Since December 2011, Untapped writer Luke Kingma has spent countless weekends in Chinatown, reviewing the food establishments he’s explored there in his Sunday in Chinatown column. He’s tried everything from traditional Chinese dishes to seafood, exotic ice cream, spongecake, bubble tea, and questionably, one McDonald’s meal there. It’s all compiled for you in a convenient, geo-tracking Sunday in Chinatown Foursquare list. Here, we present you with a sampling of the list, in no particular order:
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory: This tiny shop calls its feature product “ice cream with a Chinese twist.” But this ice cream is perfect not only for those who have a wide and adventurous palate and high expectations; it’s also perfect for purists. The ice cream is 100% authentic, mixed on the premises, and uses fresh ingredients. (In their red bean ice cream, for instance, they utilize whole red beans rather than bean paste, making for a much richer flavor). A bit of charming kitsch in homage to New York: Knicks fans can order a topping of red and blue “Linsanity” sprinkles. Read more.
K Tasty Dumpling, formerly Panda Dumpling House: This place is known for its delicious and insanely cheap dumplings, but devotees come back for its exceptional dumpling sauce and tea eggs, eggs that are gently cracked before being slow-boiled in a marinade of black tea, spices, and soy sauce. Read more.
Hop Kee: Ready to go underground? If it doesn’t deter you, travel to this basement beneath Chinatown for some of the best mussels, salted squid, roast pork and duck in the neighborhood. Travel Channel chef and culinary critic Anthony Bourdain approves. Read more.
Kam Hing Coffee Shop: We’ll quote Luke here, because he perfectly describes the phenomenal (and cheap) spongecakes sold at this coffee shop: “If you claim to dislike spongecake, you are wrong. As long as New Kam Hing Coffee Shop keeps its doors open, you are wrong.” Read more.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine: Their fish balls are fishless, but do have ground pork and come close to perfection. And their dumplings stand out among those of other dumpling purveyors on the street in their amount of flavor and the fact that they’re prepared fresh in front of you. Read more.
Sweetberry: The Original China Ice Cream Factory of frozen yogurt, but with an expansive and exotic toppings bar. Try their rice-based mochi and their suspicious-looking (but life-affirming) “strawberry coating juice” balls. Keep this place in the back of your mind when you’re downtown and direly in need of dessert-based adventure and something cool. Read more.
Xi’an Famous Foods: Here’s another Anthony Bourdain recommendation. The Western Chinese restaurant’s $3 spicy lamb cumin burger, sautéed with jalapeños, scallions, and onions, is his favorite. Once you try it, it will be hard to move on and sample Xi’an’s other exceptional dishes. Read more.
Cha Chan Tang: This elegant tea shop is has the best bubble tea in the neighborhood. The delicious red bean bubble tea is unique to Chinatown, as are the crispy chicken wing appetizers that go with it. Read more.
New Malaysia: This exotic hidden (and cramped) restaurant has long waits for a reason. The tender “aromatic crab” is worth all the work it takes to break through the shells. The next time you come, you’ll be conflicted as to whether you should re-order it or explore the expansive, exciting menu. Read more.