New York City is a vast city with endless cultures to be part of and experience. Immigrants from different parts of the world have brought their culture, ways of life, cuisines, dressing styles, and more, making New York what it is today, diverse.
New York City is one of the most extensive and diverse cities globally. Being dwelled by different people from different parts of the world has made up the pieces of New York that we all love and want to experience.
One of these pieces that have made New York diverse and culturally rich is Chinatown. Chinatown is a place where the Chinese people are populated outside of China. New York City has a vast population of Chinese immigrants who have grown to form several Chinatowns.
These Chinatowns have enhanced the city in many ways: culturally, cuisine-wise, and more. Chinatowns today are a place for excellent food, great cultural exposure, and many fun activities to take part in.
Things to do in Chinatowns in New York City are just endless. And we are going to explore that today.
Lets us get started:
How many Chinatowns are there in New York City?
New York City used to have three Chinatowns in the city, also known as the big three. These are the Manhattan Chinatown, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and Flushing in Queens.
But with the increasing number of Chinese immigrants in the New York City area, different Chinese cultures and cuisine have become prominent in New York, which has led to the expansion of various Chinatowns in other parts of the City.
New York City now has many more Chinatowns in the area. Each of these places has its own style and stories to tell. Some of these places are not officially called “Chinatown” word by word, but with the increasing numbers of Chinese residents, facilities, and restaurants, they are on the way to becoming one.
Let us explore these different Chinatowns and see what makes them stand out from the others.
These three Chinatowns are the most established in New York City.
● Manhattan Chinatown
Manhattan Chinatown has one of the biggest Chinese populations in the western world. Found in the lower part of Manhattan, New York City, this Chinatown is the most famous in New York City.
This place is full of busy, narrow streets with different kinds of authentic shops and eateries. Though almost all of the signs in this area are in a foreign language, they have English menus and people that can communicate in English within every shop, so you don’t have to worry.
● Flushing in Queens
Flushing Chinatown is the second biggest Chinatown in New York City. Before the 1970s, the place used to be for Greek and Italian neighborhoods. But after an economic shakedown, housing prices went down, and this neighborhood was replaced with Korean and Chinese immigrants.
Now, Flushing is a home for diverse cultures and ethnicities. But mainly East Asians meaning Korean, Taiwanese, and Chinese people, make up for the larger crowd.
Flushing is full of Chinese and other Asian restaurants, herbal and medicinal shops, and markets.
● Sunset Park in Brooklyn
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is one of the biggest Chinatowns in New York City. It is also the first Chinatown in Brooklyn. This place also has one of the fastest-growing Chinese populations outside of China.
This place is full of various shops, especially for food and stalls. Also, if you are looking for a place to get fresh seafood, Chinatown at Sunset Park is the place. It is also the best place to have Dim Sum among the Chinatowns mentioned here.
These areas of New York City are part of emerging Chinatowns. With a growing number of chinses and other Asian students and immigrants in the city, facilities such as restaurants, grocery stores, and other service giving sectors.
● Fourth Chinatown, also known as Elmhurst:
Elmhurst was one of the earliest Chinatowns to form in New York City, after the top three.
The settlement of the chinses people in the area was mainly because a Chinese market had opened in the area (Elmhurst) in the 1990s.
This place had all kinds of ingredients imported directly from China, which was hard to find back then. Since then, many Chinese people have been flooding the area.
The population grew so much that when Chinese people planned on moving to New York City from within the states or from other parts of the world, Elmhurst became the most wanted area.
Bensonhurst is part of New York City and has one of the biggest Chinese populations, based on a report in 2013. And the majority of the Cantonese population in New York is densely populated here in Bensonhurst.
In addition to being called little Italy with the primary residence of immigrant Italians in the area, Bensonhurst is practically also called little china/ little Hong kong in the heart of New York City.
This place is full of Cantonese bakeries, barbeque restaurants, supermarkets, herbal medicine shops, etc.
● Little Neck
Little Neck is found on the border of Long Island and Queens. This place is one of the hottest places for a rising population of Asian people.
Chinese people account for almost 43% of the population. In this area, one most spoken language next to English is now Chinese.
Little Neck has a different selection when it comes to food. From Dim Sums to Hong kong hot pot, the options are various. In the past year, 5 Chinese restaurants have opened in little Neck.
But Little Neck is not yet fully Chinatown now. Still, in the coming few years, Little Neck will be one of the significant Chinatowns, in New York City, primarily because of the rising number of Asians and Chinese students at Colombus Univerisity.
● East Village
Some might say calling the entire East village Chinatown is a stretch and farfetched. This is mainly because there are many other cultures and cuisine present in the area, such as the Jewish, Italian and Mexican, which are still very prominent in the area.
But in the past five years, Chinese restaurants and supermarkets have expanded in the area enough to be part of the above prominent cuisines and cultures in the East Village.
This growing number in the East Village is mainly because of the Ney York Univerisity, where many Chinese students come to study.
East Village China town is known for being one of the hip Chinatown areas, as the place is full of young people and college students. This place is also known for its Chinese and other mainly Asian restaurants.
● Forest Hills
Forest Hills is one of the flourishing Chinatown areas in New York City. This place is full of Chinese and Taiwanese shops and restaurants.
Forset Hills is basically the second stop after Flushing in Queens. It has even gotten the name “ the next Flushing,” as the streets are getting busier and more Chinese supermarkets, shops, and restaurants.
If you ever get to visit Forest Hills, the Tawanises shaved ice is one of the best-selling things in the area, especially in summers.
Homecrest is for Italian, Russian, and American restaurants and eateries. But in between, there is a little Chinatown full of Chinese grocery stores and bakeries.
These Chinese people in the area have been settled here for a long time, so there are markets or grocery stores to buy and cook Chinese ingredients instead of restaurants and eateries.
But this has grown to change in the past few years. There are now several popular Chinese and Asian restaurants in Homecrest.
Things to do in Chinatown, NYC
There are many activities you can take on while visiting china town in New York City. You can go sightseeing, on a food tour, shopping or just visit a park. Let’s see some of the must-sees and do things while visiting Chinatown in New York City:
● Visit the Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center:
8 Mott St, New York, NY 10038, United States
Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center is an amusement park. This is a great place to have fun with your kids, and various fun competitive games are suitable for multiple age groups.
Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center also has the old remanents of the Arcades of New York.
● Visit the Edward Mooney House:
18 Bowery, New York, NY 10013, United States
This place is located in Chinatown in Manhattan, New York. Edward Mooney House is one of the unique constructions that won’t fit the Chinatown vibe in the area.
It is an old red brick construction that has become one of the land Marks of New York City.
Edward Mooney House was built between 1785-1782, and this was one of the few buildings that were not destroyed in the American revolutionary way. It is a great place to visit and learn some history.
● Shop at Pearl River Mart:
452 Broadway New York, NY 10013, United States
Pearl River Mart has been one of the longest-running marts in Chinatown, New York, for over 50years now.
It is the best place to find Items for cultural and Asian holidays such as the lunar year. You can find various decorations, antiques, and clothes. At Pearl River Mart, you can find different Asian snacks and tea sets from different cultural backgrounds.
This is an excellent place for cultural exposure for non-Asian people and a feeling of home for Asian people.
● Visit Yu and Me Bookstore:
44 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Yu and Me Bookstore is one of the most fantastic book stores ever. They showcase the stories of the immigrant people in the area, their cultures, ways of living, and many more.
Yu and me Bookstore is a book store that has been on the rise since it was opened. It was covered in various magazines and programs for its contribution to society.
● Visit Temple Mahayana:
133 Canal Street, New York, NY 10002, United States
Temple Mahayana is the oldest Buddist temple on the east coast. This is one of the temples that are most cherished and treasured among Buddhist people.
This temple has a fantastic landscape and traditional structure and is an excellent place for retreats.
This is also where the only Arhats Hall in the United States is.
● Visit Columbus Park:
Mulberry Street & Baxter St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Columbus Park, which was formerly known as Mulberry Bend Park. Opened in 1897, it is one of the oldest parts of the city. In Recent Years, Columbus Park has been renovated and now has various facilities within the park.
Among these facilities are a playground, a basketball court, and a soccer field are the major ones.
Columbus Park is a great place to unwind the day after touring around Chinatown and just get some fresh air. Also, an excellent location if you are visiting with kids.
● Visit the Chinatown Icecream Factory:
65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Chinatown Icecream Factory has one of the best Asian ice creams in New York! The unique flavor they have is one of the things that makes them special.
Creamy almond, black sesame, egg custard, pandan flavor, almond cookies, and lychee, the list of flavors is endless.
The shop is small, so you might have to wait in line and take turns to go in, but hands down one of the best Asian ice cream in the state.
● Go on a Food tour:
If you are ever visiting any Chinatown anywhere globally, not going on a food tour is the biggest mistake you can ever make.
Chinatown is known for its various authentic and tasteful dishes from different parts of China and Asia. And this is what you will find in New York City too.
Where to eat in Chinatown, NYC?
Chinatown in New York City is one of the most emerging places when it comes to food culture. A variety of different cuisines not just from China but from all over Asia can be found.
Fresh ingredients from the local markets and authentic spices imported from Asia and other parts of the world create an excellent taste.
Exploring the food scene in Chinatown when you visit New York City is one of the must-have experiences.
Below we will see a very few restaurants that are well known in Chinatown New Yor City:
1. Xi‘an Famous Foods
54 Willoughby St., Brooklyn, NY 11201, Unites States
Xi’an Famous Food is one of the well-known Chinese food chains in New York and the United States.
Xi’an Famous Food specializes explicitly in noodles. They are known for the variety of noodles made from scratch in their vicinity. One of their best-selling menus is spicy noodles.
Xi’an Famous Foods has now opened its Fourth spot in New York, and they have a branch in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The restaurant’s interior is decorated with Chinese cultural touches, such as various antique porcelains and pictures.
2. Park Asia
6521 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11220, United States
Park Asia specializes in traditional Cantonese dishes. And you can’t mention Cantonese cuisine and forget DimSum.
Park Asia is one of the hottest places in Brooklyn for DimSum. Besides the DimSum, their other menus, such as spare ribs and shumai/ har Gow.
The ambiance of the restaurant is very bright and uplifting. It is like a huge dining room, with a very high ceiling and a chandelier; huge tables are shared among customers, which feels very communal and intimate. This dining form is an experience by itself.
Finding a parking spot can be challenging while visiting park Asia, so coming in the early hours or finding a parking spot somewhere else is highly recommended.
3. Royal Seafood Restuarant
103 Mott St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Royal Seafood restaurant is the DimSum place in New York City. Royal Seafood Restuarant is one of the original places that used to sell DimSum a while back before many Chinese places started opening up.
Customers love this place because of how fresh and plump the DimSums are. Though they are mainly known for their Dim Sum, the Royal Seafood restaurant also serves many other dishes, such as rice rolls, pan-fried noodles, beef ribs, pork buns, etc.
The Royal Seafood Restaurant interior is as simple as it can get. It is a big carpeted room with big circle tables, and food is circulated around the restaurant by a food cart, which is an experience by itself.
4. Noodle Village
13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Many come to Noodle Village looking for noodles and get swept away with the wonton soup and the soup dumplings.
Noodles VIllage serves one of the most flavourful and yet very light broths is what their customers love about this specific menu.
Besides the soup dumplings and the wonton soup, their steamed rice rolls are one of the good ones. They also have an option for a clay pot rice, if you prefer it better than the usual one.
A restaurant is a calm place, nothing too hectic, but it can get a little crowded on weekends and evenings. So it is better to visit in the earlier parts of the day, they open at 9 am.
5. Chuan Tian Xia
5502 7th Ave Brooklyn NY 11220, United States
Chuan Tian Xia, also known as the Chuan World restaurant, is a prominent place for Sichuan Cusine. Chuan World is a place with spicy and immaculate taste food. The flours on the menus at this place are more of on the stronger side and are also spicy.
There is a very long selection of food, and the portions are big, so coming in groups and getting as many plates as you can to try everything on the menu is recommended.
But one of their popular menus is the Pineapple fried rice; this is a bowl of fried rice served within pineapple as a bowl. Also, the wrapped fish is one of the must-try menus.
6. Xun Yun Si Kao
5609 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220, United States
Xun Yun Si Kao is one of the best places to have seafood in Chinatown, New York City. One of their famous seafood dishes is the “fishpot,” a different type of fish marinated and made into a stew. This meal is shared at a table, so going in a group is recommended.
Xun Yun Si Kao serves chicken, barbeques, pork, and a grill. In addition, this restaurant has vegan options and salads as a selection. This restaurant has a variety of choices when it comes to cuisines, Asian food, Chinese foods, etc.
Xun Yun Si Kao is an inclusive place for kids, group gatherings, and a family night out.
7. Pecking Duck House
28 Mott St A, New York, NY 10013, United States
Pecking Duck House, as its name implies, is known for its fantastic duck dish, which is the house’s specialty. In addition to that, among their various menu selections, they also serve plates of seafood and DimSum.
The show that goes down at Pecking Duck House at the center of the tables, as the chef cut slices of the crispy duck with his fancy knife skills, is one of a kind.
With a wide table set up and a spacious interior, Pecking Duck House is an excellent place for group gatherings and parties. But since the area tends to be crowded and busy, reserving a table is highly recommended.
Chinatown is one of the top tourist attractions in New York City as there are many things to learn and experience.
After reading this article, we hope we have increased your curiosity about Chinatown and got you excited to learn and visit the place. If you visit Chiantowns in New York, try the variety of foods, enjoy a stroll on historic streets and take part in this unique culture.
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