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Sep 1, 2008 12:49 PM

Authentic Chinese food in Phoenix

It's not easy to find good authentic Chinese food in the Valley. Most of the food out there is very Americanized. I grew up in Hong Kong and have traveled lots to Shanghai and Beijing so I think I know the difference.

I'm excited that we have the three restaurants at the Chinese Cultural Center - Golden Buddha (above average dimsum), Lao Ching Hing (good Shanghainese food on the Chinese-only menu) and Szechwan Palace (good Sichuan food on their English menu and even better stuff on the Chinese-only menu). It's a shame that these places don't think the authentic dishes will be appreciated and don't bother to translate them.

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  1. I went to Lao Ching Hing with xanderbear yesterday and he was complaining that he wouldn't be able to order the authentic Shanghainese dishes without me. So I got obsessed and spent last night and this morning translating the Chinese-written portion of the menu. Referencing memory and Fuchsia Dunlop's excellent cookbook 'Sichuan Cookery', I managed to piece together most of it.

    See attached pdf - if it doesn't come out right maybe someone can advise on how I should do this as I'm a Chowhound newbie. Thanks.

    1. Reattaching translated menus as separate files...

      2 Replies
      1. re: heleny

        Attempt at attaching menu did not work out. If you're interested, please check out the pictures at:

        1. re: heleny

          Awesome, thanks for that! Now that we know what's on the menu, what do you recommend - are there any standout items not to be missed?

      2. Welcome to CH Helen!

        Here are a few others to try:
        Nee House
        Diamond's Chinese
        Hope Kee
        Tao Garden

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

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

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

        Hope Kee
        7575 W Cactus Road, Peoria, AZ 85381

        2 Replies
        1. re: andyeats

          Thanks for the tips, Andy. Unfortunately, Diamond's was a major disappointment. I ordered a crab stirfried with ginger and scallions - there was no ginger or scallions and the crab was over-battered and over-fried. Nee was disappointing last year but I read in the Chinese papers that they hired a new chef from either LA or NY (can't remember which) so I should try them again.

          Tao and Hope Kee are a bit far for me but I'll definitely give them a try when I'm in the area.

          1. re: heleny

            Nee has a new chef? We hated our one visit (horrible service and food to match) but maybe a new chef will have improved things. People rave about it and it's fairly close to us, but that one visit has put us off for a couple years now.

        2. There's been some recent props for Asian Cafe Express on Main St. in Mesa, close to Tempe. It's a newly opened place from the former chief of Gourmet House of Hong Kong near downtown PHX. I know the latter has been both a foodie fave and too divey for others - but I really have no idea as to its history/management/ownership, etc.

          In any case, it should be judged it on it's own merits. From what I read in NT, they are serving a big menu of good fair @ takeout prices. Sounds like a good place for a Chowhound gathering!

          3 Replies
          1. re: tastyjon

            I was frequenting Gourmet House for a while until one of the female servers there told me the whole story about how her brother Michael Leung sold GHHK, retired to HK and decided to get back into the business here so opened ACE. I've been going to ACE ever since.

            GHHK is good and I especially like that they have a long-boiled soup which apparently is mainly consumed by their staff but it's not the same when the chef only works for the owner. I understand because I own my food business and make all the food that we sell.

            Getting back to ACE, decor's not great but the place is clean. Michael has been in the kitchen every time I've eaten there and his wife manages the front. The dish that all Hong Kong food critics benchmark a casual Chinese restaurant by is the Dry-fried Beef Rice Noodles (Gon Chow Ngau Ho). It takes great skill and heat control of the wok to make sure the rice noodles don't stick together while using the minimal amount of oil. When it arrives at your table, you should be able to taste "wok hai" (literal translation is breath of the wok) - it should be slightly smokey, not burnt - and there should be almost no oil on the bottom of the plate. Even in HK, this is not easy to come by. On 9 out of 10 occasions, Michael has cooked it perfectly. I also like his salt and pepper squid (no large chunks like most places, just the tentacles). The bittermelon with spareribs is also another winner that is authentic and delicious.

            The thing is most authentic casual Chinese food can be cooked with what's stocked at Lee Lee's Market so I don't think it's a matter of sourcing the right ingredients. It's more a problem with the demand. It's really a chicken and egg situation. If restaurants don't take the risk and offer authentic dishes, diners will never learn about them. I think Chowhounders should take the lead and show restaurants there is a demand however small.

            1. re: heleny

              i love ace. their pork skin with turnip is fantastic.

              1. re: winedubar

                Stopped in for lunch on Friday and loved it. The scores of specials posted all over the walls in addition to the regular menu made me smile... this is a chef who loves to cook and defintiely a place I'll be coming back often yet not making a dent on the offerings. I ended up ordering the dish posted on the wall next to me - Singapore noodles. Huge plate for $6.95, half of which is for dinner tonight. We should do a weekend lunch here!

          2. Nice to see you in this venue, Helen. I agree about Nee House and ACE. Both have impressed me. Then again, I appreciate Americanized Chinese food when well prepared. There's room for all levels of authenticity. Thanks for the translation of the LCH menu. That will come in handy when I get around to trying the restaurant.

            Lao Ching Hing
            668 N 44th St Ste 112, Phoenix, AZ 85008