Good Chinese Food in Connecticut
This is a hybrid posting, a cross between a question and some tips. I am a native New York City boy and got into food mostly through experiences eating great Chinese food( my dad was a doctor and had, in his lab a techician/angle named Josephine Lu who introduced our families to authentic Chinese food with banquets that she and her husband arranged through TT Wang at Shun Lee Dynasty in NYC).
Now that I live in the New Haven area I am usually frustrated by the lack of real and authentic Chinese cuisine. Most of what we get here is what a friend of mine calls, " Chinese Mafia Menu" which is the unvarying General this and that Chicken which is usually gloppy, sweet, batter-fried and somewhat repulsive. I've discovered two newish New Haven restaurants, Royal Palace in the Ninth square district (downtown) and Eastern Pearl (Westville, recently renovated and reopened), that have gotten at least a little of the message and are beginning to offer translated versions of their "Chinese" menus to Western diners. There have been some notable items, such as a pork shoulder braised for seven hours in Chinese spices ( get there early and order fast because they only have a few orders of it a night). I've recently discovered that there is a new population of Chinese immigrants from the Fujian region of China that have opened quite a few Restaurants and take out-joints in the area. Some operate another newish restaurant in Guilford called Zhang's. The food there was pretty good but when I asked one of the proprietors if she would ever consider offering some native Fujianese dishes, she looked at me as if I had offered her a Florida ballot. I am always frustrated by my inability to speak Chinese, but here I really wish I could have convinced her, but I think the Chinese Mafia have already had their effect. If anyone knows of any unusual Chinese restaurants in the area I would love to learn of them. Also, if any Fujianese are reading this, please get to Zhang's and convince them to put at least a few native dishes on the menu. Very curious.
try "taste of china", an excellent szechuan restaurant on rte. 1 in clinton, between exits 63 and 64 off 95. there are 3 menus, 1 with the usual chinese-american stuff, 1 in english with a full menu of authentic szechuan dishes, and another in mandarin which i assume has dishes not offered to the occidental customers(who are generally in the minority). just put yourself in the hands of the very gracious woman who owns the restaurant and let her know you crave authentic chinese food and like it spicy. don't miss the hand-made chengdu dumplings, hacked chicken in spicy oil, 5-pepper chicken, salt and pepper shrimp(or scallops) and whole fish in hot bean sauce. taste of china is every bit as good as grand sichuan intl.
another excellent restaurant is "china pan" on new britain ave., newington, just past west farms mall, in the same mall as borders and sports authority. china pan serves authentic shanghai cuisine, has a huge vegetarian menu and very good dim on weekends. most of the dim sum items are available at other times. i have eaten there about 25 times and have never had less than a very good meal, usually a fabulous meal. not to miss: rice cakes, sauteed bean leaf tops, vegetarian goose meat or duck, salt and pepper shrimp, pan-fried vegetable dumplings, sticky rice, turnip cakes, singapore-style rice noodles.
See link below for a thread (on this same board) where a bunch of Connecticutians swapped tips on making do with local Chinese. Nothing as hip as what you're talking about, but it could be useful.
Keep working on Zhang's. The trick is to get OTHER friends to pop in and ask the same thing. No chinese restaurateur can resist the impulse to sell their customers what they want to buy. That's the same impulse that leads to the gloppy fried sweet-n-sour problem.
Hey, couldn't help noticing your name. If you've found Armenian ANYTHING anywere in CT, please start a new thread (rather than replying to this)! Closest best option *I* know of is Ruth's Gourmet in Ft. Lee, NJ