As a Jew, I sometimes wish I could partake in all of my friends' fun Christmas activities. From making gingerbread houses to drinking eggnog, all of their fun food-related traditions can make me feel like I'm missing out on a whole world of culinary experiences. But my family, along with tons of other Jewish families, has one tradition that may just beat all the rest: Chinese food on Christmas night. This annual outing keeps the holiday spirit alive for those of us with a menorah in place of a tree.
For my fellow hungry Jews out there, here is a list of restaurants where you can get delicious Chinese food on Christmas in 15 major cities:
1. New York City, NY - Golden Unicorn
This famous dim sum restaurant is known for playful dumplings decorated in cute animal designs. On Sundays, there is usually a line down the stairs to eat at Golden Unicorn (so it might be extra crowded this Christmas), but once inside, you'll definitely enjoy the shrimp dumplings and, of course, the piggy custard buns.
2. Chicago, IL - Shanghai Terrace
This Chicago favorite is a little pricier, but who can resist their delicious shaved duck? And if there's a time to splurge on Chinese food, it's got to be Christmas. Declared a hidden gem of the city, this restaurant boasts a classy setting, amazing Asian fusion drinks in real coconuts, and flavorful kung pao chicken.
3. Washington, DC - Chinatown Express
This food-stand style restaurant hand pulls their noodles, which is a major draw. One big fan's favorite dish is "large portions of roasted duck in a perfectly flavored broth filled with fresh made-in-house noodles." That is sure to beat any Christmas day blues!
4. San Francisco, CA - Yank Sing
As one of the largest Chinatowns in the U.S., San Francisco boasts a bunch of suitable options for Chinese on Christmas. One of the best ones is Yank Sing, which is sure to satisfy any and all of your holiday dumpling cravings. Yank Sing is a dim sum restaurant that serves up masterful dishes noted as particularly authentic. It received the James Beard award (deemed "the Oscar of the food world") in 2009.
5. Atlanta, GA - Poor Calvin's
Poor Calvin's artesian Asian-fusion restaurant is a sure favorite that will please even the pickiest of bubbes. Head chef Calvin Phan, who is originally from Vietnam but was classical trained in Germany, brings his unique knack for international culinary fusion to Poor Calvin's. Top dishes include the beignet basket, lobster fried rice and fried goat cheese.
6. Los Angeles, CA - Yang Chow
This restaurant is a celebrity favorite. It's been host to Kylie Jenner who loves to eat at Yang Chow with Tyga. Yang Chow is famous for slippery shrimp noodles, which the L.A. Times wrote an entire article about, and people come from far and wide to try them.
7. Boston, MA - Gourmet Dumpling House
This Boston joint is best known for soup dumplings (filled with pork, crabmeat and a warm broth), which I can guarantee are better than your Bubbe's matzo ball soup. While the restaurant has Chinese food favorites like General Tso's chicken and fried rice, it also serves up a few unique Sichuan options (like the spicy sliced fish), which are totally worth trying.
8. Miami, FL - Kon Chau
Fan favorites at this Miami hotspot include pan-fried pork dumplings, fried shrimp balls, duck soup and turnip cakes. Kon Chau is a cornerstone in the Miami community known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes and use of only the freshest local ingredients.
9. Austin, TX - Din Ho Chinese BBQ
This Chinese-BBQ fusion restaurant is definitely the most unique on the list, offering a menu packed with variety. Options range from the always popular hot and sour soup to the restaurant's famous Peking Duck, among other exotic options like live lobster and sea cucumbers with duck webs. That's one way to shake up Christmas dinner.
10. St. Louis, MO - Wonton King
As a Washington University in St. Louis student, this one is a personal favorite. Wonton King is a great St. Louis option when you need to get your traditional dim sum fix. I love watching the chefs pull long strands of fresh noodles as I wait for my food. The restaurant also delivers straight to Wash U campus dorms and nearby apartments...a huge plus if you're trying to do Chinese for Christmas in the comfort of your own home.
11. Cleveland, OH - King Wah
King Wah not only offers some of the best Chinese food in Cleveland, but also has some bangin' tropical cocktails on the menu to wash down your wontons. It doesn't look like very much from the outside, but inside, food is bursting with flavors. It's also decently priced and family-friendly.
12. Detroit, MI - The Peterboro
This upscale restaurant is bringing top cuisine and cocktails to Detroit's historic Chinatown. Chef Brion Wong's modernist Chinese-American dishes have been deemed "nothing short of masterful" by Hour Detroit. While others are feasting on Christmas ham and yule log, you can chow down on spicy firecracker shrimp and fancy lotus panna cotta.
13. Philadelphia, PA - Buddakan
Centered around a ten-and-a-half foot gold gilded Buddha, Buddakan is known for serving up elegant small plates of modern Asian cuisine, which are perfect for sharing. Some of the restaurant's otherworldly dishes include hoisin glazed pork belly, wasabi-crusted filet, wok cashew chicken and the most delicious edamame dumplings.
14. Phoenix, AZ - The Clever Koi
The Clever Koi is an Asian-inspired kitchen & craft cocktail bar with locations in Central Phoenix and historic downtown Gilbert. If you choose to spend your Christmas evening here, you will see the kitchen's open wood-fired grill and roaring woks. You will also dine upon crazy indulgent dishes like duck fat Sriracha wings and pickled tempura catfish.
15. Seattle, WA - Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung's Truffle & Pork Xiao Long Bao (above) is made with truffle slices, truffle oil and truffle salt. Just wow. Fans rave that the ambiance and delicious food of this place make it a staple in their restaurant rotations. This one is a must-visit if you're in Seattle and looking to have an indulgent culinary experience on Christmas night.
No matter what the religion, Chinese food is a perfect option for a Christmas day dinner out. And no matter where you live in the country, there is sure to be a delicious Chinese restaurant that fits the bill.
So to all the people out there who shed a tear at the sight of gingerbread houses and secretly wish they could sip on some eggnog and go Christmas caroling during the holidays, do not fret. You can have a Christmas tradition of your own: go to your favorite local Chinese restaurant and eat all the pork dumplings and lo mean your little heart desires.