Kings Co Imperial is a small spot tucked onto a nondescript side street in Williamsburg but the kitchen is arguably pumping out some of the best Chinese food in the city. They're best known for the mock eel, a vegetarian marvel that's fashioned out of mushroom and doused in an addicting soy. Don't stop there though. The tea smoked mu shu duck comes ready to wrap in a handmade pancake, the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of hot and sour soup, flecked with lily flower, shrimp, chicken, white pepper and red vinegar. You also shouldn't hesitate to order a round (or three) of cocktails - in true Brooklyn fashion, they're pulling negronis, mai-tais and a rye/green tea treat called The Powder Keg on tap.
Run, don't walk, to Fu Run in Flushing and order the Muslim lamb chops. Covered in a cumin-chili powder-sesame seed combo, these fragrant chops have made a name for themselves throughout the five boroughs, and they're reason enough to include Fu Run on our list. Luckily for your belly, they're not the only reason. Other must-try dishes include the green bean sheet jelly, a slippery starter fit for sharing, and the deep fried pork knuckles. Debating whether the trek on the 7 train is really worth it right now? Put down your phone, pick up your Metrocard and don't waste another minute pondering the answer. Just go.
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.
Little Pepper, located in Flushing (are you starting to see a trend?), is the spot for hot pot. While other mains, including the dan dan noodles, score high marks with locals, you're doing yourself a disservice if you skip the hot pot. Opt for the half-and-half broth and load up on a wide selection of meats and veggies fit for dunking. The side sauces are also highly recommended. So, why would you come all the way to College Point for grub? For one, Little Pepper's ingredients are better and cheaper than what many in Manhattan offer. Number two, Spa Castle is close by, so go sauna, then go Sichuan for the ultimate evening.
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.
Located in Brooklyn's Chinatown, Mister Hotpot is the king of the outstandingly unique ingredients. Among them are geoduck, tenderized beef with egg and fried fish skin, along with a laundry list of other fresh meats and rarely seen sides. Both broths â" a fiery peppercorn one and a non-spicy milky white one made of pork marrow and spices â" score high marks with diners. The vibe leans more toward club than Chinese restaurant, so don't go if you're more interested in quiet conversation than fist-pumping beats. That said, the food here outweighs any annoyance over the auditory atmosphere. Plus, if you're looking for a place to have a party, Mister Hotpot hits all the right notes.
Dim sum minus the push cart might seem like a crime to some, but Nom Wah Tea Parlor has perfected push-less patronage. Famous for its homemade lotus paste and red bean filling for moon cake, in addition to its almond cookie, you'll find bakery treats here alongside more traditional and savory dim sum offerings.
The restaurant saw updates in 2010, but the food here has remained the same for decades. While it's true that this is a tourist haunt in every sense of the word, the history makes it a don't miss if you're in this part of the woods.
Tim Ho Wan is a Hong-Kong transplant best known for dim sum. It also holds a Michelin star, likely making it the least expensive Michelin restaurant in the world. Because of both of these facts, crowds descend on Tim Ho Wan every evening (though they're starting to wane), so it'll be in your best interest to go during the week, or arrive on the early side. In terms of the menu, it's divided into steamed, baked, pan-fried, deep fried and blanched with some congee and rice rolls stuffed with minced beef, BBQ pork or shrimp and chives thrown in for good measure. Don't skip dessert: the French toast with custard is a standout.
Mala Project specializes in dry hot pot, which is exactly what it sounds like. You still pick your ingredients from a laundry list of options, but instead of cooking them table-side in a boiling vat of liquid, the kitchen mixes them up with slick noodles and spicy sauces. Parts of the menu here aren't for the faint of heart and include everything from frogs to intestines to rooster's "xxx" - also known as testicles. Less adventurous eaters can opt for beef tenderloin, meatballs or chicken wings, plus a smattering of palate-pleasing veggies that include mushrooms, sweet potato, taro root and cauliflower.
Han Dynasty's got all the hits New Yorkers have come to love, including dan dan noodles, fried rice and wonton soup. But while the menu might look familiar, the high-quality preparation is anything but ordinary. It's been said that Han only hires chefs with Chinese-acquired chops, and when you taste the food, you'll surely believe the rumors. While the original location is in the East Village, the goodness has spread to Brooklyn and the Upper East Side, so you can feed your craving for Chinese in multiple neighborhoods around town. If you've managed to pull a group of at least eight, you can also go in on the omakase tasting menu. For $25 a head, it's one of the best deals in the city.