When people think of Chinatown, the first thing that pops into mind is knockoff purses. There's so much more Chinatown has to offer than cheap imitations like delicious restaurants.
Some of the best ones you'll have are tiny hole in the wall places. All you need to do is step away from the main drag and onto one of the many side streets. You'll be amazed at the selection, price, variety and quality of food you'll find. Most of the restaurants in Chinatown are cash only so make sure you pull some out before you explore.
Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food
79 Chrystie Street
This unassuming place would be so easy to ignore if there weren't a line 10 person deep out the door. While most of this is because the place is tiny (there's no seating area here) it's also because the value and quality are amazing. For $3.75 you can get a small chicken or pork over rice with some vegetables and you get a heaping serving of meat.
You can also opt for a larger size, but make sure you're hungry when you order. The sauces for the pork and chicken are out of this world and both are incredibly tender as they've been marinating in sauces and their juices. Make sure to get there earlier if you want to try out the fish balls.
Sun Hing Lung Co.
58 Henry Street
Located far past the Manhattan Bridge is this tofu factory that also happens to serve up some rice rolls with a variety of fillings. This tiny spot doesn't have seating and you'll likely miss it if you're not looking for a line of people. It's just a little window on the side of the first floor façade of 48 Henry street.
There's no seating here so you'll need to take your food to go. But for $1.50 you get a small Styrofoam container packed to the rim with handmade stuffed rice rolls. Not only that, but you get to watch the owner make it right before your eyes. Try it without sauce or with the four different options: teriyaki, soy, Sriracha and peanut or mix a couple together for some new flavors. Even without the sauces the flavors are out of this world. If you're thirsty, try their freshly made soy milk.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyers Street
You can't go to Chinatown without partaking in some dim sum. While there are no waiters walking around with trays of food like a traditional dim sum restaurant, you won't really mind because you'll be too busy enjoying your plates of food. Nom Wah is a classic landmark in Chinatown, having opened in 1920.
They've kept up their quality of food since then and attracted only more loyal diners and even a Michelin recommendation. Regardless of what you get here whether it's the shu mai or fried turnip cake, you're sure to leave satisfied. Just make sure to bring some friends with you so you can sample all of the different dishes.
Hidden among the numerous restaurant supply stores on The Bowery is Congee Bowery. If you're not familiar with Congee it is essentially rice porridge. This might sound bland, but when you mix in meat, vegetables and sauces it becomes a hearty and warming meal. Not in the mood for it? The restaurant offers traditional Cantonese specialties that you likely haven't seen in any other restaurant like sea cucumber and sliced abalone or rice baked with chicken. Feeling adventurous? Try the special plates like goose intestine or sautéed sweat pea pod and duck tongue.
42 Mulberry Street
Although it might seem like the only thing you can get is dumpling at this join, they also offer scallion pancakes, noodle soup and regular soups. With that said, if you're going to someplace called Tasty Dumpling you need to try the many flavors of dumplings they offer. If you're hungry enough or bring enough friends you can try every dumpling for under $40. If you're just looking for something cheap and delicious they offer $1.25 cabbage and pork fried dumplings.
Yun Nan Flavour Garden
5121 8th Avenue, Brooklyn
While the Chinatown in Manhattan gets all the attention, there's also a huge Chinatown in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. If you happen to venture over a bridge, definitely check out the area as most of the people who work in Chinatown either live here or in Queens. Yun Nan specializes in Yunnan noodles, a specialty from southwest China.
It's definitely something you won't find anywhere else in the city so if you're looking for a memorable experience head over here. The broth of the noodles offers a blend of salty and slightly sour and spicy. The noodles are handmade and come with a variety of toppings like pork intestine, tofu skin, lamb and more. You can even get it cold or without broth if you choose!