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Chinese Chicken Salad is there a really great one?


There was this tiny spot in Hollywood many years ago that had been there for decades. It was a the spot for that was frequented by movie stars like Brando, Marilyn Monroe and some of the majors from paramount, etc. This was sorta a hole in the wall but full of charm even the name was funny- Shanghai Noshery
By the time I had the ate there the owner was getting on in age but still made great Chinese food with a California flare. It was said he was the one that really started the "Chinese Chicken Salad".

It was basically chopped and shredded style with cabbage, lettus, green onions, carrots and some crunchy items.. however the best dressing!

Has anyone had something similar here? I have tried so many to but have never some close to this one.

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  1. Wolfgang Puck Express in the cellar of Macy's at Union Square does a Chinois Chicken Salad that my family adores. You can order it from Waiters on Wheels for delivery too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: NoeMan

      Thanks, but that is pretty much the same version as most places.

    2. You might check Chef Chu's in Los Altos, it gets big props in the Bay Area and has been making it for 30+ years.

      1. I love the one at Hunan / Henry's Hunan.

        1. I second Chef Chu's and also recommend Ming's of Palo Altos version

          5 Replies
          1. re: Alan408

            thanks for the new recs. I will try both Chef Chu's which sounds intriguing since he has been making it ofr 30+ years might be in line with the type I am looking for. Hunan? I did not try their version the last time I was there. Thanks so much.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                That is interesting. There is more to this CCS business than I thought.

                The Ming version is different from the Shanghai Noshery restaurant version . Now this makes me wonder if the gentleman that owned that place was the one to have really started CCS in California or did he develop his own version it dates about the same time if not earlier.
                The makings for a fun random food story.

                1. re: Lori SF

                  This website (and you think Chowhound hurts your eyes?) claims that CCS was invented by a cooking teacher named Madame Wong. Dunno if her first name was Melanie.


                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    I wish madame wu's recipe was actually there, but I click on it and it's down or that website isn't up anymore, darn.............

            1. Chinese Chicken Salad is a California Chinese restaurant construct: this dish does not exist in the rest of the country. That said, it's yummy. My recipe is from a Palo Alto Junior League cookbok, circa the 60's. It's long and involved, but if you really want it, I'll post.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pikawicca

                It might have originated in California, but by this time it's nationally known and a standard item on hotel and chain restaurant menus.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Except in China, of course, where you would NEVER be served uncooked greens.

                    1. re: Gary Soup

                      Actually I remember when I was a very small kid (30 years ago), a lot of old authentic Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong were already serving lettuce cups with shredded squab pieces (and other stuff chopped in). I remember my family asking the restaurant if they would use western lettuce (Iceberg) or Chinese lettuce (which tastes almost the same but greener in color).


                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      But you won't find it in a Chinese restaurant outside of CA.

                    3. re: pikawicca

                      I have been searching for this recipe. Years ago in the 70's my mom got this recipe from the chef at ming's and it was a regular menu item at our house. I have lost the recipe so if you could post it that would be great!!!

                    4. Hi Pikawicca,

                      Is it the same recipe as is in the Oakland Junior League cookbookaround the same era? Sounds like it. I have been using that recipe for years and am ALWAYS asked for the recipe. A real winner and the dressing is superb. It is also good on cooked broccoli or whatever.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cerise 37

                        Cerise, did you post it? can't find...

                      2. I would be curious to see and that would be very nice of you if it's not too much trouble. Thank you.

                        1. Hi Lori,

                          I have to tell you CCS is one of my absolute favorite foods. I lived in the area for 25 yrs. and have sampled many. Chef Chu's is good, but for IMO the best try the deli section of the PW Markets located down the peninsula in the San Jose area. I'm not sure how far up they go, but it's worth the trip. They have a web site with all their locations. Early in the morning it's freshly made each day and you can buy it by the pound. I would give anything to have some right now, unfortunately I had to leave the area and move back to the east coast where there isn't anything even remotely similar. Happy eating, have a bite for me.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: othervoice

                            thank you for the reply. I adore CCS and could eat the right one everyday. You will just have to learn how to make it to get your fix. Have a lobster roll for me!

                          2. Comforts Cafe in San Anslemo is famous for their ChiChi Salad and has the best one around. They even bottle the dressing.

                            There's a take out department of the cafe and you should hear the stats on how much of this wonderful salad heads out the door everyday.

                            It's fresh and light and tasty and addicting!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MSK

                              yes it is one of the better ones. I am not shy with getting the pint and devouring instead of the one person size half pint. I love that place such a great concept and would do well in SF.

                              1. re: Lori SF

                                I went there today and they have a Lite version of the Chi Chi which is with no-oil dressing and baked noodles instead of fried.

                                Dressing was a little sweeter but did a good job clinging to the lettuce. I give it a hearty "thumbs up"!

                                1. re: MSK


                                  Comforts Cafe
                                  335 San Anselmo Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960

                            2. I love the Chinese Chicken Salad at Taylor's Refresher.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Atomica

                                sorry to say I have not been there. thanks

                              2. Can I post the recipe on this site or do I have to go to Home Cooking?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cerise 37

                                  I don't know I have not learned how to post recipes yet. I will look forward to seeing it, thanks!!!!

                                2. not sure if it's the same...but that 'great wall' restaurant in berkeley has a killer chicken salad.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: wchane

                                    thanks I will try, need a Berkeley outing.

                                    1. re: wchane

                                      but what if you don't have a reason to go to Berkeley? I'm not going there and am on here for one that is tried and true and posted, help

                                    2. "Chinese chicken salad" is something that need not be associated with a particular restaurant, cook, place, time, or recipe. The use of poached, shredded chicken plus stuff like chopped green onions, peanut or seasame oil, cilantro, sliced chili, some greens, white pepper, fish sauce, ginger, and so on...is universal across east and SE Asia.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        ok it was my association and I am looking for something similar that others might know of.
                                        Maybe universal "across east and SE Asia" but not apparently universal here in SF, therefore I ask the question.

                                      2. I've gotta say, this thread made me crave one, so I went out in search of a Chinese Chicken Salad on my lunch break today. One that I've gone back to time and time again is surprisingly, the one at the Nordstrom Cafe. It's consistently good and unique enough that I crave their version in particular. They even sell the dressing, I guess it's popular!

                                        From what I recall, it contains mixed greens (a spring mix, I believe), bok choy, red and yellow peppers, cilantro, toasted almonds, fried wonton strips, mandarin oranges, and sliced grilled chicken (of course). Also served with two thin crisp breadsticks (reminiscent of a pair of chopsticks). Yum!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: courtneyp

                                          I have had their CCS and it is the typical version of most places, but it is a nice salad just the same.

                                          If you ever go to Le Cheval in Oakland try the shredded chicken salad this is closer to the version as the original..not the same but close.

                                        2. If you're checking out Chef Chu's ,,, then add Tao Tao in Sunnyvale. I used to love their version - but now I'm partial to Chef Chu's.

                                          5 Replies
                                            1. re: EllenTips

                                              I think Chef Chu's is the definitve version, at lest I've never had better.

                                              1. re: EllenTips

                                                Try Loon Wah on Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd north of Prospect next to McDonalds. It's been my favorite for years. They don't use fried chicken and use a slighly hot mustard dressing.

                                                1. re: EllenTips

                                                  I think Tao Tao is better than Chef Chu's but that is just MHO. The CCS and Tao Tao Beef are the 2 most ordered items at lunch every weekday.

                                                  Wish I still worked down that way. But I don't miss the commute!

                                                  1. re: dhoffman1421

                                                    Tao Tao's CCS is still very good - I think they put wasabi in the dressing. The commute's still pretty bad, too!

                                                2. In Marin, try Let's Eat in the Cove in Strawberry area, Mill Valley, on the way to Tiburon. It's casual, pricey, excellent quality. Great CCS and curried turkey salad. They always have these two items but other prepared foods (in display case) change. Also, at Chef Chu's, I like the minced chicken in lettuce cups better than his CCS. Try the minced chicken at Yank Sing, too, I love it.

                                                  1. My all time favorite CCS was at the China Station in Berkeley (long since closed). It was different than the current versions....it had candied ginger, peanuts, cilantro, chicken, and wonton strips...and maybe red and yellow peppers? Anyway, the dressings and ingredients were somewhat different than the current versions. I miss that salad, and if anyone remembers it and has a recipe that comes close, I would be in your debt....

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                                      I shed a tear for the late, lamented China Station.

                                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                                        Ah, the China Station memories! Boo hoo...

                                                    2. Not all Chicken Salad are created the same. The verison served at Chef Chu, Tao Tao and Ming;s are the same with minor verisons.

                                                      I verison I like is the one served at Mr Fong's in Foster City. But you have be sure the "Chinese" revision. The normal verison is like Ming's, but there Chinese verison has perserved duck eggs and jellyfish. Also the chicken is a roasted chicken while normal verison is shredded fried chieken.

                                                      I think there are as meny versons as there are chefs.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: yimster

                                                        So, are both versions on the menu? Or do you need to know to ask as in "I would like Chinese chicken salad with jellyfish">

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          I do not think both verison are listed. When I just asked for Chicken Salad I got the fried chickne verison (I did order in Chinese). I was unhappy with this verison and when the owner walked by and asked how was everything I told him about this verison was not good. He had it removed and replaced with the one with the jelly fish and perserved egg. He told me when I ordered Chicken Salad I just had to tell the waiter I want the one with perserved egg and jelly fish.

                                                          The chicken is a roasted chicken with nam yee (perserved bean crub). This discussion is making want some soon.

                                                      2. Could I narrow down the question to: does anyone know where to find a Chinese chicken salad in SF that contains those cheesy erzatz (delicious, crunchy - oh, the shame!) deep fried noodles (the kind that Chun King makes and sells in the can in Safeway)?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                                          Definitely outing myself here since chains are not very 'houndish, but I've been to The Cheesecake Factory three times in recent years and the only thing I've ever gotten there is the CCS. It's HUGE (even the "lunch" portion) and it has a ridiculous mound of those noodles on it. I like 'em, but I still take half off or I can't even get to the salad. Maybe I'm inebriated with shopping fever when I go there, but I have to say I love it. It is the same every time. Cheesecake Factory is on the top floor of Macy's Union Square.

                                                        2. Comforts is San Anselmo has a fabulous light Chinese Chicken salad. Go try it ASAP. You will be in heaven!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: beckkk

                                                            That was mentioned earlier. It's very fresh, but a bit too light in flavor, IMHO.

                                                            1. re: Claudette

                                                              >but a bit too light in flavor<

                                                              I agree and more than a bit. I like Comforts a lot in general, but I'm not a fan of their very popular Chinese Chicken Salad.

                                                              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                When I posted this I had liked Comforts CCS from past experiences, not great but tasty and light. The last three times have been nothing like it was a few years ago, I kept trying just thinking they have lost the flavor and freshness. I don't need to try it again.

                                                                1. re: Lori SF

                                                                  Seeing this post several weeks ago has made me crave and miss Chinese Chicken Salad. I have tried Taylor's Refresher-- and it was not bad. Had one from Cal Mart in Laurel Village today, and taste is good but light on the good stuff (crunchies, chicken, cilantro). The dressing is good.

                                                                  I will need to check out Comforts-- not sure I'l get to Chef Chu's b/c of distance. If anyone knows of Feast from the East in Westwood LA's CCS version and knows a similar one here, please do share!! That's what I'm seeking! Thanks!

                                                          2. The best I've ever eaten has to be during my time down in LA at a chain called California Chicken Cafe (there's one in Westwood, another in Hollywood on Melrose). I love the mandarins in the salad. They also do a CCS wrap and everything else on the menu is pretty good as well. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a place quite like it up here.

                                                            1. Hi Lori SF, I love Chinese chicken salad. One of these days I'd love to make it my project to taste and review every one out there, but in recent years I really love the one from Kirin Chinese Restaurant (inner Richmond, on Geary). They use shredded, poached chicken, peanuts, red ginger slivers, and the fried rice noodles -- those super thin ones.

                                                              1. I would recommend The Cheesecake Factory. It may be a chain, but there are some things that it's good for. I think they're Chinese Chicken salad just might suffice.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. I posted the Palo Alto Junior League recipe here (similar to Chef Chu's.) It's been moved to the Home Cooking board, if you want to check it out.

                                                                  Chef Chu's
                                                                  1067 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                                                  1. Brandy Ho's on Columbus (there is also one in the Castro and one in Danville), but @ home I love the recipe in the Harry Hunan's cookbook =)

                                                                    1. I've gathered these excellent recommendations together, and added:
                                                                      Cathay Restaurant, 1339 North 1st Street, San Jose (4 out of 5 stars)
                                                                      in a Google List named Navas' Favorite Chinese Chicken Salad at
                                                                      I've excluded those with mandarin orange,
                                                                      because I think that's more the conventional oriental chicken salad.
                                                                      Additional recommendations welcome!

                                                                      Cathay Restaurant
                                                                      1339 N 1st St, San Jose, CA 95112