Wok This Way: 9 of NYC's Best Chinese Restaurants

by Julie Besonen, 12/22/2010

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  • Vanessa's Dumpling House
    118 Eldridge St., 212-625-8008, Lower East Side, Manhattan

    Vanessa's is hipster central, its steady line of customers sporting skullcaps, lip rings and hoodies. The crowd knows that this is where a hot and satisfying dinner can be had for $5. Very good fried dumplings (chive and pork) are four for $1; punch them up with sriracha or soy sauce. Eight boiled vegetable dumplings are $3. Then there are the sesame pancakes, which are actually substantial sandwiches made from puffy bread resembling pizza dough. Variously stuffed with vegetables, pork or Peking duck, they range in price from $1.50 to $2.25. To drink are bubble teas and smoothies in flavors like green mango or coconut. The bustling ladies behind the counter keep the line moving, and there's camaraderie around the plywood tables. If you're looking for waiter service, go elsewhere—here it's serve yourself and bus your own tray.

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