Flushing’s popular late-night Chinese street food restaurant Friendship BBQ has made its way to Manhattan. The restaurant — where skewers, or chuan’er (串儿) in Mandarin, are the main event — opened a couple weeks ago in Chinatown at 103 Bowery, between Hester and Grand streets.
The new 90-seat space is tailored to late night eating: It opens at 4 p.m. and closes at 2 a.m., according to Lei Chen, who owns both Friendship BBQ and sister restaurant Grill Master. Like the Flushing outpost, the Chinatown restaurant serves an expansive menu featuring meat and veggie skewers, grilled fish, hot pot, and Chinese-style seafood boil, with crawfish, crab, and shrimp. Skewer options range from cumin-dusted lamb skewers and grilled Wagyu to chicken heart and lamb kidney.
The menu is similar to street food restaurants that have become ubiquitous in big Chinese cities, where nightlife often centers around drinking beer and noshing on lamb skewers, garlic eggplant, and spicy crawfish instead of bar-hopping.
Friendship BBQ opened here three years ago and quickly became a destination for Chinese expats in New York. At prime time, there are frequently more than hour-long waits at the Flushing location.
The new Chinatown outpost is already packed, though Chen is still waiting for a liquor license. And his mission to keep opening restaurants continues: a Sunset Park location of Grill Master opened earlier this year, and he’s eyeing Brooklyn and Long Island City for more locations of Friendship BBQ.