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Mar 1, 2009 05:56 AM

Let's nominate the "chow-approved" best Chinese restaurants

I got an idea reading Gary Soup's post about the pitiful "Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the US" announced by Chinese Restaurant News - that is to create a list of "chow-approved" best Chinese restaurants around the world.

Chinese restaurants are everywhere, but good, needless to say about great, Chinese restaurants are hard to find outside of Asia. So which Chinese restaurants in your area or which you visited before would you nominate to be included in the "Best "Chow-Approved" Chinese Restaurant List"?

Here are the rules:
- Name the Chinese restaurant and specify the city/state it is located
- Include the URL if available
- Briefly describe why the restaurant is worthy of nomination (e.g. what is their specialty? Taste wise? Chef? Service?)
- What are their signature "not-to-miss" dishes (or your personal favorite dishes there)
- Nominate as many Chinese restaurants as you like

Below are my nominations:
- Lao Sze Chuan, in Chicago and Downers Grove in IL
- They specialize in Szechuan dishes which are known for its spiciness and their menu provides more "authentic" options than just the regular American-Chinese dishes
- Some of my personal favorites are their "Chef's Special Dry Chilli Chicken", "Boiled Beef in Spicy Szechuan Sauce", "Crispy Shrimp in Mayonnaise Sauce", but there are many more dishes that are also delicious.

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  1. Smily, great thread idea.....I've never seen mayonnaise sauce shrimp in any restaurant here in Sichuan tho. Do they have a Chinese language menu? I tried to look but their site is blocked by the Great Firewall. And is the scope 'around the world' or 'outside Asia'?

    3 Replies
    1. re: pepper_mil

      Pepper_mil, Lao Sze Chuan does have a Chinese menu available. Mayonnaise sauce shrimp is one of my favorite dishes when I lived in Taiwan, so I am not sure if it is a Szechuan specialty, but I am glad to find it on LSC's menu.

      The scope is not limited to outside Asia - I would love to know which restaurants are local favorites when I visit China again.

      1. re: pepper_mil

        There's a dish commonly known as Crispy Shrimp with Walnuts garnished with steamed broccoli and a sauce known as Gran Marnier Sauce. The Gran Marnier Sauce is simply orange liqueur spiked mayonnaise.

        1. re: fourunder

          The most common Chinese name I see for this is 核桃虾 -- he2 tao2 xia1, or "walnut peach prawns".

      2. Chopstick Express, College Ave., State College, PA. As 'authentic' as any NYC Chinatown Sichuanese. Specialties (and my personal faves) include: stir-fried dry green beans with ground pork & chili, cucumbers in garlic sauce, diced chicken with hot peppers, hot and spicy pork, and the fantastic ma po tofu. No website, unfortunately.

        1. Great idea, great future resource.

          My nomination (nobody who knows me will be surprised) is Hong Kong House in Knoxville Tenn. The home of Peter Chang, a Chinese chef who has wowed the 'hounds and Atlanta and before that in DC for many years. He once cooked for the President of China, and came to the US originally to cook at the Chinese embassy in DC, so you get the picture. Fantastic Sichuan specialties. I understand he has at least 3 more years on his contract, so will be there at least until 2012 or so. Don't ask me how he got to Knoxville, it is just one of those mysteries.

          Hong Kong House
          8079 Kingston Pike
          Knoxville, TN


          No web site, but googling the resto name will bring up much commentary, as will searches of the relevant CH boards.

          If you go, as you enter the restaurant there are numerous photos of his best dishes posted on the wall to the left--choose from among those things.

          It appears that at least two of the places he previously cooked at, China Star in Fairfax VA (DC metro area) and Tasty China in Marietta GA (Atlanta) have both managed to keep the good times rolling in his wake, so they may both be worth a try if one is in those cities.

          8 Replies
          1. re: johnb

            You just gave me a good reason to visit TN!

            1. re: johnb

              Was not wowed at Tasty China, went there in spring 2008, do not know if Mr Chang still there or not. Group of people from Philadelphia,. We rented a car just to go to this restaurant, ate total about 11 things and again were not wowed. Not a fault just ok,

              My nomination is Lee How Fook, 11th and Cherry in Philadelphia. Fish Hot Pot, Oyster Hot Pot, Hot and Sour Soup, Salt baked scallops. Mundane stuff, but never had them better elsewhere and l have tried all over the world.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Chang was gone from Tasty China by then. But I have read consistently good reports about the place lately, although you may have hit a period when the kitchen was not well-staffed.

                I guess it just goes to show the hit-or-miss character of trying to eat at good places.

              2. re: johnb

                Interesting--I would have thought a restaurant names Hong Kong House would have served Cantonese food more than Szechuan. I haven't been to China Star in a couple of years but thought it was okay, not amazing but worth going to if I were in the area. Definitely not a top Chinese restaurant. I do prefer Cantonese food over Szechuan, though.

                1. re: chowser

                  Well, that theory would seem to be disproved by the food available at Hong Kong Palace in Falls Church, VA. I've been to China Star a couple of times, and my favorite dish there is the mala dish with tripe, pig's blood and lots of lots of hot peppers and leeks.

                  1. re: dpan

                    I wondered about that, too. I've yet to make it there but HKP is definitely Szechuan, too. Hong Kong Cuisine is known for its Cantonese food.

                    1. re: chowser

                      As the story goes, HKP used to be a run of the mill strip mall carry out type of place, but it was taken over by new owners from Chengdu, whom being practical Chinese businessmen, didn''t bother to change the sign outside, and just changed the menu instead to a genuine Sichuanese one.

                      1. re: dpan

                        I see--I didn't realize the name was a relic. I was told the old restaurant had been pretty bad. The new HKP is on my list of places to try out.

              3. My favorite is Szechuan Gourmet in Manhattan. Szechuan, obviously, as spicy as you could hope for but the other flavors of the dish still come through. I get regular cravings for their dan dan noodles and spicy cucumber salad. I don't think they have a website, but you can find their menu here:

                And (somebody's got to say it) Grand Sichuan in Chelsea for their dry cooked string beans, soup dumplings, and spicy pork with cellophane noodles. Yum.

                1. Different restaurants have such different specialties. I'd nominate Mui Kee in Falls Church, VA but only for their won tons and dumpling soup, with Hong Kong style noodles or not. By far the best I've ever had, light, nice flavor, great broth, melt in your mouth wrappers. Bob's 66 in Rockville for their Taiwanese oyster pancakes. I'd go to both places exclusively for those dishes, far better than any I've had elsewhere.