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MANHATTAN CHINATOWN--any place that rivals Flushing's best?

Out of town friends (Chinese novices) will be coming to the city and will likely refuse to travel to Flushing. Is there anyplace I can take them for Cantonese or Shanghai food in Chinatown?

Can I get an update, for example, on the current scene at places like Fuleen (I've not been); the former Cantoon Garden (had a good meal there but was accompanied by a regular who will not be joining us this time); the various Shanghai places (Anything better than Shanghai Cafe on Mott??)??

I've not been to Ping's in years--any good? Congee Village on Allen??

Please help me show my non-adventurous friends to a good meal in Manhattan...good seafood/barbecue meats are a must.. (Unfortunately, the Sichaun places in the 30s are out for this group..)

Congee Village
100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. Amazing 66 is my favorite in Chinatown...great Cantonese casseroles and roast chicken w/ pickled veggies...

    and if they like lamb, the Xian place (i've been the Flushing branch and the East VIllage branch) is great (but it's more of a takeout place as the E. Village one only has 6 or so seats)...a search will yield a recent thread w/ reviews if that sounds interesting...

    Amazing 66
    66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    1 Reply
    1. re: Simon

      Thanks, Simon. I've been many times to Amazing 66--I am not sure that they do the best seafood...I think I might like to try someplace else. The Xian place (I've been only to the one in Flushing) is too informal--we need a place we can sit and talk during dinner...

    2. erica as you know, Xian Famous Foods is too informal - serving up the night market street food snacks of Xian. Cantoon Garden still gets good reviews and has a name change:


      Shanghai Café is now called Shanghai Deluxe Café but they have the exact same menu. I’d still consider going there and ordering off the Chinese menu. Their Dong Po (Pork Belly) dish is still divine. Here are their House Specials in translation:

      Shanghai Café House Specialties
      12 dishes in the left-hand column:

      百葉結烤肉 (Bai Ye Jie Kao Rou) – Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat
      梅干菜烤肉 (Mei Gan Cai Kao Rou) – Plum & Dried Vegetables w/ BBQ Meat
      東坡肉 (Dong Po Rou) – Braised Pork Belly
      走油元蹄 (Zou You Yuan Ti) – Braised Pig Trotters
      炒蝦腰 (Chao Xia Yao) – Stir Fried Prawns with Kidney
      紅 燒黃魚 (Hong Shao Huang Yu) – Braised Yellow Croaker
      脆皮黃魚 (Cui Pi Huang Yu) – Crispy Yellow Croaker
      苔條龍利 (Tai Tiao Long Li) – Moss Strips of Sole
      各式龍蝦 (Ge She Long Xia) – Every Style Lobster – Seasonal Price
      鹹肉津白 (Xian Rou Jin Bai) – Bacon with Tianjin Cabbage
      開陽津白 (Kai Yang Jin Bai) – Kaiyang Style Tianjin Cabbage*
      鹹 肉菜心 (Xian Rou Cai Xin) – Bacon with Vegetable Hearts

      11 dishes in the left-hand column:
      芝麻蝦球 (Zhi Ma Xia Qiu) – Sesame Shrimp Spheres
      核桃蝦球 (He Tao Xia Qiu) – Walnut Shrimp Spheres
      干貝蝦球 (Gan Bei Xia Qiu) - Dried Scallops and Shrimp Spheres
      椒鹽大蝦 (Jiao Yan Da Xia) – Salt and Pepper Jumbo Prawns
      蟹粉菜心 (Xie Fen Cai Xin) – Crab Meat with Vegetable Hearts
      鮮露蹄筋 (Xian Lu Ti Jin) – Fresh Pig Trotters Sinew
      蟹粉蹄筋 (Xie Fen Ti Jun) – Crab Meat and Pig Trotters Sinew
      三鮮海參 (San Xian Hai Shen) – Three Fresh Sea Cucumber
      絲 瓜麵筋 (Si Gua Mian Jin) – Loofa Noodles
      蝦子大烏參 (Xia Zi Da Wu Shen) Shrimp Roe and Sea Cucumbers
      小椒香干牛肉絲 (Xiao Jiao Xiang Gang Niu Rou Si) – Fragrant Shredded Peppers and Beef

      * Kaiyang is a county in Guizhou Province.

      13 Replies
      1. re: scoopG

        Scoop: You are the greatest! WOW! Even if I do not take them, I will give that list a workout myself!!!

        Any word on Fuleen (just curious, since it used to get discussed more here...)?

        Are there any specials on the Chinese menu or on the wall at ex-Cantoon Garden that I should know about?? I can give them a choice of Shanghai or Cantonese seafood...

        11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

        1. re: erica

          Hi Erica -

          Cantoon Garden - CG is exactly the same even though they changed the english name (the chinese name remains the same), the menu, waiters, managers, cooks etc are all the same. You obviously know about the original post (i'd stick to the dishes in that post as they are very consistent). However, the one additional seafood item that I do like is there is a fish head casserole; its prepared in a hong shao (red cooking) style that is a little sweet, but not overly sweet and very good as long as they use a decent fish (only thing is that i'm not always a fan of some of the fresh water fish ny chinese places use as it has this sort of fresh water fish taste that i can't explain, but i dont love). If you inquire to the waiters, last time he told me that on the wall they have a fish cooked 2 ways that uses a better fish for the fish head casserole. I looked on the wall last time and there was one that had a fish prepared two ways if i remember right in chinese it said something like "huang long yu liang shi" (yellow dragon fish, 2 ways). For cantonese with multiple diners that'd be my go to place in manhattan (its my favorite restaurant in chinatown). Fyi, most of the waiters at CG speak very good english and if you tell them you want some good authentic seafood and are there any specials they recommend (on or off the wall) i think they'll be more than accomodating

          Amazing 66 - is good, but its less of a seafood specialist, i find their casseroles to be quite good (last time I got the pork belly casserole which i thought was quite good), however their menu is very large and definitely has some duds on it if you don't know what you're ordering.

          Congee village - its okay, but its much lower on my list. Find that all the dishes that i like at CG are decent, but i might as well go to CG b/c its better

          Ping's - i'd avoid, there was a time a long time ago when ping's was pretty good, but its gone way downhill over the years.

          Fuleen - i should write a review on it one day as i've been here several times. It's good, in particular they have a good crab with scallion and ginger and a great clam soup. Other dishes I've had there are inferior to cantoon garden (crispy chicken, dou miao w/ egg white crab sauce, salt and pepper squid, fish etc)

          I'm less of a fan of the shanghainese restaurants in the city, but i agree with scoopG that shanghai cafe is the place to go. Also agree that xian is way too informal although i really like that place

        2. re: scoopG

          Ok--I took my friends to Shanghai Deluxe Cafe on Mott Street and the evening was a success--they thought the food was terrific (they are from a place where there is almost NO decent Chinese, so....)

          We began the meal with a selection of cold appetizers:

          Bamboo shoots in brown sauce (wine sauce?)--good but I prefer the more spicy Sichaun preparation of the shoots.
          Kaufu--excellent rendition of a personal favorite
          Mock duck--very good
          Scallion pancakes--very good, not too greasy

          Having been to Shanghai and having had the xlb here, I was happy that my guests were not all that eager for dumplings, so we segued into the main courses. One note here: Let the servers know when you order that you want the appetizers served first, and you will let them know when to bring the main dishes. These were the instructions I received from the (very friendly) servers when we complained that everything arrived almost at once.

          Service here was so genial that I was almost shocked, due to the somewhat negative comments I've read in the past.

          Dong Po Rou--This is served as one slab of meat with the brown sauce on the top, so there are no crispy bits. Luscious fatty meat, but I prefer when it is served on the bone with some slightly burned parts..

          Moss Strips of sole--Great looking preparation of fried strips of flounder, served on top of an entire flounder that had been denuded of meat and fried, head and tail intact. Very good.

          Bean Curd Skin with preserved vegetables and green bean (soybean)--lovey dish--clean tasting, fresh and interesting

          Shredded pork, squid, and celery..nice preparation but I would not order again.

          Loofah Noodles--they were out of this when I ordered it and we accepted the substitute of a green squash with an unusual white starch that I've not encountered before. This is listed on the hot pink specials sheet, but I do not have a copy of that here and so do not have the name. Interesting and good.

          However, the best tip I can offer here is about a dish that was being devoured by a Chinese family at a nearby table: I noticed it after we had finished and it looked spectacular. I would return just to sample the "Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat," which looks like knotted bean curd sheets tossed with chunks of roasted meat and really called my name!

          Dinner for four with two beers and three canned sodas came to $125 with tip.

          Thanks to Scoop for the translations! This place is worth exploring, especially if you stick to the sheets of specials and Scoop's menu translations..

          1. re: erica

            I am so glad you enjoyed your meal there - it has been awhile for me.

            1. re: scoopG

              Your translations were a big help. The place was really quite pleasant aside from the fact that they brought the food almost all at once. But I know how to remedy that for next time--just ask. The place was filled last night from about 7-8 or so--mix of what appeared to be locals,, along with non-Asian visitors. Unlike places I've been in Flushing, servers spoke English well. And that knotted BBQ meat dish looked incredible--we must get that next time! I would ignore the larger menu and concentrate on your list, plus the pink sheet of other specials.

          2. re: scoopG

            Don't know what's on their menu, but I think it should be 百頁 / 百页 (traditional / simplified) not 百葉, though the sound is the same.

            1. re: will47

              No, 葉
              leaf/leaves - refers to the nature of the doufu skin pieces.

              1. re: buttertart

                页 also means sheet / leaf, though I assume there's a slight difference in meaning, at least historical (and 叶/葉 has some more general usage than the sense of paper, for example in compound words like 茶叶). The phonetic sound / tone (fourth) is the same.


                If you do a google images search, you'll see a lot more of the proper item at:

                So again, could be wrong, but seems to me like 百页 is more common.

                1. re: will47

                  Hmm. I think I've always seen it printed as the leaf character. Of course leaf as applies to paper is suitable in both languages.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Either way, I'm glad this thread came up, because I had always thought it was 白 as in white.

                    1. re: will47

                      Nope. You like the dish? Shanghainese soul food.

              2. re: will47

                What is on their menu is as written above: 百葉結烤肉 - Bai Ye Jie Kao Rou.

                1. re: scoopG

                  You've seen it as leaf ye mostly/always too, no?

            2. scoopG says it all here and his other Chinatown posts so there's really nothing to add. I'm only chiming in for the benefit of people who may run across this posting in the future and are looking for a direct answer to the title of this thread. And the answer is simply, no--nothing in Manhattan Chinatown rivals Flushing's best. I never thought places like Fuleen or Congee Village were Flushing quality, and any longtime operation such as Ping's is unlikely to enhance its standing over time. Chinatown Brasserie would exceed the best of Flushing, but it's not in Chinatown. Not to say I'm not happy eating in New York Chinatown, which indeed is better than San Francisco Chinatown or Los Angeles Chinatown. On the other hand, even Flushing falls short of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as places like Millbrae in the Bay Area.

              Congee Village
              100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

              11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

              Chinatown Brasserie
              380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

              1. The New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe at the corner of Mott and Bayard is getting better - we had a very nice lunch there on Saturday (xiao long bao, skins were not terrific but a decent version), the fried fish fingers and pork chop with seaweed powder dish, tofu sheet strips with green soybeans and pickled vegetable, and doumiao with medium crystal shrimp (we had to ask for the shrimp to be added to the vegetable, it's a classic dish and the doumiao were very nice and tender). This with 3 beers was $64.00.
                I like the Sichuan place on Bayard in the old Yeah space a lot too but it's not the equal of Spicy and Tasty.
                And "South China Garden" f/k/a Cantoon Garden is stil terrific - but don't go at night if you want to be able to hear your guests - it's unbelievably noisy. We took visiting friends from Paris there and they loved the food but we were reduced largely to dumbshow to communicate. (The place was noisy before renovation a couple of years ago and is even more so since. "Hot and noisy" is a term of approbation with regard to restaurants in Chinese but SCG takes the noisy part to heart in a big way. (Favorites: double lobster special, the salt and pepper softshells, the crispy chicken - with garlic sauce if you are fond of it - one of their fried rices and the mixed veg with lotus root.)

                6 Replies
                1. re: buttertart

                  I haven't been to the new New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, which is now actually named "Old Shanghai Deluxe" in 2 months because it was so bad the last time I went, and the first time I went, and the time in between. I hope it makes a full recovery soon though.

                  I ditto Lau's assessment of the Congee Village and Ping's. Ping's went way downhill sadly.

                  Congee Village
                  100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                  1. re: windycity

                    What did you have? Curious because we've had some really quite good food there.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Went again for lunch and had a very good one, for $64.00 including 4 Tsingtaos.
                      XLB were beautifully flavored and very juicy but the skins were a bit too thick. The fried fish with seaweed and pork chop (zha shuang wei) was excellent - the batter on the fish was perfect and the fish was just right. The tofu strips with red-in-snow, green soybeans, and pork strips (xue cai mao dou bai ye rou si) was perfect, not too greasy or salty. And the Shanghai cabbage (qing chao cai xin) hit the spot too.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Thanks so much for the comments and pics!

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Yes, great pics! Very tempting dishes....

                          1. re: scoopG

                            You know that bai ye dish, right? Love it.

                  2. Fuleen has been very good of late, as long as you stick to the seafood offerings. Though personally, I think Oriental Garden is the best for seafood currently. It's big favorite among chefs like Dave Bouley and Peter Serpico (Momofuku Ko) as well, for whatever that's worth.

                    Ping's is also worth a trip. Though if I were to pick just one, for a special seafood night, it'd be OG. Just pick a bunch of random things that you saw alive in the cases on the way in.

                    Congee Village is fun, especially with a group, if only because they have the most ridiculously extensive menu in the city - but in terms of quality, they're just okay.

                    I find the Flushing-love to be a bit "in the know"-ist. There's great stuff out there, of course, and you'll find a much wider variety of regions / styles than you will in Manhattan - but there's a certain smugness people seem to get once they're "down" with Flushing, if only as something they can hold over the heads of boroughphobes. And in truth, no one should be a boroughphobe, and any true foodie who's a fan of Chinese cuisine should go out there - but this whole notion of "everything's better" just because it's in Flushing is, frankly, horsesh*t.

                    There's a tendency among foodies to favor food in hard-to-get-to or obscure locations, as if they're collecting points or something - see all the love for DiFara's Pizza (sorry, they're at best the fifth-best pizza in town, if even that) for example.

                    Congee Village
                    100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                    11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                    Oriental Garden
                    14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: sgordon

                      Actually there are some good reasons why Flushing Chinese food is clearly better than Manhattan Chinatown. First of all there's lots of tourists on the streets of Chinatown, so there's the dumb down factor, at least as to some of the establishments. And even if you go to the eastern part of Chinatown where the tourist angle disappears, the demographics there are a large populace of near poverty level residents who just can't afford finer Chinese food. Compare this to Flushing where the dumb down, tourist element is missing, and there is a largely middle class population. If you were going to open the next great Chinese restaurant, it certainly would be in Flushing and not Chinatown. This is not to say that every Chinese restaurant in Flushing is better than every Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, but there is a clear explanation for why Flushing is so much better.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Eastern Chinatown? Probably the most "authentic" regional food in Chinatown is Fujianese/Fuchow. I'm not an expert on which is the best restaurant for that, and most of what I go for are hole in the wall stuff. Seafood generally (shrimp and crab) are part of their specialties.

                        So basically, I know it's not really responding the original post, but it is an area of exploration if s/he want to explore.

                        1. re: villainx

                          actually you are right, the other exception is fujian food

                          1. re: villainx

                            That's what villainx is refering to - just different spelling!

                            Best Fuzhou at 71A Eldridge Street is my go-to Fuzhou spot. In addition to seafood, Fuzhou cuisine is marked by many types of soups and stews, all manner of congee, delicate dumplings and fish balls. Two soups might be served at a meal and more for a banquet. Sweet potatoes are used (fresh, dried or in making flour.) Probably the most distinctive feature is the use of red wine lees - the dregs of the wine found at the bottom of every barrel and used to flavor many dishes. (Far Eastern Noodles on Forsyth used to sell lees before they shut down.)

                            1. re: scoopG

                              hey scoopG, did you ever see my post on Double Dragon? i was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food there and you can eat there since you read and speak chinese (hands down the most non-english friendly place i've been to in NY including flushing...even i was sort of intimidated)

                              i want to go back as it was the best non-xiao chi type of fujian place ive been to (although i am admittedly not super experienced with their cuisine)


                              Double Dragon
                              13 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                        2. re: sgordon

                          Flushing does have some great Chinese cuisines not yet found in Manhattan: four Dongbei restaurants, two Shangdong/Qingdao places, two Hunan joints and now one Henan spot. And there are two from Wenzhou; including one who may or may not be a shape-shifting imposter! And not to forget Yanbian, the three food courts, three Taiwanese restaurants and $1.00 mini-Peking Duck sliders. But I do love Manhattan's Chinatown for what it is and you are right, there is plenty of deliciousness to be found. We get over 45 million visitors a year to NYC and the vast majority stick to Manhattan.

                          1. re: sgordon

                            well i agree with you that in general just b/c something is located somewhere and someone decides they want to be uppity about food then you're right that is bs. i actually think the same thing applies to NYC as a whole as i find alot of NY natives think that there is no place better in the world for anything which is far from the case although NY does have great food for sure

                            however, i would say that when you compare the best cantonese seafood in flushing vs manhattan, best sichuan etc etc then flushing usually wins. its simply the law of numbers if you put more of a given ethnicity in a place the food is usually better. The one exception would be congee / cantonese bbq which i think are probably a bit better in the city than in flushing. But, end of day as scoopG said i'm happy to have ctown here and i obviously eat in ctown all the time

                            1. re: sgordon

                              I'm sure some people tout restaurants just for their obscurity, but I'd love to hear about the four NYC pizza joints that are easily better than DiFara's. I had my first slices there recently, expecting them to be good but not worth the trip, and they blew me away.

                              1. re: ml77

                                Totonno's (Coney Island), Patsy's (Spanish Harlem), John's (Bleecker St.) and Grimaldi's (Brooklyn Heights)

                                1544 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                                1. re: sgordon

                                  Grimaldi's?? In Dumbo?? No way!

                                  1. re: erica

                                    Only on Chowhound can a discussion of Chinatown descend into a debate about NY Pizza...

                                  2. re: sgordon

                                    at risk of getting sucked in to the pizza digression in an incredibly informative Chinatown thread...in all the recent times i've been to grimaldi's, i've been struck by what a factory operation it's become, with haphazard pies with no soul. i'm not sure i'd agree that they were in the same league as difara's even 6-7 years ago when i thought they were quite good. and though i'm glad to have the spanish harlem patsy's nearby, it's not at all in the same universe as difara's.

                                    1. re: sgordon

                                      Definitely disagree on Grimaldi's and John's.

                                      I like Totonno's Coney Island and Patsy's East Harlem, but they're both very different in style (coal oven) and clearly inferior to Di Fara in terms of ingredient quality.

                                      1544 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                      47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                                      1. re: hcbk0702

                                        I think the harder-to-get-to locations always have the best food, because you're starved when you get there.

                                2. We had lunch on Saturday at the Old Sichuan (in the old Yeah Shanghai space on Bayard, by the CT Ice Cream Factory) and it was extremely good, believe it or not. The jielan with garlic and hot peppers was excellent - hot and crisp, perfectly fresh - and the spicy crabs (from the Shanghai specialties side of the menu, interestingly enough) were at least as good as the ones at the Shanghai place on Prince in Flushing, very very spicy, deep-fried and tossed wth Chinese celery, peppers, cilantro, etc afterward - the lady said they were very lively (prior to cooking...) and they were as sweet as nuts. The jia xiang "home county" sliced pork was very good and the xiaolong bao were as well, with nice delicate skins. This restaurant is not to be scorned, believe me. Jielan and crab photos herewith.

                                  Old Sichuan
                                  65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Thanks for the update and photos. So this is now two new Sichuan spots on Bayard there?

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      No, the one in the old Yeah Shanghai space that you didn't likewhen it opened, with the good shengjian bao and the bossy lady from Grand Sichuan Chinatown back when it opened. It is worth a try, seriously.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Will do. How would you compare it to Szechuan Gourmet or Little Pepper?

                                        1. re: scoopG

                                          Not as refined as SG or as exciting as LP but solid. As good as I remember the basic Sichuan places in TPE being.

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            We ate in all these paces a number of times, LP being the absolute favorite by far. IMHO, OS < SG < LP on the absolute scale. But honestly, it's not bad in comparison and it's fine for the (mostly Southern) neighborhood.

                                            If you ever consider Grand Sichuan I'd give it a shot; but if Flushing is your yardstick I'd cling to SG, which I personally adore for creativity.

                                            1. re: diprey11

                                              We're denizens of the various GS as well, the one on 3rd Ave in the 50's and the one on 7th near Canal being favorites. Your absolute scale is correct in my estimation as well but OS is solid and handy.

                                              1. re: Pan

                                                Taipei. TPE is the International Air Transport Association city code.

                                      2. re: buttertart

                                        PS that jielan was so good I ate about half of the leftovers cold out of the container (something I never, ever, ever do with vegetables).

                                      3. Grand Sichuan, 9th Avenue.
                                        At one time it was great, but it has lost it all, all it's charm, it's good service and yes the food is vile now. The worst of all is the service. The women who serve (and they're all women) speak little or no English. They are rude, obnoxious, and surly. Why would anyone eat here? I suppose that it's the "Chinese experience." Well, that stunt long ago (like a century ago) lost its appeal.
                                        You know, My father used to tell me that if a restaurant was packed, it meant the food was good and the place worth visiting. Not Grand Sichuan International. The wait for final call was much too long, and the food hardly above the quality of your typical, street-corner Wong Delight. Maybe I didn't know what to order, but a look around at other tables revealed just a lot of dishes with a lot of average looking food heaped onto them. Service, as other reviewers have indicated, was rude. The servers don't speak English and are extremely impatient. But bad service bothers me a lot less than bad food. The atmosphere was lively. A packed restaurant is always fun. Too bad you can't eat ambience for dinner.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: grandma Zaza

                                          I'm struck by this phrase:

                                          "Maybe I didn't know what to order"

                                          If you tell us what you did order, we could form an opinion about that. So, what did you get?