New York City is an expensive city for tourists and eating out can be pricey unless visitors know where to look. On a street in Chinatown filled with 25 cent shops, Chinese traditional medicine and even foot rub parlors, is one of my favorite restaurants in New York called Jing Fong. For over thirty years, Jing Fong has been serving delicious dim sum to local residents (with very few tourists) at incredible prices. Dim sum is a Cantonese tradition associated with drinking tea with friends and family. Its roots originated on the ancient Silk Road roughly 700 years ago for weary travelers needing a rest.
Knowledge of this restaurant has spread by word of mouth as the restaurant is consistently packed. My brother, a New Yorker, found out about this restaurant roughly eleven years ago from a co-worker and I’ve been visiting ever since.
Visitors will be given a ticket number to wait (be warned that lines can be long and don’t lose the ticket) and the restaurant will be entered upstairs via steep escalators. While the outside of the restaurant may not look like much, at the top of the stairs is a chaotic mini-city, with a banquet room filled with 120 tables holding up to 794 people! Tourists may have to share a table in order to experience this tasty treat. I’ve always been on a Sunday morning when this restaurant is really bustling.
Carts packed with steamed dumplings, meats and other delicacies circle the room, while servers wear badges with numbers. Be sure to try the shrimp and chives dumplings, the steamed chicken or pork buns, the barbecued pork or the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. The menu is diverse including unusual items like shark fin dumplings. One of my favorites is a plate (or two) of delicate egg tarts for dessert, which vanish from carts quickly. A tip is to walk up to the bar area as the warm, freshly made tarts will be wheeled out here, before groups of eaters descend on this cart.
To get to Jing Fong by subway, the easiest access point is taking the 6 line to Canal Street and the restaurant is a short walk.
Pricewise, this restaurant is a find. On my most recent visit, three of us (plus one toddler) ordered eleven plates for less than fifty dollars. This price is a bargain by any standard in the United States but especially in New York City. During the week, Jing Fong offers a lunch special of three courses for $2.50.
Jing Fong is a gem in the midst of Chinatown. Bring a big appetite as the dim sum is outstanding and it’s hard to resist the tempting carts. It is unknown what Jing Fong translates to but the staff commented that this could mean anything from “good luck” to “golden bounty banquet” to “too much food”. My personal vote is for “too much food” as I always end up eating way too many plates.
20 Elizabeth Street
New York, New York 10013