The Restaurants of Chinatown

The Restaurants of Chinatown

The Restaurants of Chinatown


A visit to Chinatown is incomplete without dining at one of its well-known restaurants. With over 2,000 Chinese restaurants in New York City, you’ll find some of the very best right in this historic neighborhood. From dim sum to chop suey, there’s something for everyone.

Here, we offer our five favorite spots in Manhattan’s Chinatown. From the oldest to the newest to the most popular, these restaurants capture the essence of the neighborhood’s diverse and flavorful cuisine. These culinary gems are worth exploring.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

11-13 Doyers Street

Open daily from 11am to 9pm

Established in 1920, this iconic restaurant is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. It first opened at 13-15 Doyers as a bakery and tea parlor. Nom Wah has served as a neighborhood staple for over a century, offering fresh pastries, steamed buns, dim sum, and tea.

When it lost its lease at 15 Doyers in 1968, the restaurant moved next door, where it has been ever since. The first known owners were the Choy family dating back to the 1940s. It was sold in 1974 to Wally Tang, who had worked at the restaurant since 1950. Not much has changed inside, as the restaurant has retained its vintage look with its beautiful tile floor and great food for generations.

Known for its dim sum, this is one of the most popular establishments where you can experience this kind of meal. Meaning “touch the heart” in Chinese, the small portions were designed to merely touch the heart and not sate the appetite, so they were first enjoyed as snacks. Now, dim sum is served as an abundance of small plates and dumplings that are meant to be shared. Served family style, you will enjoy the many offerings with your friends and travel companions.

Make sure to try the shrimp dumplings, shrimp rice roll, “The Original” egg roll, scallion pancake, and the house special roast-pork bun.

Wo Hop

17 Mott Street

Open daily from 10:30am to 10pm (Sunday closes at 9pm)

Wo Hop has been a classic in New York City’s Chinatown since 1938, making it the second oldest Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood. Under its third generation of ownership, it is a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike.

They serve what they call the old-fashioned chop suey style of food. This is the Chinese American style stemming from nearly two hundred years of evolving traditions. As people immigrated to New York City from China, they were confronted with different ingredients and the taste preferences of their customers. This has led to the creation of a distinct culinary experience that is exclusive to the city. It’s that melding of cultures that NYC is known for.

The restaurant has two separate spaces. Downstairs, you will find the original and classic location with its red tiles, jacketed waiters, and an old-timey Chinatown vibe. Upstairs on street level is the one that opened in 1976. Here, you’ll experience a no-nonsense diner-type service and atmosphere. Both have very different sensibilities, and regulars proclaim that you can only be a fan of one or the other. So why not try both and see which one you fall in love with?

Make sure to experience their egg foo young, dumplings, the pan-fried flounder, or their famous fried squid.

Joe’s Shanghai

46 Bowery

Open daily from 11am to 11pm

Famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must-try when dining in Chinatown. It was founded by Chef Joe Si, who specializes in traditional Shanghainese food. The first location was in Flushing, Queens. In 1995, they opened a second location on Pell Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown. They were so popular that they soon moved to a larger space at 46 Bowery, where they have been delighting diners ever since.

Xiao long bao (or soup dumplings as they are commonly called) dates back to the 1870s and originated in Nanxiang, Shanghai. They are made from a thin skin of flour and water that is then hand-rolled. The dumpling skin with a small amount of meat is placed in the palm of the chef’s hand who then gathers the edges by spinning the dumpling clockwise. The number of pleats is a sign of the skill of the chef. There are typically at least 14 pleats, and the finished size is slightly larger than that of a golf ball.

At Joe’s Shanghai, these tender pouches are freshly made to order. They arrive at your table in hot bamboo steamers. Each one contains a pork meatball surrounded by a delicious meaty broth. The two variations to choose from are crab with pork or plain pork.

To prevent burning one’s mouth and to savor the dumpling, the suggested method is to bite off a little piece of the doughy wrapper, drip the broth to a spoon to cool off, or suck the broth from the dumpling when it is slightly cooler with a slurp and then eat the rest. Whichever way to eat them, you’re in for a delicious treat.

Beyond dumplings, they are known for the Peking duck, a terrific moo shu pork, and fried rice.

Manbu Café

18 Doyers Street

Open Daily from 11am to 8pm

This Hong Kong-style spot is a brand-new addition to Chinatown. It has been a hit since it opened last year on Doyers Street. Modeled after casual Hong Kong cafes, the food is delightful and delicious. The tables are made from mahjong tiles, creating a fun, playful atmosphere. It’s a terrific place for breakfast and lunch.

The menu includes café classics ranging from mouth-watering street food to savory mains. This style of restaurant is often called ‘cha chaan teng’ in Cantonese which translates to ‘tea restaurant.’ It’s a casual place perfect for families and friends to gather. Dining here is all about coming together around great food and enjoying life.

The must haves include the Ovaltine condensed milk French toast, sweet and salty pork, and the baked spaghetti.

Peking Duck House

28 Mott Street

Sundays – Thursdays 11:30am to 10:30pm

Fridays and Saturdays 11:45am to 11pm

One of China’s most famous dishes, Peking duck, takes center stage at this iconic Chinatown restaurant. Dating back to the Imperial era, it has become a classic meal that many consider a national symbol of China. Peking Duck House is the perfect establishment to experience it in its classic form.

At this restaurant, the crispy-skinned, red-hued bird is presented whole to the table and then carved in a mouth-watering performance. It comes with a vegetable stir-fry with leftover bits of meat. This is served with plum sauce and pancakes to roll the ingredients together.

There are many other Cantonese standards on offer as well. So, if you’re wanting to venture beyond the duck, you can try the sea cucumber with shrimp roe or the Peking-style shark’s fin. The restaurant in BYOB so bring your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal.

The atmosphere is more formal than most of the surrounding restaurants in the neighborhood. Yet it’s still comfortable and not stuffy. It’s an excellent spot for a special occasion or just a casual, terrific meal with your fellow travelers.

Experience Chinatown with Metropolis Tours

On the 5 Neighborhoods tour by Metropolis Tours, you’ll experience this vibrant neighborhood and live the history that has brought it to its rich present day. Stay after the tour and dine at one of these iconic restaurants. Book the tour right here today.

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