Manhattan’s Chinatown first came into existence in the second half of the 19th century, with a population that boomed during the 1960s and ‘70s as a wave of Cantonese-speaking immigrants from Guangdong Province and Hong Kong moved there. In that time, it became both an ethnic enclave and a tourist attraction.  

Despite demographic and economic changes over the years, Manhattan’s Chinatown (which now has the smallest population of NYC’s three Chinatowns) remains the borough’s go-to spot for Chinese cuisine. While Cantonese and Fujianese dominate the culinary landscape, you'll also find Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Laotian and Cambodian food. Dim sum parlors are abundant, as are traditional restaurants serving classic Cantonese food and smaller storefronts selling dumplings, buns, bao, and noodles. 

All of that makes Manhattan’s Chinatown a popular food destination and offers visitors an almost endless array of options ranging from grab-and-go bites to huge group dinners. So where should you go when you’re in the neighborhood? Here’s a quick survey of the best that Chinatown has to offer. 

Pro tip: Many if not most Chinatown businesses are cash only, so be sure to bring some paper money to avoid having to track down ATMs. 


Golden Steamer exterior
Golden Steamer bakery (Jon Tayler)
Chinatown Mei Lai Wah interior
Mei Lai Wah (Jon Tayler)
Mei Lai Wah bun closeup
A pineapple roast pork bun from Mei Lai Wah (Jon Tayler)

Mei Lai Wah (62 Bayard Street) is heaven if you’re looking for buns and bao, with house specialties including cocktail (a coconut custard filling) and pineapple roast pork, all for $5 or less. Don’t let the line snaking down the block to order at an outdoor kiosk scare you, either; it moves quickly, or you can skip it altogether and head straight inside if you can pay with cash. 

A few blocks north, Golden Steamer (143A Mott Street) has a smaller menu and is cash only, but it’s rarely busy. Get the sweet yet subtle pumpkin bun — a steal at just $3 — and enjoy it outside on the street, or buy a box of premade buns to steam at home. If your choice is out of stock, there’s a second Golden Steamer storefront (210 Grand Street) that has more buns and a full menu. 

Double Crispy Bakery exterior
Double Crispy Bakery (Jon Tayler)

Tai Pan Bakery (194 Canal Street) has a grab-and-go section of buns and bao, plus a dessert case with cakes and tarts as well as mooncakes and sesame balls. Likewise, you’ll find a hearty selection at Harper’s Bread House (271 Grand Street), which also has a bubble tea counter in the back, and Double Crispy Bakery (230 Grand Street). Whichever bakery you choose, make sure to get a dan tat, or egg tart, the Cantonese equivalent of the Portuguese pastel de nata. If baked goods aren’t your dessert of choice, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard Street) should satisfy your cravings. This venerable neighborhood institution offers flavors like lychee, durian, red bean and almond cookie, plus a rotating selection of new combinations like green tea Oreo and buko pandan. 

Yi Ji Shi Mo steamed rice noodle roll closeup
The Signature steamed rice noodle roll at Yi Ji Shi Mo (Jon Tayler)

Go to Yi Ji Shi Mo (88 Elizabeth Street) for one of the best takeout meals the neighborhood has to offer: cheung fun, or steamed rice noodle rolls, made fresh to order. Their signature is, well, the Signature: roast pork, cilantro, egg and shrimp mixed together in a perfectly steamed and silky soft bundle, all for a mere $7.50. 

In the mood for dumplings but don’t want the hassle of finding a table at a dim sum parlor? Head down to Mosco Street, an alley between Mott and Mulberry at the southern end of Chinatown, and look for the tiny Fried Dumpling (106 Mosco). Inside this no-frills counter joint, you’ll find a one-person operation preparing one thing and one thing only: fried dumplings. For $5, you’ll get a whopping 13 of them; for $10, that becomes 26. (Bring a friend with you to Fried Dumpling, if you can, or a family of four, or a soccer team.) Douse them in vinegar and hot sauce and enjoy. 

Chinatown Fried Dumpling exterior
Fried Dumpling (Jon Tayler)
Chinatown Fried Dumpling dumpling closeup
A pork and chive dumpling at Fried Dumpling (Jon Tayler)
North Dumpling dumpling closeup
A pork and chive dumpling in soup at North Dumpling (Jon Tayler)
Chinatown Taiwan Pork Chop House pork chop
A fried pork chop at Taiwan Pork Chop House (Jon Tayler)

Like Fried Dumpling, North Dumpling (27A Essex Street) is roughly the size of an East Village studio apartment, but it's also a must. An expansive yet affordable menu features fried and steamed dumplings, plus sesame pancakes, spring rolls, and other low-cost quick bites. If you can grab a table, order the dumplings in soup (10 for $6), watch the ladies behind the counter roll and form the dough and stuff it with pork scooped from a towering pile, and then enjoy them in a steaming broth that'll make squeezing into this tight spot entirely worth it.

Taiwan Pork Chop House (3 Doyers Street) is a small cash only restaurant with a full menu of Taiwanese and Cantonese food, including their namesake pork chop that's cut thin, seasoned with Chinese five spice and fried. You can get it either as a standalone side for just $3 or over rice for $8.25. Either way, don’t miss it. 


Chinatown Wu-s Wonton King exterior horizontal
Wu's Wonton King (Jon Tayler)
Nom Wah Tea Parlor exterior
Nom Wah Tea Parlor (Jon Tayler)
Chinatown Wo Hop exterior
Wo Hop (Jon Tayler)

Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers Street) is the neighborhood’s oldest dim sum parlor, though it has left behind the carts rolling through the dining room stacked high with baskets of buns and dumplings for an ala carte menu. The same is true of Jing Fong (202 Centre Street), another historic Chinatown eatery that has downsized and modernized. For an old school touch, head to House of Joy (28 Pell Street), where the dim sum still gets wheeled through the expansive dining room by waiters wearing vests and bow ties and where tables seat a dozen or more. All of Chinatown’s dim sum parlors boast long wait times on weekends, so hit them up early if you can. 

Chinatown dragon puppet
A dragon puppet at a local souvenir store (Jon Tayler)
Wu-s Wonton King soup bowl
A bowl of wonton soup at Wu's Wonton King (Jon Tayler)

The dominant cuisine in Chinatown is Cantonese, and several restaurants specialize in expansive menus full of the kind of dishes you can find in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Wu’s Wonton King (165 East Broadway) boasts what they call New York’s No. 1 wonton soup, and it’s hard to argue with them. Plump dumplings stuffed with pork and shrimp float in a thin salty broth full of flavor that will make you forget every takeout version of wonton soup you’ve ever had. More contemporary takes on Cantonese make up the menu at Uncle Lou (73 Mulberry Street), where they excel at both classics and newer plates. 

Chinatown Wo Hop lo mein
A plate of lo mein at Wo Hop (Jon Tayler)

If you’re looking for Chinese-American staples like chop suey, chow mein and egg foo yong, Chinatown institution Wo Hop (17 Mott Street) is your destination. The restaurant has been around since 1938 with a menu and decor that have barely changed since then. Head down the stairs to find a small dining room with about a dozen tables, where waiters in powder blue monogrammed jackets tote lo mein and fried dumplings on red-and-white ceramic plates. Photos of celebrity diners and random tourists alike cover the walls, as do signed dollar bills and business cards from a faithful clientele that stretches back decades. It’s as old school as you can still get in the neighborhood. 


Shu Jiao Fu Zhou exterior
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou (Jon Tayler)

Chinatown isn’t all Cantonese. Between the Bowery and Allen Street and concentrated particularly on East Broadway, you can find lots of restaurants specializing in cuisine from Fujian province on China’s southeastern coast. Stews and seafoods are regularly found on Fujianese menus, as are ban mian — noodles tossed in peanut sauce. At Shu Jiao Fu Zhou (295 Grand Street), you can order a heaping plate of them for $3; they're ready in minutes and will disappear just as fast. Likewise with the fried dumplings; take a look around the restaurant, and you’ll see a bowl of them on every tray, and with good reason. Like the peanut noodles, they’ll run you a mere $3 for six, making Shu Jiao Fu Zhou one of the best combos of tasty and affordable in the entire city. 

Chinatown has one of the city’s few Henanese restaurants in Spicy Village (68 Forsyth Street), where you can try da pan ji, or “big plate chicken” — a stir-fry of chicken and potatoes spiced with Sichuan peppercorns and star anise. Order it with noodles and settle down for a feast. Sichuan food is well represented at Hwa Yuan Szechuan (42 East Broadway), a once-famous joint that introduced cold sesame noodles to the city in the 1950s and 60s, closed in the ‘80s, and then reopened in 2017. It’s one of the neighborhood’s priciest eateries, but the menu is enormous and loaded with spicy goodness, plus those signature sesame noodles. 

Chinatown souvenir shop exterior
Red paper lanterns and Lunar New Year decorations at a souvenir shop (Jon Tayler)

There’s more to Chinatown than Chinese food, too. On Baxter Street, you’ll find a string of Vietnamese restaurants, none better than Thai Son (89 Baxter), where the pho is available in a dozen broth and ingredient combinations and comes in a giant bowl for less than $10. Kopitiam (151 East Broadway), meanwhile, slings excellent Malaysian staples like nasi lemak (coconut rice with fried anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg and sambal paste) and oh chien (an oyster omelet). And if you’re a vegetarian or vegan or keeping kosher, Buddha Bodai (5 Mott Street) has an expansive menu of veggies and mock meats, or head over to the master tofu purveyors at Fong On (81 Division Street) for their delicious — yes, delicious — tofu puddings and rice cakes. 

Chinatown Grand St B/D station exterior
A dragon mural being painted on a wall outside the Grand Street B/D station (Jon Tayler)



You can reach Chinatown on any of these lines

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Check out all of our NYC Chinatown Guides: