Famed Chinese Spot Goes From A Grade to Being Closed by Health Department

Shun Lee, a staple of Upper West Side fine dining for decades, was shuttered by the Health Department on Tuesday. While a note on the door of the Chinese restaurant at 43 West 65th Street says there were “unforeseen circumstances” that led to the closure, a yellow sign on another window makes it clear that health violations caused the closure.

The Health Department’s website did not yet have details on the violations. The most recent inspection resulted in an A grade.

Shun Lee opened its West side location in 1981. The Shun Lee restaurants have drawn all sorts of celebrities, from Tom Cruise to Michael Douglass. Wall Street 2 filmed a scene in the restaurant.

Thanks to our tipster, who wished to remain anonymous.

FOOD | 67 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      Oy. I just ate there a week ago.

    2. Cathy says:

      Sad and vexing

    3. Tom Lee says:

      Yikes – always considered it one of the few if only clean Chinese options on the UWS.

      One has to wonder what is going on at the other Chinese places if Shun Lee received a failed grade!

      Any recommendations for a decent Chinese take-out / delivery place on the UWS?

    4. Nelson says:

      Oh, no, one of my longtime faves! Hopefully Henry & Co can remedy/reopen soon!

    5. Brenda says:

      I hate this. I haven’t even gotten over O’Niells yet

      • Bz says:

        Ha…neither have I !!! So miss the place.

      • Steven says:

        Yeah, O’Niell’s was the best. Good food, great menu & for being on the UWS & close to Lincoln Center, it was moderately priced.

      • CB says:

        I refuse to ever get over O’Neill’s! It was the best. Where else could you go after Lincoln Center and find yourself eating & drinking next to a bunch of Met stagehands and/or Stephanie Blythe or Mark Morris?

    6. Bill says:

      I went in the bathroom here 3 years ago. Not pretty. Never went back. PS, this is Anthony Scaramucci’s go to spot for Chinese food so there must be something funky going on.

      • lynn says:

        This is the funniest comment I’ve read today, lol. The bathroom is small but it’s kept spotlessly clean and there’s even an attendant.

    7. Steven says:

      That’s a shame. I’ve only eaten then 2-3 times, but I remember the food was Really good.

    8. Joe Wilkins says:

      The DOH inspection can be very unfair. It all depends on the inspector and their mood etc. The NY Times did an article on the fact not one home could ever get an A if inspected fairly! There are more than 400 violation points available and many of those violins could be duplicated. Please understand ANY restaurant any time could get a poor score, its always in the hands of the inspectors!

      • Cat says:

        I hate it when violins are duplicated! >:(

      • B.B. says:


        Have seen restaurants with “A” ratings plastered on front windows with more mice running around at night (seen through windows) than a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

        You send a message/complaint to DOH and get “we’ve notified owner of your complaint so they can rectify the situation” or some such nonsense.

        • Stuart says:

          There were never any mice in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
          Ducks and Pigs – of course.
          Roosters and Cats – maybe.
          But never mice

          • B.B. says:

            Sorry, meant “Looney Tunes”. Tend to lump them under one umbrella.

            BB cartoons had a few mice; Speedy Gonzales, his cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez, and their pals

            • Stuart says:

              Classic Bugs Bunny cartoons (i.e.: those made in the 1930s to mid 1950s to be shown in movie theaters) never had Bugs interacting with mice. If Bugs had an interaction with Speedy Gonzalez, it was in a made for tv cartoon.

              Btw – Speedy Gonzalez cartoons are no longer on tv due to stereotype behavior and dialogue.

      • Mike says:

        If you take a look at the violations website you’ll see they’ve gotten their fair share of citations in the past. I’m not sure exactly how it works but I believe if you get over a certain number three times they can/do shut you down.

    9. Bruce lee says:

      Han dynasty at 85th just off of broadway

    10. USWer says:

      Not surprised. Had a bout of food poisoning the last time I ate there years ago. Haven’t been back. They are just your typical Chinese restaurant with better service for triple the normal prices.

    11. Sorry to read this. Love this place. Hope you’ll run a story when it re-opens as well.

    12. Carlos says:

      I thought it was shuttered for being ridiculously overpriced. The food is good, but not worth the prices. And one time we went there we got a lot of attitude from the staff for no apparent reason.

    13. Debbir says:

      They get a chance to rectify the violations and re-open or are they close for good?

    14. jean goldberg says:

      OMG, I ate there Friday and got a food allergy and went into antafilatic (sp?) shock. Friends rushed me to ER at Mt Sinai. Was hospitalized for 3 days, almost died.I don’t have any known food allergies.

    15. mpw says:

      Vile place. Should have closed YEARS ago when a cockroach walked across my table.

    16. Reynold says:

      From the blog Eater.com:
      According to public records, Shun Lee received an A grade in February, but the influential Chinese American restaurant also had an ungraded inspection in September that resulted in 37 violation points. The restaurant was docked for improperly storing hot and cold foods, mice, roaches, flies, and not properly washing surfaces that contact food.

    17. Adam Cherson says:

      Hmm. Wonder if it has anything to do with all the construction on the block?// First Dan (the Japanese place on Broadway) goes, now Shun Lee, is there anything around here from the 70s anymore? I guess it could mean fewer e-bikes on 65th.

    18. Mark D. Friedman says:

      Try Jin Fong on 76th and Amsterdam. You’ll never go back to Shun Lee.

      • lynn says:

        Jin Fong doesn’t deliver and I’ve never been able to get a delivery from Han Dynasty either (due to one problem or another). Not sure if Jin Fong does take out but will definitely take a look. Thanks for the recommendation.

      • Filatura says:

        Jin Fong is actually on 78th & Amsterdam.
        Closed for lunch (online publicity says the downtown chefs take the subway uptown to cook dinner, which makes me wonder who cooks for the downtown dinner crowd).
        According to Door Dash, 86th & Columbus is out of their delivery range.
        Think I’ll stick to Han Dynasty for now.

      • Tom Lee says:

        Do they deliver?

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Always helpful when someone makes a recommendation with the wrong address. The Jing Fong is on the corner of 78th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

        • Juan says:

          I’m sure you are perfect and never make a typo. And there also happens to be a decent Chinese place at 76 and Amsterdam – we tend to order from Columbia Cottage. For the basic stand-bys of Chinese food, it is pretty good at reasonable prices.

      • nycityny says:

        78th & Amsterdam, not 76th.

    19. mcb says:

      A mainstay for us. Hope you can let us know what the violations were and what happens in the future. Thanks for great reporting.

    20. Reynold says:

      The Shun Lee staff needs to put up big-character wall posters of self-criticism, then go to the countryside for 7 years and learn from the peasants, and eat bitterness. That oughta fix the problem.

    21. John says:

      Called last night did not know they were closed. They told me they were closed for private party.

    22. Robert Goodman says:

      Just tried the recently opened Lili’s 74 as takeout. The order came quickly and was in the trash shortly thereafter.

      Dumplings, noodles, soup, one vegetable dish and a poultry dish were awful, either doughy, tasteless, glutenous, limp or a combination. Also came with no condiments but we used our own to no avail. A terrible waste but there you have it.

      For reference: Han Dynasty is to our taste an excellent restaurant. I’ll let others address is “authenticity.” I find that it’s kitchen produces reliably delicious food.

      • LEE APT says:


        • Leon says:

          I take it that it must be very loud by the fact that you seem to have to SCREAM about it. Should I bring ear plugs?

    23. Bonnie C. says:

      They received an “A” grade this past February, but then were hit with 37 health violations (improperly stored hot & cold food, infestations of mice, roaches, & flies, etc.) this past September that they weren’t give a grade on, thus giving them ample opportunity to make corrections which apparently they did not bother to do or do sufficiently. Thus after revisiting this month, their doors were forced to close.

      Clearly their own fault.

    24. Ted says:

      I think we’ve all gone in looking for a Dim Sum fix saying, “what’t the worst that could happen? It’ll…might be…fine.” We’ve all been there. It’s a learning session for our immune systems.

    25. Drew says:

      Will they reopen?

    26. Scout says:

      Poison and take the risk if you want to wind up in emergency room
      Thank god it’s shuttered