a tutor for all other places and products that are part of the Pumpkin Spice Industrial Complex.
Bassanova is a ramen place that people who love ramen should know about. It’s in a below-ground space that you could miss even if you walk by it every day. They serve a few different styles of ramen – including dipping ramen, brothless ramen, and pork-based tondaku ramen. But they’re best-known for their creamy green curry ramen, which you should be ordering in addition to a side of sizzling pork dumplings.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is located on the outside periphery of what most would consider Chinatown, which is a nice way of saying it’s not exactly in Chinatown, by like a block. But we’re including it in this guide because we reserve the right to reject labels and also because this place serves the best dumplings around. They only come steamed, but they’re incredibly juicy and chewy and always just right. The wheat noodles with peanut sauce are also not to be missed. Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is just up the block from the more-famous Vanessa’s Dumplings, but you should absolutely come here instead.
Whenever we’re in the mood for something unique and delicious that doesn’t cost much more than $15, we go to Kopitiam. It’s an excellent Malaysian spot on the border of the Lower East Side that’s great for a casual brunch or catch-up dinner with a friend who would appreciate a perfect oyster omelette. Split that and an order of the Nasi Lemak (the national dish of Malaysia, which involves coconut rice, fried anchovies, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs). But above all else, try the pan mee soup with handmade wide noodles, anchovy broth, and ground-up pork. It’s the Sunday HBO programming of the Kopitiam menu – and you’ll feel left out if you miss it.
As the name suggests, Taiwan Pork Chop House serves pork chops, and while they’re enjoyable (especially for $2.50 each), our favorite things here are the fried rice cakes with shredded pork or the tender wontons drenched in spicy oil. Everything on the menu is both shareable and under $10, so bring a group and order a lot (and bring cash). You should probably get two or three orders of the wontons, but we recommend ordering in stages as all of the food comes out really quickly.
Super Taste specializes in hand-pulled noodles from Western China, and that’s exactly what you should be ordering here. The spicy beef soup is the best – it costs exactly $6.50 and comes in a salty and sour broth with a bunch of chilis and parsley on top. If you want to supplement your noodles, we also recommend trying the pork house bao, which come with a slab of pork belly and crushed peanuts. There are only a few tables in here and the only decorations are just a few big printed menus on the wall. Honestly, does any restaurant really need anything more than that?
Imagine American diner classics, if American diner classics were going to prom and had a little more flair than usual. That’s the food at Golden Diner. This place is open for lunch and breakfast, and serves the sort of stuff you want for an extravagant but casual lunch - like matzo ball soup and a salad with flowers in it. There are also a few things with Asian influence, a very good chicken katsu club with purple slaw, and a colorful plate of bibimbap.
Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian dim sum restaurant. It doesn’t get insanely busy, and most dishes here cost less than $15 - so it’s a very useful place to know about, especially because it’s BYOB. There’s a long menu of things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as some pretty solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb.
The original Nom Wah location on Doyers Street has been serving dim sum since 1920, and it’s not unusual to see lines of people waiting to eat in this Americana-diner-like space. We can’t say Nom Wah serves the best dim sum in Chinatown, but between its constant busyness and long history in the neighborhood, it’s a cool place to take friends for lunch.
With its mirrored walls and vinyl booths, the dining room at Hop Kee looks very much like something out of the 1960s, and it’s a good spot for groups who happen to get hungry late at night (they’re open until 4am on weekends). So bring a couple of friends for some Cantonese-style crab, chow fun, or one of the 15 different beef dishes. Portions are large, and the place is about as casual as a diner.
Wo Hop is open for 18 hours every day, and much more than the food, the real reason to come here is for a classic 3am experience. This place has been around since 1938, so it’s a true NYC institution, where you might see lawyers from the DA’s office and ’80s headshots of former broadway stars. Head down the stairs to eat some fried dumplings that are intensely crispy, and big plates of chow fun, orange chicken, and beef and broccoli.
At any given moment, you should be aware of your nearest Xi’an Famous Foods location like it’s an exit door on a plane. Knowing about both will save your life (one more literally than the other). The food here is heavy in cumin, chili, and Sichuan peppercorn, and the two most famous dishes are the hand-ripped noodles with spicy cumin lamb or tingly beef, and the spicy cumin burger. If this is your first time here, get either or both of those. Their spot in Chinatown has a decent amount of seating, and it’s close to the park if you’d prefer to eat your lamb face salad on a bench. Keep this in mind for jury duty lunch or just something quick.