Authentic Chinese in the Metroplex?
Where can I go for good, authentic Chinese food in the Metroplex? I've had the sweet and sour, lo mein, egg rolls, etc., from local Chinese delivery places, and I'm left wanting so much more :) I'm wondering what real Chinese cuisine is and where to get it. I've had amazing Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and Japanese food here. Where can I find the authentic Chinese cuisine that I know must be out there? I live in Carrollton but I'm willing to explore the Metroplex for good chow.
Little Sichuan in Plano
Kirin Court in Richardson particularly for dim sum
Joy Luck in Richardson for Cantonese
First Chinese BBQ for roast duck/pork + wonton soup and other Kowloon style fare
Yao Fuzi for modern fusion
LewisvilleHounder will probably write an epic post or link to an older one that will have a lot more detail
I was waiting for someone to chime in to see what they would suggest.
These are all recommendations for the Carrollton, Plano, Richardson areas. I still have yet to try out the few places in Arlington (it is just a bit further for me than the other areas listed above). A few rules of thumb:
Always bring cash.....some places have credit card machines but they really hate paying the companies all the fees. I have learned over the years just to bring cash.
Always ask for the Chinese menu....if it is written in Chinese ask for help but know what proteins you want (chicken, duck, seafood, beef or pork).
If you have a flavor profile you prefer ask for it when ordering......My wife and I like ginger so we ask the chef to put more in. If the menu says for example "Chinese broccoli with a brown sauce" and you want black mushrooms added....ask them for it. Usually there is no additional charge.
If you see a dish you like at a table where there are Chinese eating ask what they are having...some of the dishes aren't on any menu. Ask what is in it and also ask them to write down on a piece of paper what the dish is in Chinese and then translate it. Put this in your wallet or purse for a later date. I have about 5 or 6 pieces of paper from Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese restaurants.
Learn to use chopsticks if you don't know already.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555313 - good details and specific dishes
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/398717 - dim sum post
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/605871 - menus and links to the restaurant website or other reviews
I also want to add in that Hong Kong Royal on Frankford and Josey in Carrollton is also a quality place jut the digs aren't that nice as say Kirin Court and there wasn't a crowd when I went one night. You can order off the dim sum menu anytime and they will freshly prepare it for you. On the weekends it is a rotating cart like at Kirin Court. I also believe they have a limited dim sum cart on the weekdays. My wife and I did have a very good peking duck with good steamed buns at Hong Kong Royal. Make sure you ask for the authentic chinese menu and ask for help if you need to know what is in the dish. Both the mother and son are very helpful and will guide you through. They will give you the Americanized Chinese menu if you don't ask though
I have had the wonton soup at the Plano and Carrollton location of First Chinese and I guess I am not the fan of it like most are. The broth of the soup is very simple and not that flavorful. It might be different at the Richardson location though.
Another place that might/might not be mentioned is Kings Noodles in Richardson across from First Chinese BBQ on Greenville and Polk. The Za Jiang Mein must have some MSG in it or something because it is addictive. The boiled peanuts and cold cucumbers are both very good side dishes. This has to be the cheapest version of authentic food. There is no dish over $6.75. I thought the noodle soup with ground pork sauce lack depth and complexity (can't expect much for the price range).
If you need any other help look us up at the following foodie group (it also has most or all of the menus from the above restaurants-so you can know how much cash to bring):
The Sichuan cuisine at Little Sichuan is going to be more mild in flavor than at Sichuanese also in Plano. The two restaurants hail from different parts of the province. I am not sure if you are after the spicy factor or just plain great Chinese.
The pork tenderloin with chinese lettuce, just picked the morning we dined there, with house pickled sichuan peppers also grown in the garden and wood ear fungus. Luniz mentions this below. This dish is to become a regular on the menu as per the lead waitress Jin. The peppers are native to Sichuan and gorwn in the restaurant's gardens in Allen. They then house pickle their crops. The pickling is unlike any other as the flavors are very bright without the tin or metallic taste that most have.
The crystal tofu is very good as is the beef with conjac (pronouned like the drink congac). The tea smoked duck is the traditional lapsang souchong tea smoked duck but it can get a bit tiresome for one person so definitely bring a few people.
The pedestrian sounding Sichuan cold cucumber was a favorite of my last meal. It consisted of a cold stack of cucumbers with chili oil, salt, ground sichuan peppercorns, and a hint of five spice
I also had a fish dish that was on the special board that consisted of a flounder in a chef's special brown sauce with fried soy beans and scallions. The water boiled fish is good but I usually order it with an extra side of chile powder. The version at Sichuanese is a much hotter version and they use more Sichuan peppercorns. I also prefer the mapo tofu at Sichuanese.
Basically all of these I have tried and they are good....so a good portion of the menu like Luniz said.
Fresh Bamboo Shoot with Roasted Chili Vinaigrette
Ask for the Sichuan Pickles - small plate cost about $1 - $2
Shredded Duck with Ginger
Fish with Roasted Chili Vinaigrette (same as Water Boiled Fish)
Sautéed Beef with Conjac
Any of the Beef Dishes
Shredded Pork with Spicy Garlic Sauce
Sliced Pork and Napa Cabbage with Spicy Chili Sauce
A green veggie that was crispy and sautéed at the same time...had no English translation
Crispy Fish Filet with Sichuan Chili Miso Sauce
Stir Fried Prawns with Yibin Chili Asparagus
Sichuan Pickled Radish and Pork Soup
I've been having some pretty good luck with the Beef Noodle soup at Tongs House in Richardson. The green onion pancake is the best in town. Very low prices and the folks are nice and helpful. Place is a little run down but it is in a nice part of town. Good place to take someone who is looking for real chinese with a good mix of Americanized dishes.Tong's is not as intimidating as some of the places in Richardson and Garland.
But I will add Little Sichuan is very good and clean. Sichuanese is good but the dinning experience is pretty hectic.
I also like Mandarain Cafe in Richardson on Greenville.
I used to love Tong's House. It was run down when I went but it was good and cheap. They have a limited menu and I believe they often have off menu items for the nationals. Still solid menu all around. They do have some Americanized dishes but they do a very good job at them from what I recall, much better than Pei Wei.
Sichuanese is actually more run down looking than Tong's House. The service can be spotty if you catch the one waitress who is "wide eye" friendly you are in luck. The young guy and the manager are very friendly and will run down the dishes written along the eastern wall if need be. The tumeric fried fish with chilies was good last time I had it. Not sure if it is still there on the wall. If my memory recalls Sichuanese makes their own tofu so ask for dishes with that (i.e ma po tofu or the dessert tofu (light syrup with ginger)- tofu hwa). In Mandarin, the phonetic name for the dish is doe-hua, taiwanese is dow-huy...dao fu fa in Cantonese.
King's noodle serves authentic Taiwanese dishes. Their beef noodle and wonton noodle (or try the beef wonton noodle!) are delicious! As for the rice dishes, I like their pork chop or chicken drumstick rice. Having lived in Taipei till college and having been a foodie since my teenage years, I have to say that King's noodle does a hell of a good job in bringing a slice of all the yumminess Taiwan has to offer to Dallas!
For appetizers, I like pig ears but some people may not like the crunchy texture of cartilages. The thousand-year-old egg with tofu is good too. Oh, and get shaved ice for dessert (you pick 4 toppings). I personally like their taro balls and black sugar tapiocas a lot. I can't say I've branched out too much at King's yet because I still can't get enough of the ones I've tried so far! I haven't tried their Za Jiang Mein either just because it's very easy to make at home, but perhaps that should be the next thing that I try there!
First Chinese BBQ is so-so in my opinion. I like Ren Ji in Richardson. Their dumplings are good (I usually get beef) and most other dishes that I've tried there are good. We like Kirin Court for dimsum but will have to try HK royal some time.
Another note to add for going to chinese restaurants: you can ask them to cook with no MSG and less salt/soy sauce. It usually makes the food much better, in my opinion, and much healthier. I guess Taiwanese food is usually pretty light so Sichuanese and Cantonese food are usually too intense for me.
Thanks everyone for the wonderful detailed replies. Can't wait to start exploring some new places, yum.