Chef Danny Bowien loves when things get weird. With a reputation for cooking Chinese food with an unexpected twist (like this classic Shanghai soup dumpling disguised as a lettuce wrap), Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food is all about celebrating uniqueness and turning classic on its head. That’s why the culture clashing vibrancy of New York City’s Chinatown–filled with old school dumpling joints, alleyway wonders, and restaurants opened by some of the cities best rising chefs–is the perfect place for Mission Chinese Food’s East Coast outpost.
“With my own restaurant, I really wanted to make a community, a democratic way of eating that people could afford.”
“The first time I ever had Sichuan food was in Chinatown in San Francisco.” Bowien remembers, “I was with a bunch of chefs and I realized that the way it made me feel struck me. It was sensory overload, it was very theatrical, and it was the most amazing type of food I’d eaten. In New York, Mission Chinese Food is right on the fringes of Chinatown, which is really representative of the food that we make. As a restaurant, in the decor, the food, the service, we are different and proud of it.”
We caught up with the boundary-pushing chef to explore his turf, revealing where to eat, drink and play in the beautiful, delicious, and proudly weird neighborhood of New York City’s Chinatown.
68 Forsyth St #B
I love the lamb dumplings in sour vegetable broth. Plus a big tray of chicken that’s braised with beer and chilies. For an extra $2 you can get hand-pulled noodles on top. My go-to tip is to take the dumplings out and let them marinate in the chicken sauce. It’s so good.
165 E Broadway
I think I eat here just as much as I eat at Mission Chinese. The Hong Kong style BBQ is amazing, made by a master chef trained for that type of barbeque. And the ginger scallion chicken is so good. My son loves the three flavored dumplings in bone broth.
Funny BBQ 98
It’s my wife’s favorite spot, and it’s becoming mine too. I used to be apprehensive because I know I’m just going to eat way too much. It’s half Pokemon themed and serves skewers and hot pot. On the table, they have cumin and chili powder and you can put them on the skewers, and make your own sauce for the hot pot. Plus they have great vegetarian ramen with a bunch of bok choi. And you can charge your phone with the table charging stations.
22 Orchard St
To me, this is my favorite pizza in New York. He used to work at the heavyweight places like Lombardi’s. It’s really, really good.
40 Market Street
It’s a nice bar in the neighborhood. It’s named after this really famous landlord in Chinatown, so it’s a cool part of history.
8 Mott Street
I go here with my son. There are so many fun games and weird photo booths. You can spend all day there. It was opened in 1944!
Danny Bowien's Secret Chinatown Spots
1. Mission Chinese Food
Danny Bowien's award-winning restaurant serving Chinese cuisine with a twist.
2. Spicy Village
A tiny spot for great hand-pulled noodles.
3. Wu's Wonton King
The go-to for Hong Kong style BBQ.
4. Funny BBQ 98
A fun place for hot pot and skewers.
5. Scarr's Pizza
A classic slice in the neighborhood.
6. Mr. Fong's
Clever cocktails and late-night dancing.
7. Chinatown Fair
A high-energy arcade packed with games and photo booths.