Jing Fong, Dim Sum in the Heart of NYC’s Chinatown
Jing Fong, which is currently NYC Chinatown’s largest restaurant, is renowned for the variety and authenticity of its dim sum.
Jing Fong opened in 1978 on Elizabeth Street in NYC’s nascent Chinatown. Unfortunately, due to the precarious economic climate in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the owners fell on hard times. As their debts mounted, Jing Fong’s owners decided to negotiate with one of their creditors, master plumber Shui Ling Lam. In exchange for debt forgiveness, he became the majority shareholder.
In the years since, Jing Fong has evolved and expanded tremendously. However, it has never lost sight of its original objective — sharing the authentic, traditional Chinese dim sum experience in a family atmosphere.
Today, Jing Fong boasts two New York locations — one on the Upper West Side, and the other at 20 Elizabeth Street in Chinatown. Its Elizabeth Street location is over 1,800 square meters (20,000 square feet) and seats 800 diners at full capacity.
Having seen Jing Fong’s signage at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, we looked in vain for an entrance on Bowery. However, as per the address, the entrance is actually at 20 Elizabeth Street.
Arriving, however, is definitely part of the experience. From the humble store fronts on Elizabeth Street, you step onto a seemingly endless escalator. As it carries you up, your surroundings become increasingly sumptuous. Stepping off the escalator upstairs, you find yourself in a massive, elegantly decorated space. Thus, begins the dining experience.
The Dim Sum
Unfortunately, we arrived at Jing Fong at 4 p.m. on a weekday, too late for dim sum from carts, which stop circulating at 3:30 p.m. Therefore, our experience was limited to a much briefer list of options. However, this in no way dimmed the pleasure of our visit.
We started our meal with an assortment of our favorite dim sum items: pan-fried turnip cake, siu mai, steamed pork buns, and pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings. We were not disappointed in the least. Each of the items we selected was fresh, piping hot, and delicious.
The fact that none of our dim sum items was particularly unusual was helpful in terms of comparing with other restaurants I’ve eaten at over the years. Based on experience, I must say the siu mai were particularly good. Siu mai are always delicately seasoned and –in my experience — can be hit or miss. However, at Jing Fong, they were exquisite.
Our party also selected beef fried rice, Singapore noodles, and beef chow fun from the menu. Amongst these dishes, the fried rice was the standout. I found the chow fun a little disappointing. Our plate was missing the wok hei (breath of the wok) which is a critical flavor component, and the beef was unremarkable. I also found the Singapore noodles a little humdrum. They were alright, but did not match the quality of the dim sum.
The bottom line? Visit Jing Fong for its dim sum. These Cantonese classics are Jing Fong’s stock in trade, and they are superlative. Next time I’m in NYC, I will definitely visit Jing Fong again — before 3:30 p.m.!
Planning Your Visit
Jing Fong is a very busy restaurant during peak times. Despite that fact, reservations are not required — unless you are planning a banquet. If you would like to enjoy the full dim sum experience, plan to arrive before 3:30 p.m.
There is a very good wine menu available to accompany your meal. However, do not expect sommelier service. This is a Chinese dim sum restaurant, after all. The service is friendly and helpful, but definitely not Michelin quality.
Jing Fong’s atmosphere is elegant enough to accompany a banquet — and its fancy dress. However, fancy dress is not required.
20 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10013
Hours of Operation:
Mon – Fri 10:00 AM to 9:30PM
Sat – Sun 9:30AM to 9:30PM