If the last meal you ate in Chinatown involved slippery shrimp, you’re overdue for a revisit. When Roy Choi brought his rice bowl concept, Chego, there in 2013, he laid the groundwork for a new kind of Chinatown cuisine—one centered around young chefs, big flavors, and the quirky shopping center Far East Plaza. From birthing the modern Filipino-food movement to housing the busiest spicy chicken joint in town, the courtyard complex with a swooping roof rivals Grand Central Market for the best food to be had in one place. Here’s your guide to a few of the standouts.
This place is to blame for the line snaking through the courtyard. Johnny Ray Zone and Amanda Chapman set up a permanent home for the Nashville-style hot chicken made famous on their food truck. Don’t underestimate the heat levels—ouch.
Chef Alvin Cailan launched the culinary incubator Unit 120 to help up-and-coming chefs test their ideas. His concept worked. The sensational modern-Filipino restaurant LASA—known for its pancit and lumpia—began as a pop-up at Unit 120 last year and has now taken over the space full time.
Can’t resist the call of orange chicken? Try the one at this OG Cantonese stand. The lunchtime crowds are nothing to sneeze at. LASA chefs Chase and Chad Valencia swear by the beefy crispy noodle chow mein and the fried sole.
Come here for especially solid versions of pho and banh mi. Or if you need something to tide you over while you wait for Howlin’ Ray’s, on weekends the decades-old Vietnamese restaurant offers fun, crunchy snacks to go. Might we recommend the fried shrimp?
Spiked coffee drinks, like the palm sugar whiskey iced latte, are made with scientific precision by the sole barista, former biochemist Jack Benchakul. (There’s booze-free joe as well.) The shop also hosts “9,” a periodic dessert-and-cocktail-pairing experience.
Part cookbook shop, part gourmet-gear store, part luncheonette, the three-in-one spot from former Cut chef de cuisine Ken Concepcion and his wife, Michelle Mungcal, is a professional cook’s mecca. Spring for a copy of The Food Lab, an immersion circulator, and a bite.
The West Coast outpost of Eddie Huang’s New York steamed-bun depot serves top-notch bundles like the pork belly “Chairman Bao” and the fried chicken “Birdhaus Bao.” Don’t sleep on the pillowy dessert baos, which are drenched in “panda” or black sesame glaze.