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Some personal Chinatown Faves

I'm new to the board but have lived in and around Chinatown for some thirty odd years and wanted to share some faves.

New Southwind (aka Nam Fong) on 21 Division St.

One of the last of the old school Chinatown lunch places, check out the counter with its stools.
Great food, from amazing cheung fun, stuffed to fu, and my personal favorite, siu gau (basically a dumpling) meaty and delicious esp. with a little soy sauce on top. Great rice dishes as well like the beef and green peas over rice and the pork chop onion on rice.

I remember my dad taking me here when I was a kid before a matinee at the old Pagoda movie theater (long gone).

Hop Shing - Chatham Square

some of the best old school dim sum in Chinatown esp. the sticky rice chicken wrapped in leaf, yum, a complete meal.

This place is another time warp Chi-town throwback with huge take out crowds. The hai-kow, beef rice noodles, stuffed eggplant, and beef meatballs are personal faves. Not much on atmosphere but I'll take food like this anyday over some of the newfangled soulless hipster joints all over the East Village.

Jing Fong - Elizabeth Street

My pick for best dim sum in Chinatown, up the huge escalator (shades of long gone Silver Palace), to a cavernous dining room. Dim sum is uniformly excellent with great beef rice noodles, spring rolls, steamed ribs and the usual suspects. Pings is a close second.

Hoy Wong - Mott Street

Some of the best roast meat you'll find in Chinatown including great roast duck. This place is tiny but to my surprise rarely crowded. They do great seafood including great soft shell crabs, razor clams with black bean sauce and delicious salt pepper frog. Highly recommended.

JM Family Noodle - 19 Henry Street

Another hole in the wall/dive place but a local favorite for many years. Does a slam bang takeout business because locals know the food is good.

My standard here is seafood chow mein, tasty and filling. The noodles soups are impeccable as are the congees. Nothing like a big bowl of noodle wonton soup with roast pork on top.

HK Station -
I love this place, cheap filling and delicious noodle soups. Eons above the ramen places popping up like crazy and at half the price even with the works.

Some restaurants that I don't recommend:

Wo Hop - I don't get this place, though many of my co-workers swear by it. Greasy, heavy and overcooked old school "chop suey" type of food. Dumplings are the size of the softballs and heavily floured and fried.

Noodletown - I like Noodletown for certain items like congees but the wonton noodles is disgusting mostly due to the heavy ammonia stink on the noodles. Gah!! Not sure how the signature dish stinks like mop liquid but I'll pass on it, the ladies by the register are rude and crabby to regular and newbie alike, esp. the big one. Good seafood though.

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  1. If you are at all fond of wonton soup, you have got to try the Fujianese version at super taste (eldridge street, I think the number is around 38) thick skinned meaty duplings floating in a dark brothy redolent of meat and five spice powder. A bit out of the norm but once you've had it you will go back again and again.
    BTW In my opion the standout dish at noodletown is the peking duck roll. all the (dry fixings of an order of fairly good peking duck, wrapped up in an eggroll wrapper and fried for easy trasport (they must do it quick as the garlic chives inside of it (instad of scallions) are still more or less raw.) Great hand hold food.
    Also at JM family I reccoment the Chao cha Chao (or something like that) mai fun. like Ha Moon (aka Xia men aka Amoy) but with something red added which is very tasty (and despiete the color not at all spicy)

    1 Reply
    1. re: jumpingmonk

      Thank you for the suggestion, JM.

      My wife is Fujianese, we will definitely try the place you recommend. The other suggestions sound great as well. I love mai fun but have never had the version you mentioned, we love the singapore style mai fun with curry added.

      I'm there next weekend.

    2. -- i'll try Hoy Wong sometime...sounds good....

      -- surprised that you don't like Noodletown (i assume you mean Great NY Noodletown)...i've never had a bad meal there and i think the salt-baked squid is the best anywhere...never had service either...they are always polite when i've been there...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Simon

        Hi Simon,

        The waiters are usually very cool, but the register lady can get snippy.

        I do think they make excellent seafood, but haven't had it in a while. We had a dynamite steamed flounder there a few years back. My experience with the wonton noodles there definitely turned me off.

        1. re: Simon

          I agree the NY noodletown salt bakes squid is very good (sometimes) but I have always felt the salt bakes squid at Chanoodle (on Mulberry street I belive) is a couple of notches better

          1. re: jumpingmonk

            My new favorite salt baked squid is at Cantoon Garden. Thanks, Lau.

        2. i am a roast duck and wonton noodle soup fanatic .....always on the lookout for a better place and my fave is 'big wong' in mott st as well......assuming this is not hoy wong, how do you compare that is assuming you have tried it in big wong.......thanks

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaymor

            Hi Jaymor,

            I've only been to Big Wong once, a month or so ago with my wife. I thought the roast meat was excellent, I got the roast duck leg/roast pork combo on white rice, excellent but I was put off a bit by having to share a booth, me and the wife on one side and another couple on the other side of the booth. Limited the conversation to be sure.

            Food was good at Big Wong (we only had roast meats) but the restaurant was so crowded that we found it a bit offputting. I would definitely go back in less crowded situations.

            Hoy Wong is a little further up Mott Street towards Canal, blink and you'll miss it.

          2. great post, gorlanko. thank you!

            i'm glad to hear the shout out for nam fong. i also love the cheun fun there and haven't seen much discussion of the place on chowhound. curious: is the siu gau you're referring to translated "water cake/patty"? i'm pretty awful at romanization.

            3 Replies
            1. re: cimui

              Hi cimui,

              I've been told that the gau in siu gau means dumpling, like the har gau is shrimp dumpling etc. The dumplings at Nam Fong are cooked in water so I guess it is apt. And yes my chinese/romanization is not the best either.

              1. re: gorlanko

                really interesting, thanks. i don't think i'd ever heard of them before, but based on pictures i found through a google search of "sui gau", i think i've probably eaten them -- which is the really impt part. ;) good to know nam fong has a good version.

                1. re: gorlanko

                  oh -- very belatedly, i think my people call "sui gao" "sui jiao", instead. :) chalk it up to regional differences.

              2. Gorlanko (and others!)
                I'm visiting NYC for 4 days next month and wanted to head down to Chinatown to have lunch one day. So I've got one shot to get the best food I can - which one would you recommend over all the others? In terms of the sort of food I like, more to do with meat, seafood, dumplings etc rather than soups or broths.

                Thank you in advance.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Confused.com

                  Hi confused,

                  I hope others chime in as well but Pings on Mott St. is pretty good for seafood. I really like Mandarin Court as well (though the dim sum is a shade of its former glory). I go to Mandarin Court for dinner quite often with the lobster with ginger/scallions and eggplant with salty fish/chicken casserole also delicious (but oily). HTH

                  1. re: Confused.com

                    Great way to start a food fight on this board. Nothing in Chinatown is as good as Flushing, but a number of possibilities are discussed in this thread.


                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      How 'bout World Tong in B'kyn ... & forget the bs.
                      har gow and shui mei ... please.
                      check out the sneak-peek bowls on the lower tier of the rolling carts ...
                      "oh, no no ... I don't think you like" ... uh huh.

                  2. The ammonia taste you are referring to is probably lye water, see link on what it is. It's not the healthiest of stuff but I still like Noodletown for there other dishes. I like old school wonton garden for wontons.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: randumbposter

                      try the wonton noodle soup at big wong....you might like it....i also like it 'old school'

                    2. Gor:
                      New Southwind has closed. It was also one of my favorites. I now go to Danny Ng on the Bowery.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jfmirabella

                        do you know of any places that sell cheung fun similar to New Southwind?

                      2. I went to Chatam Sq ( the new one with the carts) not the original a few stores down.
                        I've read on CH that they were the same owners and same food. I find it hard to believe that is true. The old place has consistently good traditional dim sum. The "new" Chatham is horrible. The dough on the dumpings was soggy especially on the shumai and har gow. The shrimp was "iodiny" and left a bad taste in your mouth,,,, The Lo May Gai terrible. They had dried shrimp in it that were bad. The beef dish , usually peppered with a bone was just tough flavorless meat. The place was a total disappointment. For those of you who dont like Golden Unicorn ,, the comparison of Golden Unicorn to here is like Jean Georges to McDonald's

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          >I've read on CH that they were the same owners and same food.

                          I'd never heard that. The dinerish, old-school Chatham (f.k.a. Hop Shing) and the more upscale banquet-hall-style Chatham Square (logo says just "Chatham Sq") are totally different in menu and mood, and I figured they were completely unrelated.

                          Chatham Square Restaurant
                          6 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

                          1. re: squid kun

                            yeah ,,Hop Shing i couldnt remember that name ,,, based on the food difference they gotta be non related

                        2. AWESOME post.
                          I've had Peking Duck Palace, Shun Lee, and Mama Buddha as my big three for so long that I guess I stopped looking for others. I'm really looking forward to trying these!

                          One question:

                          Is there a hands-down Best Dim Sum in NYC?


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ChuToro

                            Hard to say. I'm personally loyal to Grand Harmony (88 mott) but that's becuse I'm addicted to thier shrimp leek cakes. I rate Chatham sqaure (The one with the big H) high, but that's becuse I love the honey roasted pork buns. I'm not sure it's fair or even accurate to point to one dim sum place and say "everything this place makes is better than anywhere else in all of NYC" One place does one thign well, another does something else well. I tedn to prefer to go to a few places order a few of my favorties as takeout, put them in a thermal bag (so they don't get cold) go home make a pot of some really high grade oolong (I personally like Tie Lo han) and enjoy my own dim sum experiance. More power to those who like to sit down in a place, and pick a thing from a cart and another and so on but I peronally dont really like having to mostly "settle" into order to get my stomach full. That's part of the beauty of Chinatown to me, everything's so close together that I don't have to.

                          2. I've been thoroughly enjoying Ah Ping snack bar since Jim Leff put it on my radar. Literally a mom and pop restaurant with some ridiculous bargains (e.g., razor clam omelette with a billion fresh razor clams for like twelve bucks).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: D...DF

                              Second Ah Ping, went shortly after Jim's post and really enjoyed it. Have been meaning to get back...

                            2. Very late chime-in... I think NY Noodeltown's soups are several notches above Wonton Gardens, mainly down to the broth, which is much richer and more complex. I've never had a bad meal at noodletown, except, oddly, the 'famous' salt-baked soft-shell crabs, which were soggy, oily, and tasted like they'd been fried in last week's oil. there were even specks of black on the crabs, a sure sign (along with their limp texture) that the oil was past its usable point. The dumplings at WG, imho, do not compare to Noodletown's either. NT's fillings taste fresher, and the skins are translucent and delicate, with just enough body to keep the filling in line. Dying to try the roast baby pig , but it's always sold out whenever I get there.