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looking for authentic Chinese restaurants in the Triangle are

i just recently to Chapel Hill from NYC. I am looking for authentic quality Chinese restaurants that serve food that one might find in the Chinatowns of NYC, SF, Boston, or London. Also looking for quality dimsum...not Americanized Chinese.. thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. and i am willing to travel..raleigh, durham, chapel hill, cary, carrboro etc...

    6 Replies
    1. re: aenverga

      I really like Fortune Palace in Raleigh, just off 440 at Capital. While they serve the Americanized stuff like General Tso's Chicken, they also have a deep menu with some pretty authentic dishes. My family likes their Fried Pork Intestine app, their crispy duck, salt & pepper shrimp, chow fun to name a few. They received a good write up in the N&O a while back too. This restaurant is actually worth the drive from CH.


      There used to be a great Sichuan place in Raleigh called Red Palace, but unfortunately they closed.

      1. re: Tom from Raleigh

        this sounds like a great suggestion. thanks! i've been to latern in CH, while very good, it's not the authentic, family style, chinese owned and run that i am looking for.

        1. re: aenverga

          If you liked Lantern you may also want to try the other neo-asian place in CH next door to Bin 54.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

            jujube. pretty good. nice upscale/casual place to eat at the bar

            1. re: aenverga

              really great place - but it really is more neo-Asian funky rather than what I think the poster is looking for. I'm addicted to the fish congee at China Palace in Durham, but I do think the quality of the ingredients is not always the best. The thing is that if you're looking for the real deal, then so often the prices are kept at a pretty reasonable level, but the quality of the ingredients is questionable. Places like Lantern and Jujube are a bit more upscale, but they use the best ingredients around. The Shanghai menu at Red Lotus in Chapel Hill has some nice things on it.

        2. re: Tom from Raleigh

          I just read the review and the menu. Great looking traditional menu. thanks

      2. China Palace at Garrett and Old Chapel Hill Road has a great Chinese Special menu. Greg Cox at the N&O seems to agree. My favorites include scallion pancakes, spicy dry tofu with shredded pork, and noodles with Sichuan meat sauce And lunch on Sat and Sunday add lots of other things from special noodle dishes to congees.

        3 Replies
        1. re: walras

          thanks for this suggestion too.

          1. re: walras

            Good write up on China Palace at carpedurham.com

            1. re: walras

              China Palace! Definitely! And don't order off the gringo menu. My favorite from the "real" menu is the dried tofu and pork. It's so spicy my lips turn red, but I can't stop eating it.

            2. You could try Red Lotus in Chapel Hill. I haven't been there yet, but it has been mentioned elsewhere on this board that they have a Shanghai-style menu that you have to ask for.

              Here's the URL to their web site:


              and another to their Chinese menu:


              1. First off, there is no Chinese in the Triangle is going to rise to the level of Chinatown offerings in larger cities. That being said:

                You might try Eastern Lights in Durham for hand made noodles.

                The only dim sum place that I know of is Hong Kong Restaurant in Durham:


                1. Try the Chinese takeout place INSIDE the Kroger at 54 and Fayetteville Street. I think its called East Coast Chinese. Don't get it confused with the place next door to the Kroger. Half the menu is posted on the wall in Chinese and everytime I go to pick up there is a Chinese family seated at the one table having dinner. They will make anything you want as long they have the ingredients, even if it's not officially on the menu. I've gotten quite friendly with the lady who runs it, and now she recommends "specials" every time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. No one ever mentions it, but Grand Asia in Cary has a huge selection of roast meats, buns, noodles and soups, plus a very respectable steam table. And everything is made on premise.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: initialdrew

                      actually, i was planning checking this place out for asian groceries

                    2. aenverga, We had dim sum at a place called Neo China a few years ago. We all thought it was good.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Lewes17266

                        Neo China closed probably six months ago. It's now a sushi place. It's unfortunate since there now is no reliable Dim Sum in Southern Durham.

                        1. re: Lucydevil

                          The Neo China in Cary does dim sum on the weekends, FYI.

                          1. re: Lucydevil

                            Scratch that! It's China One that closed. I'm getting my places with China X names confused!

                        2. Knowing Chinatown SF quite well, I'll be straight up with you that anything you get in the Triangle will be an imperfect representation. That said, I can vouch for the following:

                          1) China Palace in Durham has a special "Palace Magic" menu that serves more authentic dishes. The recipes are pretty spot on and the ingredients of good quality:


                          2) Red Lotus in Chapel Hill has their special Shanghai menu that also tacks away from the Americanized


                          (aside: if you've never experienced Shanghai-style cuisine, I recommend you try it. I became recently exposed to it at a hole-in-the-wall place in Mountain View, CA and was wowed by how different it is from other styles - e.g. very savory dishes using wine-based instead of soy-based sauces).

                          3) Grand Asia Market in Cary has a hot bar akin to what you would find at a hot bar at Ranch 99 or Marina Market in the SF Bay Area. http://www.grandasiamarket.com/

                          I have been let down too many times at Eastern Lights by the poor quality of ingredients.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: klmonline

                            Shanghai Taste Delight on El Camino. Was introduced to it by a friend from Shanghai, so I just sat back, watched him order, and memorized as much as possible. After that I'd always go with a "cheat sheet" in hand so that I could order properly (the owners/servers don't speak much if any English except for one guy who's sometimes there if you're lucky).

                            The friend tells me there are even better Shanghai-style places up around Millbrae/Burlingame, but I wasn't able to ever make it up there.

                            1. For dim sum, Hong Kong in a converted small house at the corner of Guess Rd and Fawn in Durham is not bad. They serve a limited dim sum selection (the standards like shiu mai, har gau, char siu bow) on weekdays and an expanded menu on weekends. I'm originally from Boston and have been eating dim sum since I was in grade school (didn't like it then) in Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, SF, LA, Phoenix, and San Diego, where I live now. I've only had takeout shiu mai and har gau at Hong Kong, but the quality was actually pretty good, even for takeout. Picked up one order on a Sunday afternoon close to dim sum closing time at 3 pm, and the place was absolutely jammed. I've been told that on weekends it's best to get there before 11.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: beantowntitletown

                                Using this board I took 10 members of my grad program to Hong Kong for Dim Sum, including a classmate from Guangdong province. Most had never had Dim Sum. But we were thoroughly stuffed for about $16 a person.

                                Big faves:
                                -Rib (sort of lucked like knucles)
                                -Pork in wonton
                                Can't remember anything else but it's great to sit right by the kitchen!

                                Definitely get a reservation-- people are parking all over the neighborhood and it is overstuffed with people.

                              2. Okay , so this is a follow-up to my last post mentioning China Palace on Garrett - I picked up some fish congee there yesterday afternoon and was in heaven. I cook a lot of Chinese food myself (because I lived in China for several years and like the real deal) so I don't eat Chinese out a lot, but as I was waiting for my congee, I had another look at their "real Chinese" menu - about half of it is only available Sat and Sun lunch. They have a nice selection and I'm going to try some more things soon. I asked about the Hong-Kong style wonton soup and was assured that it's not the standard American restaurant thick wonton wrapper, but rather true Hong Kong style. I'll report back after I've checked it out. In the meantime, if you're in Chapel Hill, I think it might be worth shooting down Old Chapel Hill Rd. (aka Old Durham Road) to check it out. It's really close to Chapel Hill. Just turn right across from Lowe's on 15-501 (right by the Wendy's) and then bear left. China Palace will be on your left at the intersection of Old Chapel Hill Rd. and Garrett. It's hard to turn left there, but you'll figure it out.

                                20 Replies
                                1. re: suse

                                  The general level of Chinese food in the Triangle is just pathetic. There is not a single restaurant I could direct you to with undivided conscience. Fortune Palace and Hong Kong (for dim sum) are probably the best of a bad lot. That being said, there may be some good news. I can't say too much, as I don't want to disturb certain ongoing negotiations, but I know for a fact that a very talented chef from Philadelphia is looking to open a truly authentic Sichuan restaurant either in Chapel Hill or in Cary. I am following this very closely as I know the chef, and I will certainly provide follow-up details as they are available. I am very excited about this. This would be the Chinese restaurant that we have all been waiting for.

                                  1. re: Sinophile

                                    AFAIK, there is one very good Chinese restuarant in the Triangle: 35 Restaurant in Cary. The trick is that like many suburban Chinese restaurants, it is actually two restaurants in one. There is an Americanized menu that is worse than a big city Chinatown restuarant and a Chinese menu which is substantially better than 99% of big city Chinatown restaurants. Give it a try for very good Sichuanese food. Def. bring along a Mandarin speaker, preferably one with familiarity with Sichuan dishes.

                                    1. re: MeanMisterMustard

                                      i heard they brought in a new chef a few weeks ago. have you eaten there recently?

                                      1. re: cervisiam

                                        I haven't been there in a while, so I have no idea about the chef. But typically it was better than Red Palace, etc. Hopefully whatever has happend didn't make it any worse!

                                    2. re: Sinophile


                                      Are we talking about the likes of Red Palace during its good times.

                                      1. re: Sinophile

                                        So - does this mean you've tried a good selection of what's offered at China Palace on Saturdays and think it's all bad? Just curious. I know you know Chinese food.

                                        1. re: Sinophile

                                          hi sinophile, please keep me posted. is this upper end? i used to live in philly so wondering if it is susanna foo?

                                          1. re: Sinophile

                                            Based on your (backhanded) recommendation, I tried Fortune Palace tonight and I was pleasantly surprised--easily the best Chinese I've had in the RDU area. Thanks!

                                            1. re: aenverga

                                              I too enjoyed Red Palace "during its good times," which were brief by the way, but the Philly chef I mentioned above is better than the old Red Palace chef. The restaurant will not be high-end -- just the opposite: an affordable neighborhood eatery serving unpretentious basics, ideally within walking distance of UNC in order to cater to the university's Asian community. The problem is that rent is expensive. The chef considered taking over the disgusting and failing Gourmet Kingdom (i.e. the buffet on Main Street in Carrboro), but the rent is a whopping $6,000 per month.

                                              1. re: Sinophile

                                                i hope something gets going! i'd definitely go.

                                                1. re: aenverga

                                                  Maybe they could take over the old Bon's location in University Center.

                                                2. re: Sinophile

                                                  I saw a few spaces for rent in Chapel Hill this weekend that might work. I saw the house/resto that Los Potrillos occupies on Rosemary is for rent. There is a space next near Lime & Basil that's for rent. I think it use dto be a BW3 wings place and might be too large but maybe the owner is willing to split it up. Lastly, there is a place next to Gumby's pizza that's being rennovated. I think it used to be a trail shop.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      and the recently Baba Ghanouj?
                                                      the space under (and next to) Top of the Hill
                                                      the space that was Bruegger's bagels
                                                      the old Kerr Drug
                                                      the space that was Linda's in the Bank of America building
                                                      I think Aladdin's shut down in the fall but I could be wrong

                                                    2. re: bbqme

                                                      BW3 I think is where the "Irish" pub is going .. though originally I thought it would be in the old W.B. Yeats area. It looks like something is being constructed in the place where Bandidos and Q Shack where in Carrboro. Gourmet Kingdom just threw up a Grand Opening banner now that they have a different chef and are doing Szechuan cuisine.

                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                        I've seen an almost open seeming Irish pub right on Franklin - not in the old Yeats space, but in what I think was a Wings place (?). Right near Lime and Basil, same side of the street. Wish I could be more exact. Sort of across the street (or katty corner) from University Plaza (site of the old Bons).

                                                        The Grand Opening sign has been up at GK for months.

                                                    3. re: Sinophile

                                                      And that's the rub, isn't it. We can all pine for places that serve inspired food on the cheap but the simple costs of operating make that harder and harder unless you're prepared to torpedo your chances by opening up in the middle of nowhere.

                                                      So, the most logical thing to do is dress up the experience to justify prices high enough to pay the bills. Of course, then you garner the ire of the "purists" who blast you for selling the same dish you can find in some dive for a few bucks more.

                                                3. Overall, my favorite is Hong Kong on Guess Road in Durham. They even have good Dim Sum!

                                                  1. As it's already been stated numerous times, I'll just add another vote for Hong Kong on Guess Road in Durham. The conundrum is that if you go early on Saturdays you'll get a table quickly, but you'll be there too early for some of the weekend dim sum specials. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, I suppose. Their menu items are good as well - in my opinion, as an ethnic Chinese, their chow fun dishes are among the most authentic I've ever had in this state.

                                                    Penang on Franklin in Chapel Hill serves very authentic Malaysian food.

                                                    I love Grand Asia. The food is good, they serve tofu fa, and their steamed buns on weekends are very well made.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: dkst0426

                                                        We went to the Hong Kong for dim sum today and got the beef chow fun on your recommendation. It was excellent. I loved the congee, too, except I didn't need all those big chunks of meat in it. Best lobo gau I've had in a while. We'll definitely be back soon.

                                                      2. I haven't been to this place yet, but Red Palace in Raleigh is supposed to be excellent and authentic.


                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: mightyquinn

                                                          Unfortunately they've been closed for quite a while.. But yes, they were excellent and authentic.

                                                          1. re: rockycat

                                                            Ah- that sucks! Another victim of the economy?

                                                            1. re: mightyquinn

                                                              they closed a good two years ago. Their food was really good, but I think their location was just a bad one.