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Chinese food in St. Louis

  • r

I was wondering if any of you have suggestions for good, authentic Chinese food in St.Louis. I've tried the buffets at Eat First (what a dumb name!) on Page(?) and Great Chef off of Manchester(?) and although they offer fairly authentic items, the quality is what you'd expect from a buffet. I also recently went to Royal Chinese BBQ on Olive and that was quite yummy although still not up to the standards I'm used to (Vancouver, BC Chinese food). Also, is there any place that serves dim sum in carts?

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  1. Hi Risa: I lived in St. Louis for many years, until this past Oct.

    If you're looking for Vancouver caliber Chinese food, you'll look in vain. The Royal Chinese Barbecue place you mention was one of my favorites. I had pretty much swung on over to Thai and Vietnamese food by the time I left, good Chinese being so illusive.

    Now, there *is* a place on Grand across from the big international super market (I've forgotten the name) that is somebody's (Hong Wu?, Hong something?) bakery. In the back they serve food. Try that place and report back. I think you'll like it very much. pat

    6 Replies
    1. re: pat hammond
      m
      Michael Messier

      I think Pat is referring to Hong Wa Bakery which is located on S. Grand Blvd. They also have an outlet on Olive St. Rd. that is a take out place with basic chinese bakery items, roast meats, and a few dim sum items, mostly rice noodle based. The Grand location offers the bakery items and has a fairly large dining room. Despite the appparently well patronized vietnamese restaurants on the same street, Hong Wa, in my experience, is generally empty. A number of the dishes I had tasted as if they had been made from ingredients that had been sitting around a bit too long.

      As for Royal Chinese BBQ, it is probably the best chinese places in St. Louis, especially if you are seeking such exotic fare (at least for St. Louis) as Chow Fun and various Hot Pots. Keep in mind, however, that the average corner take out place in NYC or LA is as good or better than RCBBQ. Most of the menu's in St. Louis's chinese restaurants look like they come from the same print shop. If you want kick-ass chinese food you'll have to go to another city!

      1. re: Michael Messier

        Michael, Thanks for setting the record straight. I used to go with a Chinese friend from work, who is originally from San Francisco. She did the ordering and while I always thought it was terrific, she pronounced it "authentic". Either we hit it on good days or it's gone seriously downhill. pat

        1. re: Michael Messier
          g
          Gabriel Solis

          Having lived in St. Louis and a few cities with really good chinese food (and being a lover, if not connoisseur of it), I'd say it's true you'll search in vain for really good chinese in St. L. On the other hand, I understand hyperbole, but the food at RCBBQ is much better than your average corner take-out place in NY, SF, LA, Seattle, etc. To say it's worse is just silly.

          Gabriel

          1. re: Gabriel Solis
            m
            Michael Messier

            Gabriel, you're right. I was exagerating and feeling sorry for myself after recently having had excellent chinese food in NYC and LA. RCBBQ is better than the average big-city, chinese take out place, but it does pale in comparison to my faves in these cities. I usually opt for Vietnamese food (especially Vietnam Star on Olive St. Rd.) in St. Louis, which is generally of good quality and compares favorably with the vietnamese restaurants in larger cities.

            As for Hung Wa Bakery, I was pretty thrilled when it opened. After all, it's one of the few places in St. Louis that offers Chow Fun. It was OK when it opened, but for some reason, even when the other asian places on the strett are full, Hung Wa is inexplicaby empty. This seems to have effected the quality. The last time I was there we ordered a stir fry dish that included small pieces of ribs (not BBQ). They were cooked through, hot on the outside but cold near the bone, indicating they were previously cooked, refrigerated/frozen? and then reheated.

          2. re: Michael Messier

            Hi Michael M and Pat H, I'm new to to Chow and just read these comments and know that they are well over 10 years old, however I'm going to jump in on the conversation as I was looking for ways to get my hands on St. Louis style Crab Rangoon. I'm from St. Louis, but now I stay in Colorado. Mike you made a statement about if you really won't kick-ass Chinese food you'll have to go to another city. I guess its all about where you are from. Because here in Colorado I haven't found anything like St. Louis Chinese food and I'm talking about the old school neighborhood food. (mom & pop) stores. Not this new age peas and carrots in the fried rice garbage. I did meet the owner of a local Chinese restaurtant here in Denver who had added St. Paul Sandwiches to his menu. I told him I haven't had the taste in years and he asked me was I from St. Louis and I said yes. He told me in his own words that St. Louis is where all the Chinese owners go to get new ideas for their menus because St. Louis does things different. Now I have found a place that is more Authentic and has Dim Sum which I never had until I came out here. So Pat H. I can understand your crave certainly if this is what you had in BC. This style of Chinese food is way different than St. Louis however the taste is great. I still crave St. Louis Chinese food more and every time I go home I stop and get some while I'm visiting Mom.

          3. re: pat hammond

            Pat - I'm following your advice and the Board's closely before visiting in April...I couldn't possibly imagine a FLOATA anywhere within a thousand miles of STL. Now that was awesome dim sum.

          4. I hear good things about dim sum on the weekends at Hunan Garden (near Westport Plaza), although I haven't been to St. Louis lately. I'm attaching a link below to a St. Louis Chinese (& other) restaurant review web page one of my HK Chinese college roommates put together -- she's been in St. Louis for the last thirteen or so years.

            Hunan Garden
            11532 Page Service Road
            Maryland Heights
            432-7015

            Cheers,
            Deb H.

            Link: http://www.inlink.com/~eckert/restaur...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Deb H.

              Lamentably, what many folks in this stream are saying is true: adventurous, gourmet Chinese is not plentiful here in STL. As to the dim sum place up North, Hunan Garden, I haven't tried it, but nearby, over by the Boeing campus at Lindbergh and McDonnel (I think) is China Royal. GO DO THIS! Sunday dim sum served right: cart after cart is rolled out from the kitchen for the diner's perusal. All manner of shao mai, har gao, scallop dumplings, beggar's purses, chicken feet, the best danged so-called "Chinese broccoli" I've had, dressed hot tableside, WOW! One time and you'll be hooked. See you there! (Oh, yeah: marvelous specialty teas if they like you...)

            2. The name of the place on S. Grand and Olive Blvd. is Wei Hong - the Olive spot is only bakery with a couple of tables. But try Jade Garden farther out on Olive, by the Olivette fire station. Try the Chinese menu.

              1. St. Louis is the only big city near where I live (a couple of hours away), and don't think much of the Chinese food. Lulu's weekend dimsum was passable last time we had it, but it's uncarted.

                We often get the Cantonese style roast duck at Royal Chinese BBQ to go. Today we also went to 家鄉, at 8237 Olive across from Lulu's on the corner of Olive & Grant. There is no English name on the outside, and inside the menu on the wall is in Chinese, and the only English menu they have is one from the previous owner. And they don't speak English! I told them they should really get English translations for their dishes. I suppose you could take a takeout menu from another restaurant and order from that...

                That said, this means their current clientele is mostly Chinese, and their food (they're from Shanghai) is pretty authentic. We had the sliced fish, which was pretty good, the "fish style" eggplant, also good, and homestyle tofu, so-so. They've got noodles on the other side of the menu.

                We'll certainly be back, or maybe try the Teochow place next to it.

                1. My goodness, does this thread set some sort of record for republishing an old thread? This one began in early Jan. 2001, and its last post was almost seven years ago. Wow.

                  Lulu's does have cart service for dim sum, at least the Sunday we tried it three weekends ago, though it is supplemented with ordering from the menu as well. For some recent discussion of St. Louis area Chinese food, go to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, www.stltoday.com, and click on the "Eat at Joe's" forum, hosted by Joe Bonwich, the primary restaurant critic for the paper. There is a long current thread there, that discusses Yen Ching (an oldtime favorite south of Clayton on Brentwood), Lulu's, In Soo, and other places on Olive east of the 170 Inner Belt such as Wei Hong, and other outlying places.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nosh

                    Directing someone to the Eat at Joe forum in the Post to find out about chinese is a terrible recommendation. Most of the regulars are a rather unsophisticated bunch who don't even realize krab rangoon isn't chinese.

                    My favorite is Wei Hong on Olive, then Royal Chinese bbq. I need to try Lulu again, but I was so disappointed two years ago I've never been back. Asiana showed promise, but it's been closed the past two times I've tried to eat there. As the above post indicated there are two small dumpy places across from lulu, but they don't speak english at either and the menu is in chinese, too. I did try the place closest to the corner and it was okay but nothing special..

                    1. re: mister

                      I agree about the Eat at Joe forum.

                      I do like Wan Fu on Manchester in Des Peres.