The Best Dim Sum in NYC

The Best Dim Sum in NYC

 

Ever since I returned from Hong Kong, I’ve had dim sum on my mind. It’s hard not to when my work-day commute and trip to see my parents takes me through America’s third and first largest Chinatowns, respectively. It’s not that carted around dumplings are more delicious than other foods. In fact, in my opinion, Chinese food pales in comparison to other Asian cuisines, specifically Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese. But there’s something pleasantly atavistic about chasing after a dim sum cart, fighting off competitors for your lunch, and then settling down to the convivial spirit of shared eating.

 

In the two years since my visit to Hong Kong, I’ve offered up some advice on the best ways to food-tour through the Manhattan and Flushing Chinatowns. But I avoided including any dim sum joints on those lists, as a day out to dim sum, is, in and of itself, a food tour. If you’re like me, however, and feel exponentially better after a breakfast of dumplings, then you need to know about the best dim sum in New York City.

 

It should be said that none of the dim sum joints in New York come close to offering the dingy attractiveness of the Lin Heung Tea House, where old men and women spend their mornings sipping tea, reading newspapers, and attacking the piles of bamboo baskets stacked like architectural marvels atop the moving carts. Something just happens as tradition crosses the Atlantic, I guess. In fact, much of the below might even read as a reproach of New York’s dim sum scene. (Sorry, the old ladies I dined with in Hong Kong taught me to be critical.) Still, there are a few establishments in New York City that come close to Lin Heung.

 

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my dumplings and wraps. I’m not swayed by myriad options and I’m a tad skeptical of an antiseptic A-rated place. A restaurant scores points with me for perfecting the standard fare: sui mei (dumplings stuffed with pork and shrimp), fu pei guen (which features those same ingredients wrapped in tofu skin), translucent dumplings filled with a seafood and chive combination, and glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves, (so long as it’s filled with chicken or pork and that surprise hot dog, which is never to be ingested, but instead studied with wonderment). I want a bossy server steering the pushcart and an establishment that prides itself on their tea. Without further ado, here is…

The Best Dim Sum in NYC

 

Jing Fung

On Elizabeth Street, head up on the escalator to Jing Fung’s reception hall, which feels like a Bar Mitzvah celebration that has adopted a Chinese New Year theme. The tacky wall hangings, bumping carts, and cacophony of eaters makes this spot my favorite dim sum joint in New York City. They do the aforementioned foursome perfectly. While there is a buffet-style serving station with some curious offerings, the dumplings and sticky rice are so good, why stray?

 

Dim Sum Scallion Pancakes

 

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nam Wah made the list because of its incredible selection of tea. It does not resemble a proper dim sum spot, and instead has the feel of a charming New York City diner situated on the elbow of the famously picturesque curve that is Doyers Street. While the traditional choices are delicious, there are a few problems with Nom Wah: Dishes are not carted around, but ordered and then delivered by a waiter; prices are too high; and their house special dim sum sampler is an egregious offense to tradition. The sampler offers too much taro for my liking and has no multiple versions of the same dumpling, destroying the fraternal component to eating. They do, however, whip up two great “house specials”: pan fried dumplings and scallion pancakes, the latter of which I’m usually not a fan of. Do not order their soup dumplings. If that’s your craving, walk up the block to Pell Street for cheaper, more plentiful, and tastier buns at Joe’s.

 

Dim Sum Go Go

I’ve been visiting Dim Sum Go Go on East Broadway since their doors opened at the start of the millennium. While it’s great fare, I wish the restaurant would go go back to tradition and tone down its attempt at modernity. They could use some cart service, too. But they made the list because their four traditional dishes are excellent and they steam up vegetarian choices, like snow pea leaf dumplings, that are just as good as the meat-filled options.

 

Jade Asian

The inside of this long orange catering hall at 136-28 39th Avenue, across from Flushing’s giant parking lot, feels like a bad casino as the pit bosses of the dim sum world patrol for empty seats and the dim sum pushers rove about the packed house as if to collect quick bets. The carts are a full house of bamboo baskets, steel soup basins, and stacked ceramic plates. While I don’t like my dim sum tampered with, Jade Asian makes a few welcoming changes to their selections. Their shrimp and chive dumpling is texturally complemented by the addition of crisp water chestnuts, but more interestingly, the blend is wrapped in a turquoise-colored dumpling and topped with a sweet white cream sauce and a sprinkling of fish roe. The fu pei guen also had a welcoming amendment: shredded mushrooms inside.

 

Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant

Flushing is very hit or miss for dim sum, but for a bullseye try Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant. You can find them at 133-30 39th Avenue, across the Main Street divide from Jade Asian, where the classics are tasty and the parking is free, a major plus in Flushing, where you can spend an entire lunch break searching for a spot, even in the paid lots.

 

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First Photo by Dave See

Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?, New York, Or Bust

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