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Mei Li Wah Mona W./Yelp

22 Savory Asian Snacks in NYC

Find spiced samosas, chewy onigiri, standout pork buns, and other varied Asian fare

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Thanks to the prevalence of street food culture in East and Southeast Asian countries, traditional Asian “snacks” are just as often cooked foods as they are packaged or dried. Think of the many forms of dumplings, charcoal-grilled skewers, or simple rice and meat dishes — the kinds of grab-and-go bites you might find at an Asian open-air night market.

Of course, there’s plenty of variance between the different cultures: Taiwanese boba, or bubble tea, parlors are now ubiquitous in NYC, serving Taiwan’s famed popcorn chicken. Meanwhile, Vietnamese banh mi sandwich shops deal in sticky rice or sweet puddings. Then there’s Japan, where snacking has been elevated to an art form with the likes of onigiri rice balls and takoyaki octopus balls. From more classic street-style snacks to upmarket reinterpretations, here are 22 excellent Asian snacks to try in NYC.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Xi'an Famous Foods

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Xi’an Famous Foods opened in 2005 as a basement stand in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Since then, it’s grown to 13 locations sharing the mouth-tingling cuisine of China’s northwest Sichuan province. Though renowned for its delightful hand-ripped noodle plates, Xi’an’s standout snack offering is its spicy cumin lamb “burger” — sliced lamb, toasted chili seeds, and long-horn peppers layered in a crispy flatbread bun. For those who can’t stand the heat, a stewed pork belly burger is equally satisfying.

Xi’an Famous Foods Xi’an Famous Foods [Official Photo]

Hmart Bayside

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Arguably the most well-known Korean grocery store in America — there are locations in 12 states — H Mart is a one-stop shop for supermarket standards as well as fresh seafood, baked goods, and pastries. While the Koreatown outpost offers plenty of packaged snacks (GGE seaweed ramen bites, Choco Pie, green tea Kit Kat), the larger Bayside outpost houses a miniature food court with budget-friendly tofu stews, stir-fried meats, and fried rice.

969 NYC Coffee

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The name of this Jackson Heights Japanese newcomer belies its relatively in-depth lineup of dishes — fried katsu cutlet platters, pork bone ramen, and curries, to name a few. While there are indeed a good number of coffee and tea drinks on offer, 969 has quickly become known for its pork and chicken sandwiches, which come in the onigirazu form using onigiri-style rice and seaweed as the “bread.”

969 NYC Coffee Eva Z./Yelp

3 Aunties Thai Market

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As 3 Aunties’ website states, “snacking is a pastime obsession for Thais.” Bringing Bangkok’s most iconic snacks to homesick Thais and other lovers of of the cuisine, the market hawks a vast selection of packaged favorites including paprika potato snacks, rice crackers with “flossy pork and chili paste,” and Katark-brand chicken cracklings. Of course, there are also loads of fresh Asian vegetables, condiments, and ingredients for making Thai food at home.

3 Aunties Thai Market 3 Aunties/Facebook

Fay Da Bakery

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This Taiwanese-style bakery with a dozen or so locations in Queens and Manhattan has won a loyal following for its buns and pastries since 1991. On the savory front, Fay Da offers breakfast- and snack-friendly morsels like a ham-and-cheese croissant, tuna bun, and hot dog bread wrap — which is precisely what it sounds like. Not to be missed is the curry beef puff, wrapped in a flaky puff pastry shell.

Yaya Tea Gramercy

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With three locations in New York City (and one in North Carolina), Yaya is known for just two things: bubble tea and onigiri. The latter, a popular rice ball snack, can be found at Japanese markets all over the city, but Yaya makes its fresh to order with a wide variety of fillings that range from chicken and salmon to spam and imitation crab. The namesake Yaya combo is a simple take on the dish with seaweed salad and spicy mayo. Each onigiri folds its filling into a cylindrical mound of rice, which is then wrapped in nori, or dried seaweed.

Vivi Bubble Tea

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With nearly 30 outposts city-wide, Vivi remains one of the largest bubble-tea franchises around. On offer are creative tea and juice flavors like osmanthus oolong tea, aloe vera fruit tea, and kumquat lemon slush. To soak up the drinks, diners can find a selection of Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken with seasonings like garlic, salt-and-pepper, curry, and basil — all sold for $3.50 a bag. Other snacks include takoyaki and Taiwanese sweet barbecue sausage served on a stick.

Vivi Bubble Tea Alena Z./Yelp

Johnny Air Mart

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Filipino food is still a rarity in Manhattan, but this no-frills Filipino grocer in the East Village stocks a wide array of dry snacks and goods needed for home cooking, along with ready-to-eat dishes. An affiliate of Johnny Air, a company that ships between NYC and the Philippines, the market offers the likes of traditional pan de sal (salt bread), corned beef, and frozen longanisa sausage. For a beginner’s taste of Filipino snacks, there are Skyflakes crackers, a pantry essential in Filipino households, and chicharrones, or pork rinds.

Johnny Air Mart Richelle L./Yelp

Sunrise Mart

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Opened on the Stuyvesant Triangle in the ’90s, Sunrise Mart might be considered the heart of the East Village’s gradually fading Little Tokyo enclave. Now with locations in Soho and Midtown, the homegrown grocery chain sells not just boxed, fresh, and frozen foods, but also cosmetics and household items. Beyond matcha powder and every flavor of Pocky stick, find decent packaged sushi, bento boxes, and donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, that work well as snacks or a light lunch.

Sunrise Mart Sunrise Mart/Facebook

Otafuku x Medetai

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Named after Otafuku, goddess of mirth in the Japanese Shinto religion, this Japanese comfort-food charmer specializes in okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), yakisoba noodles, and takoyaki (octopus balls). The takoyaki balls are the clear star of the show, nestling diced octopus in a doughy batter that’s grilled till crispy on the outside. Drizzled on top are the savory-sweet house sauce and squirts of Japanese mayo — all finished with thin flakes of dried bonito.

Read Review |

Honey butter chips became the “Cronut” of South Korea back in 2014, when they spawned a viral food craze across the country. So when chefs Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku launched Oiji a year later, they sought to capitalize on the packaged snack’s immense popularity by creating their own version. Here, the housemade potato chips are cooked in French butter and shellacked in honey with a hint of cayenne pepper. For dessert, they come hot and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream for $16.

A heap of golden potato chips in a bowl, with presumably ice cream underneath. Nick Solares

The Hidden Pearl

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This 20-seat cocktail den, tucked in the back of Greenpoint’s Wanpaku Ramen, pays homage to tropical Japan both in drink and food. A cocktail list spotlights inventive highballs and locally produced sake, accompanied by a menu of Japanese small plates, or sakana. Options include Asari clams steamed in garlic-sake broth, fried chuka idako (baby octopus), and salty fried burdock root chips.

The Hidden Pearl Phillip Van Nostrand [Official Photo]

Bar Goto

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New York’s cocktail bars are now home to some of the city’s best food, and the Japanese-inspired Bar Goto on the Lower East Side is an excellent example of that. Barman-owner Kenta Goto tapped his friend, Bohemian chef Kiyo Shinoki, to create a short and simple menu of Japanese comfort food snacks. While the selection of okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes with meat, seafood, or cheese) and chicken wings provide the heartiest bites, it’s the kombu celery — yes, celery — that has earned a cult following among bargoers. The stalks arrive perfectly crunchy and loaded with savory flavor from a dressing of sesame oil, salted kombu, and red shiso. It’s a pitch-perfect snack alongside Goto’s beloved sakura martini.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli

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This small East Village bodega, open 24 hours, is a step above others because of its vegetarian Indian steam buffet, portioned out from behind a counter. Beyond options such as curried chickpeas and saag, a standout snack are the samosas, or fried pastries filled with spiced potatoes, onions, and peas, just $1.25 each. Chai is a common side order for the pastries.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli Bharat W./Yelp

Uncle Boons Sister

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Husband-wife chefs Ann Redding and Matt Danzer debuted this casual counter-service operation following the success of their Nolita Thai hotspot Uncle Boons. Nothing goes for over $15, and with just a handful of indoor seats, takeout is a smart option. While most of the dishes work as main courses, savvier diners can bring a buddy to enjoy a variety of plates tapas-style. On the snackier end of things is the $9 sai oua bun, served in hot-dog format with Thai herbal sausage in place of the typical frankfurter. And don’t miss the kab muu nam prik noom — crispy pork rinds with a green chile relish dip, for seven bucks.

Malaysia Beef Jerky

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Dried meat and seafood is beloved in many Asian cultures. At this family-owned Chinatown establishment, diners can choose from regular or spicy beef, chicken, and pork — all char-grilled on-site in the traditional Singapore-Malaysian style. A bit sweeter and more tender than its American counterpart, the jerky here is sold for around $21 a pound or $10.50 a half pound. Cash only.

Malaysia Beef Jerky Cary L./Yelp

Deluxe Food Market

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It’s worth braving the crowds at this perpetually jam-packed Chinese market for its vast selection of traditional fresh and frozen foods. From frozen dumplings and buns to Cantonese Peking duck and spare ribs at the butcher’s station, there’s no shortage of dishes to explore. In the ready-to-eat section, find superb zongzi, a bamboo leaf-wrapped glutinous rice dish, along with you tiao, or deep-fried dough, cloaked in sheets of fresh rice noodle and topped with scallions.

Deluxe Food Market Annie K./Yelp

Mei Li Wah

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In the city’s notably strong pork bun game, this Bayard Street mainstay is a top competitor. Though the small Chinatown bakery also sells steamed buns with chicken and egg yolk, it’s the roast pork option that has won the hearts of New Yorkers for years. Sold for just $1.25 each, these golden, buttery buns encase a filling of hot, rich, fatty pork and a salty-sweet sauce. Also on the menu are beef rice noodles and a simple congee. In old-school Chinatown fashion, service is no-frills, and payment is cash-only.

Mei Li Wah Mona W./Yelp

Tasty Dumpling

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Dollar dumplings are a culinary rite of passage in New York City, although these days, prices have gone up all over town. The closest New Yorkers can get now would be Tasty Dumpling’s pan-fried pork and chive dumplings ($1.25 for five), served with the requisite vinegar and hot sauce dips. The counter-service restaurant — a Chinatown staple sitting just across from Columbus Park — also serves excellent scallion pancakes and wontons.

Tasty Dumpling Edith R./Yelp

East Wind Snack Shop

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This tiny mom-and-pop dumpling shop made headlines for its stellar dumplings when it opened in 2015 in Brooklyn’s Windsor Terrace neighborhood. The pork dumplings and dry-aged beef potstickers are certainly fantastic, but it’s chef Chris Cheung’s gwa bao-style bun, which places caramelized pork belly on top of the bun rather than inside of it, that has earned the most street cred among in-the-know diners.

East Wind Snack Shop East Wind [Official Photo]

Ba Xuyên

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Sunset Park’s time-honored banh mi shop is still recognized for having some of the city’s best classic Vietnamese sandwiches. Fillings include grilled pork, meatballs, and pâté, sandwiched in a crunchy baguette with the requisite fixings of pickled carrot and daikon radish, cilantro, and jalapeño slices. In addition to those sandwiches, however, Ba Xuyen offers a few Vietnamese snacks including fresh spring rolls and the harder-to-find banh beo — a central Vietnamese dish that tops rice flour and tapioca flour with dried shrimp. To wash it all down, there are smoothies such as taro and avocado.

Banh beo at Ba Xuyên
Banh beo
Jenny G./Yelp

Cafe Tibet

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Sandwiched between a bodega and the Cortelyou Q station, this cash-only gem is one of the city’s top destinations for traditional Tibetan fare. Momos are a type of dumpling enjoyed in Himalayan cultures, and Cafe Tibet’s momos — available in chicken, vegetable, or beef — come steamed or fried, and served with a fiery dipping sauce. For larger plates, the restaurant also offers a worthwhile lamb curry and la-phing — a cold dish of thick-cut mung bean noodles in a chile sauce.

Cafe Tibet Janet Y./Yelp

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Xi'an Famous Foods

Xi’an Famous Foods Xi’an Famous Foods [Official Photo]

Xi’an Famous Foods opened in 2005 as a basement stand in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Since then, it’s grown to 13 locations sharing the mouth-tingling cuisine of China’s northwest Sichuan province. Though renowned for its delightful hand-ripped noodle plates, Xi’an’s standout snack offering is its spicy cumin lamb “burger” — sliced lamb, toasted chili seeds, and long-horn peppers layered in a crispy flatbread bun. For those who can’t stand the heat, a stewed pork belly burger is equally satisfying.

Xi’an Famous Foods Xi’an Famous Foods [Official Photo]

Hmart Bayside

Arguably the most well-known Korean grocery store in America — there are locations in 12 states — H Mart is a one-stop shop for supermarket standards as well as fresh seafood, baked goods, and pastries. While the Koreatown outpost offers plenty of packaged snacks (GGE seaweed ramen bites, Choco Pie, green tea Kit Kat), the larger Bayside outpost houses a miniature food court with budget-friendly tofu stews, stir-fried meats, and fried rice.

969 NYC Coffee

969 NYC Coffee Eva Z./Yelp

The name of this Jackson Heights Japanese newcomer belies its relatively in-depth lineup of dishes — fried katsu cutlet platters, pork bone ramen, and curries, to name a few. While there are indeed a good number of coffee and tea drinks on offer, 969 has quickly become known for its pork and chicken sandwiches, which come in the onigirazu form using onigiri-style rice and seaweed as the “bread.”

969 NYC Coffee Eva Z./Yelp

3 Aunties Thai Market

3 Aunties Thai Market 3 Aunties/Facebook

As 3 Aunties’ website states, “snacking is a pastime obsession for Thais.” Bringing Bangkok’s most iconic snacks to homesick Thais and other lovers of of the cuisine, the market hawks a vast selection of packaged favorites including paprika potato snacks, rice crackers with “flossy pork and chili paste,” and Katark-brand chicken cracklings. Of course, there are also loads of fresh Asian vegetables, condiments, and ingredients for making Thai food at home.

3 Aunties Thai Market 3 Aunties/Facebook

Fay Da Bakery

This Taiwanese-style bakery with a dozen or so locations in Queens and Manhattan has won a loyal following for its buns and pastries since 1991. On the savory front, Fay Da offers breakfast- and snack-friendly morsels like a ham-and-cheese croissant, tuna bun, and hot dog bread wrap — which is precisely what it sounds like. Not to be missed is the curry beef puff, wrapped in a flaky puff pastry shell.

Yaya Tea Gramercy

With three locations in New York City (and one in North Carolina), Yaya is known for just two things: bubble tea and onigiri. The latter, a popular rice ball snack, can be found at Japanese markets all over the city, but Yaya makes its fresh to order with a wide variety of fillings that range from chicken and salmon to spam and imitation crab. The namesake Yaya combo is a simple take on the dish with seaweed salad and spicy mayo. Each onigiri folds its filling into a cylindrical mound of rice, which is then wrapped in nori, or dried seaweed.

Vivi Bubble Tea

Vivi Bubble Tea Alena Z./Yelp

With nearly 30 outposts city-wide, Vivi remains one of the largest bubble-tea franchises around. On offer are creative tea and juice flavors like osmanthus oolong tea, aloe vera fruit tea, and kumquat lemon slush. To soak up the drinks, diners can find a selection of Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken with seasonings like garlic, salt-and-pepper, curry, and basil — all sold for $3.50 a bag. Other snacks include takoyaki and Taiwanese sweet barbecue sausage served on a stick.

Vivi Bubble Tea Alena Z./Yelp

Johnny Air Mart

Johnny Air Mart Richelle L./Yelp

Filipino food is still a rarity in Manhattan, but this no-frills Filipino grocer in the East Village stocks a wide array of dry snacks and goods needed for home cooking, along with ready-to-eat dishes. An affiliate of Johnny Air, a company that ships between NYC and the Philippines, the market offers the likes of traditional pan de sal (salt bread), corned beef, and frozen longanisa sausage. For a beginner’s taste of Filipino snacks, there are Skyflakes crackers, a pantry essential in Filipino households, and chicharrones, or pork rinds.

Johnny Air Mart Richelle L./Yelp

Sunrise Mart

Sunrise Mart Sunrise Mart/Facebook

Opened on the Stuyvesant Triangle in the ’90s, Sunrise Mart might be considered the heart of the East Village’s gradually fading Little Tokyo enclave. Now with locations in Soho and Midtown, the homegrown grocery chain sells not just boxed, fresh, and frozen foods, but also cosmetics and household items. Beyond matcha powder and every flavor of Pocky stick, find decent packaged sushi, bento boxes, and donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, that work well as snacks or a light lunch.

Sunrise Mart Sunrise Mart/Facebook

Otafuku x Medetai

Named after Otafuku, goddess of mirth in the Japanese Shinto religion, this Japanese comfort-food charmer specializes in okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), yakisoba noodles, and takoyaki (octopus balls). The takoyaki balls are the clear star of the show, nestling diced octopus in a doughy batter that’s grilled till crispy on the outside. Drizzled on top are the savory-sweet house sauce and squirts of Japanese mayo — all finished with thin flakes of dried bonito.

Oiji

Read Review |
A heap of golden potato chips in a bowl, with presumably ice cream underneath. Nick Solares

Honey butter chips became the “Cronut” of South Korea back in 2014, when they spawned a viral food craze across the country. So when chefs Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku launched Oiji a year later, they sought to capitalize on the packaged snack’s immense popularity by creating their own version. Here, the housemade potato chips are cooked in French butter and shellacked in honey with a hint of cayenne pepper. For dessert, they come hot and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream for $16.

A heap of golden potato chips in a bowl, with presumably ice cream underneath. Nick Solares

The Hidden Pearl

The Hidden Pearl Phillip Van Nostrand [Official Photo]

This 20-seat cocktail den, tucked in the back of Greenpoint’s Wanpaku Ramen, pays homage to tropical Japan both in drink and food. A cocktail list spotlights inventive highballs and locally produced sake, accompanied by a menu of Japanese small plates, or sakana. Options include Asari clams steamed in garlic-sake broth, fried chuka idako (baby octopus), and salty fried burdock root chips.

The Hidden Pearl Phillip Van Nostrand [Official Photo]

Bar Goto

New York’s cocktail bars are now home to some of the city’s best food, and the Japanese-inspired Bar Goto on the Lower East Side is an excellent example of that. Barman-owner Kenta Goto tapped his friend, Bohemian chef Kiyo Shinoki, to create a short and simple menu of Japanese comfort food snacks. While the selection of okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes with meat, seafood, or cheese) and chicken wings provide the heartiest bites, it’s the kombu celery — yes, celery — that has earned a cult following among bargoers. The stalks arrive perfectly crunchy and loaded with savory flavor from a dressing of sesame oil, salted kombu, and red shiso. It’s a pitch-perfect snack alongside Goto’s beloved sakura martini.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli

Punjabi Grocery & Deli Bharat W./Yelp

This small East Village bodega, open 24 hours, is a step above others because of its vegetarian Indian steam buffet, portioned out from behind a counter. Beyond options such as curried chickpeas and saag, a standout snack are the samosas, or fried pastries filled with spiced potatoes, onions, and peas, just $1.25 each. Chai is a common side order for the pastries.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli Bharat W./Yelp

Uncle Boons Sister

Husband-wife chefs Ann Redding and Matt Danzer debuted this casual counter-service operation following the success of their Nolita Thai hotspot Uncle Boons. Nothing goes for over $15, and with just a handful of indoor seats, takeout is a smart option. While most of the dishes work as main courses, savvier diners can bring a buddy to enjoy a variety of plates tapas-style. On the snackier end of things is the $9 sai oua bun, served in hot-dog format with Thai herbal sausage in place of the typical frankfurter. And don’t miss the kab muu nam prik noom — crispy pork rinds with a green chile relish dip, for seven bucks.

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