Amid the guiding aroma of freshly roasted duck, the ease of sidewalk negotiations at fruit vendor carts, and the cacophony of reserved and busy passers-by, New York City’s Chinatown is surely one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in all of Manhattan. Between the myriad of storefronts, some newly minted and others decades old, the lively downtown venue is home to not only some of the best Asian cuisine, but also some of the city’s oldest businesses and most unique store concepts. . (Not to mention, it’s also home to the first physical US flagship store for Hypebeast’s HBX retail and e-commerce platform.)
Between the multitude of eclectic restaurants, specialty shops, and streetwear outposts, it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring every winding street in the energetic neighborhood. Before your visit to Chinatown, consider checking out the eight must-see gems listed below.
What: With a legacy of five generations, Wing On Wo & Co. is the oldest continuously operating store in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Founded in the 1890s, the heritage store first sold traditional Chinese goods, including dried fish and canned goods, to the growing immigrant community at the time, though it is now renowned for its porcelain wares and cultural goods. In addition to its revered housewares, the centuries-spanning destination is also known for its philanthropy: Fifth-generation owner Mei Lum founded an initiative called The WOW Project, which serves to preserve the Chinatown community.
Where: 26 Mott St., New York, NY 10013
What: Located on Eldrige Street, Solely Tea is the first retail space of its kind housing a curated selection of sneakers, streetwear, emerging artists and, you guessed it, boba drinks. Founded by two brothers whose first home was Chinatown following their father’s immigration to the US, the store is interspersed with flavors from their upbringing at the cultural hub. Today, the store caters to sneakerheads with a wide variety of footwear, including Jordan 1s, Nike Dunk Lows, Yeezy models, New Balance and more, along with a menu of bubble drinks, including milk tea, tea fruit, yakult and slushies.
Where: 111 Eldridge St., New York, NY 10002
What: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has been serving traditional and authentic Chinese desserts to the neighborhood for nearly four decades. A family-owned operation, the ice cream parlor’s entire menu is homemade, with staple flavors including almond cookie, black sesame, durian, ginger, lychee, and taro. The delicious Chinatown stop also features an “exotic” menu, featuring run-of-the-mill flavors like vanilla, strawberry, mint, chocolate and more.
Where: 65 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013
What: If you’re in the habit of scrolling through Grailed at your leisure, look no further than Unique Hype. Located on Elizabeth Street, this humble store is a high-end designer and streetwear reseller destination with a seemingly endless supply of Supreme. Beneath bold silver signage, a window beckons passers-by with rows filled with caps sporting the box logo of the aforementioned cult NYC skater brand. In addition to Supreme, however, the outpost is known to have a plethora of work from famous streetwear artists, including KAWS, Takashi Murakami, and more.
Where: 10 Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10013
What: Just north of Canal is Mott Street Eatery, a food court devoted entirely to Chinese cuisine with open vendor stalls lining both sides of its eclectic interior. Cantonese dim sum classics, including dumplings, buns, rice rolls and turnip cake, can be found under one awning titled 89 Eatery, while another, called Domo Sushi, offers a variety of traditional rolls. Meanwhile, Yan Wo Dou Bun INC. fills the space with its famous soy milk and sweet tofu dessert. The restaurant, which replaced Chinatown’s revered dum sum banquet hall, Joy Lucky Palace, seats approximately 100 people at 12 tables with a small stage at one end of the space.
Where: 98 Mott St., New York, NY 10013
What: Fong On, New York City’s oldest family-owned tofu shop, first opened its doors in the Chinatown neighborhood in 1933. Owner Paul Eng, who inherited the reins of the restaurant from his grandfather, has made the place is popular for its prepared food. -eat tofu bar, offering hot and cold tofu pudding with various toppings. Elsewhere on the menu, you can find homemade soy milk and sticky sweet rice cakes in flavors like matcha and ginger.
Where: 81 Division St., New York, NY 10002
What: Born in Beijing, Yùnhóng Chopsticks made his home in Lower Manhattan in November 2008. With some 200 different styles lining its walls, the outpost is something of a chopstick mecca, offering elaborate designs using bamboo, sandalwood and ox bone, among other materials. There are a myriad of more specific designs, including pairs sporting famous quotes from Chairman Mao and decorations inspired by the Beijing Opera. Notably, the specialized design label crafted the official chopstick set for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Where: 50 Mott St., New York, NY 10013
Pick up a new pair of chopsticks? pic.twitter.com/XCHJatu4a2
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 24, 2019
What: Serving the neighborhood for over 100 years, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is certainly a Chinatown staple, offering fresh Chinese pastries, steamed buns, dim sum, and of course tea. The hot spot is most famous for its almond cookie, lotus paste, and red bean stuffing, but the kitchen also whips up a number of different dumplings and rolls. For tea, Nom Wah’s favorites include Oolong, Tie guanyin, Jasmine, and Bo-lay.
Where: 13 Doyers St., New York, NY 10013