Queens is the largest borough in New York City. It's made up of many immigrants who have arrived here year after year due to affordable housing and strong sense of community, making it one of the most ethnically varied districts in the world.
Though Flushing reigns supreme when it comes to being the most vibrant Asian neighborhood, we mustn’t discount the rest of the borough. Here are the 10 best restaurants in Queens to get Chinese food.
What Our Inspectors Say: “Neon bounces off all the shiny surfaces at Dumpling Galaxy inside the Arcadia Mall. Navigate beyond the phone retailers and stalls to find this modern arena donning red booths and hanging lights. Spiffy and inviting, this 'galaxy' is lauded for crafting scores of these little parcels, as well as comforting mains that shouldn’t be ignored. Fill your table with a dumpling feast, chock-full of duck and mushroom, spicy-sour squash or lamb and celery redolent of lemongrass. Soup dumplings, too, are worth your time. Larger dishes are equally memorable; those cold, thick, slurp-inducing green bean noodles soaked in tart black vinegar with raw white sesame seeds, cilantro, cucumbers and wood-ear mushrooms will have you coming back for more...and then some more.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “Unlike many other spicy retreats, Da Xi Sichuan doesn’t go for the jugular with that tongue-numbing chile oil one-two punch. Instead, this elegantly designed spot on the second floor of the New World Mall shares a more nuanced approach to this regional Chinese cuisine. In fact, dishes such as the pig ear and wild mushroom or the crispy cucumber roll showcase a clear finesse and regard for restraint, while the Tibet-style pork ribs dusted with peppercorns are deliciously juicy, fatty and rich in the best possible way. Even the straightforward house special, featuring a mix of fluffy rice, pork bits and potatoes in a stone bowl, has been known to satisfy many an appetite. Warm, attentive service makes this large space feel especially warm and welcoming.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “Ornate wood-carved screens, heavy Imperial furniture and enormous serving utensils make this the most stylized and grand Sichuan restaurant in town. The menu’s photos simplify ordering from a range of familiar favorites, like the best bean jelly salad around, intensely savory with a good dose of black vinegar and garlicky chili oil. Other inventive (read: unfamiliar) dishes are just as worthwhile, especially that massive platter of gan ma-style stewed pork leg, surrounded by vibrant Chinese greens. While the cuisine strives to showcase subtlety and dimension rather than decimate the palate with spice, rest assured as some items still boast that tongue-numbing tang from Sichuan’s beloved peppercorns. Portions are large so bring a gang.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “Located along quiet Northern Boulevard in Flushing, Hunan House offers a delicious reprieve from the street. The interior is crisp and sophisticated, with dark, ornately carved wood and thick linen tablecloths. But, the real draw here is the wonderfully authentic Hunanese fare, with its myriad fresh river fish; flavorful preserved meats; complex profiles; and mouth-puckering spice. Hunan House's menu is filled with exotic delights, but don't miss the wonderful starter of sautéed sour string beans featuring minced pork, chiles, ginger and garlic; smoky dried bean curd with the same preserved meat; or spicy sliced fish-Hunan style, perfectly cooked, served in a delicious pool of fiery red sauce and plated with tender bulbs of bok choy.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “The look is simple, but this small space has its own charms and the comfort level is a few notches higher than the typical Main Street digs. Not so small is the menu though, which is an encyclopedia of all things Hunanese, and of course, there are plenty of specialties boasting that trademark heat, smoke and sour notes. You'll smell the chile wafting off the tender and intoxicating cumin lamb as it is seared to perfection and spiced to the hilt with red and green chilies as well as bell peppers. Braised smoked bamboo with sliced pork won't take home top prize for its looks, but with intense barbecue-like smoke and a meaty crunch, it's a total winner. Do keep an eye out for those sneaky red and green chile seeds lurking in this dish.”
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What Our Inspectors Say: “Everything about Alley 41 is unexpected—starting with the moment you walk in to a very sleek and stylish room carefully designed to balance concrete slabs, black wood chairs and glass panes beneath the spotlights. The setting is highly stylized, and the Sichuan cooking is just as appealing. Dishes can sometimes arrive at lightning speed, sometimes not. Leave yourself plenty of time to peruse the mammoth menu, decked with glossy photos to get you in the mood for serious slurping. Imagine an intensely savory and spicy mung bean jello salad and you'll start to get the picture. Even anodyne dishes like mapo tofu or braised beef and vegetable vermicelli are wickedly spicy, but they bring a complex heat, layered with a funky, sour broth and chiles.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “Diners at this venerable Flushing institution are greeted with menus and a dish of black vinegar dipping sauce, as it’s practically a given that you’ll be ordering their famous xiao long bao here. Despite stiff competition, these soup dumplings—soft and delicate with spiraled shoulders and a mouthful of lip-smacking golden broth wrapped inside—still stand a head above most. In fact, these chefs have made it their mission to ensure biting into them is a sensual experience. But there are other pleasures to be had here, too, such as the nourishing steamed cabbage in light broth scattered with dried shrimp, or the popular Shanghainese lion's head meatballs. Made from ground pork, the latter are incredibly light and lacquered with a dark, savory glaze.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “This corner gem proves that New York City is ablaze with Sichuan spots. Discover you’re in for a treat from the moment peanuts—coated with extra sweet and spicy chile powder—arrive at your paper-covered table. The uninitiated come for the crab Rangoon and General Tso's chicken, but those in the know are here for the likes of Sichuan-style crispy eggplant, which are not the least bit greasy and particularly unique, thanks to their creamy center and glass-like crust. Thin shavings of intensely smoked pork with garlic leaf is even better than what tea-smoked duck would taste like if made with bacon. The "tears in eyes" bean jelly salad may not induce actual tears, but it's stocked with chilles, seeds, peanuts and is absolutely worth ordering.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “This tiny, impeccably clean dining room is drawing diners left and right to Elmhurst these days. But wait, you argue—isn’t this just another Chinese joint along a stretch of Broadway? Not quite. In fact, Sweet Yummy House is a diamond in the rough for those hunting down authentic spice levels, as well as Taiwanese specialties they’ve never heard of. A meal here might kick off with a duo of sautéed cabbages, one cooked in a delicate Taiwanese style, the other in the Shanghai tradition, sporting fiery oil. You could also order by temperature from this menu, starting with cold chicken dunked in a red-hot chile sauce, before moving on to sweet, sour, and bitter jelly noodles. Finally, tuck in to lamb home style for a spicy Sichuan take on pomodoro sauce.”
What Our Inspectors Say: “A truly local spot, Taiwanese Gourmet puts diners in the mood with its semi-open kitchen (a rarity for Chinese restaurants) and tasty food. Natural light floods the walls, which showcase an impressive collection of ancient warrior gear, all beautifully framed as if museum-ready. Menu descriptions are minimal but the staff is happy to elaborate. Excellent technique shines through the Taiwanese specialties. The classic aromatic broth of the beef with chilie pepper noodle soup staves off a head cold with its serious firepower and satisfying slurpy noodles. Sautéed vegetables earn high marks for their garlicky crunch and sweet green leaves, but it's the fried pork chop over rice and sour mustard greens that tastes of home to Taiwanese far from Mom.”
Hero image by King Yip/Dumpling Galaxy.