Essential Food Guide: Chinatown Manhattan NYC! Where to go + What to order

Welcome to the very first installment of Chuubie Essentials! Food guide of where to go and what to order at my favorite spots in Chinatown. My criteria evaluate: food value (price vs quantity vs quality), ambience, crowd, service, and it’s own separate delicious score.

My top 3 eats are all tied at #1, depending on what you are looking for:

Cha Chan Tang

If you are looking for: A quick sit down restaurant for lunch till late dinner (1am on fridays and saturdays), uncomplicated foods, reverse fusion: Hong Kong people’s perception of western diner food

45 Mott St
(between Pell St & Bayard St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhoods: Chinatown, Civic Center
[Menu]

Food Value: ~$6 entree, $3 appetizers / large portions / great appetizer quality, varies decent to very nice entree quality. Avg bill: $10-12 per person incl. tip.
Ambience: SUPER CUTE. Hong Kong nostalgia. Three flat screen TVs side by side are styled as windows as if you were looking out onto a Hong Kong street scene. Very cute booth cove with balusters/vertical beams made out of stacked tea cups and a soda pop chandelier.
Crowd: YOUTHFUL. Mainly cantonese speaking college aged young adults. Definitely the most youthful and vibrant crowd in Chinatown. This breath of fresh air is exactly why this restaurant has been so successful. It is the only authentic generation-now Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. Also, european tourists who are in their 20’s.
Service: Quick, attentive, easy going. Chinese guys n gals in their early 20’s. No pretense, no attitude. Note that in Chinese restaurants waiters do not check up on you. You must SIGNAL/WAVE/CALL THEM OVER on your own for anything you want.

What to Order:

  • MUST ORDER APPETIZERS:
    • A17. Chicken Wing with garlic & black pepper 3.25  (Korean Fried Chicken at 1/2 the price of K-town! Absolutely DELICIOUS)
    • A19. Curry Triangle 3.00 (SouthEast Asian Fried Curry pastry delight!)
    • A21. Steamed / Fried Dumping (6) 3.25 (I prefer fried…)
    • A22. Fried Turnip 6.00 (I like this but not many of my friends do)
    • DRINK: I03. Special Cold Hong Kong Style Teacold 2.95
  • MY FAVORITE ENTREES:
    • D38. Fish Fillet & Chilli On Rice 6.00 (My default order- super filling, i love fried fish, with a side of veggies.)
    • B08. Baked Chicken Portuguese Style6.50
    • R10. Crab Roes with seafood fried rice 8.00
  • MUST ORDER DESSERT:
    • A20. Fried Bun with condensed milk 3.00
    • B40. Coffee Motcha Agar Special$3.75

DO NOT Order:

  • Appetizer Soups
  • Random white bread sandwiches
  • Noodle soup entrees are mediocre.
  • Not recommended to order overly-americanized fare such as spaghetti or fried chicken and french fries.. unless you really want.

Shanghai Asian Manor

If you are looking for: Formal mid-upscale lunch or dinner (open until 9:30 weekdays, 10pm weekends), more northern Chinese fare, Shanghai soup dumplings.

21 Mott St
(between Chatham Sq & Worth St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhoods: Chinatown, Civic Center
[Menu]

Food Value: ~$12 entree, $6 appetizers / moderate filling portions / great appetizer quality, solid entree quality. Avg bill: $17-20 per person incl. tip.
Ambience: CALM, inviting restaurant. I avoid going to the competitor (shanghai cafe) because their waitresses are on an agenda to get you in n out ASAP, giving you bill before you even finish eating. Here at Shanghai Asian Manor, you can sit and talk without pressure.
Crowd: 20’s-50’s all ages people who want a nice dining experience. Mainly mandarin speaking crowd and european tourists in their 30’s.
Service: Very friendly and attentive service, wait staff will come by to fill your hot tea and check on your dishes. Good introduction to a Chinese restaurant for someone unfamiliar with the culture. Won’t be shocked by inattentive service (cultural).

What to Order:

  • MUST ORDER APPETIZERS:
    • 1. Steamed Tiny Buns with crab meat and pork (8) 6.95
    • 2. Steamed Tiny Buns with pork (8) 4.95
    • 11. Wonton Szechuan Style (8) 4.95  (Wontons here are not bad, not great compared to Los Angeles. Try this dish for the sauce!)
  • GREAT SOUPS:
    • 41. Chicken with corn soup 3.50 (amazing!)
    • 38. Egg Drop Soup sm 1.25 lg 2.50
  • OPTIONAL APPETIZERS:
    • 9. Scallion Pancakes 2.25
    • 3. Fried Tiny Buns with pork (8) 4.95
  • SHARED ENTREES:
    • 155. Shanghai Style Pan-Fried Noodles 8.95 (noodles/sauce are on sweeter side)
    • or 156. Seafood Pan-Fried Noodles 10.25
    • 171. Shanghai Style Rice Cakes 6.25
    • or 167. Shredded Pork & Preserved Cabbage with rice cakes 5.25
    • VEGETABLES:
      • 112. Sauteed Dry String Beans with meat or without 8.75 (one of my favorite savory vegetable dishes. note, it is flash fried before wok fried)
      • 124. Watercress Sauteed with enoki mushroom 10.75

Vanessa’s Dumplings (Lower East Side)

Photo Source: Yelp

If you are looking for: Filling, dirt cheap (max 3 course meal: $4.50), authentic Chinese fast-food. You are on the go, you want a quick bite with a friend (NOT a place for romantic dates). You don’t mind standing in a crowd. You want an amazing clash of downtown New York art kids + local Chinese.

118 Eldridge St
(between Grand St & Broome St)
New York, NY 10002
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
[Menu]

Food Value: $1 for 4 dumplings, $2.50 for Peking Duck Sandwich / large portions / slightly greasy but hearty and filling. Avg bill: $2-5.
Ambience: ALWAYS BUSTLING. Plan your order in advance and be abrupt when ordering. There is always a 20 person line. Tables are small and get snatched up. It is loud, not good if you are claustrophobic or crowd adversive. You must like adventure.
Crowd: DOWNTOWN ART SCENE + CHINESE LOCALS. This is the place to go to run into fellow art kids, artists in Lower East Side, Chinatown, East Village, see tourists from around the world, mixed with local New York Chinese.
Service: Rapid-fire. Once you order, you have a receipt and can stand anywhere in the venue including sitting at a table. The women will shout your receipt number when your order is ready. Extremely busy, all women run. Support women run businesses! Do not expect any pampering here. There is no service. Be direct about what you want.

What to Order:

  • $1 Fried Chives Pork Dumplings (2 orders is good)
    • Photo Source: Yelp
  • $2.50 Peking Duck Sandwich
    • Photo Source: Yelp
  • Optionally you can order: any of the other dumplings involving MEAT, Fried Pork Bun, Chive and Egg Pancake.
  • Note: Bring your own drinks.

Do NOT Order:

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