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Jun 24, 2007 05:33 PM

Nee House: AZ not ready for real Chinese cuisine

My family been going to Nee House (NE Corner of Tatum and Thunderbird) for the past year. We've found this to be the most authentic Chinese restaurant in the State. However, I was not surprised by the number of negative post on the net on this restaurant. Arizona is not ready for a restaurant like this, it is still mostly frequented by loyal group of Chinese foodies who understand and appreciate authentic Hong Kong Cuisine. If you're craving for the homogenized version of chop-sui, don't waste your time here. There are only a few items that we order from the menu and their specialty is fresh sea food, live crab, lobster, shrimp and fish. For the unfamiliar crowd, I suggest not ordering individual orders, rather the food is meant to be enjoyed as a group. Best way to order is to talk to the chef to do it for you. Since they are usually busy, I suggest you go there early so the chef has time to come out and talk with you. For large parties, we usually stop by after the lunch crowd and ask the chef to work out a menu for us three days ahead of the party. That way, you give him ample time to prepare the ingredients and adjust the menu if necessary. If you are going to try their best dishes, be prepared to pay, although their pricing is cheap by San Francisco/Seattle standards, people in Arizona may feel a bit of sticker shock, but the food is well worth the price of admission. Their service can be better, but they try their best to accomodate their guests. Avoid the restaurants at peak times, it is just packed in there. But overall, I can't believe such a gem of a restaurant opened up in the middle of the desert. We no longer have to drive to California for Chinese food anymore.

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  1. p_dubs, What are some of the dishes you have enjoyed @ Nee House? Since you speak of it so highly......
    Do they prepare the Lobster Cantonese style? Black Bean Sauce? Ginger w/ Spring Onion?......
    My Mother and her friends who are all foodies from the NY area frequent Nee House.....
    I have been wanting to try it!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ciaogal

      I'll do my best to describe some of the dishes there. Most of it was ordered in Chinese and some of it was his invention and I really don't know what to call it, so I'll do my best with the translation. Of course, any of their fresh seafood is great, one of our favorites is their steamed fresh shrimp with royal soy sauce. Vincent is really good at steering their customers from ruining fresh ingredients with overpowering sauces. House special crab or lobster is just fantastic. Fish is always cooked to perfection with scallion, ginger and a light soy sauce. If you're not squeamish, squab is sublime. Duck breast with taro puree, abalone with Chinese greens and shark fin soup. And lastly, chicken and salt fish fried rice. Be warned though, you need to give them at least a days notice to prepare these dishes for you. I hope you try these items and look forward to see your review of the restaurant.

      1. re: p_dubs

        i have to give Nee house another chance. I walked in on a sunday afternoon and chose a fried tofu w vegetables dish and the chicken and salt fish fried rice.
        The tofu dish turned out good, but most chinese places can't screw that up.
        The fried rice was not desireble to say the least, perhaps the chef was out.

        I really wanted to give the fried rice a fair comparison to the chicken/fish fried rice at Tao Garden which is delicious. I often order it to go and enjoy the leftovers for breakfast to accompany some fried eggs.

        on a positive note, i was impressed with thier vast menu

    2. Thanks for reinforcing my earlier post. When I find a restaurant like Nee House my worry is that it won't be appreciated and won't last. Hope this restaurant can survive!

      1. Actually, there's a few other authentic Chinese joints in town, you just have to look for them. My favorite one so far is Diamonds, over on 7th Avenue north of Indian School. I remember the last time I went there, four other tables were full of people speaking Chinese and the one other table was full of Jewish grandmothers. Everyone but the ladies had a dish of lobster stir-fried in ginger sauce, and it was out of this world. You knew that the lobster was fresh, as there were tanks full of lobsters when you came in. And the price was certainly terrific; it looked like about half of a lobster for $10! Everything we got was terrific, and I have been wanting to return for quite some time.

        There is also Gourmet House of Hong Kong on 10th Street and McDowell, but I've heard the place is looking to be more in a state of disrepair than usual, so I've been reluctant to recommend it to anyone.

        16 Replies
        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          The Gourmet House of Hong Kong used to be owned by a famous chef from Hong Kong, but he has sold it two years ago. But even when he was operating the restaurant, their menu catered to the local taste. I will definitely try Diamonds, thanks for the recommendation.

          1. re: p_dubs

            Michael Leung, formerly of Gourmet of Hong Kong, now owns and operates Asian Cafe Express at Dobson & Main in Mesa. Despite the name, it's a full service restaurant with a broad menu, including some esoteric, authentic items. I'm not sure if it would meet your exacting standards, but I like it.

            1. re: silverbear

              Michael actually cooked for my one-month party in Hong Kong, thanks for the tip, I will go there to visit him. Any recommendations on dishes?

              1. re: p_dubs

                I've barely made a dent in the menu, but I loved the snow pea leaves. If you go, a few things to keep in mind:

                -- There are two printed menus, but some of the most interesting dishes don't appear on either one. A lot appear on signs on the restaurant walls. My guess is that you could ask for just about anything you want, and if the ingredients are available, you'll get it.

                -- Asian Cafe Express has no liquor license. Call ahead and ask about BYOB if you wish to have wine or beer with your meal.

              2. re: silverbear

                Yes, I was surprised when I went there that it was a full service menu. The previous restaurant at that location, Fung Ky Noodle House, was a noodle and boba place, and I was expecting the same from Asian Cafe.

                1. re: silverbear

                  Thank you so much for the recommendation! We went out to Asian Cafe Express and had a wonderful lunch. I couldn't believe how low the price and the healthy portion. Michael came out and greeted us, him and his wife are as gracious as ever. We will continue to visit and have wonderful meals there.

                  1. re: p_dubs

                    Glad you liked it and thanks for reporting your experience. Coincidentally, I saw the Nee House for the first time a few days ago when I was eating at Eden's Grill in the same shopping center. I poked my head into Nee and looked at the menu. It looked promising and it's now on our list to try.

                    Asian Cafe Express
                    1911 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

                    Nee House
                    13843 N Tatum Blvd Ste 17, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                    1. re: silverbear

                      IHow is Eden Grill? I always want to give it a try. Any suggestion?

                      We also ate at the Nee house a few weeks ago. We ordered a few dishes from the menu, I don't even remember what we had. It was decent and our friends are not adventurous, basis American Chinese food is what they like.The service there reminds me of the restaurants in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Very efficient but not so polish. I definitely will go back there now check out some sea food. I sure miss Silver Dragon, always go there for the steam fish twice a month.

                      1. re: aquablue

                        Eden's Grill is a charming place. It is run, I believe, by an Iraqi couple, so that means lots of kabobs and rice pilafs. There are also familiar Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus and falafel on the menu. It's a friendly place, good for families, and reasonably priced.

                        1. re: silverbear

                          Adding the place

                          Eden's Grill
                          13843 N Tatum Blvd Ste 29, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                          1. re: silverbear

                            I second that about Eden's Grill. Very cozy place with personal service. Great kabobs and the combo platters have a great variety.

                            1. re: sunshineinaz

                              Thank you so much. Perfect for dinner tomorrow night.

              3. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                Diamond's is good, though it's a bit of a dive. Interestingly they use the identical menu (meaning Xerox copy) as Wahsung on 19th Ave., which is also quite good. My personal favorite, though, is Tao Garden on Alma School Road in Chandler. It's as good as anything as we have in Monterey Park or San Gabriel aside from the upscale new wave restaurants that have opened in the last two or three years.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Tao Garden is pretty decent, and comparable to the southern Chinese food that you find in Monterey Park in LA. However I wish there was a decent northern Chinese restaurant around here...especially Chinese muslim food...anyone know of one?

                  I love the food at Diamond, the owners have everything spiced wonderfully, especially their garlic crab. The only real problem I have there is the owner's little boy, who, as I was sitting there indulging in chow fun, decided to play bat anything that's on the table.

                  My favorite place for spicy Chinese food is Szechuan Palace. They actually have some of my favorite homemade dishes.

                  1. re: nyomi

                    Not much northern food I can think of. There's the Shanghai place at the other end of the shopping center from Szechuan Palace and another Shanghai place called Shanghai Palace in Scottsdale which has a horrid Pan Asian tourist menu, but has a separate Chinese menu with things like xiao long bao and beef noodle soup. Also recall having beef noodle soup somewhere in Tempe--possibly Wong's Place, but I'm not sure. By the way, Tung Lai Shun in San Gabriel closed down, so there are just a couple of Chinese muslim places left in Los Angeles. You're now better off going to the S.F. Bay area for that kind of food.

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      The Shanghai place in the Chinese Cultural Center (next to Golden Buddha) is really good. If you are not squeamish, their cold pig stomach appetizer is awesome. They also have this beef dish that is steeped in chili oil that is fantastic, it looks a lot hotter than it taste.

              4. Posters:
                For those of us who don't live, but may be visiting your beautiful state, would you kindly mention the name of the city in which your recc restaurants are located?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tay

                  Tay, I dropped in some place links for you--look in the upper right-hand corner of this page under "Places Mentioned" for location information. Hope this helps.

                2. A couple of place links. I'll try to get the rest when map application (server?) is less balky.

                  Tao Garden
                  2050 N Alma School Rd Ste 36, Chandler, AZ 85224

                  Diamond's Chinese Restaurant
                  4402 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013