As small as it is, there’s no shortage of Chinese food in Manhattan’s Chinatown, representing food from every part of mainland China and Hong Kong. While these choices may seem overwhelming, here is a list of the best restaurants in Chinatown, no matter what you’re looking for:
Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Located in the heart of Chinatown on a crook of Doyers Street known as the “bloody angle” due to its use for gang fights in the early 20th century, Nom Wah has been open since 1920, and the restaurant is rich in history. Here, you can get plenty of delicious dim sum plates made fresh to order.
Ah-Wah: While it looks like any run-of-the-mill greasy spoon Chinese restaurant, Ah-Wah, located right off Bowery, boasts one specialty that no other spot in Chinatown has come close to replicating: bo zai fan, listed on the menu as “rice casserole”. This is a rice dish cooked in a clay pot until the edges are crusty. The perfect comfort food, it’s warm, stick-to-your-ribs and delicious. While it’s often easy to overlook soy sauce, the house-made sauce here will make sure you never view this condiment the same way again, and you’ll want to pour generous helpings of it all over your bo zai fan.
Joe’s Shanghai: While many spots around Chinatown boast soup dumplings, the undisputed master here is Joe’s Shanghai. In addition to their legendary soup dumplings, the cold sesame noodles, greasy and covered in peanut sauce, are excellent. If you do visit, be sure to not go into neighboring Joe’s Ginger instead; while good, Joe’s Shanghai does everything else better. It might also be a good idea to go at an odd time, because it tends to get crowded.
Xi’an Famous Foods: Part of a New York-only chain made famous by none other than Anthony Bourdain, the food here is inspired by the city of Xi’an in western China. As one of the last stops on the Silk Road, the food from Xi’an has plenty of Middle Eastern influence, as evidenced by the restaurant’s signature dish of spicy cumin lamb noodles. The flavors here are a combination Whatever you order here, make sure it includes noodles, which are the house specialty.
Peking Duck House: Before serving it, the waiter here parades the roasted duck here past your party before dramatically slicing off meat. Yet it’s important to remember that you need to order this specialty in advance. Select the “three way”: the duck main course, complete with pancakes, plum sauce, vegetable stir-fry and a cabbage soup. While there are other options on the menu, you’d be foolish to go to the “Peking Duck House” and order something other than Peking Duck.