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Best Chinese in Triangle Area?

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Would love to hear people's recommendation for the best "authentic" Chinese in the area. Closer to Chapel HIll/Durham preferred. Thanks.

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  1. Sorry to disappoint you, but there is no authentic Chinese in the area. The best bet is to order with a Chinese orientation at Merlion. The second best bet is to order very carefully at Eastern Light (try the potstickers and handmade noodles -- you must emphasize that you want the handmade). For dim sum, I recommend Hong Kong Restaurant in Durham, though the place is a dump and the food is uneven (good fried food, mediocre steamed). Still, it beats Neo-China in Cary and China One in Durham. Ma Ma Wok in Cary has a reputation for being authentic, but all the same it's not very good.

    Sinophile (formerly David A.)

    1. An addendum:

      Jade Palace in Carrboro -- lousy by any standard. Sheer laziness and cynacism. Avoid.

      Mings in Chapel Hill -- a bit upscale, but still serving identifiably Chinese food rather than pan-Asian nonsense. It's worth a try, though be prepared not to be entirely pleased.

      Grand Asia Market in Cary -- certainly "authentic," but all the same mid-quality cafeteria food. The various buns and cakes at the adjacent bakery look enticing, but they're not very good. Food aside, a trip to Grand Asia, the largest Asian supermarket in the state, is a fun experience.

      Fortune Palace in Raleigh -- a physically unappealing restaurant serving Americanized Chinese food with a few decent properly Chinese dishes thrown in to please the local immigrant community. It's not bad, but it's a trek from Chapel Hill.

      Neo-China in Durham -- serving distinctly Americanized Chinese food, but with a fairly light touch. Pleasant decor. It doesn't interest me in the least, but I can understand why others might enjoy it. My mother loves it. The branch in Cary has much the same menu, in addition to dim sum on Sundays (see above).

      I'm sure I've eaten at many other Chinese restaurants over the years, but these are the ones I can recall off the top of my head. We've frequently discussed the paucity of good Chinese in the area, and I've frequently said that a good and authentic Chinese eatery would be a goldmine, given the enormous number of Chinese-Americans who live in Cary and Raleigh. Instead we have a profusion of expensive fusiony bistros -- Pao Lim, Lantern, Grasshopper, Jujube, etc.

      Sinophile (formerly David A.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sinophile

        I would disagree with your criticism of the bakery at Grand Asia. My wife and I, as former regulars in Boston's Chinatown, loved their buns and cakes. The "cafeteria" food was also quite good.

        1. re: Sinophile

          I find that the breads and buns are very heavy and bready and dense. Properly made, they should be extremely light. I spend a lot of time in Taiwan, and I am amazed by the quality of the Western-style baking. It's all variation on the brioche -- light, eggy, sweet -- but incredible brioche.

        2. Have you tried Homeland Garden or does the sign still say 35 Chinese in Cary? It's at 1135 Kildaire Farm Road. Park in garage in back. You can also enter thru rear door. Ignore the buffet. Order from the Sichuan menu. Our Chinese friends thought it was a find.

          Haven't been there in a while, but we enjoyed Fortune Palace 2815 Brentwood Rd in Raleigh. Order from their Tawainese menu. We liked their baby fish with peanuts, Wu-Shi spare ribs, crispy eggplant, and that broccoli-like vegetable that's only available in winter.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TerryG

            thanks, I'll have to try your recommendations.

          2. My wife and I like Pao Lim in Durham quite a bit. Technically it is pan-Asian rather than Chinese, but their sweet spot is "Indianized Chinese" -- I think the owners were Chinese immigrants in Mumbai, before moving to the states.

            1 Reply
            1. re: emazzone

              Close. The owner is a Chinese fellow born and raised in Kolkata, India. Had a restaurant in Delhi before moving to the states...

            2. China Palace at Garrett Rd and Old Chapel Hill Rd in Durham has a separate Chinese Specialty menu, in English. Around half of the items are available daily, while the other half are only available weekends at lunch. Personally, I'm partial to the 1) shredded pork with spicy dry bean curd, 2) scallion pancakes, and 3) noodles with Szechuan meat sauce.

              1. Funny you should mention that pork and stringy tofu dish at China Palace. I also like this dish, but one or two dishes does not a restaurant make. We used to eat at China Palace, but gave it up for nearby Eastern Light.

                35 Chinese in Cary is another restaurant with only a few good dishes. For the most part, it's the lowest kind of buffet. We liked their spicy szichaun hotpots, but discovered that the their sauce is easily replicated by mixing a specific brand of chili sauce with soup stock. We have not been back since.

                Sinophile (formerly David A.)

                1. Having lived in China and Taiwan for a total of three years, I crave Chinese food. Usually, I cook it myself, but I'm always looking for a good Chinese restaurant. My favorite new Asian place is the Korean tofu soup restaurant on 55 for lunch. Try the one with vegetable dumplings. Medium hot is plenty spicy.
                  I don't think China One dim sum is so bad. It depends on what you get, and admittedly, they can be a bit uneven. I occasionally get takeout from China Palace, since it's right down the street. I order from the Chinese menu - try the eggplant (we get it with beef instead of pork), wide rice noodles with beef or chicken, the mapo tofu (vegetarian) is really fresh and good. Their fish congee on Sat. and Sun. is nice and the noodles with Szechuan meat sauce is good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: suse

                    thanks -- that's helpful too.

                  2. On the recommendation of Sinophile, I rushed out this evening to finally try Eastern Lights. Thanks for the tip! I was happy to find that we were the only non-Asians in the place. The owners are from Shandong, PRC, but lived in Korea for a while. This explains the Korean/Chinese combo. Since I spent two years in Shandong, that gave us common ground and reason enough for them to believe I was serious about finding more authentic food. We enjoyed the potstickers - still meatier than I would have liked like them to be, but the wrappers were not too thick. Definitely worth trying. We also had one of the handmade noodle soups. Quite good. The waitress explained all the noodle variations. Very friendly staff all the way around. Our son requested the General Tzo's chicken, which was meat only, no veg. Fine, if you're sharing. He loved it. My favorite was probably the pork and green pepper. It's not your conventional green pepper - thinner, slightly spicier - a poblano perhaps? but not as spicy - anyway, it was only about 1/3 meat. A nice dish. A lot like one you'd actually find in China. Finally, some more westerners came in, but wouldn't you know it - one of the guys spoke Chinese. We'll definitely go back, especially since it's not too far away.

                    1. I recommend Red Palace, on New Bern Ave., in Raleigh. Be sure to order from the Chinese menu, not the Americanized one. It was recommended by a coworker from Northern China as being authentic, and it is excellent! Many Chinese people in the Triangle seem to go there on Sundays.

                      1. My wife and I had dim sum at Neo China in Cary last week. We moved from Boston last year and have had dim sum many times in Boston, New York and Miami. Neo China was near the top of the list. The food was fresh and hot. The selection was varied and the prices cannot be beat. There could have been more of a seafood selection but, hey. There were multiple vegetable dishes (not just the lone steamed Chinese broccoli plate) and all the usual suspects (exept chicken feet). Overall, a great experience. Although, that is the first time we have had to wait to be seated at a dim sum joint.