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A New York City Guide to Chinese Food on Christmas

Every American Jew knows that eating Chinese food on Christmas is a sacred, time-honored tradition  — especially in New York, where it has practically become a rite of passage. 

The century-old practice is so widely observed that there are countless articles, parodies, and even an entire Wikipedia page on “Jewish American Chinese restaurant patronage.” Some restaurants in NYC have gone along with the joke and switched to Chinese cuisine for the day.

Jews began this tradition at the end of the 19th century on the Lower East Side, where Eastern European Jewish and Chinese immigrants lived side-by-side. The densely populated neighborhood was crowded with Chinese restaurants, where Jews felt accepted and safer than they did at the more “fashionable” Italian and German spots.

To be expected, few restaurants stayed open on Christmas. Chinese immigrants, however, saw no reason to close their restaurants and lose a day of sales for a holiday they did not celebrate. Thus, Jewish and Chinese communities were bonded not only by their shared immigrant and refugee experiences, but also by their  “otherness” on Christmas.

Plus, Chinese cooking is virtually dairy-free, which is helpful for Jews who observe Kosher laws and cannot mix dairy and meat.

This list of Chinese restaurants in NYC was crowd‑sourced from trusted friends and family. Of course, there are some famous ones, as well as vegan and celiac‑friendly options. 

Make sure you check in advance to see which spots are open on Christmas Eve vs. Day. And if you’re ordering delivery, please tip well, as we are still in a pandemic and delivery workers are risking their health to bring us food! 

Now let’s begin.

  1. Jing Fong Restaurant (Upper West Side, Chinatown)
  1. Han Dynasty (East Village, Upper West Side, Brooklyn)
  1. Nom Wah (Nolita, Chinatown)
  1. Atlas Kitchen (Harlem)
  1. Birds of a Feather (Brooklyn)
  1. Little Alley (Midtown)
  1. Fat Choy (Chinatown)
  1. The Handpulled Noodle (Harlem)
  1. Shun Lee (Upper West Side, Midtown)
  1. Mr. Chow (Midtown East, Tribeca)
  1. AweSum DimSum (Flatiron)
  1. Golden Unicorn (Chinatown)
  1. Spicy Moon (Greenwich Village, Noho)
  1. Tri-Dim Shanghai (Upper East Side, Upper West Side)
  1. RedFarm (West Village, Upper West Side)
  1. Hao Noodle and Tea (Meatpacking)
  1. Café China (Midtown)
  1. La Salle Dumpling Room (Morningside Heights)

Lastly, if you are healthy and up for a fun night out, check out the one-night-only return of legendary Moshe Peking for a 70’s-style Kosher Chinese prix-fixe dinner at Wall Street Grill, prepared by chefs Eric Huang and Joseph Paulino and hosted by Tablet Magazine!

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