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Dry pot at MaLa Project
Dry pot at MáLà Project
Anthony Bui

15 Restaurants that Make East Village an Exciting Chinese Food Destination

From spicy dry pots to carefully sourced dumplings, here’s where to eat in the neighborhood now

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Dry pot at MáLà Project
| Anthony Bui

In the last two years, East Village has had a surge of hip Chinese restaurants serving hyper-specific fare that previously could only be found in enclaves like Chinatown, Flushing, or Sunset Park. Now, a new generation of restaurateurs targeting both young international Chinese students and locals looking to try something new are opening businesses like wild. Unlike their predecessors, these businesses pay particular attention to creating ambiance similar to many trendy downtown restaurants — lots of exposed brick, art, and neon signs. While the neighborhood has long been home to Japanese restaurants, it’s now also a bonafide destination for ambitious fare from the Sinosphere, defined here as Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongese, or otherwise Chinese adjacent. Read all about the rise here, and below, find a map of the restaurants, with a nod to some older Chinese restaurants in East Village that have helped pave the way.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Han Dynasty

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A Sichuan stalwart in the neighborhood, Philly import Han Dynasty has held down the cuisine since 2013. It’s an excellent place to bring a group, which can gather around a round table in the back for feasts of dishes like dan dan noodles, dry pepper chicken wings, and cumin lamb for just $25 a person.

Han Dynasty dan dan noodles
Dan dan noodles
Photo via Han Dynasty

Tim Ho Wan

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This Michelin-starred Hong Kong import has been serving up affordable dim sum in the neighborhood since December 2016. It still attracts long lines for plates such as thin-skinned har gow, baked char siu bao, and eggplant stuffed with shrim paste. There are also no communal tables here, which is not very common in the world of dim sum.

Tim Ho Wan dim sum Photo by Nick Solares

Mimi Cheng's Dumplings

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Dumplings are the name of the game of this picture-perfect fast-casual restaurant, where since 2014 Taiwanese American sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng have made their twist on the favorite Chinese snack using farmer’s market ingredients. The classic offering is chicken and zucchini, and every month, collaboration dumplings from the likes of chefs such as Daniel Humm rotate on the menu. There is also a location in Nolita.

The Bao

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A spin-off of Flushing restaurant Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, the Bao serves an across-the-board Chinese menu of dim sum, Sichuan dishes like cumin lamb, Cantonese classics such as beef and broccoli, and others from Hunan and further. But what’s truly beloved here are the myriad types of soup dumplings, which were at one point taken off the menu, but now back in action. The Saint Mark’s Place shop, open since 2014, is packed with exposed lightbulbs and art, and music pumps in here for a nightlife vibe less common in traditional Chinese restaurants.

The Bao Photo via Yelp

Little Tong Noodle Shop

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Rice noodles are hot, hot, hot, and Little Tong is ground zero for the sort served in stylish digs popping up with increasing frequency around town. Chef-owner and WD-50 alum Simone Tong opened her shop in March 2017, where the go-to is the grandma chicken mixian, or one with chicken confit, black sesame garlic oil, pickles, fermented chile, and a scatter of edible blossoms.

Grandma chicken mixian at Little Tong Nick Solares

Szechuan Mountain House

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Another expansion from Flushing, Szechuan Mountain House has dramatically plated Sichuan fare, like a sliced pork belly with chile garlic sauce that hangs over a dowel like laundry on a line, interspersed with slices of shaved cucumber. It’s a popular destination since fall 2017 for Sichuan dishes that don’t skimp on the fiery spice known to the cuisine. Other recommended dishes include spicy mung bean jelly salad, stewed fish filet with pickled cabbage and chile, and sliced beef in hot chile oil.

Szechuan Mountain House’s dining room, inspired by villages in the mountains Jean Schwarzwalder

Shellfish is the star at this new Chinese bistro — opened in spring 2018 by owners Tina Chen, Yang Liu, and chef Zac Zhang — where crawfish, crab, and shrimp come doused in a choice of six sauces. The most popular of them is “13 flavors,” an umami-rich blend of clove, star anise, angelica dahurica, nutmeg, ginger, fennel, black cardamom, Sichuan peppercorn, dried tangerine peel, cinnamon, and galangal. Throw on a bib and get a pound for seafood feast, but also don’t miss the slew of skewers, typically a street food.

An overhead shot of a dinner spread at a round wooden table at Le Sia. Photo by Louise Palmberg

Clay Pot NYC

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Hong Kong-style clay pot cooking — where crispy pieces of rice line the bowl — is the sole focus of Clay Pot, a counter-seating spot from first-time restaurateur Alexander Yip that opened in February 2018. Each one starts at $12 and comes topped with a choice of proteins, including beef, chicken, eel, veggies, and baby shrimp. Besides rice, they also come with egg, spinach, tofu, and corn.

Clay Pot Clay Pot

Drunken Dumpling

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Opened in September 2016, postcard-sized Drunken Dumpling is perhaps best known for selling a massive soup dumpling. But that Instagram-bait dish can be skipped; owner Yuan Lee and his chef-mother Qihui Guan also happen to serve a tight menu of more average-sized soup dumplings and pot stickers that are worth ordering. Try the crab soup dumplings or the shrimp with wood ear mushroom jiaozi. At under $12 for six, these dumplings cost more versions in Chinatown, but the ingredients here are reportedly thoughtfully sourced. 

Drunken Dumpling Photo via Foursquare

Xi'an Famous Foods

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Pioneering Xi’an Famous Foods is one of the earlier hip, Chinese restaurants to open in the neighborhood, with a tiny takeout location debuting here in 2010. A combination of hip-hop on the speakers, a sleek space, and loud flavors still draws crowds at the local chain — with recipes from patriarch David Shi and business savvy from his son Jason Wang.

A round aluminum carryout containers with noodles and meat inside.
Liang pi noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods
Ryan Sutton

Dian Kitchen

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Opened in May 2018, petite Dian Kitchen joins a growing number of Yunnan-style rice noodles and small plates with vibey decor. Nine different noodles — ranging from tofu and pork to beef — stock the menu, all under $14. Smaller dishes range from wonton in chile oil and pan-fried dumplings to loaded sweet potato fries, topped with chil bean sauce and scallion. Critic Robert Sietsema particularly liked a cold rice noodle with chicken.

A storefront with a turquoise awning. Robert Sietsema

MáLà Project

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Many newer Chinese food restaurateurs in the East Village point to MáLà Project as a reason they were inspired to get into the business — owner Amelie Kang opened her Sichuan dry pot restaurant in December 2015, and shortly after, the combination of hip downtown Manhattan aesthetic and pumped up flavors attracted crowds. The main event is a dry pot, which can be packed with a slew of ingredients ranging from beef tenderloin to less common fare like chicken gizzard. Appetizers and dim sum items, too, are on-point, like the pig ear in chile oil and the sweet, sticky rice-stuffed lotus. There’s also a Midtown location. Perfect for group dining.

A spread of dishes at MáLà Project, including dan dan noodles, shelled peanuts in a cup, and dry pot in a wooden bowl Anthony Bui

The Tang

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All sorts of Chinese noodles are the primary draw of the Tang, a small, narrow restaurant with lots of stool seating. Since opening in August 2016, it’s served takes on classics like zhajiangmian (soybean paste noodles, here called ZJM) and dandanmian (the numbing, spicy dish, here called DDM). Appetizers such as the mouthwatering chicken thigh — a cold dish with shredded chicken in Sichuan chile oil — can round out the meal.

Noodles from the Tang
Noodles from the Tang
Photo via Facebook

Hunan Slurp Shop

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Hunan Slurp Shop, opened in May 2018, is another Chinese rice noodle shop, but instead of Yunnan flavors, owner-chef Chao Wang highlights the profiles of the Hunan province in the 48-seat space. Wang, who previously worked as an oil painter, used his background to create a clean, minimalist dining room enveloped by lots of pristine wooden slabs. Though “slurp” is in the name, the non-noodle dishes might just be the highlight: a slightly sweet smoked pork stir-fried with smoked bean curd and cumin beef on skewers are both worth trying.

An artistic dining room with blonde wood slats from floor to ceiling and hanging exposed bulb lights Photo via Hunan Slurp Shop

Ho Foods

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Taiwanese beef noodle soup is the star at chef-owner Richard Ho’s uber-tiny Ho Foods, which frequently has waits due to its limited 10 seats. Started as a pop-up in 2015, Ho went brick-and-mortar in January 2018 — serving what he considers to be a modern but still fairly traditional version of the country’s national dish. Other options on the slim menu include a soft tofu made on-site and cucumbers.

Beef noodles soup, with noodles artfully wrapped around chopsticks, from Ho Foods Photo by Dan Ahn via Ho Foods

Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty dan dan noodles
Dan dan noodles
Photo via Han Dynasty

A Sichuan stalwart in the neighborhood, Philly import Han Dynasty has held down the cuisine since 2013. It’s an excellent place to bring a group, which can gather around a round table in the back for feasts of dishes like dan dan noodles, dry pepper chicken wings, and cumin lamb for just $25 a person.

Han Dynasty dan dan noodles
Dan dan noodles
Photo via Han Dynasty

Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan dim sum Photo by Nick Solares

This Michelin-starred Hong Kong import has been serving up affordable dim sum in the neighborhood since December 2016. It still attracts long lines for plates such as thin-skinned har gow, baked char siu bao, and eggplant stuffed with shrim paste. There are also no communal tables here, which is not very common in the world of dim sum.

Tim Ho Wan dim sum Photo by Nick Solares

Mimi Cheng's Dumplings

Dumplings are the name of the game of this picture-perfect fast-casual restaurant, where since 2014 Taiwanese American sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng have made their twist on the favorite Chinese snack using farmer’s market ingredients. The classic offering is chicken and zucchini, and every month, collaboration dumplings from the likes of chefs such as Daniel Humm rotate on the menu. There is also a location in Nolita.

The Bao

The Bao Photo via Yelp

A spin-off of Flushing restaurant Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, the Bao serves an across-the-board Chinese menu of dim sum, Sichuan dishes like cumin lamb, Cantonese classics such as beef and broccoli, and others from Hunan and further. But what’s truly beloved here are the myriad types of soup dumplings, which were at one point taken off the menu, but now back in action. The Saint Mark’s Place shop, open since 2014, is packed with exposed lightbulbs and art, and music pumps in here for a nightlife vibe less common in traditional Chinese restaurants.

The Bao Photo via Yelp

Little Tong Noodle Shop

Grandma chicken mixian at Little Tong Nick Solares

Rice noodles are hot, hot, hot, and Little Tong is ground zero for the sort served in stylish digs popping up with increasing frequency around town. Chef-owner and WD-50 alum Simone Tong opened her shop in March 2017, where the go-to is the grandma chicken mixian, or one with chicken confit, black sesame garlic oil, pickles, fermented chile, and a scatter of edible blossoms.

Grandma chicken mixian at Little Tong Nick Solares

Szechuan Mountain House

Szechuan Mountain House’s dining room, inspired by villages in the mountains Jean Schwarzwalder

Another expansion from Flushing, Szechuan Mountain House has dramatically plated Sichuan fare, like a sliced pork belly with chile garlic sauce that hangs over a dowel like laundry on a line, interspersed with slices of shaved cucumber. It’s a popular destination since fall 2017 for Sichuan dishes that don’t skimp on the fiery spice known to the cuisine. Other recommended dishes include spicy mung bean jelly salad, stewed fish filet with pickled cabbage and chile, and sliced beef in hot chile oil.

Szechuan Mountain House’s dining room, inspired by villages in the mountains Jean Schwarzwalder

Le Sia

An overhead shot of a dinner spread at a round wooden table at Le Sia. Photo by Louise Palmberg

Shellfish is the star at this new Chinese bistro — opened in spring 2018 by owners Tina Chen, Yang Liu, and chef Zac Zhang — where crawfish, crab, and shrimp come doused in a choice of six sauces. The most popular of them is “13 flavors,” an umami-rich blend of clove, star anise, angelica dahurica, nutmeg, ginger, fennel, black cardamom, Sichuan peppercorn, dried tangerine peel, cinnamon, and galangal. Throw on a bib and get a pound for seafood feast, but also don’t miss the slew of skewers, typically a street food.

An overhead shot of a dinner spread at a round wooden table at Le Sia. Photo by Louise Palmberg

Clay Pot NYC

Clay Pot Clay Pot

Hong Kong-style clay pot cooking — where crispy pieces of rice line the bowl — is the sole focus of Clay Pot, a counter-seating spot from first-time restaurateur Alexander Yip that opened in February 2018. Each one starts at $12 and comes topped with a choice of proteins, including beef, chicken, eel, veggies, and baby shrimp. Besides rice, they also come with egg, spinach, tofu, and corn.

Clay Pot Clay Pot

Drunken Dumpling

Drunken Dumpling Photo via Foursquare

Opened in September 2016, postcard-sized Drunken Dumpling is perhaps best known for selling a massive soup dumpling. But that Instagram-bait dish can be skipped; owner Yuan Lee and his chef-mother Qihui Guan also happen to serve a tight menu of more average-sized soup dumplings and pot stickers that are worth ordering. Try the crab soup dumplings or the shrimp with wood ear mushroom jiaozi. At under $12 for six, these dumplings cost more versions in Chinatown, but the ingredients here are reportedly thoughtfully sourced. 

Drunken Dumpling Photo via Foursquare

Xi'an Famous Foods

A round aluminum carryout containers with noodles and meat inside.
Liang pi noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods
Ryan Sutton

Pioneering Xi’an Famous Foods is one of the earlier hip, Chinese restaurants to open in the neighborhood, with a tiny takeout location debuting here in 2010. A combination of hip-hop on the speakers, a sleek space, and loud flavors still draws crowds at the local chain — with recipes from patriarch David Shi and business savvy from his son Jason Wang.

A round aluminum carryout containers with noodles and meat inside.
Liang pi noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods
Ryan Sutton

Dian Kitchen

A storefront with a turquoise awning. Robert Sietsema

Opened in May 2018, petite Dian Kitchen joins a growing number of Yunnan-style rice noodles and small plates with vibey decor. Nine different noodles — ranging from tofu and pork to beef — stock the menu, all under $14. Smaller dishes range from wonton in chile oil and pan-fried dumplings to loaded sweet potato fries, topped with chil bean sauce and scallion. Critic Robert Sietsema particularly liked a cold rice noodle with chicken.

A storefront with a turquoise awning. Robert Sietsema

MáLà Project

A spread of dishes at MáLà Project, including dan dan noodles, shelled peanuts in a cup, and dry pot in a wooden bowl Anthony Bui

Many newer Chinese food restaurateurs in the East Village point to MáLà Project as a reason they were inspired to get into the business — owner Amelie Kang opened her Sichuan dry pot restaurant in December 2015, and shortly after, the combination of hip downtown Manhattan aesthetic and pumped up flavors attracted crowds. The main event is a dry pot, which can be packed with a slew of ingredients ranging from beef tenderloin to less common fare like chicken gizzard. Appetizers and dim sum items, too, are on-point, like the pig ear in chile oil and the sweet, sticky rice-stuffed lotus. There’s also a Midtown location. Perfect for group dining.

A spread of dishes at MáLà Project, including dan dan noodles, shelled peanuts in a cup, and dry pot in a wooden bowl Anthony Bui

The Tang