Asian Cuisine In New York City

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Exploring New York City’s Asian Cuisine

When I think of Asian Cuisine, New York City is the first place that comes to mind. Now, if I was from, say, the West Coast, I might think of San Francisco or Los Angeles first.

Here in the eastern U.S.A., however, I count on New York’s Asian culinary carnival to serve the Far East’s aromas, textures and flavors to my senses.

The best part? No passport needed. Ditto for the expensive plane ticket.

Image shows a young Chinese girl feeding a small dog a treat. Both the little girl and the dog are wearing red, festive outfits in celebration of the new Chinese lunar year.
New York City’s Chinatown makes everyone hungry. Here a young girl feeds her pooch a treat on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Both are dressed festively for the occasion. © Patrick Kwan, see Photo Credits page for license.

 Have Taste Buds, Will Travel (To New York For Asian Cuisine)

Want sushi made with tuna just off the plane from Japan? Done. Chinese Jiaozi dumplings and spare ribs covered in Hoisin sauce? Check. Is Thai peanut sauce your weakness? Or is it Cha Gio, those crunchy, fried Vietnamese rolls?

Do you enjoy the tears, burning tongue and runny nose that accompany spicy Korean barbecue? Or are you in the mood to just say, I may not be going to the Philippines any time soon, but I’m going to have some Suman while in New York?

The city that never sleeps will keep your taste buds awake and engaged with its many Asian culinary choices.

Image shows Vietnamese Cha Gio rolls. There are two of them, one stacked on top of the other. They sit on a bed of lettuce.
Vietnamese Cha Gio rolls are great appetizers. They are especially delicious wrapped in the lettuce they come with. © Ron Dollette, see Photo Credits page for license.

Chinese Food In New York City

China’s footprint in New York City is so big that the city has more than one Chinatown. The most popular, of course, is Manhattan’s Chinatown. Along Canal St., the neighborhood’s main artery, tourists fill their shopping bags before filling their bellies. Venture down nearby Mott St. and Baxter St. and you’ll find even more restaurants.

Within Manhattan’s Chinatown, there’s another enclave that fewer tourists visit. To reach it, walk east along Canal St. (toward the Manhattan Bridge) until Canal St. merges with East Broadway.

East Broadway is where many  of the Chinese-born locals do their shopping and eating. Head there to avoid Canal Street’s bustle, its crowds and pushy sales people.

I find myself preferring the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. Why? The food in Flushing simply tastes better to me.

That’s no accident, either. Many successful Chinese restaurant owners that started out on or near Canal St. relocated to this slower-paced neighborhood in the shadow of Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, and Arthur Ashe Stadium, where tennis’s U.S. Open Tournament is played.

I take the 7 train from Manhattan out to Flushing whenever I want to eat authentic Chinese dim sum. It’s also my favorite place to go for some inexpensive, but oh-so-tasty cumin lamb kebabs.

Image shows a table filled with items from a traditional Dim Sum meal. Also seen are water glasses and tea pots, as well as the cooking bins used to keep the food warm.
Few things warm the heart, or fill the stomach, more than a table full of dim sum goodies. Dim sum, a type of Chinese brunch, consists of eating small portions of several dishes. Restaurant employees wheel carts among tables and you select the dishes you want. Most Chinese restaurants serve dim sum on the weekends.  © Steven Tom, see Photo Credits page for license.

Malaysian Cuisine In New York City

As much as I love Chinese food, I must admit it’s rather commonplace. Most places in the the U.S. have at least one Chinese restaurant.

Finding a good Malaysian restaurant, though, is a bigger challenge. I never miss an opportunity to feast on exotic Malaysian fare in New  York.

Regardless of what my main dish is, I always make sure to order a bowl of Nasi Lemak. No Malaysian meal is complete without this white rice simmered in coconut milk. Did I mention how good it smells?

Image shows Asian pork rolls decorated to look like toy pigs, including ears, eyes and snouth.
Barbecue pork roll, anyone? The chef who prepared these pork rolls apparently didn’t want his customers to have any doubt as to what they contained. © Eefeewahfah, see Photo Credits page for license.

Take Your Soles To The Soul Of Seoul Food In NYC

On days when I’m trying to eat on the lighter side, I like to stick with fresh sushi. I find great sushi options from either Japanese or Korean restaurants in the Big Apple.

I tend to eat at the Korean places a bit more. The reason being is that I love visiting Manhattan’s Little Korea (a.k.a. Koreatown or K-Town).

New York’s Little Korea may be tiny, but big flavors await you within its two blocks. You’ll find K-Town on 32nd St., between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave., just two blocks south of the Empire State Building.

Just writing about Koreatown makes me hungry. Closing my eyes, I can taste the Nakji Bokkeum, the Hangover Stew, the Chimaek, the Buldak, the Kimbap, the Bingsu and those spicy sauces used to marinade meats. I love how everything is cooked right on each table’s charcoal grill.

As with the Chinese, some Koreans have also migrated over the East River to Flushing, Queens, where you’ll find, you guessed it, another Little Korea.

Image shows a plate full of Kimbap, a Korean version of sushi. There are a pair of chopsticks on the plate as well.
Koren’s answer to Japanese sushi is Kimbap, which is prepared, served and eaten in much the same way. © Manda Wong, see Photo Credits page for license.

Vietnamese Food In New York City

Give the amount of Vietnamese people living in New York, there really aren’t all that many Vietnamese restaurants to choose from in Manhattan. Nonetheless, I never have a problem finding a place to satisfy my Pho cravings.

And when it comes to Vietnamese food, nothing beats a hot bowl of Pho! Especially on a winter day. Order Cha Gio rolls to go with it and your taste buds will thank you– Pho sure.

Asian Culinary Diversity In New York

The variety of New York City’s Asian cuisine will satisfy any palette or budget. From sleek, high-end midtown Manhattan restaurants to hidden, basement level gems. From northern Asia to southern, eastern to western, you’ll find it in New York City. All you have to do is explore.

Image shows myridad red, Chinese lanterns hanging above a street in Manhattan's Chinatown. The lanters are used to decorate the neighborhood for celebrations.
Chinese lanterns like these are often used to decorate New York’s Chinatown for its festive occasions. © Michael E. Lee, see Photo Credits page for license.
Image shows a display of Chinese culinary goods for sale in New York's Chinatown. Product names are written in Chinese characters.
Spices, roots, dried goods, grains. If it’s used in China, you can mostly likely find it in the area’s shops. Locals often collide shoulders with curious tourists who gather to inspect the goods. © Sonja, see Photo Credits page for license.
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