Composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Dana Leong enjoys soup-infused dumplings, top-shelf sushi and Thai food cooked with love in Hell’s Kitchen when dining out in New York. He also has the keen ability to identify the ingredients in a famous “special sauce.” Great food is the main event of any holiday, and Lunar New Year is no different. Below are Leong's Top Five Asian restaurants in New York City.
This midtown room of modest decor is a haven for unpretentious high-end sushi experiences. Many Japanese baseball players who have visited New York, or played in New York, frequent here so they can chat about sports cars with the head chef, who also is a collector. I love going here because it’s a great place to visit, no frills, but great food and it delivers every time. Sushiden is located at 123 W. 49th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues [website].
I think this is the best Japanese Ramen outside of Japan, period. I had a great experience going to the opening ceremony of the restaurant where I met the chef and owner and he presented one of his signature dishes, which is still one of the most popular on the menu, called Akamaru Modern. And upon taking one taste I told him that I knew what his secret ingredient was for his secret sauce. So he eagerly asked me what that was, to which I replied jokingly, “Yes, it’s the flavor packet from Top Ramen.” Ippudo is located at 64 Fourth Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets [website].
3. Joe's Shanghai
Joe's Shanghai is now an establishment with multiple locations in New York City. Their Chinatown location features their signature soup dumplings which are a meat dumpling infused with crab meat and injected with hot broth. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime must for all those carnivores out there. Joe’s Shanghai is located at 9 Pell Street between Elizabeth St. and Bowery [website].
4. Real Pam Thai
Pam cooks her heart out. I’ve been there on multiple occasions, it’s open late and is a great authentic experience. Real Pam Thai is located at 404 W. 49th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues [website].
5. Kee's Chocolates
A nice little shop in SoHo where the owner Kee herself makes handmade chocolates. So if you're shopping for a Chinese New Year gift – and let’s not forget Valentine’s day is right around the corner – this is a great place to stop in and grab some great handmade chocolates for somebody that you care about. Kee’s Chocolates is located at 80 Thompson St. between Spring and Broome [website].