Manhattan's famous Chinatown is a lively neighborhood, full of good values in restaurants and food shopping. Also on sale are cheap knockoffs of designer labels made in China, and all sorts of trinkets and toys. Chinatown is a much larger neighborhood in population and area than it used to be a few decades ago, and for all practical purposes encompasses most of "Little Italy" and a large portion of what was traditionally called the Lower East Side, north of Canal Street and on the north side of the Manhattan Bridge overpass. Indeed, in a real sense, it can be said that the center of Chinatown is no longer on Mott Street between Canal Street and Chatham Square (though that stretch is well worth visiting), but has moved further north and east to East Broadway between Chatham Square and Pike Street and Grand Street between the Bowery and Chrystie Street, where locals shop for foodstuffs - and you can, too, for good values. Chinatown has also been growing more diverse, becoming a bit less of a Chinatown and more of a China and Southeast Asia town, with a growing presence of immigrants from Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. And inasmuch as it remains a Chinatown, it is no longer dominated by Cantonese people the way it used to be. For example, Eldridge St. between Division and Broome Sts. is now known as Little Fuzhou, due to a recent influx of Fuzhounese immigrants who have given Chinatown a new flavor.
The Chinatown area also encompasses what little remains of Little Italy, an area which is essentially comprised of a few blocks of Mulberry Street north of Canal, plus a bit on streets perpendicular to Mulberry (such as the block between Mulberry and Mott on Grand Street, or part of it). Little Italy is almost devoid of Italian residents nowadays, and is primarily a kind of tourist theme park, but still contains a few eateries with reputations. What used to be the northern end of Little Italy, now called NoLIta (which extends north to Houston Street), is a quieter residential area, less touristy, but with upscale boutiques, and more often frequented by New Yorkers than SoHo, of which it is in some ways an eastern extension, nowadays.
For general purposes, the D or B subway lines to Grand Street are optimal for accessing Chinatown. The J and Z to Bowery leave you a little north of the center of Chinatown. The F train to East Broadway leaves you toward the eastern edge of the neighborhood. The 6, N, Q, R, W, J or Z to Canal Street leave you a few blocks west of the center of the neighborhood though in the midst of the excitement, congestion, and vendors of Canal St (this is generally the best stop for shopping for anything other than foodstuffs). Further afield, it is also possible to take the 4 or 5 to Brooklyn Bridge or the 2 or 3 to Park Place and walk north and east. The A, C, or E trains that stop at Canal and 6th Av. and the 1 train, which stops at Canal and Varick, are far west of the neighborhood though walkable in good weather.
By MTA bus
Several city bus lines including the M9, M15, and M103 traverse Chinatown.
By long distance bus
Chinatown is the home of several super-cheap long distance bus companies. You can take buses from Manhattan's Chinatown to other Chinatowns in Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; to various cities further afield; and to casinos in Atlantic City. Ticket offices of the various bus companies are scattered throughout Chinatown, including those of Eastern Coach and Lucky Star Bus, among others.
On foot or by bicycle
You can of course walk to Chinatown. If you're coming from Brooklyn, you can cross the Manhattan Bridge, which opened to pedestrian traffic within the past few years. Note though, that your view will be partially blocked by a protective mesh, and that you will be periodically rattled by the B, D, N, and Q trains crossing the bridge. But on the plus side, you will exit on Bowery near Canal Street in central Chinatown. Another bridge that can be crossed from Brooklyn to Manhattan is the Williamsburg Bridge. After crossing the Williamsburg, you will be left on Delancey Street, a few blocks east of the northeast corner of Chinatown. All things being equal, though, it is most pleasant to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and then take the short walk to the southern reaches of Chinatown from the pedestrian exit. Note that it is also possible to use a bike path on the Manhattan Bridge and that the walkway over the Brooklyn Bridge doubles for most of its length as a bike path; the Williamsburg Bridge also has a bike path.
The main attraction in Chinatown is just walking through the neighborhood, visiting the above-mentioned shopping streets.
- 1 City Hall (Subway: to Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall or to Chambers St or to City Hall), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. On a triangular city block between Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Street sits City Hall, a gorgeous gleaming white building completed in 1812 and still serves as the home of certain city government functions, such as the office of the mayor. The building itself is fenced off and only accessible by tour, but there is a lovely park surrounding the building, with plenty of shady trees and a pleasant fountain just to the south of the building. Just north of City Hall and on the same block is the 2 Tweed Courthouse, a gorgeous government structure and the legacy of Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who used the courthouse project to embezzle large sums of money from the city budget and was convicted in a courtroom in this building.
- 3 City Hall Station. The original subway station, and quite a marvel to witness--the chandeliers and ornate tiling are a sharp contrast to the nearby Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station. There's one catch, though: it's been closed since 1945. However, you can see it by staying on the downtown 6 train after its last stop Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall; it will turn around in the old station. This is the one place in the system where this is allowed, and the announcements reflect that. The Transit Museum (in Downtown Brooklyn) offers occasional tours as well, which allow you to actually walk around the station, but you must be a museum member and a US citizen, making this an impractical choice for most visitors.
- 4 Manhattan Municipal Building, 1 Centre St (at Chambers St). With New York City growing and not enough space in the City Hall building, this 40-story structure was built to meet the space demands of the city government. Completed in 1915, it is a massive and very grand building with the gilded statue of a woman standing atop the building's spire.
Parks and squares
- 5 Chatham Square (at the intersection of The Bowery, East Broadway, Park Row, Mott and Worth Streets). At this square at the confluence of several major streets, there is a memorial archway to Chinese-Americans who died in WWII which has some interesting calligraphy. Also in the square is a statue of Lin Zexu, a Chinese scholar who opposed the opium trade in the 19th century.
- 6 Columbus Park, Bayard St (between Mulberry and Baker Streets). An excellent place to relax and people-watch. Early in the mornings, people practice their tai-chi there. If you're interested, some of these people might teach you a little bit of it. At times, there are a group of women practicing the traditional Chinese fhan dances. Also, usually in the summer time there are basketball tournaments one may either participate in or watch. In the afternoon when school is out, many adolescents hang out in this park.
- 7 Museum of Chinese in the Americas, 215 Centre St (between Howard and Grand Sts.). Tu-W, F-Su 11AM-6PM, Th 11AM-9PM, closed M. Exhibits on the history and culture of Chinese-Americans. $10 adults, $5 students/seniors, children under 12 free.
- 8 African Burial Ground National Monument, 290 Broadway, 1st floor (north of City Hall), ☏ , fax: . Visitor Center: Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM except Federal holidays; Memorial: Daily 9AM-5PM except Federal holidays. For most of the 18th century, Africans in New York City were buried in a graveyard outside the city. The graveyard was eventually forgotten and was rediscovered in 1991. This museum and memorial site commemorate the estimated 15,000 Africans that were interred on the site of the memorial. Note that the museum is located inside of a Federal building so airport-style security should be expected. Free.
- 9 Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St, ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-5PM, Fri 10AM-3PM. The museum, a non-sectarian cultural organization based in the restored 1887 National Historic Landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue, presents the culture, history and traditions of the great wave of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side drawing parallels with the diverse cultural communities that have settled in America. The museum offers guided tours of the synagogue, new exhibits and programs -- including concerts, neighborhood walking tours and film screenings. $10 adults, $8 students/seniors, $6 children (5-18), $15 families, free admission Monday all day.
- Italian American Museum, 155 Mulberry St. (at Grand St.), ☏ , ✉ info@ItalianAmericanMuseum.org. F-Su 12PM-6PM.
- Mulberry and Canal Street. When many tourists arrive in Chinatown, they are greeted by the stench of dead fish that are sold along the streets. It's definitely a sight worth watching since it is a distinct quality of Chinatown.
Be mindful that most shops in Chinatown accept cash only. Canal Street east of Broadway is a paradise for bargain hunters and people looking to buy counterfeit knock-offs of high-end clothes and accessories. If you want to impress people back home with the fake Louis Vuitton bag you got for $30, this is the place to go. Also look at the stores that line Mott Street between Canal and Chatham Square.
NoLiTa has become synonymous with avant-couture boutiques in charmingly dilapidated buildings. Some stores are so idiosyncratic that they appear not to sell anything at all, yet are perpetually crowded and passionately trendy.
- 1 Elizabeth Center, 15 Elizabeth Center. If you want to purchase cute Asian accessories or dolls, Elizabeth Center (also known as EC, for short), is the right place for you to shop. Once you enter, go down the escalator and all the shops downstairs sell cute Asian merchandise. If you want to take sticker pictures, EC has it too. It's on the first level in the far left corner of the building.
Groceries and food to go
- 2 Aji Ichiban, 37 Mott St (near Pell St), toll-free: . Hong Kong snack shop, very popular with locals and tourists alike. The staff are friendly and give samples.
- 3 [dead link] Asia Market, 71 Mulberry St (between Canal and Bayard Sts), ☏ , . Renovated several years ago from a dusty, old grocery store with tight aisles and rusty shelves into a brighter, more spacious store with a wider selection of goods, Asia Market supplies a variety of Asian ingredients, snacks, and drinks. Usually the difficult, hard to find Southeast Asian ingredients will most likely be available at this store. Even if something you want isn't available, the staff here is very friendly. You may leave the brand name of the product you want and they may try to order it for you. There is also a vegetable and fruit stand outside the store. Basically, this may be your one-stop store to shop for everything. One good example of the products this store has is fresh kaffir lime leaves.
- 4 Bangkok Center Grocery, 104 Mosco St (between Mott and Mulberry), ☏ . This modest-sized store contains a large quantity of Thai goods of various descriptions, and also sells inexpensive prepared sweet and savory items. Friendly, helpful service.
- 5 Deluxe Food Market, 79 Elizabeth St (between Grand and Hester, entrances on Elizabeth and Mott Sts), ☏ . This humongous store has almost anything you can think of and more, both raw and prepared. Seriously; go and see.
- 6 New Kam Man, 200 Canal St (between Mott and Mulberry), ☏ .
- 7 K.L. Malaysia Beef Jerky, 95A Elizabeth St (just south of Grand St), ☏ . 10AM-8PM every day. This is not a cheap snack, but their chicken and beef jerky are excellent and come in spicy and regular varieties. Unlike American-style jerky, Malaysian-style jerky is moist. Its sugar content may surprise you, so low-carb dieters, beware! There is nowhere to sit inside the store, so business is strictly for takeout. Beef jerky, chicken jerky and pork jerky: $19/lb.; Shrimp flavored pork jerky: $20/lb.
- 8 McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince St (between Mulberry and Lafayette Sts; Subway: to Prince St or to Spring St), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Formerly McNally Robinson Booksellers, this independent bookstore features an extensive collection of magazines, fiction, and nonfiction. The store also features a cafe, as well as a number of ongoing events, signings, book clubs and discussion groups.
- Aeon Bookstore, 151 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002. This subterranean bookstore is a neighborhood gem, with a carefully curated selection of books. The books are fairly prices and cover a range of topics, such as philosophy, art, culture, history, mysticism, and esoterica.
- 2 Bridges Music Arts, 75 E Broadway #205, New York, NY 10002. 2 Bridges Music Arts sells new and used records, tapes and books while staging exhibitions and events from their post in a Chinatown mall. The space is meant to host overlapping tendencies in experimental music, art and knowledge production internationally.
If you want knockoffs of designer labels, try the stores on Mott Street south of Canal first. There are other stores on Canal Street, but you may find them more expensive. And remember, you get what you pay for, so if you buy a knockoff watch and it lasts you more than six months, be happy. Price shop and don't be afraid to try bargaining.
If you want to have a really cheap meal, or it's really nice weather, consider buying something on the street (the fried chicken cart that you may find on Canal or Walker Street right near the triangle between Canal, Walker, and Baxter Streets serves really tasty legs and wings, for example) or a cheap prepared thing such as is sold at the Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco Street between Mott and Mulberry, and eat it in Columbus Park or another park as a kind of impromptu picnic.
If you'd rather have a sit-down meal, Chinatown probably has the largest number of inexpensive restaurants in Manhattan. They range from the "rice, soup, and four side dishes" steam table places to the "4 dumplings for $5" establishments to full-service restaurants like Great NY Noodletown and Noodle Village, which abound in dishes "on rice," noodle soups, and congees for around $7 or less, and on up to a seafood specialist like Oriental Garden, where specially requested, highly prized varieties of live fish and seafood can run up the bill somewhat. But what Chinatown lacks is anything truly high-end. For the most part (with the exception of off-menu items at Oriental Garden), $30-40 is about the most you are likely to pay, even if you pig out at a multi-course banquet.
- 1 Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, 198 Grand St (between Mott and Mulberry), ☏ . This is in back of a jewelry and gem shop; no kidding! Both the Banh Mi Saigon (pork) and Banh Mi Ga (chicken) sandwiches are fantastic. Get them to go and eat them in a nearby park such as the one on the corner of Spring and Mulberry, a few blocks north and one block west. Note: Do not confuse this place with Saigon Banh Mi So at 369 Broome St, which serves sandwiches that are fine but nowhere near as good.
- 2 Bo Ky, 80 Bayard St (between Mott and Mulberry Sts.), ☏ . Very inexpensive food, reliable soups that are especially welcome in cold weather. Very quick service. They have side dishes of offal (pig's ears, etc.) for those who like them. They are also known for their Teochew country-style duck. There is another branch with an identical menu at 216 Grand St., between Mott and Elizabeth.
- 3 Cheung Wong Kitchen Inc., 38A Allen St. (corner of Hester St.), ☏ . 10:30AM - 10PM. This restaurant is probably putting out the best soy sauce chicken in Chinatown today, and their soy sauce duck is also delicious. Very good roast pork, too. Most of the rest of their dishes are just OK, but it's worth going there just for the chicken or duck, and the price is certainly right, as you can absolutely pig out for about $13. If you get a main dish, you are entitled to also have a small soup, so just ask for the soup if you want a mild pork broth with some greens. The restaurant is small and unprepossessing, and you are likely to share a table with a stranger, but you aren't there for the atmosphere, anyway. The most expensive dish on the menu costs $10.95 and rice plates are almost all between $4 and $5.
- 4 Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, 65 Bayard St (between Mott and Bowery), ☏ . Enjoy the "regular" flavors like taro, green tea, lychee, black sesame, mango, and coconut (or the "exotic" flavors like strawberry, vanilla...), and don't neglect the sorbets. The owner also experiments and creates new flavors. Even though there is a Haagen Dazs down the street from this ice cream store, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is the go-to place for ice cream when you visit Chinatown. On a nice, sunny day, you'll most likely find a long line of customers outside the store waiting to purchase their ice cream. That is how popular this store is. If you really like the ice cream, you may purchase one of their Chinatown Ice Cream Factory t-shirts. Prices have crept up. 1 Scoop $3.75 / 2 Scoops $5.75 / 3 Scoops or Pint $6.95 / Quart $11.75.
- Fay Da Bakery. This bakery offers a wide assortment of traditional and fusion buns, pastries, cakes, as well as an assortment of drinks and bubble teas. All their buns are freshly baked every morning so the quality and consistency is always there. It's a self-serve bakery so you can easily pick and choose while taking your time.
- 7 Great NY Noodletown, 28 Bowery (corner of Bayard), ☏ . This restaurant, which is open late, has the feel of a Chinese diner. It can be very crowded at peak hours. Try the noodle soups and congees (around $5/person), the Ginger-Scallion Lo Mein (ditto), the barbecued items, and the salt baked dishes, but don't neglect the less inexpensive specials, like the dishes with chives or pea shoots (around $13/person, with different charges depending on choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, scallops, etc.).
- 8 Joe's Shanghai, 9 Pell St (between Mott and Doyers), ☏ . This is the most famous of the Shanghainese restaurants in Chinatown, but not the best. Like most every other Shanghainese restaurant, it serves the popular "soup dumplings" (xiaolong bao in Chinese) which contain either pork or crab+pork with soup all within a dumpling. However, due to its popularity, here are some tips: Don't wait on line, go only at odd hours and order adventurously (get things like eel).
- 9 iM Star Cafe, 19 Division St (between Catherine and Market Sts), ☏ . Small restaurant decorated with caricatures of Hong Kong celebrities on the walls. If you hit the morning stream of customers, you'll definitely have to wait for a seat since their breakfast is... to die for! Extremely cheap! This restaurant is the best restaurant to eat at if you're looking for something similar to the diners in Hong Kong. A mix of Chinese and American tastes. Definitely try their French toast, pan fried rice noodle, and iced milk tea! Extremely cheap.
- 10 Nice Green Bo, 66 Bayard St (between Mott and Bowery), ☏ . Stick to Shanghainese food and do not get things like "Jalapeno Chicken."
- 11 Noodle Village, 13 Mott St (Between Chatham Sq. and Mosco St.), ☏ . 10:30AM - 11PM every day. This is a very good restaurant and a good value. They serve their noodles nicely al dente and use good roast pork and roast duck. Their vegetables are fresh, too. Excellent rice dishes and casseroles, too — for example, they make a delicious spicy curried oxtail rice dish. Chef's Specials: $8.50-14.50, Vegetable dishes: $3.25-6.75, Side Order: $1.25-9.75, Congee: $2.95-8.50, Dumpling Soup: $5.50-6.50, Noodle Soup: $5.25-8.50, Lo Mein Hong Kong Style: $6.50-11.50, Vegetables: $4.50-5.75, Dumplings: $3.75-6.95, Drinks: $1.25-3.50, Dessert: $3.50-5.50.
- 12 Sheng Wang, 27 Eldridge St. (Between Division and Canal Sts., down a short flight of outdoor stairs.), ☏ . 10AM-11PM every day. This is a very cheap place to eat, as you can easily fill up on a single dish. For example, their standout dish is 10 steamed pork dumplings for $3. Some dumpling connoisseurs consider Sheng Wang's dumplings the best in Chinatown today. Most of the rest of their dishes are noodle soups with hand pulled or peeled noodles made in house, and be warned that for a single person, trying to eat an order of dumplings plus a bowl of noodle soup is likely to be quite excessive. Also, one type of tripe they use in soups can be overly chewy. But you can't beat the value. $3-7 per dish.
- Spicy Village (大福星, previously known as He Nan Flavor), 68 Forsyth St (Between Hester and Grand St), ☏ . Daily: 10AM-11PM. This very informal eatery across the street from Sara Delano Roosevelt Park serves food from the province of Henan. All items are good, but the highlight is the Spicy Big Tray Chicken ($12.95), a very large soupy, stewy bowl of flavor, including cumin seeds and a generous helping of potatoes, that's not quite like any other style of Chinese food. Take at least one friend with you if you can, so you can share the chicken and some cold dishes. The proprietress is very nice. Appetizers: $1-6; Noodles and soups: $1.25-6.50; Specials: $1.25-12:95.
- 13 Tai Pan Bakery, 194 Canal St, ☏ . This bakery store offers numerous Chinese breads, delicacies, and both hot and cold beverages/snacks. It shares its name with a popular bakery store chain in Hong Kong.
- 14 Cafe Hong Kong, 51 Bayard St. (Between Bowery and Mott/Elizabeth St.), ☏ . 11AM-11PM every day. This restaurant was opened in 2013 by personnel from the defunct South China Garden, which used to be around the corner on Mott St. The portions are large and the food is delicious. This is in the estimation of many people the best Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown right now, and best to go to with at least a couple of friends and a big appetite, so that you can share a few dishes. If you like chicken, get the garlic fried chicken, which is one of their standout dishes. Appetizers: $3-6; Soups: $3-9.95 (the $9.95 ones serve 4); Salads: $6-7 (except Lobster Salad: seasonal price); Sandwiches: $2-5; Mains: $7.50-28, plus some seasonal-priced ones, but clustering between $12 and $16 for mains not based on rice or noodles; Lunch specials: $6.95 (11AM - 4PM).
- 15 Eileen's Special Cheesecake, 17 Cleveland Pl, ☏ . M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa-Su 10AM-7PM. Some of the best cheesecake in the city, with individual-sized slices so that you can sample multiple flavors.
- 16 Hop Kee Restaurant, 21 Mott St, ☏ . A decades-old Cantonese restaurant with classic dishes (Roast Pork Lo Mein, etc.) Open late on weekends (until 4AM), but like many other Chinatown restaurants, cash only.
- 17 Lombardi's Pizza, 32 Spring St (corner of Mott), ☏ . The establishment in its current incarnation was opened in 1994, but describes itself as a continuation of "America's first pizzeria" (established in 1905). Their coal oven pizza is served by the pie, not the slice. Many New Yorkers think it has coasted off its prior reputation for years, but tourists can sometimes be seen lined up outside the door.
- 18 Amazing 66, 66 Mott St. Very good Cantonese food--go in a large group and get a feast!
- 19 Nha Trang, 87 Baxter St (between Canal and Bayard Sts), ☏ . Looking to catch a quick lunch or dinner? This is definitely the place to go! Speedy service! You order and five minutes later, it's on your table ready to eat. A nice, homey Vietnamese restaurant. Be sure to try the soft-shelled crabs and fried calamari. Keep in mind that while this is good Vietnamese food for Manhattan, if you've had really good Vietnamese food in a place like San Jose, you may be very disappointed by this and any other sit-down Vietnamese restaurant in Manhattan.
- 20 Ping's Seafood, 22 Mott St, ☏ . Good seafood restaurant especially the seafood pan-fried noodles & calamari. Also has dim sum. Note that this place can get very crowded during weekend dinner.
- 21 Shanghai Cafe, 100 Mott St (between Canal and Hester), ☏ . Can make the best Shanghainese food in Chinatown, but has some consistency problems. Many young Chinese-American couples have dates there. Do not be shocked if the check is delivered to you unbidden, but don't feel that it must be paid right away. It's easy to have a sizable meal here for around $15 and possible to eat here for less.
- 22 Ajisen Noodle, 14 Mott St (between Mosco St and where Bowery intersects Mott St), ☏ . Japanese food in Chinatown. Quaint, peaceful restaurant. You can splurge on the spider roll (sushi with soft-shelled crabs) and the fried ice cream. However, Japanese people often call the Ajisen chain the "McDonald's of ramen," which is not a compliment. So weigh that reputation into your decision on whether to go there.
- 23 Nyonya, 199 Grand St (between Mott and Mulberry), ☏ . This restaurant is part of a small chain with other Nyonya and Penang restaurants and is popular and crowded on weekends. Their roti canai is good. One word of warning, though: If you are looking for food like you had on your visit to Kuala Lumpur, for the most part, you won't get it here. Instead, you are likely to get very watered-down, Americanized versions of most of their Malaysian dishes. Expect to spend around $25/person for dinner.
- 24 Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth St (between Bayard and Canal), ☏ . Somewhat upscale, white tablecloths. Excellent seafood dishes, in particular, and a good, reliable place for a Cantonese banquet. The managers are good at customizing a banquet menu within your budget if you tell them what you want to spend, but consider eliminating one or two of the dishes they suggest, because they tend to recommend too much food (though you can take some home if need be). Unfortunately, there have been reports lately (2014-15) that while their fish and seafood are still acceptable, their non-seafood dishes have become bland and boring.
For dim sum eating halls, especially those with carts, it is generally best to arrive by 10:30 or 11:00 in order to beat the crowds and have fresh food that is hot.
- 25 Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway (at Chatham Square), ☏ . More expensive than the average Chinatown restaurant and catering to a mixed clientèle of Chinese and non-Chinese, it is many connoisseurs' favorite spot for dim sum in Chinatown. All the food is made to order; no carts. Some of their non-dim sum items are also good. Dumplings are mostly excellent — tasty, with a good texture and thin wrapper — but there have been some problems in the past with overly doughy buns that then got mushy from condensation, so you might consider avoiding those. Roughly $15-17 per person for dim sum.
- 26 Golden Unicorn, 18 East Broadway (corner of Catherine), ☏ . Occupies a few floors. Each of the eating rooms is smaller than Jing Fong. There is also a bit more decor and the prices are a bit higher. Unfortunately, the food is mediocre.
- 27 Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth St (2nd floor, between Bayard and Canal), ☏ . Has an eating hall about the size of a football field. Try to get a table near the kitchen (to your right on entering) if possible, and don't neglect the non-circulating items available on either wall. The quality of the food is generally acceptable, if not refined, but it is best when fresh from the kitchen.
- Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers St (Doyers St is the curvy street that goes from Pell St to Bowery), ☏ . Sun-Thu: 10:30AM-9PM, Fri-Sat: 10:30AM-10PM. Nom Wah was the first dim sum parlor in New York, opening in 1920. In 2011, they renovated, sprucing up the interior but leaving most of the old-fashioned feeling intact. A few new dishes were added, but the core of Nom Wah's menu remains Cantonese. They serve dim sum all day. Unfortunately, the quality of the items is not consistent. Dim sum items mostly cost around $4-5 per order, but "Chef's Specials" are $5.50-12.
- Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth St, ☏ . Also gets good notes for dim sum from some connoisseurs, though others find it inconsistent. There are some carts on weekends, but its dim sum is mostly to order.
- Ping's Seafood, 22 Mott St (at Mott St), ☏ . Medium priced, but according to some, the best dim sum in Chinatown (others vehemently disagree). They have exotic offerings such as calamari and sugar cane shrimp.
- 28 Red Egg, 202 Centre St (corner of Howard St, between Hester and Grand), ☏ . M-F 11AM-11PM; Sa-Su 10AM-11PM. This restaurant cares about its decor. Its dim sum is perhaps a bit less fancy than Dim Sum Go Go's, and it used to be good but by most accounts is no longer much worth going to, as of 2015. Roughly $15-22 for dim sum.
When in Chinatown, try some bubble tea. It's named for the tapioca/sago balls in the tea, which are sucked up with an oversized straw or eaten with a spoon. This kind of tea, which originated in Taiwan, has a popularity in New York that extends beyond the Chinese community, so you can find bubble tea houses outside of Chinese neighborhoods, but the greatest concentration of such establishments is still in Chinese communities like Manhattan's Chinatown and in Flushing, Queens. There are numerous bubble tea houses in Chinatown.
- 1 Ten Ren Tea Time, 79 Mott St (between Bayard and Canal Sts), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-Midnight. Some of the best bubble tea in town, but price is slightly towards the expensive side compared to other bubble tea stores in the neighborhood.
- 2 Vivi Bubble Tea, 49 Bayard St (between Elizabeth and Bowery Sts), ☏ . A small (with a grand total of three seats) but very popular branch of this bubble tea shop chain, with inexpensive drinks and some rather quirky decorations, like Homer Simpson sitting on a bench out front and little coin-operated prize machines to entertain you while you wait in line. The tea can have a weird chemical taste and also be kind of dilute at the same time; your mileage may vary.
- Mr. Fong's, 40 Market St, New York, NY 10002. This local bar is pretty chill on the weekdays, but it can get packed on the weekends. Chinese-inspired cocktails & bar bites, plus a jukebox.
- 1 Best Western Bowery Hanbee, 231 Grand St, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11:30AM. A fairly typical Best Western, with Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast, in a good location. $200-$250.
- 2 The Bowery Grand Hotel, 143 Bowery, New York, ☏ . Rock bottom accommodation. Single rooms are smaller than the size of a double bed, and the place is not exactly sparkling. Rooms have no roof, so there is no privacy, and you can hear everyone else packed in inches away from you. Wifi is slow. But you can't beat the price. $50.
- 3 The Bowery House, 220 Bowery, ☏ . Shared bathrooms, roof "garden", and bike rental. From $75 for a dorm bed.
- 4 Comfort Inn Lower East Side, 154 Madison Street. If New York hotel prices have made you resort to sleeping under a bridge, this may as well be your choice (pardon the pun), as it consistently ranks as one of the lowest-priced decent hotels in the city, and is also almost literally located under the Manhattan Bridge. The location is a bit remote and not quite charming, but the hotel does not lack anything in its limited-service standards, although it is on the small side with only 43 rooms and most facilities sized to match. $149, breakfast included.
- 5 Comfort Inn Manhattan Bridge, 61-63 Chrystie St, ☏ . Check-out: 11AM. Standard chain hotel, with Wi-Fi, decent breakfast, and pets allowed for a fee. Reviewers often note friendly service. $200-$300.
- 6 Sohotel, 341 Broome St, ☏ . Billing itself as "the oldest running hotel" in the city (the building has been housing a hotel for over a hundred years), the hotel is in an old building with rooms with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls, giving it a pretty unique feel. Lots of in-room amenities, although reviewers have noted issues with noise and cold showers. $175-$300.
There are a number of internet centers in Chinatown. Look for them on Mott Street between Chatham Square and Bayard and especially on Eldridge Street between Canal and Grand, where there are several. You could also try the 1 New York Public Library Chatham Square branch at 33 East Broadway, but expect it to be very crowded. That library branch is also a good source for teach-yourself-Chinese materials and Chinese-language books.
- 2 Mulberry Street Library, 10 Jersey St (between Lafayette and Mulberry; Subway: to Broadway – Lafayette or to Bleecker St), ☏ . M,W noon-7PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 10AM-5PM.
Obvious places to go next include the Lower East Side, which almost seamlessly merges with Chinatown on its edges and sometimes beyond, nowadays; the Financial District, such as the area near City Hall; SoHo; and Brooklyn across one of the nearby bridges. A somewhat more out-of-the-box idea is to go to Flushing next, to see an extensive and even more diverse Chinatown in Queens. There are vans that connect Manhattan's Chinatown with Flushing, but you might have to ask around to find them. They are sometimes on Division St. not far from the Bowery, and more recently have been seen on Elizabeth St. near Hester and lately on Forsyth St. just south of Canal.
|Routes through Chinatown|
|Midtown East ← SoHo ←||N S||→ Financial District|
|Midtown East ← SoHo ←||N S||→ Downtown Brooklyn → Coney Island|
|Financial District ←||W E||→ Lower East Side → Williamsburg|
|Midtown East ← SoHo ←||N S||→ Downtown Brooklyn → Coney Island|
|Midtown East ← SoHo ←||N S||→ Financial District → Downtown Brooklyn (R)|