Stephen Starr, who is the man behind Philadelphia's acclaimed Striped Bass, brings NYers this huge, lavishly decorated restaurant. The main dining room recalls the opulence of a palace's great hall, and the smaller quarters sport stylish confluences of traditional and contemporary elements. Those with a taste for dim sum find plenty to tempt their palates, including Taro Puff Lollipops (minced pork with ginger), edamame dumplings and lobster egg rolls. More substantial appetites should look to the masterfully prepared Mongolian lamb chops with crystallized ginger crust, glazed Alaskan black cod with chili eggplant or tea-smoked chicken with chutney. You'll spend a pretty penny here, but it's a meal you'll be dreaming about for months to come.
When Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in 2004, chef David Chang managed to convert a sea of hipsters and the people who love them over to the dark side (read: really, really good side). His weapon of choice? Pork buns. Today, Chang has secured his spot in the foodie hall of fame, while continuing to churn out his Asian-inspired fare in the East Village. Though Momofuku is now a global empire, Noodle Bar still holds a special place in the hearts of countless New Yorkers. One reason may be the fried chicken - feeding 4-8 people, the chicken must be ordered in advance, and is served Southern style (buttermilk and Old Bay), as well as Korean style (triple-fried and lightly glazed).
Upon entering Sushi Yasuda, one is immediately aware of the absence of art, decorations, or anything that might attract the eye. It is minimalist to the extreme with bamboo-plank walls and open spaces. This simplicity is reflected in Chef Naomichi Yasuda's cuisine as well. The fillets of fish are custom-cut for each order, as pre-cut fish begins to break down almost immediately, losing some of its delicate textures and flavors. The pure and clean dishes are built out of respect for tradition have helped this restaurant to earn a three star review in the New York Times, and numerous accolades on lists like these ones the city over.
Royal Seafood landed itself on Eater's list of 38 Essential Restaurants in the fall of 2014, and for good reason. Not only has Royal earned its place among Chinatown's haunts, but it's also reasonably priced, which automatically gives it a leg up on some of its other Manhattan competition. Dim sum is served here all day, and the best way â" scratch that, the only way â" to order is family-style. Favorites include snails in black bean sauce, crispy chicken, pan-fried noodles and the salt and pepper squid. Be warned: weekends are a madhouse, so come early or prepare to battle the (sometimes slow-eating) crowds.
Slink down a staircase into an unkempt basement and enter the family-run dungeon of Xi'an cuisine, Xi'an Famous. This 200-square-foot basement stall in Flushing is the original location of this recognized mini-chain, and was one of the first New York restaurants to serve food from the Xi'an region of China. Specialties include spicy & tingly beef and "burgers" on flatbread, though regulars swear by the hand-pulled noodles with cumin lamb. While purists argue that Xi'an lacks a certain level of authenticity, culinary royalty and media (including Anthony Bourdain and Zagat) have crowned Xi'an a shining star in New York's Chinese food scene.
When Zabb Elee opened their East Village outpost after years of serving exclusively out of their Queens digs, Thai purists went wild. Fast forward a few years later and foodies are still flocking in droves to 2nd Avenue for an authentic Isan Thai experience. The East Village haunt is still leaps and bounds better than anything around, but if you want a true taste of the heat that started it all, you have to get to Jackson Heights. Along with turning out incredibly flavorful food, this hole-in-the-wall hotspot recently snagged a Michelin star for 2015, making it the first time a Thai restaurant has received the honors.
Tamarind changed perceptions of what a modern Indian restaurant in New York could entail when it opened its doors. Crisp white linens, soft lighting, and service so attentive it could make the staff of the Four Seasons (discreetly) blush, the restaurant was a bold departure from the fast-food vibe and fluorescent bulbs of the takeout joints in nearby Curry Hill. Now, at the locations in Flatiron and TriBeCa, well-dressed groups of business associates, couples celebrating anniversaries and multi-generational family outings gaze at the glass-enclosed tandoor kitchen while enjoying dishes like fresh shrimp in a cumin-spiked coconut sauce, apricot-stuffed grilled lamb and crispy fritters with whole spinach, banana and cheese.
Now re-opened on East Broadway in the Lower East Side, Mission Chinese has battled its way back after a rather rough year. Shuttered after troubles with the landlord, the restaurant was forced to pack its bags in 2014, though it continued serving spice hungry hipsters through a series of successful pop-ups all year. Now, David Bowien is back in permanent digs and ready to rival the city's top Chinese spots for a shot at the title of best. With Sichuan-inspired dishes like thrice cooked bacon and salted cod fried rice with Chinese sausage, chances are he'll fare pretty well.
Easily the most buzzed about Asian restaurant of 2016 is Atoboy, a fine dining Korean joint helmed by a husband and wife duo with serious chops in the restaurant world. The meal here is a tapas-style tasting-menu, with 3 dishes (and rice) ringing up at $36. Though the food rotates based on seasonality, your mom would likely recognize most everything from the eggplant with Dungeness crab to the chicken with spicy peanut butter and garlic. The minimalist vibe is also decidedly cool, with exposed stone walls and wooden tabletops. If you're looking for a new twist on Korean cuisine in crisp, low-maintenance digs near Flatiron, you've found it.