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high class great food Chinese - Does it exist?

I came across Vong , Joe's Shangai, Shun lee palace east and Asiate as candidates for classy chinese/asian food, which would you recommend (preffered location mid town but not a must)...

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  1. I would not consider Joe's Shanghai, best known for their soup dumplings (aka steamed buns), high class.

    It's been ages since we ate at Shun Lee, dating back to a time when a fancy-schmancy Chinese restaurant was a novelty. The food was excellent. In more recent times, I have heard mixed reports about the food's quality.

    I've not been to Asiate, but everyone who has been agrees that the view overlooking Central Park is sensational. However, when it comes to the food, there are some who love it while others not so much

    I have not been to Vong either, but you might want to take a look at this thread that currently on this board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/476643

    12 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Midtown Joe's Shanghai is in the class of Shun Lee; the food is not particularly great. If you are willing to go to Soho, Chinatown Brasserie has a pretty good food reputation and is certainly upscale (although I've never been).

      Chinatown Brasserie
      380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      1. re: bobjbkln

        I've only been to the Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown, and it is anything but high class.

        1. re: RGR

          The truth? Shocking as it may seem, I don't really think Manhattan has a "high class/classy Asian or Chinese" restaurant, as you put it.
          However, having said that, I happen to love Shun Lee West where they don't load plates with a lot of gloppy sauces. It's more upscale so expect to lighten your wallet.
          Asiate is spectacular -- but only for the smashing view IMHO.

        2. re: bobjbkln

          Chin Chin would be my choice - over Shun Lee West (just got back from lunch) and Chinatown Brasserie (which I liked).

          1. re: MMRuth

            Two other places to look into - Mr. K's, and Tse Yang (sp? - the best Peking Duck I've had is there, but oh so pricey, and wasn't impressed with the rest of the food).

            1. re: MMRuth

              I just perused Chin Chin and really liked the menu very much.
              I shall add it to my restaurants to try. :-)

              1. re: idia

                If you go, and you like squid, do try the spicy squid appetizer - it's wonderful.

          2. re: bobjbkln

            Chinatown Brasserie has the best dim sum I've had in the U.S. and great cocktails, but it's expensive and you may experience some B.S. with the reservations staff and so forth. The time I went for dinner there, loud, repetitive dance music wafted out of the basement into the main dining room. But if you want high-class food and drinks that are expensive but great, I do recommend the place.

            1. re: Pan

              Hi Pan,
              Is there any special or unusual cocktails you would recommend? How are the portions? I'm going there soon and I'll report back.

              1. re: michele cindy

                I enjoyed the Lychee "martini", and the Blood Orange one sounded tempting as well. Cimui posted a link to my review in the post just below this one, which may help w/ portion size - though we only ate dim sum.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Agreed. The lychee martini is great. I also had a mai tai that I liked. On a previous trip, I believe I had some kind of drink with mango that was also terrific. Michele, I think you should just get any cocktail that sounds interesting. By the portions, do you mean food? I've only ever gotten dim sum items, and the portions are small, typical of dim sum plates. The drink sizes are also typical, I think.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Thanks, we went yesterday. Enjoyable. I posted under MMRUTH'S original

        3. Of course it exists. Cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are crawling with beautiful, classy, and astonishingly delicious Chinese restaurants. NYC happens to be a little behind in its game on this front for reasons that Brian S. has articulated very well:


          The closest NYC has to "high class", good Chinese is Chinatown Brasserie. MMRuth wrote an excellent review of it recently, which she is too modest to post:


          As I'm sure you know, avoid the gringoized items like chow fun, lo mien, and anything involving cream cheese. Go for the crystal dumplings, which they do quite well; steamed, whole fish; hor fun; and the Peking Duck. I've heard other traditional dim sum items are well prepared, as well. Chowhounds argue about how Chinatown Brasserie isn't really all that and that it's overpriced. It's true that there are places in Flushing, especially, where you can find better crystal dumplings and better, fresher whole steamed fish, and hor fun, Peking Duck, etc.. for much less money -- but if you want nice digs, Chinatown Brasserie is your best bet.

          Vongs and Shun Lee are both terrible by Chinese standards, and have been for as long as I've been around, though to Shun Lee's credit, it does serve up dishes that few other restaurants attempt. Joe's Shanghai has decent steamed little soup dumplings, though as other posters have noted, it's not particularly classy decor-wise.

          Asiate is fusion and not particularly well executed fusion at that, IMO, though it is a beautiful space. If you don't mind fusion, look into Maze at the London hotel. They do it better.

          9 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            Just to point out again, Joe's Shanghai has 4 places. The two in Manhattan's Chinatown and the one in Flushing are far from upscale, BUT the midtown one certainly matches the Shun Lee restaurants in class (and price).

            1. re: bobjbkln

              Yes, sorry, bobjbkln. I didn't catch your earlier post. Haven't been to the midtown outpost (though I will say, from walking by, that it doesn't look as though it'd be a schmancy place from the facade).

            2. re: cimui

              Shun lee West has 2 menus. Tourist and chinese. You must ask for the chinese. next time try the chinese menu. It is better. Also I like the Cafe, next door. Dim sum is good plus regular menu.

              1. re: ron

                Ron, I've seen the Chinese menu. Alas, even that is bad.

                1. re: cimui

                  I want to know what the names of the places in Flushing that have better dim sum than Chinatown Brasserie are.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I'm glad you asked. :) Just went with my parents a few weekends ago to Ocean Jewel, which BrianS also references, below. Dim sum was delicately made across the board (more delicately made than at CB, I think... thinner & more tender dumpling skins), ingredients were noticeably fresher, and there was a much better selection of dim sum options than at Chinatown Brasserie. CB also doesn't have taro or daikon radish cakes--which I really love.

                    1. re: cimui

                      OK, I definitely have to hit this place. Thanks!

                      1. re: Pan

                        agree on ocean jewel, it is much better than ctown brasserie...i also like gala manor which i think is on par

                        supposedly one of my friends claims perfect team corporation (i love that name, its guang dong jiu jia in chinese) is better than either of them, but i have yet to try it

                2. I agree with most comments about high-end Chinese food in NYC. Chinatown Brasserie is probably your best bet, and if fusion works for you, you can surely go to Buddakan

                  1. This is always a big question. I think your best bets are Peking Duck House (http://www.pekingduckhousenyc.com/) in Chinatown (my parents had a wedding banquet there, and I had my graduation dinner there), and Wu Liang Ye on 48th between 5th and 6th (great sichuan cuisine). Neither of them are super fancy, but they are nicer than your typical NYC chinese dining establishments.
                    If you're interested, check out my blog, which tries to bring readers around and inside chinatown: izzylovesfood.blogspot.com

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: izzytang

                      Shun Lee, Mr. Chow on 57th Street, Philippe (in the E 60s) are all high end.

                      1. re: taboo

                        Unfortunately all three are high end with terrible food!

                        1. re: kobetobiko

                          Mr. Chow is actually quite authentic in many of their dishes, very comparable and almost identical to those i've had in Taiwan and China. I was expecting watered down chinese food, but no, i was very surprised. other dishes however, were sweeter and heavier than they should be, i.e. "orange-chicken/sweet-and-sour" type of dishes---but not horrible.

                      2. re: izzytang

                        Another vote for Wu Liang Ye (multiple locations).

                      3. Ocean Jewels. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/435984

                        It is certainly elegant. There are more headwaiters floating around wearing dark suits and tie than most places have waiters. Sometimes the standard of elegance is unusual. There is no coat check. You put your coat on the back of your seat. But if a headwaiter spies someone with a particularly expensive coat, he rushes over with an embroidered big satin slipcover that he slips over the coat.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Brian S

                          Also Jade Asian in Flushing, too. But nothing like either of these in Manhattan.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            And Corner 28 http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438540

                            I ate there last night Some posters have said that the NY Chinese community is not as rich as those in California. But at the table next to mine, a group of precocious eight year olds were discussing, in English, their upcoming cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. (They wondered whether the boat would have authentic Chinese food available, or only generic stuff dumbed down for tourists.Good question, guys!)

                            1. re: Brian S

                              Looking at the prices on the dinner menu at Jade Asian I'd have to say there are a lot of rich Chinese, at least in Flushing. However, the demographics of Manhattan Chinatown are a lot different and I suspect that is one reason why there isn't something like Ocean Jewels or Jade Asian in Manhattan.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                yeah flushing is the same sort of situation like LA where all the chinese people started to move out of chinatown to SGV once they made money

                                i think ocean jewel is outstanding btw

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  I tried Jade Asian last night and it was very very good. I hope to post about it on the OB board after eating there again. But the short version is: if you want high class great food Chinese in an elegant setting, Jade Asian is a great place to go.

                                  Yes, all the patrons appeared well to do, and I was the only one speaking Chinese! The prices are slightly lower than Ocean Jewels, though a few items are much higher. But there are some good $12 entrees, which you won't find at Ocean Jewels. Though the lobster salad is $140. But it's probably a huge thing like this. http://d1.biggestmenu.com/00/00/36/ca... (Photo from Triumphal Palace in Los Angeles area)

                          2. My choice would be Shun Lee Palace on E. 55th St. We go there often. The food is always excellent and the service professional.

                            1. An obvious suggestion is surely Wakiya in the Gramercy Park hotel.

                              I agree that Asiate is not a Chinese restaurant; moreover, having eaten at Maze many times, I am surprised to see it described as fusion. It's just Gordon Ramsay's modern Anglo-French at a fair price. Menu here:


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Wilfrid

                                Hi Wilfrid,

                                I think I will consider Wakiya as serving Japanese styled Chinese food which is quite different from other fusion Chinese / Asian food that we normally expose to. I think I will consider the food as more "interesting" than "great".
                                And most certainly very expensive.

                                I also had never considered Maze as fusion at all. I think of its as more contemporary french (and not even as contemporary as EMP).

                              2. Chin Chin is delicious. I have never ever had a bad meal there. Some of my favorites are lettuce wrapped chicken soong, shrimp grand marnier (amazing!!) and orange beef. Everything thing is good there and the service and decor couldn't be nicer. I have been a regular there for over a decade.
                                Oh yeah, the location is convenient also. 49th and 3rd... .which is think it considered midtown.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: brookeSA

                                  Agree with you on Chin Chin. One evening my wife and I were seated next to a very noisy and obnoxious foursome. Mgr. spotted our annoyance and rushed over to change our table. Extra points for that!!!

                                  1. re: Stuartmc910

                                    I also like to sit in the front room there, not the back, which can also be noisy. The service is very professional.

                                  2. re: brookeSA

                                    Another nod to Chin Chin here! My fiancee and I went last night and had wonton soup, grand marneir shrimp (app), mu shu vegetables, and orange beef. Needless to say, this was a HEAVY meal. It was pretty expensive too. The GM shrimp app included 6 shrimp, but cost $22.50! The total bill with tip (we didn't order alcohol) was $98, similar to Shun Lee. The food was very tasty, the crispy orange beef was, in fact, quite crispy, and not overdone. The mu shu vegetables tasted a little better than average. The GM shrimp were wonderful, as always. The wonton soup was nice as well, it had a spicy edge to it, and the broth was a tad beefy. I would definitely come here over Shun Lee. I've never been to Mr. K's, and I've always been curious about that place.

                                  3. Sometime after the thaw in relations between the US and China, the Chinese government open up a very fancy restaurant near the UN. I ate there once and was very impressed. I don't remember its name and don't know if it still exists.

                                    1. Despite the high marks many here give it, I can't disqualify Chinatown Brasserie enough based on the level of food they serve. The room itself is upscale , though it looks a bit like a production designer for a film tossed it together, to my eye, but I presume you're looking for more then just decor. In my experience, the servers were amateurish, and appeared to need some more training, and the food tasted like a bland attempt at safe Americanized Chinese food, with a few interesting dishes that really couldn't save the meal. The Dim Sum was far from top notch, and the pork buns stood out as being especially generic. While I think there are decent dishes there, they are for the most part using atmosphere to up-sell mediocre food.

                                      You might want to look into Monkey Bar. It's a more pan-Asian fusion concept then Chinese, but since you listed Vong as a candidate, you might want to look into this instead.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        I do agree with you about the service Chinatown Brasserie - you described it perfectly.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          ditto on the service, the bus guys kept trying to take my plates away before I was done. However, our waiter was very nice, and professional. You hit it on the head about the atmosphere. Food was dumbed down on some dishes, but I really liked the crispy orange beef, I'd go back for it again (at least when I am not paying). Definately had to add hot chili oil for a bit more of a kick.

                                          1. re: michele cindy

                                            My waiter did the same thing. There was a lot of hovering, and clumsy reaching. Then a busboy spilled an ice bucket while returning it to it's station, and then left the ice piled on the floor under our table.

                                          2. re: sugartoof

                                            The two times I've been to CB, all the dim sum items I've had have been great (as I've said, the best I've had in the U.S. so far, though my brother knows a place south of San Francisco that's better, and I have yet to check out Ocean Jewels in Flushing, which some hounds have touted very highly) and in no way dumbed down at all, and I say that as someone who's lived in Malaysia and been to China twice. (The best dim sum meal I had might have been at Xing in Kuala Lumpur, though I also have fond memories of a couple of dim sum meals in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, etc.) I have not tried any non-dim sum items there. However, I don't think I had pork buns.

                                            Our server was OK, but we found the reservations desk amateurish. The coat check people were great, though - they found a hat my father had lost in the lounge area behind the couch. There are annoying things about CB, but I can't say I have any basis for understanding the claim that the taste or quality of the dim sum is one of them.

                                            1. re: Pan

                                              Likewise I can't fathom how anyone would think they serve the best dim sum in New York, let alone the US.

                                              Along with the Pork Buns, I found the various dumplings (the potstickers, and shrimp/chive to name couple) were especially pedestrian with poor fillings. The turnip cake was the only dish I really cared for.

                                              Maybe it's better at dinner?
                                              What dim sum items did you find to be stand outs?

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Yeah, I've only been there in the evening - once at a party in the party room downstairs and once for dinner in the main room. It's very expensive, so I won't be back soon unless someone else wants to treat me, and I'm eager to try Ocean Jewels in Flushing.

                                                Here are some items I really liked, to the best of my recollection (I didn't take notes):

                                                Curried Chicken Dumplings (really good taste, including some lemongrass - reminded me of good Malaysian dim sum)
                                                Crispy Taro Root Shrimp
                                                CB Steamed Lobster Dumplings (excellent quality lobster like I had in Plymouth, Mass. was used)
                                                Roast duck dumplings (which I don't see in the current menu)
                                                Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings (very delicate, and yes, I have had this type of dumpling many times at other places)
                                                Beef, Onion & Mushroom Triangles (my father found this "too European," but I thought it was delicious)

                                                There were others, and I thought everything was at least good, with most things very good to great (alright, I guess that's a bit of an emendation to my earlier claims). The dim sum meal I've had in the U.S. which comes closest to me was at CBS Seafood in LA's Chinatown. Their food was great but I found the dishes more interesting and amazing at Chinatown Brasserie (though the difference in price more than makes up for that, if CBS were only in New York). I know people say that the San Gabriel Valley is better than LA Chinatown, but the place I went to in Alhambra was overall not as good as CBS.

                                                1. re: Pan

                                                  i guess i'll have to try CB, the chef is the old chef from World Tong in brooklyn to see how it is

                                                  that said i find what you're saying hard to believe, not sure when you ate at CBS, but CBS hasn't been very good in a really really long time like over a decade type long...also not sure where you ate in alhambra, but the good places in SGV are lightyears better than CBS

                                                  also, i found alot of the dim sum places in asia outside of hk are not very good....i thought the dim sum i had in singapore, malaysia, china ex-guangdong and taiwan was not that great...ive had amazing dim sum in hk

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    I was at CBS several years ago. The place I ate at in the SGV was Triumphal Palace, and my friend who took me there is a regular at CBS and agreed with me that our lunch was richer (more pig fat) but not better than CBS. I'll admit to bias (I lived in Malaysia for 2 years in the 70s and went back for a visit in 2003), but I prefer the best dim sum I've had in KL to the best dim sum I've had in HK, though only slightly. Granted that I didn't do any super-high-end stuff in HK (I was on a student's budget), but I did really pig out at the Star House back in 1987. I loved my lunch, but I like the Cantonese/Malaysian fusion that happens in Malaysian Chinese food. And I also had an amazing dim sum lunch in Bangkok in a hole-in-the-wall in Bangkok's Chinatown (or so I thought in 1975).

                                                    Sorry for the digression, everyone. Anyway, I do stand behind my kudos for CB's dim sum and cocktails, but Dim Sum Go Go is my standby for dim sum.

                                                2. re: sugartoof

                                                  I'm wondering... I saw that Lure was in their family of restaurants, perhaps CB is the training ground for those who move onto Lure which has far better service(I'm not such a fan of their food though).