Jun 5, 2021

Chinatown, NYC Food Tour

Exploring new dishes that you may not be familiar with, and learning more about the various cuisines from provinces around China is a great way to understand, honor and support Asian cultures. Plan a walking tour around NYCs Chinatown.

This list includes some of my favorite Manhattan Chinese restaurants that feature dumplings, dim sum and more. They are mostly found around Chinatown with a few outliers on the Lower East Side. And while they are a few of my personal favorites (and what I would order from them), there are of course so many that I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet.

Most of my picks include dim sum or dumplings. But there are a few Chineses restaurants offering other delicious foods that I particularly enjoy. And to start, I’d recommend picking one or a two off the list and making your own little walking food tour.

Exploring new dishes that you may not be familiar with, and learning more about the various cuisines from provinces around China is a great way to understand, honor and support Asian history and culture. Stop by Wing on Wo, the oldest operating store in NYC’s Chinatown since 1890 for porcelain kitchen goods and more.

Chinatown NYC Food Tour

Chinatown, NYC Food Tour

Tips

  • Bring lots of cash! Many of the small businesses on this list are still cash-only.
  • While I have listed my favorites from each of the stops and tried to pick a variety of dishes, definitely take a look at the menu and try some other foods. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something unique. 
  • Most of the restaurants on this list don’t take reservations. So I’d recommend going with a group of four or less. 
  • A lot of places in Chinatown close fairly early in the day so it’s best to go around lunchtime. 
Chinatown NYC Food Tour

Restaurants

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013 | nomwahteaparlor.com/chinatown

Nom Wah Tea Parlor is located in a small alley. While there are many places that may do dim sum as well if not better than Nom Wah, its history sets this spot apart. The Doyers Street location is one of the oldest dumpling houses in New York City, open since 1920 when it operated as a tea parlor and bakery making it a great stop on a Chinatown tour. Since COVID they have added outdoor seating to accommodate social distancing and are now taking reservations on Resy. I’d recommend going right around when it opens at 11AM since a line often builds quickly.

I personally love their steamed rice rolls with shrimp – sheets of rice gluten are rolled with small steamed shrimp and served with soy sauce. I also love the rice roll with fried dough where the rice rolls encase airy pieces of fried dough for a unique contrast of textures. The large “original egg roll” has vegetable and chicken filling encased in a thin omelet shell rather than egg roll wrapper, served golden brown and crispy. 

What to order: steamed rice roll, rice roll with fried dough and the “original” egg roll 

Dim Sum Go Go

5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038 | dimsumgogonyc.com

Popular for Cantonese dim sum-style cuisine, Dim Sum Go Go is on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, meaning it’s a good quality and high value meal. If you’ve never been, I recommend the dim sum sampler. It comes with 10 pieces of their most popular (and colorful) items from shumai to a curry beef dumpling. Their thin skinned shrimp dumplings (har gow) are served wrapped in crystal wrappers and the shrimp balls are deep fried and made with minced shrimp paste. While many other stops close after lunch, Dim Sum Go Go stays open until 9pm so you can go for dinner. Don’t forget to order sesame balls for dessert! 

What to order: shrimp dumplings (har gow); shrimp balls; dim sum sampler; sesame balls 

Xi’an Famous Foods 

Multiple locations; Chinatown location 45 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013 | xianfoods.com

Xi’an Famous Foods’ original Flushing location skyrocketed to fame (they ship their noodle kits nationwide on Goldbelly now) after it was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations in 2007. The restaurant, featuring food from the Xi’an provenance of Northwestern China (pronounced shee·aan), now has many locations including one just down the street from Deluxe Green Bo off Bayard Street in Chinatown. I think this cuisine is so interesting because it’s characterized by Islamic influences – namely the use of lamb and mutton as a main protein.  

Chinatown NYC Food Tour
Chinatown, NYC Food Tour

They’re most well known for their hand-ripped spicy lamb and cumin noodles with mouth-numbing sichuan peppercorns (they also offer a vegetarian version with spicy hot-oil seared noodles). The wheat noodles are hand-pulled into wide, flat noodles similar to Italian pappardelle noodles. I also love their sour lamb dumplings. The skins are thicker and chewier than many other dumpling styles. And are filled with ground lamb and served in a sour and spicy sauce with black vinegar and chili oil topped with cilantro and sesame seeds. 

What to order: sour lamb dumplings; hand-ripped spicy lamb and cumin noodles 

Chinatown NYC Food Tour

Deluxe Green Bo 

66 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013 | deluxegreenbo.com

My friend Emily aka @foodloversdiary introduced me to Deluxe Green Bo when she played tour guide around Chinatown when I had just moved to New York in October of 2020. Since then I have continued to bring every friend and family member who has visited me. It’s a seated restaurant with both outdoor and indoor seating but cash only. 

The hot and spicy wontons are my favorite thing to order. Boiled wontons filled with pork are tossed in a sweet and savory peanut sauce along with a spicy chili oil. They aren’t very spicy so you can always ask for a side of chili oil. Deluxe Green Bo also has the best scallion pancakes. They’re not as layered as many recipes but more like a fried dough pancake. They’re crispy and delicious and definitely a must order item. I’d also recommend the fried buns with pork – fluffy bao-like buns filled with a juicy pork dumpling filling and pan fried with crispy bottoms, resulting almost in a cross between bao buns and sheng jian bao. 

What to order: hot & spicy wontons with peanut sauce and chili oil, fried buns with pork & scallion pancakes 

Chinese Food Tour in NYC

Spicy Village

68 Forsyth St B, New York, NY 10002 | spicyvillagenyc.com

Spicy Village is a small space so it’s great option for takeout. Sara D. Roosevelt park is located just across the street with plenty of benches if you want to post up and eat outside rather than taking the Henan fare home. They’re most well known for their pancakes – thin crispy dough filled with shredded seasoned beef or pork. I personally prefer the beef but it’s worth trying both since they’re only $4.35 (another cash only spot). They’re also famous for their spicy big tray chicken, or da pan ji with hand pulled noodles, bone-in chunks of chicken stewed in a spicy chili oil sauce filled with chilies, whole cumin seeds and Sichuan peppercorns. 

What to order: pancake with beef; big tray chicken with hand pulled noodles

Super Taste 

26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002 | yelp.com/biz/super-taste-new-york

These fried pork and chive filled dumplings are different from your typical fried dumpling. They seem to be more shallow fried, in a style more like a Mexican taquito with a crispy, crunchy skin. The small inside seating is still closed, so they are set up as a takeout window and are cash only. Located right off Eldridge Street, I like to pick up an order of the fried dumplings (though the Western Chinese hand-pulled mount qi noodles are great too) and walk over and grab beef pancakes from Spicy Village and take it to Sara D. Roosevelt park and eat them picnic style.

What to order: Fried pork & chive dumplings 

Fried pork & chive dumplings
Chinatown, NYC Food Tour

Mei Lai Wah

64 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013 | yelp.com/biz/mei-lai-wah-bakery-new-york

I found this small, cash only spot last Christmas. I was sitting outside eating at Deluxe Green Bo and watched as a consistent long line streamed out of the place next door. After asking a few of those waiting, I found they were there for their traditional baked buns filled with roast BBQ pork (char siu). The buns are fairly large with a pillowy dough and come warm from the oven. While the juicy pork inside is finely chopped in a balanced sweet and savory sauce. 

What to order: baked roast pork buns 

baked roast pork buns

Yi Ji Shi Mo

88 Elizabeth St New York, NY 10013 | yelp.com/biz/yi-ji-shi-mo-noodle

If you are a fan of Joe’s Steamed Rice rolls then you will love this small Elizabeth St. shop. Rice rolls (ha cheung or cheung fun) are a chewy Cantonese dish made from wide rice noodles steamed flat in sheets and rolled. They’re slippery in texture and mild flavored, made simply with rice flour and occasionally with the addition of tapioca or cornstarch, mostly taking on the flavor of the fillings. The paper thin steamed rice rolls at Yi Ji Shi Mo Noodle Corp. are made to order with fillings from pork, dried shrimp to curry fish balls. My personal favorite order is a large (only $3.50 and cash only) filled with egg, scallion and green onion topped with their house peanut sauce, soy sauce and sriracha.

What to order: Large steamed rice roll

Joe’s Shanghai 

Multiple locations; Chinatown location 46 Bowery New York, NY 10013 | joeshanghairestaurants.com

Known as one of the top xiao long bao restaurants in the city, Joe’s has several locations around New York including a Chinatown location while the first opened in Flushing, Queens in 1995, introducing xiao long bao to the city. Xiao long bao, also known as soup dumplings (or XLB), are probably the most well known dish in Shanghainese cuisine. The Chinatown location is just off Canal Street on Bowery, right before the Manhattan bridge. The dumplings feature flavorful gelatinous meat stock that melts as the dumplings steam, creating juicy dumplings filled with meat and soup. To eat the dumpling without getting the soup all over, carefully lift the dumpling onto a spoon. Then bite into the dumpling and suck the soup out before eating the rest. 

What to order: Pork xiao long bao (soup dumplings)

Shu Jiao Fu Zhou

295 Grand St, New York, NY 10002 | shujiaofuzhou.com

Many people enjoy the dumplings at Vanessa’s but I’d recommend walking down the block to Shu Jiao Fu Zhuo. This spot specializes in food from Fuzhou, the capital of southeastern China’s Fujian province. Order the pork and chive dumplings. Classic boiled dumplings with thicker skins carefully wrapped around the fillings are boiled and served with a sweet soy dipping sauce. While the menu is minimalist, the dumplings are cheap – an order of 10 costs $4 (cash only).

What to order: steamed pork and chive dumplings 

Shu Jiao Fu Zhou - best chinese food in NYC

The Bao

13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003 | yelp.com/biz/the-bao-new-york

While most of the other spots on this list are located right in the center of Chinatown, The Bao is just a short walk away – in St. Mark’s Place. The original is in Flushing, (it is called Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao) but the offshoot is worth the stop because their xiao long bao is so good. These xiao long bao, or soup dumplings have thin, delicate wrappers encasing various fillings with plenty of broth you suck out before eating the dumpling. While their classic pork dumplings and pork and crab filled dumplings are great they also offer a super spicy pork version with plenty of chili. Each order comes with six dumplings. While I typically focus on the XLB, I’d recommend an order of the Sichuan chili fried chicken as well. Small nuggets of fried chicken are tossed almost equally with pieces of Sichuan peppers and green onion. 

What to order: Super spicy pork xiao long bao; crab xiao long bao (soup dumplings); Sichuan chili fried chicken 

where to eat chinese food in NYC
Chinatown, NYC Food Tour

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