Chinatown is home to over 300 restaurants serving various cuisines including Hunan, Szechuan, Shanghai, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Thai. You can’t go wrong with most of the restaurants here, especially those catering to a large Asian clientele. All are inexpensive to moderately priced, with the average entrée less than $12.
A good choice on Mott Street  is Tai Hong Lau (70 Mott St., near Bayard St., 212/219-1431), offering unusual Hong Kong–style cuisine and cheap dim sum.
Bustling Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell St., between Bowery and Mott St., 212/233-8888) features some of the freshest food in Chinatown (with another branch in Flushing, Queens) and is especially famous for its “soup dumplings”—a mouthful of soup inside the dough.
Despite its name, the tri-level Sweet-n-Tart Café (76 Mott St., 212/334-8088) serves some of the most authentic Chinese food in town.
The modern Nice Restaurant (35 E. Broadway, near Catherine St., 212/406-9510) offers fresh Hong Kong–style Chinese cuisine and dim sum.
A half-dozen or so cavernous, gaily decorated restaurants serve dim sum from mid-morning until late afternoon, and fixed-price banquets thereafter. One of the largest and best of these eateries is Golden Unicorn (18 E. Broadway, at Catherine St., 212/941-0911), where waiters use walkie-talkies to communicate—arrive early, as there’s often a long wait.
Fresh and healthy Vietnamese fare is the specialty at the unassuming Nha Trang (87 Baxter St., between Bayard and Canal Sts., 212/233-5948).
Some of New York City ’s best Thai food can be found at Thailand Restaurant (106 Bayard St., at Baxter St., 212/349-3132, $15).
Chinatown is also filled with bakeries. Near where Pell Street meets Mott Street  is the cheery May May Bakery (35 Pell St., 212/267-0733). Try the moon cakes, almond cookies, “cow ears” (chips of fried dough), or pork buns.
Also, don’t miss the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St., near Mott St., 212/608-4170), where you can buy every flavor of ice cream from ginger to mango.
On the northern edge of Chinatown you’ll find Double Happiness (173 Mott St., between Broome and Grande Sts., 212/941-1282), a hip basement bar that’s always packed with young urbanites.