Shun Lee Reopens After Extended Closure; It’s Already ‘Very Busy’

Shun Lee West, the famed Upper West Side Chinese restaurant at 43 West 65th Street, reopened on Sunday after being closed for more than six months.

For now, it’s open for takeout and delivery, but it hopes to open for dining at the end of the month, according to Andy, a general manager there. “We plan to open for dining at the end of the month. We’ll see, depends on how the business goes,” he said. “Our east side store opened last June and it’s doing very, very well.”

Shun Lee was closed for so long in part because it completely renovated the kitchen. “We knocked the whole thing out,” Andy said.

Shun Lee West has been around since 1981 — 10 year after the original opened on the East side — and gained a large following on the Upper West Side. It has authentic Chinese dishes, and a mix of less-authentic ones too — it’s credited with introducing General Tso’s Chicken to an American audience.

Its closure had several Upper West Siders worried — “I’ve spent the last 4 months trying out new Chinese places and none of them hold a candle to Shun Lee,” one wrote in our comments.

On its first day back, the restaurant has been “very busy,” Andy said. It’s open from noon to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 3 to 9 on Saturdays and Sundays. They plan to open Shun Lee Cafe, an annex to the main restaurant, in September when Lincoln Center reopens.

“We welcome everyone back!” Andy said.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Marianne Hodgins says:

      This is wonderful news.

    2. Marc Luxemburg says:

      Yay!!

    3. lynn says:

      That was an abrupt turnaround. Wasn’t it just last week that someone posted about broken windows, dead plants, and homeless living in the entryway? In any case I hope that their return is a huge success!

    4. Leslie says:

      I remember eating at Shun Lee East when I was young, my mom’s office was right around the corner. Both my parents knew the Tongs well, we even ate in their home with their children. I’ve noticed over the years that many other Chinese restaurants have imitated Michael’s chicken sung dish.
      Fond memories of meals & parties with family and friends.

      • Harry says:

        We started dining there when we went to opening night of the New York Film Festival, back in the days when it was relatively easy to get tickets. And we had a couple of birthday parties there. So many great memories.

    5. Life long UWSider says:

      Best news all day. Welcome home Shun Lee.

    6. Marcy says:

      General Tso’s chicken is an american inventions. Don’t believe it exists in China. Amd if it does, it came from the USA😂🙄

      • MQue says:

        Chinese chefs had to adapt to American palates hence creating saucy goupy sweet and sour style foods.

    7. Jay says:

      More than 15 years ago, ate there once or twice, got take once or twice too.

      Nothing special.

    8. Harry says:

      The Manager is Andy? When we dined there before the pause, the wonderful Henry was. Did he retire?

      • Bill Williams says:

        Henry has not been there for years now.

        • Harry says:

          We dined at Shun Lee West New Year’s Eve of 2019 and Henry was there. At one point in the past he left, but was brought back to improve the operation.

    9. Josh says:

      What took you so long! Very happy news!

    10. Otis says:

      I always got the impression most of Shun Lee’s clientele were people from out of town attending a show in Lincoln Center. Locals don’t go there too often.

      With Lincoln Center closed I wonder how many people will eat there.

      In any case, good luck to them.

      • UWS Taxpayer says:

        Otis–wrong on that tourist thing. My MIL who is from Shanghai is very fond of Shun Lee and so are many of her friends. They could trek down to China Town but the ambiance is not as nice. Their ingredients are pretty high quality but so are the price tags. Now IF ONLY Szechuan Garden would reopen.

        • JL says:

          @Marcy and taxpayer: Egg Fu Young and fortune cookies did make it back to China and Shanghai. Kids these days are mixing it all up. It’s called American Chinese food there.

          https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/business-34877507

          I don’t frequent Chinese restaurants outside of Chinatown or Flushing much. I don’t know if the “newer” places like Jin Fung UWS and Red Farm made it through 2020. My favorite “expensive” place – Mission Chinese (Danny Bowien) in the LES did not make it into 2021. Kung Pao pastrami, yum. Legend down on W16th closed before the pandemic. That was a good Sze Chuan place.

          Good luck to all restaurateurs in NYC, I hope the Spring and the vaccine will bring life back to the neighborhood.

    11. Nessa says:

      Yippee! A most welcome return! The best food on the Upper West Side.

    12. Helen says:

      Does anyone know how to order from SLW online? Their own website and Seamless etc. are still listing them as closed. 🙁

    13. Anita says:

      glad they used the lock-down time to do a renovation. happy to be able to take out there, again and again. and I’ll be dining inside soon – so they say. Shun Lee West is NOT just for tourists, you know !!!

    14. jimbo says:

      Nothing special.