Chinatown for an ex-quasi-Chinese guest
This weekend I'm getting a visit from a friend who lived in Beijing for five years before returning, a few months ago, to the Occident. She has requested lunch on Saturday in Chinatown and I'd like to take her someplace that will really approximate her dining experiences in China. She travelled extensively on the Mainland and also in Taiwan, which she loved. Any suggestions? Also, isn't there a bing place somewhere downtown?
There are many kinds of dishes in China. Each Province in China has their known speciality. What are your friend's experiences besides Taiwan? But I did take a tour through several provinces and I asked each local guide what their favorite Chinese food was and they all said Cantonese. I didn't travel to Guangdong on that trip.
Yes, everybody from all regions of China like Cantonese food. Interesting that in American cities where there isn't a large local Hong Kong/Cantonese population, but where there are Chinese from other areas, the pre-eminent Chinese restaurants are still Hong Kong style seafood places. This is the case, for example, in places like Atlanta and St. Louis.
Actually, many of the Chinatowns speak Cantonese and serve Cantonese food. Cantonese food is probably the biggest export that came out of Guangdong. Canton was the one of the few ports that traded with the US after it broke off from the British during the American Revolution. They traded American Ginseng for Porcelain and Tea. These days the new immmigrant group is more from Fujian and Wenzhou. But you can still walk to any Chinatown and find someone who can speak Cantonese and find a Cantonese restaurant. You won't be able to do this with other dialects (e.g. Shanghai, Hunan). Cantonese cusine is the most common you will find in the world outside of China.
Depends on what you mean by "approximate her dining experiences" If you want the kind of food eaten in Peking or Taipei, you'd do better in Flushing (and even there it's hard to find Peking food, you have to settle for dongbei) If you mean, similar experience, the best place is this:
My suggestion would be to go either to a huge, crowded place for dim sum where you share a table with Chinese families. I dont know which is best, I never do dim sum. Or a meal in a good Cantonese place patronized mostly or exclusively by Chinese with a huge secret menu in Chinese. I'm not sure which is best now, I used to love East Ocean ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/226620 ) but the last time I was there it wasnt as good. Amazing 66, which I love, has all menus in English and a lot of non-chinese patrons.
For more background, check out this post.
There is a bing place right near the huge West 4th St subway.