Plenty of New Yorkers who don't celebrate Christmas still have a Christmas ritual: eating Chinese food.
Chinese food on Christmas is a long-loved Jewish tradition, and there are plenty of theories as to why, some of which the Atlantic rounded up back in 2014. While many restaurants are closed on the holiday, Chinese restaurants (and movie theaters, another part of the tradition) are often open. There's little-to-no dairy in Chinese food, which theoretically can make it easier to keep kosher, at least if you don't order pork or shellfish.
And as Jennifer 8. Lee, producer of "The Search for General Tso" noted to the Atlantic, Jews and Chinese immigrants made up the largest block of non-Christian immigrants on Manhattan's Lower East Side -- where today you can still take a meandering walk along Grand Street and watch Chinese restaurant storefronts give way to kosher bakeries.
But Jewish or not, Chinese food is a fine option for anyone who doesn't feel like cooking or perhaps isn't making a trip home for the holidays this year.
Here's a selection of restaurants that are open on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to fuel your holiday, whether you celebrate or not.
Buddha Bodai, one of a handful of vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan's Chinatown, is also certified kosher -- meaning that it welcomes in a massive Jewish clientele, especially on gentile holidays. Chinese owner Kent Zhang serves a menu following a strictly Buddhist diet: no meat and no aromatics (say goodbye to garlic breath), but plenty of welcome Chinese substitutes. The Christmas crowd includes Hassidic Brooklynites and Chinese Jews, chowing down on dishes like General Tso's "chicken," "shrimp" fried rice, "duck" noodle soup and plenty of other veg-Buddhist-Jewish-friendly renditions of classic and American-Chinese dishes. To really celebrate, take advantage of the restaurant's no-corkage fee, BYOB policy. Buddha Bodai doesn't take reservations, but it'll be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on both Christmas Eve and Day. (5 Mott St., 212-566 -8388, chinatownvegetarian.com)
Kings County Imperial
At Kings County Imperial, the soy sauce is on tap -- and that's just the beginning of the restaurant's creative interpretations of classic dishes. The regular menu will be served 5:30 to 11 p.m. Christmas Eve and noon to 11 p.m. on Christmas Day, including dishes like the Sichuan cucumbers (pictured), Beijing street noodles and tea-smoked mu shu duck. (20 Skillman Ave, Brooklyn, 718-610-2000, kingscoimperial.com)
East Village Szechuan restaurant Han Dynasty is notorious for its hours-long waits, so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- it's open for both -- are sure to be two of the busiest days of the year. Reservations are only accepted for parties of eight or more, so grab a group or be prepared to sip hot cocoa nearby while you await Han's famous dan dan noodles and tea-smoked duck in beer sauce. It's open from 11:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. on both holidays. There's also an Upper West Side location. (90 Third Ave. and 215 W 85th St., 212-390-8685, handynasty.net)
Both RedFarm locations -- as well as the downstairs spot on Hudson Street, Decoy -- will be open regular hours and offering usual dinner service on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, they'll be open from noon to 10 p.m., when Decoy will serve a regular menu and RedFarm will offer one with specials ... including the Peking duck from Decoy. Of course, there's always warm, comforting soup dumplings (pictured). (529 Hudson St. and 2170 Broadway, 212-792-9700 and 212-724-9700, redfarmnyc.com)
Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles
Any noodle lover who hasn't been to this Doyers Street haunt is seriously missing out. The noodles are hand-pulled in view of diners and cut by knife for rugged, thick noodles that excellently soak up broth or sauce when fried. With tons of dishes under $10, a feast at this cash-only eatery comes pretty cheap. Save this spot for Christmas Eve and Day, with hours from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (1 Doyers St., 212-791-1817, tastyhandpullednoodlesnyc.com)
The xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, from Joe's Shanghai are worth lining up for -- as evidenced by the people who line up for them every day. If you're not worried about keeping kosher, they make a great treat on Christmas -- they're filled with either just pork or pork and crab (that's a treif double whammy) and, of course, tons of hot broth. There's plenty else on the menu, too, but the xiao long bao is what brings the crowds. Joe's is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are two more locations in midtown Manhattan and in Flushing, Queens. (Joe's Shanghai, 9 Pell St., Manhattan, 212-233-8888, joeshanghairestaurants.com)
As you enter this hole-in-the-wall, remind yourself that you're not heading to Spicy Village for the atmosphere. You're there for the food, which is delicious, spicy and cheap -- a small order of the beef brisket hui mei (pictured) will set you back only $6.50. Beneath chunks of beef and a shower of cilantro, chewy hand-pulled noodles await your chopsticks and a savory broth awaits your spoon. But the restaurant is perhaps best known for its spicy big tray chicken. (Don't worry, you can add those noodles to that dish, too.) Bonus: You can BYOB. Spicy Village is open on Christmas Day, which falls on a Monday this year, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., but closed on Christmas Eve because it's always closed on Sundays. (68B Forsyth St., 212-625-8299, spicyvillagenyc.com)
Great NY Noodletown
The foods hanging in the window of this Chinatown favorite make it clear what you ought to order inside: roasted meats of every variety, which are expertly hacked apart at a counter near the front. Try them in a soup with the noodles that the restaurant promotes in its name, or over rice. It's open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- and every day -- until 4 a.m., if you need a late-night option. (28 Bowery, 212-349-0923, greatnynoodletown.com)
Maybe you're looking for something a little... less authentic. Head to Wo Hop, where, as Sam Sifton once noted, chopsticks are hard to find but nostalgia is everywhere. Opened in 1938, it heralded the era of the Americanized Chinese food restaurant, and it's still doing its thing -- in a basement on Mott Street -- and that's part of the charm. Another reason it's so beloved are the hours: Open from 10 a.m. to 7 a.m. (not a typo), Wo Hop closes for just three hours a day. They'll be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for all of your lo mein, chow mein and General Tso's needs. (Wo Hop, 17 Mott St., Manhattan, 212-962-8617, wohopnyc.com)