America has come a long way since the days of all-you-can-eat General Tso's chicken and egg rolls. Once city that offers no shortage of Chinese food is New York City, where regional cuisine is the focus of the most popular Chinese restaurants from Midtown to West Village. After all, saying that American cuisine is only hamburgers and hot dogs fails to recognize the beauty of Louisiana po' boys, Maine's lobster rolls, and Texas's queso dip. The same goes for Chinese delicacies.
In the mood for Yunnan noodles, spicy Sichuan chicken wings, Cantonese dumplings, Xi'an hand-ripped noodle soup? An array of NYC restaurants are ready to serve you just that—if you know where to look. From fast casual takeout restaurants to Michelin-starred establishments offering everything from traditional cuisine to contemporary fusion takes on local classics, these are hands down the best Chinese restaurants in New York.
Mission Chinese, Two Bridges
Possibly one of New York's most acclaimed Chinese restaurants, Mission Chinese is Danny Bowien's boisterous two-story establishment serving fiery, innovative takes on Sichuan cuisine. The perfect example: Its ultra-hot Chongquing chicken wings—order at your own risk. Reserve in advance or expect a long wait. Whatever you do, it will be worth it.
What to order: Blue crab dumplings, green tea noodles, broccoli beef brisket, and lobster coconut fried rice.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Nolita
Whether you choose to visit the original Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown or its much hipper counterpart, Nom Wah Nolita, you're in for a real treat. The original vintage dim sum parlor has been in operation since 1920. If you're looking for a true traditional sum experience, this might not be it—this restaurant is made to order and doesn't involve carts. But as far as the actual food goes, it's as authentic as it gets.
What to order: Shrimp dumpling, “The Original” egg roll, scallion pancake, house special roast pork bun.
RedFarm, West Village
RedFarm is more like a contemporary New York take on Chinese food than a traditional experience, but it's nevertheless worth every penny. The restaurant, which has two locations, in the West Village and Upper West Side, serves modern Chinese food and innovative dim sum offerings with a Greenmarket sensibility. And yes, their colorful Pac-Man dumplings have eyes. Think of it as an upscale version of Westernized Chinese food—but in the best way possible.
What to order: Pac-Man shrimp dumplings, Katz's pastrami egg roll, spicy crispy beef, and sautéed black cod.
Tim Ho Wan, East Village
Hailing from Hong Kong, the original Tim Ho Wan was once named the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Since the opening of its New York City outpost a couple years ago, it has been serving up dim sum specialties to a steady flow of hungry customers always willing to patiently line up for a coveted table. If the Michelin guide thinks of this place as the best dim sum in the world, we're sold too.
What to order: Barbecued pork bun, steamed spare rib, vegetable spring roll, and steamed rice with chicken and shiitake mushroom.
Xi'an Famous Foods, Flushing
For true and authentic fast-casual Western Chinese dishes, look no further than Xi'an Famous Foods. Besides its original shopping mall location in Flushing, it now has 13 locations across greater New York City. In 2015, Time Out named it the second-best Chinese restaurant in the U.S. Chefs like the late Anthony Bourdain, and Bobby Flay have also showered the chain restaurant with praise.
What to order: Spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles, spicy and tingly beef noodle soup, lamb burger, spicy sour spinach dumplings.
Chinese Tuxedo, Chinatown
Walking into Chinese Tuxedo feels a little like walking onto a James Bond movie set. The two-story former opera house is staged with towering palms, dimmed lighting, and a certain old-world glamour—not to mention that it's located on the elbow bend Chinatown street. Its nickname,"The Bloody Angle," hearkens back to a time when the street used to be center stage for gang fights in NYC. But this new hotspot is not only safe, it's worth the detour. Serving contemporary Chinese fusion and elaborate cocktails in a swanky atmosphere, it's the perfect date-night spot.
What to order: Steak tartare, tuxedo dumplings, Johny fried rice, and crispy eggplant.
Little Tong, East Village
If you're in search of the perfect bowl of Chinese rice noodles, look no further than East Village's Little Tong. Simone Tong, born in Chengdu, has brought the mi xian noodles of Yunnan province to NYC, along with its long-cooked lean broths, fresh toppings, spiced oils, and pickled vegetables. You might even find edible flowers in your bowl.
What to order: Egg white drop soup, mini stir fry, little pot mi xian, grandma chicken mi xian, Yunnan salad.
Café China, Midtown
Don't let Café China's Murray Hill location deter you—this is one of NYC's only Chinese restaurants to hold a Michelin star. The inconspicuous but elegant façade and laid-back interior can be misleading—as this husband-and-wife-run establishment is truly a diamond in the rough. Café China serves Sichuan cuisine to rival the best hole in the wall Chinese restaurant around. Expect beautifully balanced flavors and dishes with a kick.
What to order: Five-spice beef, pork sandwiches, tea-smoked duck, fragrant fish fillet, and spicy cumin lamb.