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Oct 12, 2006 07:07 AM

Best NON-MSG Chinese Restaurant in Manhattan

Can anyone weigh in on this?

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  1. First, clarify what you mean. You presumably mean that they don't add something specifically labeled MSG? Because soy sauce, oyster sauce, and various other items have glutamates in them. So perhaps the reason why no-one answered your post so far is that the answer is "there are no good Chinese restaurants that don't use glutamates."

    1. I cant say - but if you stay away from soups and dishes with gluey cornstarchy sauces, you have a good shot at avoiding it.
      Its been years since I have had a serious msg reaction. Saltbaked dishes, steamed or fried fish, stir-fried greens with ginger, garlic or fermented bean curd, BBQ meats etc are unlikely IMO to cause this reaction.

      1. Thanks folks. Pan, I understand what you are saying.
        Joe's Shanghai, for example, I had a serious MSG reaction
        last time I was there, probably from the dumplings.
        I was spaced out for hours. But that may have been a
        fluke. I suppose the key is, as jen says, stay away
        from the heavy sauces.

        How about this: Other great Chinese restaurants,
        other than Joe's and Wo-Hop. (As you can see,
        I'm a novice at this.) Anyone know of any Swatow-region

        6 Replies
        1. re: fourstringhero

          I have no idea on Swatow-region restaurants. I also don't think much of Wo-Hop. But a propos Jen's remark that salt-baked and BBQ dishes are unlikely to cause bad reactions, Great NY Noodletown does very good renditions of such dishes. Steamed fish should be available in any Cantonese restaurant worth its salt, and if a light amount of soy sauce doesn't cause you problems, just order steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions. A nicely cooked steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions is a truly great thing!

          1. re: fourstringhero

            I think Swatow is an archaic, Wade-Gilles Romanization for an area whose cuisine would be considered Chiu Chao, and since the closing of Sun Golden Island I'm not aware of a great Chiu Chao place in Chinatown.

            Personally, I would call Wo Hop very far from great, and as far as Joe's is concerned there are many equal or better Shanghai places.


            1. re: Peter Cherches

              Oh, well, there's Chao Zhou in Flushing, on Main St. just across from the Flushing branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, and while I wouldn't call that an overall great restaurant, it is solid and makes excellent soy sauce chicken and good noodle soups, among other things, and is open late.

              There's a restaurant called Chao Chou or something similar, on Mott St. between Hester and Grand, I believe. I haven't been there for years but I recall their cuisine was similar to Chao Zhou's.

              1. re: Pan

                Yes, the place in Chinatown is an old place called New Chiu Chao, but I was never impressed. Sun Golden Island was a gem.

                Bo Ky (the noodle shop on Bayard) is, I guess, a Chiu Chao diaspora restaurant. I'm guessing, based on the menu, that they're Chaozhou Chinese from Vietnam. I believe there are many Chaozhou Chinese in Southeast Asia.

                1. re: Peter Cherches

                  Good point about Bo Ky, and I think it's a very good place to get a quick, good noodle soup.

                  I went to Sun Golden Island a number of times. My feeling was that it had a period of being very good and then went downhill for maybe a couple of years before closing.

              2. re: Peter Cherches

                Okay, I've got say something in support of Wo Hop! Hot & Sour soup, Roast Pork Chow Fun and those fantastic broad, crunchy fried noodles. This ain't no 3 star dining expereince, but man, at 2AM it's pretty darn good. Especially with one of those awful chinese beers.

            2. Our Place Shanghai Tea Garden, if told not to use msg, still makes some great food and you can definitely taste and feel the difference. Even down to the spare ribs....the food tastes different (but good) when ordered with no MSG.