Articles10 Recommended Asian Restaurants in Manhattan

Living in New York for three years, I’ve learned that there are many reasons to like it, but only one true reason it’s worth putting up with seven months of freezing weather, insane rent and rats.

Restaurants.

New York has so much diverse good food that the Statue of Liberty should’ve been a brick oven artichoke heart pizza. Good food is the one thing 8.623 million people agree on other than the Knicks suck. Dates are made or broken by food. So, long story short, I’m going to shoehorn an Asian-themed article into this by recommending you 10 great Asian restaurants I’ve personally tried and think you’ll love in Manhattan. If you’re ever visiting town, look me up on Twitter or Facebook. I love breaking bread…over sushi.

1.) Tim Ho Wan (Dim Sum)
Address: 85 4th Ave., New York, NY 10003
Website: http://timhowanusa.com

In the world of dim sum, Tim Ho Wan is a famous name. Originating from Hong Kong, the greatest dim sum city in the world (an argument could be made for Guangdong, but it’d be wrong), New York is blessed with TWO franchise locations. I recommend the Astor Place location simply because it’s in the Asian area. I love this place. Not only is the food great, but it’s cozy. Being Cantonese, I’m a dim sum snob by default. I hate it when dim sum places serve subpar, shrinkage har gows and old ass chicken feet. I also hate it when everyone’s squished in and screaming kids are everywhere. Tim Ho Wan doesn’t play. Comfortable place, every dish looks like they’re competing for the greatest looking dim sum in the world. Their dim sum is as photogenic as they’re tasty. Expect no less from a restaurant whose motto is Dim Sum Specialists.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– (Obligatory inclusion) Har gow, siu mai
– Sticky rice lotus leaf
– Rice roll with pork
– Baked pork buns
– Chicken feet
– Steamed dumplings with shrimp and chives


2.) Hasaki (Sushi)
Address: 210 E 9th St., New York, NY 10003
Website: https://www.hasakinyc.com

This is the place to take a date. It’s near the same area as Tim Ho Wan (Astor Place). It’s quiet and elegant, expensive for the classiness, authentic as hell. Hasaki prides itself for the traditional feel, something the average American may not know if they’re used to American-style sushi (fried sushi, loud music, dim lights). The sushi is of very high-quality; a perfect place for purity sushi snobs. Hasaki is where the locals will tell you to go if you’re into the real Japanese shit. Afterwards, check out nearby St. Mark’s street for a fun date walkthrough. There’s Sunrise Mart for Japanese supermarket shopping and two after-dinner Japanese bars I highly recommend are Angel’s Share and Sake Bar Decibel. You will get laid if you take your date to Hasaki and these bars I recommend. I promise.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Santen Mori or Chawan Mushi
– The daily chef tasting menu (a.k.a. the Omakase)
– Or…get the bento box with blue fin tuna

3.) Thai Villa (Thai…duh)
Address: 5 E 19th Street, G Floor, New York, NY 10003
Website: http://www.thaivillanyc.com

Thai Villa is outlandishly fancy. I wasn’t prepared for the extragavent atmosphere the first time I stepped in, because it looked humble from the outside. This is a place you come primarily for the scenary, but the food is also very well done. I mention this because same quality Thai food can be gotten cheaper with less wait time in hole-in-the-wall Thai places, but it’s definitely a restaurant to go with a group of friends. Everything is gold, everywhere is loud (design and volume). As a foodie, I don’t just determine a restaurant’s worthiness solely for the food; it’s why I recommend Thai Villa…because it’s fun. Fun as in you feel like you’re in an Indiana Jones movie and the theme is awesome.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Curry puffs
– Sa koo sai moo (tapioca dumplings)
– Pad krapraw
– Krapraw gai sub
– Moo-obb nam puaung (for you bok choy lovers)
– Sen-mee nam ya poo nim

4.) Osamil (Korean Fusion)
Address: 5 West 31st Street, New York, NY 10001
Website: https://www.osamil.com

Located in Koreatown, the Korean restaurant named after its address numbers (in Korean) is a modern blend of Korean and western-style Asian fusion. What’s Asian fusion as opposed to American-Asian fusion? It’s basically how Asian countries envision Western food to taste like but suited towards Asian tastes (as opposed to Asian foods suited towards American tastes). One of the most well-known things about modern Korean food is Korean fried chicken, fries and burgers. Osamil is more of a bar than a restaurant and its menu leans more towards the meat-lovers side. The menu is primarily designed for sharing. The alcohol is the real star however; there’s a variety of beer and signature drinks. Come in large groups and expect to get fat, full and drunk.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Osamil burger
– Wings
– Korean market fried chicken
– Grilled bulgogi
– Kimchi fried rice and steak
– Pork belly

5.) Shanghai Asian Cuisine (Chinese)
Address: 14A Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013
Website: http://www.shanghaiasiancuisine.com

This is my favorite hole-in-the-wall place in Manhattan’s Chinatown primarily because of two dishes: Zha jiang mian (炸酱面 or “noodles in black bean sauce”, but never call it that because you’ll look like a dweeb) and xiao long baos (soup dumplings). I’ve never been here where it was empty; it seems to be packed at all its opening hours. This place is pretty Chinese, meaning: expect shitty service and being rushed out the moment you’re done eating. Point at menu items to order rather than try to talk to the wait staff in Chinese. And, of course, it’s cash only. This is by far the cheapest recommendation of all the restaurants on the list, so if you love being thrifty yet want deliciousness and authenticity, Shanghai Asian Cuisine is the place to go.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Zha jian mian (炸酱面) Noodles in black bean sauce
– Xiao long bao (小籠包) Soup dumplings
– Drunken chicken (醉雞)
– I’m sure everything else is good, I just never tried anything else here

6.) Tokyo Record Bar (Tokyo Street Food)
Address: 127 Macdougal Street, Under The Red Light
Website: https://tokyorecordbar.com

Warning #1: This place is insanely popular and you’ll need at least a half-month’s reservation to get in. Warning #2: The food is made by white people. Now before you skip, hear me out. This isn’t a Lucky Lee’s situation. How I can describe this place? It feels like a weeaboo’s creation (a weeaboo is a non-Japanese person who is obsessed with Japanese culture…think anime nuts). I was cynical at first, but there’s a weird craziness to this place that works. Imagine a very tiny restaurant that looks like the basement of a 35-year-old white dude who’s obsessed with manga and J-pop. There’s Tokyo pop culture shit everywhere. Seriously, there’s only 18 seats available and it’s jam-packed like a house party. There’s a DJ who plays requests for classic vinyl records (think Michael Jackson’s Thriller or the Beatles’ Abbey Road) and the food comes in tapas-size course meals. I can’t emphasize how much of an experience is Tokyo Record Bar. The food is good and it’s strangely authentic, if by authentic I mean a foreigner’s concept of Tokyo street food made very closely to Tokyo street food. It’s not a place I’d take old people (a.k.a. parents) and it’s not a place to bring a giant crowd, but if it’s you and a friend, or you alone wanting to meet a bunch of fun strangers, Tokyo Record Bar can’t be skipped. This is by far the loudest place on this list.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Togarshi popcorn
– Hiramasa sashimi
– Ageashi mushrooms
– Yona Yona pale ale
– Jasmine sake

7.) Hometown Hot Pot (Hot Pot)
Address: 194 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Website: http://hometownhotpot.com

Hometown Hot Pot isn’t the best hotpot in NYC (the places in Flushing, Queens are far better) but it’s decent quality, dependable late-night and everyone gets their own pot (not that kind of pot) plus, there’s a fun sauce station. It’ll provide a very solid hot pot experience. This place is especially recommended to people who’ve never tried hot pot, because their system is quite easy to understand as opposed to the complicated free-for-all mess/whose-ladle-is-that which is standard in an old-school hot pot joint. I find very little to complain about Hometown Hot Pot other than the wait can be long and hot pot tables are awkwardly long across one person talking to the other. It can make conversation a little tough. I love its simple system and all-you-can-eat pricing.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– Tom Yum soup base
– Herbal soup base
– Basically, everything on the menu

8.) The Spot (Modern Asian Fusion Dessert)
Address: 13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
Website: https://www.spotdessertbar.com

The Spot’s a franchise that has four locations in New York City. They also have franchises in other cities, so you might not need to come to NYC to try this place if it’s in yours. The location I’m used to is the one in Astor Place (surprised? It’s one of my favorite areas in New York). Can’t get in? No fret, there’s another Spot right next to the Spot location I’m recommending. The Spot has really creative desserts like a really convincing potted plant that’s just crushed Oreos with vanilla ice cream inside. It’s a must-go to foodies who love taking food photos and posting them on social media. Everything’s edible art here.

Louis Leung recommendations:
– The Harvest (the potted plant)
– Cookie Camp
– Matcha Lava
– Matcha Waterfall
– Milky Puff
– Any of their fruit drinks

9.) Yun Shang Rice Noodle House (Chinese)
Address: 53 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013
Website: https://www.yunshangricenoodle.com

This Manhattan Chinatown gem had me at hello.

Rice noodle soup is an interesting concept originating from the Yunnan providence of China. A plain bowl of boiling soup comes with an assortment of raw side dishes that’re placed into the boiling soup to become rice noodle soup. Think of it as a very basic hot pot or, more accurately, a similar concept to Vietnamese pho. First time I tried this, I had an orgasm and it was embarrassing. Yun Shang Rice Noodle House also likes to stress they don’t use MSG, touting their dishes are some of the healthiest stuff found in Chinatown. I highly recommend this restaurant for anyone who puts a premium on cultural experience. In New York, it’s not enough to just have Chinese food, it’s the intra-diversity of the different Chinese styles and regions between every Chinese restaurant. Yun Shang Rice Noodle House is a great example of this.

Louis Leung Recommendations:
– Ox tongues in chili sauce
– Taiwan style sausage
– Any rice noodles dishes (their main feature). They totally rock.
– (I personally like prefer the rice noodle and mixed mushrooms dish)

10.) Ippudo (Japanese Ramen)
Address: 65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
Website: https://ippudo-us.com

This is a sellout recommendation, because Ippudo’s quite famous and usually everyone recommends it, so it’s not an edgy pick. I’ve included Ippudo anyway in case anyone’s lived under a rock and this may be the first time they’ve heard of it. Ippudo has three locations in Manhattan. The one I’ve recommended is the only one I’ve been, but it’s very popular and the ramen is incredible even if a bit overpriced. Every time I was here, I met tourists because apparently the locals know better than to wait two hours in line. However, don’t let that long wait shy yourself away from this restaurant; it’s worth the hype. There’s a lot of love for what they do and it reflects in the quality of their ramen. I usually like bringing my out-of-town friends here and all the food experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. If the wait is a turnoff, they also have a sister branch that’s more casual called Kuro-Obi which serves similar stuff (minus the pretentious atmosphere). There are four Kuro-Obi locations in NYC.

Louis Leung Recommendations:
– Akamaru modern ramen
– Karaka spicy ramen
– The buns

Remember the golden rule of NYC foodie-ing: almost everywhere on a weekend needs a reservation during prime hours (6:00pm-8:30pm). Some don’t take reservations; they expect people to wait long hours. Never go foodie-ing full hungry. Best days to foodie are Mondays and Tuesdays, non-holiday seasons. It’s best to hang out foodie-ing with someone who knows the terrain. If you want to eat together, I’m always happy to meet new friends.

If you like my snarky and unique observations about Asian diaspora, please consider buying my novel Asians Don’t Date on Amazon. Thank you.

Louis Leung

Louis Leung is a proud self-published author who enjoys writing novels that revolves around controversial Asian-American themes that normally wouldn't be accepted by mainstream publishing.

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