Way back when, dim sum was first served to weary travelers in teahouses in China. Today, it’s a particularly popular brunch option, but the restaurants below will stuff you silly with small bites of Chinese delicacies morning, noon, and night. Read on for our five favorite places for dim sum in Manhattan. By Jessica Allen.
A modern take on an ancient art, Dim Sum Go Go was opened several years ago by a Hong Kong chef and French food writer (neither of whom is affiliated with the restaurant nowadays). More vegetarian friendly, and slightly more chi-chi (think all-white walls), than other restaurants on this list, this place on the far edge of Chinatown offers such delicacies as vegetarian rolls and mock shark fin soup (yes, really). Carnivores will do just fine with smoked shredded duck and pork buns, among other bites. You’ll be ordering off a menu, rather than selecting from a cart, but no matter. Dim sum is dim sum, and dim sum here is delicious.
When people talk about dim sum, they probably have a place like Jing Fong in mind. Happily hectic, with steamed carts racing between tightly packed tables in a nevertheless cavernous, red-and-gold space, this restaurant epitomizes dim sum as a communal experience. As servers wheel by, you’ll stop whichever ones offer something appetizing, nibbling as you go, anxiously waiting to see what the kitchen will send out next. Heads up for the fried taro dumplings, shrimp balls, and plenty of dumplings.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened in 1920, back when Chinatown was notoriously overrun with gangs and violence. Nowadays, you’ll be fighting tourists and residents alike to get your name on the list at this crowded spot, the oldest dim sum emporium in the city. Go for such classics as chicken feet, shrimp sui mai, and roast pork buns, part of the all-day dim sum on demand, and stay for the red leather booths, bustling atmosphere, and sense of history. There are ten types of tea too.
For sure the focus at Ping’s Seafood is on beasts de la mer, as the French would say, and you can get your fill of freshly killed fish. But we’re here for the dim sum, ranging from spinach seafood dumplings, tightly wrapped green triangles, to short rib with pineapple, a mass of sweet and savory meat, to steamed rice noodles with baby shrimp, almost a gentle palate cleanser. The executive chef and owner, Chuen Ping Hui, began his career at 14 as a dishwasher in Hong Kong; today he runs this Manhattan location and another in Queens.
Simply put, RedFarm serves dim sum without the carts. Instead, you order off a menu, making for a more refined if a little less fun experience. Among your choices are pan-fried lamb dumplings, steamed lobster dumplings (at $19, these are pricey, but oh-so-worth it), and mushroom and vegetable spring rolls. The two locations of this super-popular restaurant seek to “bring a greenmarket sensibility to modern and inventive Chinese food and super-charged dim sum complemented by modern, rustic décor.” They succeed.