If you’re a first-time visitor to New York (or second, or third, or tenth), you’ll probably spend a lot of time exploring Manhattan’s most delicious dining spots. With over 24,000 eating establishments on the island alone, you could spend a lifetime eating your way through its impressive number of restaurants and never reach the end. But if you’re interested in Asian food, I recommend you head out of the city and into Queens. Nothing against Chinatown or the amazing sandwiches at Banh Mi Saigon, but Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban place in the world and its culinary scene showcases that diversity deliciously.
There are a million Asian restaurants in Queens, so this list is far from complete. If I’ve left your favorite off, be sure to let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for new places to faceplant into a bowl of noodles.
Special shoutout to Jake for showing me around to some of Queens’ tastiest Asian spots!
Picture this: it’s Sunday. The misery of Monday is looming. Winter is coming. And it’s entirely possible that you went a little hard last night. Ever heard of chicken soup for the soul? Well, Pho Bac has got chicken soup for your hangover. You might be thinking, “Hey Tara, why would I drag my tired ass out to Queens for a bowl of soup?” Trust me on this one. Their broth is rich and flavorful, and comes with all of the accoutrements (lime, cilantro, mint, chili paste) that make pho complete. A medium bowl, which is more than enough for most hungry diners, is only $7. Side note: I also really like their fried noodles with veggies and tofu (#40, $9.50).
For a spicy bowl of noodles that will melt your face off in the best way possible, head to Uncle Zhou. This Chinese restaurant specializes in Henan dishes, and passes my good-Asian-restaurant litmus test of having very few white people eating there. Full disclosure: I’ve only ever had the Beef Hand-Drawn Wide Noodles (#A5, $8), but they’re so good I’m not inclined to deviate. The broth is spicy without being overwhelming, and the texture of the noodles is spot on. I’m a total spaz when it comes to eating brothy bowls of noodles with chopsticks and a spoon, but I happily fumble through for this dish.
Joju just might be my favorite restaurant on this list, and as I write this, I’m mentally planning my next visit. Banh mi is what’s up at JoJu, and they have everything from the traditional Classic, made with Vietnamese ham, headcheese, and pâté, to Caramel Pork. I personally love the BBQ Pork (#3). I really like that you can add an egg to any sandwich, not because you necessarily need to make it more filling , but because eggs make everything better.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t command you to order the Kimchi Fries as well (above). Topped with kimchi, spicy mayo, cilantro, and scallions, these fries are the perfect cultural fusion. I am a self-proclaimed kimchi hater (though I’m coming around), and I housed these.
Here’s a cuisine you might not have much experience with: Malaysian. Thanks to Malaysia’s diversity as a country, this food mixes elements of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cooking together. The result is a spicy, (slightly greasy), nuanced cuisine. New York is home to some great Malaysian restaurants, and if you’re in Queens, I recommend going to Pulau Pinang. If you sample nothing else, be sure to order some roti canai, a flaky flatbread that’s served with a chicken curry dipping sauce. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with mee goreng (fried noodles with shrimp) or curry mee (noodles in a spicy coconut milk broth). The menu here is huge, so it’ll take a few trips to try everything.
Where’s your favorite spot to enjoy Asian food?