Eating dim sum outside on Mott Street might be a once in a lifetime experience. There won’t be any roving carts, but turnip cakes will still be hot and crispy, and barbecue pork buns will still be golden and plump. If you’re looking for a great weekend lunch in Lower Manhattan and want to show some love to Chinatown’s independently owned restaurants, here’s where to go and how to help.
Want more ideas for dinner outside in Chinatown? Check out our guide to outdoor dining in the neighborhood.
Ping’s has some nice sidewalk tables as well as a few covered tents set up in the parking spots in front of the restaurant. It’s cash-only, but know there’s an ATM in the bodega at the end of the block. You can get dim sum all day here, and there’s also a full menu of Hong Kong-style dishes like garlic eggplant, and a massive, fried soft shell crab. Whatever you do, order the fried shrimp balls - they are crispy with light batter, and we’d like to stuff our pillows with the shrimp in the middle.
At Dim Sum Go Go, order the dim sum sampler. It comes with 10 different types of steamed dumplings, including both meat and vegetarian options. In general, the variety at this spot is strong, with dumpling options like duck and crab in addition to the more usual suspects. They’re open every day from 11am to 7:30pm, and have a big red tent set up in front for outdoor dining.
Jing Fong’s dining room normally fits 800 people, so eating outdoors in their covered tent will obviously feel a little different than the indoor experience here. They’re still serving chewy sesame balls and bacon-wrapped shrimp that will successfully interrupt your dreams, as well as takeout if you’d rather eat your dim sum at home. Just call 212-964-5256 to place your order ahead of time or stop by and do it at their window.
Nom Wah has the best outdoor setup in the neighborhood (and maybe in the entire downtown area). Their Doyers Street spot is blocked off to cars, which means the whole street feels like an outdoor dining room with yellow umbrellas and foliage. They also have some nice shady seats for people who are waiting for pick-up, in case you want to take your har gow to-go.
Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian dim sum restaurant. It doesn’t get insanely busy, and most dishes here cost less than $15 - so it’s a very useful place to know about, especially because it’s BYOB. There’s a long menu of things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as some pretty solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb.
While not strictly a dim sum spot, Deluxe Green Bo has a section of their menu dedicated to Shanghai dim sum. This happens to include our favorite dishes on the menu, like their extremely crispy scallion pancake, a steam basket of meaty pork and crab soup dumplings, and the hot and spicy wonton that comes drenched in cold, thick peanut sauce and hot chili oil.
Another vegan option for dim sum is Bodhi on Mulberry Street. The menu here is full of things you can share with someone, like big plates of vegetarian cumin lamb, fried taro, and combination platters for $9.
This Shanghainese restaurant has about a tour bus’ worth of space blocked off in front of their spot on Mott Street, which makes it one of the larger outdoor dining set ups we’ve seen around the area. The menu here is massive, with everything from dim sum to Peking-style meats.
Looking for more ways to support businesses in Chinatown? Welcome To Chinatown is raising $200,000 for businesses in the area who have closed or been financially devastated by the crisis. If they meet their goal, the money will be divided up into 40 grants of $5,000 each, which could help with overhead costs like rent, insurance, and utilities as they recover from COVID-19 losses and try to reopen. You can read more about Welcome To Chinatown’s Longevity Project and donate here.