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Best Real Chinese Cuisine in the East Coast

diann Dec 3, 2006 12:34 AM

What would be the best authentic chinese restaurant in either hunan,hubei,sichuan cuisine on the east coast?
not the americanized stuff..
and since i cant be in China...
i have heard there are some decent ones in flushing..

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  1. b
    Bashful3 RE: diann Dec 3, 2006 12:45 AM

    Edison, New Jersey is an amazing hotbed of Asian Cuisine.

    The Grand Shanghai, at 800 U. S. # EAst is an example. American menu is ordinary at best, but ordering from the Chinese menu is another matter.

    I love their version of "middlefish", and partial to their soup dumplings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bashful3
      bigjeff RE: Bashful3 Dec 3, 2006 02:23 AM

      Diann, Bashful3, just had a great meal at Sichuan Spring, which is on Route 27 in Highland Park. I'm going to write a longer review later, but basically, excellent hubei/sichuan, and I went with a real pro (local resident, restaurant owner, food business supplier). apparently they changed owners within the last year or so and the food is great. a packed dining room on a saturday night and all asians, save for 3 or 4 caucasians (always a good sign).

      ask for the real menu (it's in english also anyway) and I'd recommend: chongqing spicy chicken (very dry, almost popcorn chicken and salty/spicy/numby), beef in fresh hot pepper and also fish fillet in red hot pepper (hard to describe but basically, tender pieces of beef bathed in intense chili oil and peppers, excellent), the whole fish with bean paste or whole fish with sichuan cabbage, sauteed double pork bacon with spicy sauce and also the sichuan sausage. get some veg too, the basics like greens sauteed, and also try the dried sauteed string bean with minced pork also. I some neighboring tables ordered the konnyaku bathed in sichuan oils and peppers which looked really good too.

      the word for all of this food in chinese is "xia fan" which simply means "down rice" as in, this stuff will make the rice go down really fast since its so salty and spicy and flavorful; a scoop goes a long way with flavor and its best to go in a large group and sample a great number of dishes, or go with a smaller party and be prepared to bring home leftovers.

    2. b
      BrianYarvin RE: diann Dec 3, 2006 11:31 PM


      If you ask on the Outer Boroughs and Mid Atlantic boards, you can get tons of information on the Chinese communities in New York and New Jersey.

      Still though, it stands to reason that if you can find great, authentic Chinese food in New Jersey and Maryland, you can find it in PA too.

      8 Replies
      1. re: BrianYarvin
        bigjeff RE: BrianYarvin Dec 4, 2006 03:21 PM

        Oops, I didn't put the locale; this place is in Edison, New Jersey, just off Route 22 I believe. I'll put my proper review on the mid atlantic board. I recall that you're an NJ local, right Brian? I remember reading a bunch of your suggestions over the years for the area (plainfield, etc.)

        1. re: bigjeff
          BrianYarvin RE: bigjeff Dec 4, 2006 03:45 PM

          Big Jeff:

          Yes, I'm in Edison and try to keep up on the Asian food scene here. I also work a couple of days a month in Bethesda MD and use that time to check out the food scene in Rockville - where the Chinese food is also outstanding.

          You now have a huge number of great places to check out, but none in PA.

          1. re: BrianYarvin
            bigjeff RE: BrianYarvin Dec 4, 2006 04:59 PM

            well, definitely try out this place Sichuan Spring; the meal was great for sichuan. I can also get some other recs; the people I went with live in North Plainfield and have a pretty good handle on the chinese food scene in edison.

            1. re: BrianYarvin
              Chocolatechipkt RE: BrianYarvin Dec 5, 2006 04:23 PM

              I happen to work in Bethesda. Which places do you like?

              1. re: Chocolatechipkt
                BrianYarvin RE: Chocolatechipkt Dec 5, 2006 06:08 PM

                I like both Joe's and Bob's noodle shops and I've been meaning to try the China Canteen.

                The A&J is also remarkable as is the new tea house/restaurant up by Shady Grove.

                I wish I had more time to explore this area.

                1. re: BrianYarvin
                  Chocolatechipkt RE: BrianYarvin Dec 5, 2006 08:25 PM

                  I love A&J!

                  1. re: BrianYarvin
                    Steve RE: BrianYarvin Dec 5, 2006 08:44 PM

                    I am totally in love with Joe's Noodle House in Rockville, but there some on the local DC board who have put it down recently, especially its authenticity. How would you compare the preparations at Joe's with the places in Edison, etc?

                    1. re: Steve
                      BrianYarvin RE: Steve Dec 6, 2006 02:09 AM


                      The best places in Edison are a bit fancier, but the effort is the same. My favorite place here in Edison; King's Village, is similar in many ways to A&J, but with better service.

                      Both Edison and Rockville represent pretty high levels of quality and authenticity to me.

          2. l
            Lex RE: diann Dec 4, 2006 12:07 AM

            Sweet and Tart Cafe on Mott and Canal....is sublime. I believe it is traditional Cantonese cuisine, based on a specific "tea lunch", or midday meal. They have a wide variety of cold soups such as the "cold-mountain frog with ginko nuts". The best they have to offer in my opinion is the Shanghai pork dumplings (they come in a bamboo steamer and are perched atop pickeled daikon, and served with a dipping sauce of dark Chinese soy and minced ginger. Not to be outdone by a side order of shrimp and watercress dumpling soup! Amazing!

            I love this little restaurant very much and haven't been back in a while, so forgive me if it does not exist anymore. Check it out and give feedback.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lex
              Pan RE: Lex Dec 5, 2006 06:06 AM

              It does not exist anymore in Manhattan. Their Flushing location is still in business. For the record, I never ate at the cafe but did eat several times at their restaurant, on Mott closer to Chatham Square - including at a banquet. At its best, it was delicious. At its worst, it was weird. Generally, it was solidly good, but that's as far as I would have gone.

            2. l
              lynnblue RE: diann Dec 4, 2006 12:10 AM

              There's great Chinese in Flushing Queens! Great dim sum.

              1. f
                fara RE: diann Dec 5, 2006 05:13 AM

                The best Chinese I had in NYC (and I tried just about every place) was Wu LIang Ye on 48th st. SIchuanese food, very authentic, very clean and actually in midtown Manhattan. Completely full of ethnic Chinese at dinnertime.
                Anyway, the best QUALITY and taste for Chinese food I had in NYC.

                2 Replies
                1. re: fara
                  bigjeff RE: fara Dec 5, 2006 04:19 PM

                  ya I've heard that place was pretty good. I now have a new understanding of the cuisine so I'll be sure to check it out. In particular, I think that's the best of their 3 locations in manhattan (one is on the upper east side, I believe, not sure where the other is).

                  1. re: bigjeff
                    Peter Cherches RE: bigjeff Dec 5, 2006 08:52 PM

                    I think WLY on 48th is the best. Lexington & 39th is not very good at all, for some reason.

                    I haven't knowingly been to a Hubei restaurant, and I don't know of any real Hunan restaurants (most with the name are faux-Chinese places that use Hunan or Szechuan synonymously).

                    New York has a number of good Shanghai, for instance Evergreen (Midtown) and Shanghai Cafe (Chinatown), though New Green Bo seems to be the Chowhound favorite.

                    Two years ago I would have cited Ping's in Chinatown as the best Hong-Kong/Cantonese in NY, but they've slipped big time.


                2. bengoshi RE: diann Dec 5, 2006 04:54 PM

                  Congee Village on the Lower East Side. Its great for, well, congee!

                  1. n
                    normalheightsfoodie RE: diann Dec 5, 2006 06:12 PM

                    Have you considered Shanghai, on China's Eastern Coast.

                    1. d
                      diann RE: diann Dec 5, 2006 10:41 PM

                      thanks everyone!

                      im not a big fan of canntonese cuisine, they have very few in China because they took a poll there once and that was one of the least popular cuisine. Basically one of hippest authentic Chinese restaurants in Shanghai right now is a hunan style one, but ive eaten at some sichuan in edison and in flushing but im hoping for some real hunan and hubei. Then again i'm from hubei so...... Also I'm 15 so I can exactly just drive over to NJ or NY.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: diann
                        Das Ubergeek RE: diann Dec 5, 2006 10:50 PM

                        Yuecai the least popular cuisine?? Whom did they poll, the League of Yangcai Restaurant Owners? I hear people complaining all the time after they come back from Beijing that they couldn't believe how much yuecai is served there!

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          diann RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 6, 2006 06:59 PM

                          people in guangdong eat like dog among other things like bugs and snakes, no wonder people aren't big fans, and those kinds of restaurants are hardly as sucessful as xiancai ones or sichuan ones. but if you go to Beijing and all you eat is yuecai, i think your are really wasting your time in Beijing

                          1. re: diann
                            Das Ubergeek RE: diann Dec 6, 2006 07:59 PM

                            Wow, you have a lot to learn. Do you really think you just walk into a restaurant in Guangzhou or Shenzhen or Hong Kong and order dog?

                            Have you ever been to these places and seen it yourself, or are you just repeating what others have told you?

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              diann RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 8, 2006 12:39 AM

                              uhh yeaaa..im just saying people there eat funky food..when i went with my uncle to shenzhen for business we met one one of his good biz buddies and he told us how his bro started a restaurant that catered to biz people who didnt like a lot of the food and couldnt stand the stuff there and now his bro is like super rich,idk sichuan people are just stellar at cooking, and im not sichuan
                              but any food in china is better than that 99%of chinese in the U.S

                            2. re: diann
                              usr.bin.eat RE: diann Dec 7, 2006 04:02 AM

                              Yikes, where did that come from? Yuecai is the basis for the Tan family cuisine which was famous in Qing Beijing. The cornerstone of Cantonese food is the use of the freshest ingredients year-round and I have not seen comparable quality and variety in open-air markets anywhere else in China. The same problem exists for most of America. That might be the source of your bias.

                              1. re: usr.bin.eat
                                diann RE: usr.bin.eat Dec 8, 2006 12:43 AM

                                fresh foods are like a must for any cuisine, famous doesnt mean quality always, notably modern mcdonalds, or hard rock, yea im biased...cause i don't like it and neither do a lot of people(cept guangdong peeps)
                                but i think how far sichuan has spread to americans when a big american pharma or other's ceo jokingly asked his son to marry sichuan lady so she could cook for him for family dinners
                                but personally i think i like xiancai,

                                1. re: diann
                                  Peter Cherches RE: diann Dec 8, 2006 02:49 PM

                                  "i think how far sichuan has spread to americans"

                                  Some time in the 1970s Americanized Szechuan food replaced Americanized Cantonese food as "Chinese Food" in America. I don't think you can extrapolate anything about quality from this factoid.

                                  1. re: diann
                                    usr.bin.eat RE: diann Dec 8, 2006 09:13 PM

                                    Most (non-Asian) Americans I know are turned off by real Sichuan food because of the oil and huajiao.

                                    I don't count celery and water chestnut laden and swimming in brown sauce kung pao chicken as Sichuan, nor is taking a basic stir fry and dumping in loads of dried chiles.

                                    Your retort about McDonalds is a straw man.

                                    Year-round access to a wide variety fresh food wasn't the case for much of China until recently. Guangzhou's growing season is year round. And try going to some areas of Europe. There are cuisines are built around the lack of fresh food in the winter.

                                  2. re: usr.bin.eat
                                    limster RE: usr.bin.eat Dec 8, 2006 11:57 PM

                                    I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that Tan family cuisine was an amalgam of a variety of Chinese cuisines, sort of a bests of, rather than just Yue.

                                    But wouldn't it be intuitive to go for the local cuisine in Beijing i.e. Lu cai, rather than something from the south?

                                    1. re: limster
                                      usr.bin.eat RE: limster Dec 9, 2006 12:29 AM

                                      The family's from Guangzhou (Tom in Cantonese) and I think that makes up the biggest influence.

                                      My point isn't that it's the thing to have in Beijing, but that Cantonese isn't despised as dog and bug bits outside of the South.

                                      1. re: usr.bin.eat
                                        limster RE: usr.bin.eat Dec 9, 2006 05:36 AM

                                        Woops, I missed your original point re: Cantonese cuisine -- which I agree entirely with. I am very surprised to hear that Cantonese cuisine as having a bad reputation -- that's like saying French food as being poor. In fact the opposite tends to be true -- one common stereotype is that the Cantonese are as obsessed about food as Shanghainese are about business or Beijingers about politics.

                                        Another cornerstone of Yue Cai is the use of a vast variety of ingredients and techniques. That includes many types of wild life, but not at the expense of the familiar meats and seafoods. Some dishes may contain "funky" ingredients, but not all dishes do.

                            3. s
                              Steve RE: diann Dec 6, 2006 07:13 PM

                              In the Washington, DC area, Peking Palace in Germantown, MD for Hunan cuisine and Joe's Noodle House in Rockville, MD for Sichuan.

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