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Where should I go for upscale Chinese

Have never gone to an upscale Chinese restaurant and would like to try it out. I am thinking of Shun Lee, Budakkan, Shang or Chinatown Brasserie. I like small plates and good wine so would rather a place that has a lot of Dim Sum or appetizer/small plates options. Which do you think is best or is there another place I am not thinking of.


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  1. I love Chin Chin
    on E. 49th St., between 2nd and 3rd Ave

    Wonderful selection and a great wine list


    1. I have not been to Shun Lee Palace in many years, but prefer Chin Chin these days to Shun Lee West, for this sort of place. Quite a controversial thead about Chinatown Brasserie:


      I've not been to Buddakan, and haven't heard of Shang. Although I really enjoy the food at Chin Chin, for small plates you are probably better off at CB, where I think the dim sum items are better than the main courses.

      Good luck - I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions!

      1. Do not go to Shun Lee West; it's an overpriced tourist trap that serves (on a good day) mediocre food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ellenost

          Agreed! Shun Lee in any of its incarnations is pretty bad.

          I agree with ian and Chandavkl re: Chinatown Brasserie being good. I particularly like the various dumplings (nice, thin skins, well made fillings, both traditional and non), siu mai, and Peking duck. The pancakes and plum sauce served with the duck are nothing to write home about, but the duck itself is well made, with a wonderful, crispy and flavorful skin. (As an aside... why can't restaurants in the US make plum sauce out of real plums? It's about 20 million times better than the jarred shiznit.)

          Buddakan is, as Ian notes, a pan-Asian *inspired* restaurant. You could find this type of thing in China, but no one really calls it Chinese. That said, the food is not terrible.

        2. Shang isn't a Chinese restaurant.

          1. Chinatown Brasserie has very good to amazing dim sum, which seems to stay pretty true to Cantonese tradition and ingredients, but with high quality presentation, some innovative dishes, and top ingredients. It is certainly a bit sceney, but I think whats good about the food is it still seems distinctively Chinese, whereas Buddakan (I have not been) might be going for the more pan-Asian/American food with a focus on China.

            1. If food quality is important, Chinatown Brasserie.

              1. If you want upscale dim sum, I would think that Chinatown Brasserie would be a natural, especially from that list. I gave up on Shun Lee Palace years ago, and Shun Lee West quite a while before that.

                1. I echo the recs for Chinatown Brass. and Buddakan. I found Shun Lee to be average, at best.


                  1. If you are looking for lots of small plates, and they need not really be "Chinese," then Buddakan may be your best options. Their starters are generally good, we have always been underwhelmed by their main dishes. Plus, they have a good reasonable wine list and many drinks. Also, an impressive venue. In the evenings it will be packed, and loud, but good for out of towners, if that is the case.

                    Shun Lee Cafe does offer dim sum, and is Ok. Chinatown Brasserie similarly has very good dim sum, but I'm not sure it is served in the evening.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: comiendosiempre

                      I believe that many of the dim sum items are available at dinner at CB.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I used to be a big Shun Lee fan, no more as expressed by the other posters. Chin Chin is now my favorite. I can't fault the service at Shun Lee, at least not the last times I ate there two years ago, but the people at Chin Chin are very nice and attentive. One evening the manager noticed my wife and my discomfort with this drunk party of four near us and quitely moved us away from them. That's class!

                        1. re: Stuartmc910

                          Yes, I've always had great service at Chin Chin - we were there with a large group, including children, for Thanksgiving, and inspite of some rather boorish behaviour by a couple of people in our party, they were incredibly solicitious, including of some dietary requirements of one person. I actually apologized for the group next time I went!

                      2. No love for Mr. K's? I admit it has been a long time since I ate there, but I remember it being damn good.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: una mas

                          I've only been there once - and it was a private party celebrating Chinese New Year - the food was pretty good. When we lived in DC, we used to go there pretty often. However, I'm not sure if it's good for "small plates".

                          1. re: una mas

                            Mr. K's from my one visit makes very good Americanized Chinese food but not very good "authentic" Chinese food.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              This is likely ignorance on my part, but when I hear "upscale Chinese" I tend to assume "Americanized." (Americanized Chinese obviously does not imply upscale, but what I think of as "upscale Chiese" is Americanized or at least Westernized in some fashion.) What restaurants do you consider upscale and authentic?

                              1. re: una mas

                                I don't eat very much "upscale" Chinese but Chinatown Brasserie does a better job then most of the others. Oriental Garden in Chinatown is more upscale then most of the others in the neighborhood and I enjoy their food as well.

                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  Yeah, I like both of those places. I didn't think of OG as being upscale, but I see your point.

                          2. Not as upscale, but don't rule out Our Place Shanghai Tea House on E. 55, same block as Shun Lee. I think it's underappreciated.


                            1. Thanks for the discussion and the recs. We ended up going to CB for dinner last night and really enjoyed our meal.

                              We had the pork potstickers, lamb dumplings, shrimp with taro (my favorite), orange beef (excellent with chili oil that was provided which was nice and spicy) and the special of the day, tempura fried soft shell crab. The weakest dish was the soft shell crab which had a nice taste but was not a tempura batter. The batter could have been a bit lighter and crisper.

                              Service was a bit slow, I don't mind them taking time with the food but drinks took a long time to get to the table, throughout the meal.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: brooklynmasala

                                I am glad to hear that you liked it. I was there a few days ago for lunch and it was great! Compared with the other places in midtown, I think CB is a little less formal and stuffy. For someone who doesn't wear a suit every day, I feel a lot more comfortable there...