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Jun 14, 2009 07:00 PM

Best Chinese Restaurants in Texas

After coming across a few bad recs down in Houston, I would like to ask for a concise list of all authentic style Chinese restaurants. All styles are included and would be appriciated if you can distinguish what Chinese cooking style the restaurant specializes in. Any cities are open across the state.

Styles include:

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  1. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience at China View. I haven't been there since I was in high school and I guess the place must have significantly changed.

    Sichuan: Sichuan Cuisine and Sichuanese are more or less the same to me, but they aren't places I'd frequent. I can take the heat, but I'm not gonna stay in the fire all day.

    Taiwanese: First Emperor in Richardson. Before coming there, I never really cared for this style. Maybe I just have bad luck, but there have been far too many times where I'll try something at Genroku or Umeko, and end up with nothing but disappointment and bland dishes. First Emperor now has me eager to explore this side of Chinese.

    Tay Do in Houston serves up Chinese and Vietnamese and I think that would count in your search. There are a couple other restaurants in Houston similar to them such as Sinh Sinh and Tan Tan, but they aren't purely Chinese or Vietnamese and it's moreso a fusion of the two as a result of Chinese being in Vietnam. I think these should count so long as no dish that is purely Vietnamese gets brought up.

    The downside to having such a broad menu leads these places to excel at mediocrity, but Tay Do manages to set themselves apart through their clay pots. I can't think of another place that comes close to theirs.

    My personal favorite there is the seafood clay pot (#305 on the menu). I've heard good things about the beef chow fun as well.

    8 Replies
    1. re: air

      I appreciate the recommendations but sometimes I curse you for telling me after the trip to Houston.

      A clay pot dish would have been much better than fried pig intestines in dried chilies at Sichuan Cuisine. You are right though we don't frequent Sichuanese or Sichuan Cuisine because fo the chili oil factor. We love spicy food and Sichuan peppercorns especially but really don't need a half gallon of chili oil with our dish. We like the water boiled fish at Sichuanese better just becuase the amount of Sichuan peppercorns is amped up.

      You recs have always been good though and glad to see them.

      1. re: air

        I noticed a little hole in the wall in Richardson called Taiwan Cafe or something. Ever been there?

        1. re: luniz

          Nope but I know it is right next to Maxim's (to the east). We will give it a go. Would youi be willing to join?

          1. re: luniz

            I know there's another one on Independence, but I'm not sure if they're the same. I just want to warn you guys that I've had very bad experiences at both and I hope you get to see this ahead of time! They're another reason why I had previously been paranoid about eating Taiwanese.

            Independence: One of my friends dragged me there when I'd first moved to UTD and raved about their $5 lunch "special". They serve you on these metal trays similar to a high school cafeteria. I would've much rather had real HS cafeteria food than the industrial waste-looking stuff they put on my tray.

            I tried out the bubble tea at the one next to Maxim's. Their bubble tea had rancid milk, threw it out after one sip.

            1. re: air

              Point well taken. I think we will try out First Emperor instead.

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                According to someone from Taiwan, the food was authentic and she used to go there all the time (while she lived in Dallas).

          2. re: air

            Any suggestions of Chinese restaurants around the Austin area?

          3. This one's a no brainer. First Chinese BBQ. With Locations in Richardson, Carrollton, Plano, Arlington and Austin.
            The best one is in Richardson at the North East corner of Greenville Avenue and Polk Street. Once you eat there,
            you'll never go anywhere else.
            And, bring cash. No credit cards. Except for the Austin store.

            8 Replies
            1. re: twinwillow

              I wouldn't call FCBBQ the best it is good and consistent.

              I would say Little Sichuan has the better kitchen although no BBQ items I still like it for the freshly grown items. The chef/s show off their skills in both Sichuan and Cantonese styles.

              I have had many a dish that are quite unique and great at FCBBQ and most of them not any BBQ dishes. I do like the BBQ duck but it can get tiresome after a few pieces. Most of the suggestions I have tried from people on CH have been good to fair. The fresh wonton soup with shrimp being the worst. I usually go for a vegetable dish that is on the menu with a few minor changes (i.e Chinese broccoli with Chinese black mushroom and extra ginger) and then I go for a dish that is on the specials that are off menu (on the walls).

              I still have yet to try First Emperor and need some specific dishes to order.

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                As it turns out, I'm meeting a group of about 12 people at Little Sichuan this Saturday night.
                I'll post my report the following day.

                  1. re: twinwillow

                    I was at Little Sichuan last weekend after reading the reports of it here.

                    Definitely wasn't worth driving 30 minutes for.

                    Part of my experience may have been due to what I ordered. I was going out with friends later that night and didn't want to risk any intestinal discomfort from eating anything too spicy.

                    I started with the House Special Dumplings and followed it with the Duck with Ginger. The skin on the dumplings was very thick and pasty. They tasted like they'd been frozen and then steamed to reheat. The meat filling seemed to have a lot of filler in it and was a bit gummy. These dumplings shouldn't be on the menu and definitely shouldn't be called the "House Special" dumplings. The duck with ginger was good. Not great but good. They used the smoked tea duck in it and the smokiness fought with the fresh taste of the ginger. While I normally love smoked tea duck, it didn't work in this dish.

                    If it weren't for the distance, I'd give this place a second try so I could test things with real Sichuan dishes. Given the distance and my poor first experience, it's unlikely I'll make it there again.

                    1. re: mahalan

                      Mahalan, that really bites. I haven't been there yet but will. Its a little out of the way for me as well. The good person that recs Little Sichuan said specifically to stay away from the duck. He said it was 'tiring' after a few bites. I still have it on my remote radar.

                      1. re: mahalan

                        We don't live that far away but agree its not worth the drive. Szechuan Kitchen and Tong's House in the same area are better but also not worth a thirty min. drive.

                    2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                      Are you talking about the whiteboards at First Chinese? Can you read Mandarin? I was in there the other day for the first time dying to try some off-menu specials.... but it was all in Chinese. I asked the waitress but she couldn't really understand what I was going for and grew impatient with me. What dishes should I absolutely not miss on my next trip? I was eyeing that pig's blood and Chinese chive dish...

                      1. re: the_sneeb

                        To answer your question....No I can not read Mandarin.

                        I am not sure which location you are visiting. I have great success at the Plano and Carrollton locations. The wait staff seem to be a bit more patient. Do understand that the clientele at the Plano location will be mixed with a majority of the folks there for orange chicken and chicken fried rice. Carrollton is usually dead with hardly anyone else dining. I understand that the Richardson location is the original but I never get over that way. If I do it is to King's Noodles or Kirin Court not to FCBBQ.

                        Here is a post that would give some suggestions. There is also a link that I put some additional suggestions on Donna Cooks website. I would nix the Shrimp Wonton has been in my experience in ordering the dish it comes out bland for my tastes. Chicken broth with a few small shrimp wotons just doesn't cut it for me......I suppose you can ask for chives, garlic and ginger to be added to the broth for some kind of kick.


                        I see they have a new updated menu since last time I have been. I will have to work my way through some of those dishes.

                        Having dined at Sichuan Cuisine in Houston and order some strange dish like the pigs blood I would not recommend it. I got the freid pig intestines with dried chilies (this is in Houston) and it was an acquired tastes and my wife gave up on the dish after two or three fork fulls. I did get compliments from the staff about ordering the dish and they said many Sichuan customers order that as their favorite. To make a long story short, if you have an adventurous friend and could count on him/her then order the dish otherwise you will be eating it alone.

                  2. I also would like some Taiwanese chinese restaurant recommendations if anyone knows any good ones...We have a new little family member who will be jonesing for some food he remembers soon, so would really appreciate the help. He is from Kaoshiung originally.

                    1. LewisvilleHounder -
                      You probably know this answer as well as anyone, but some of my favorites are Howard Wangs, Hong Kong Royal, Kirin Court, and Bengal Coast. They all have different things and dishes that I like about them. Hong Kong Royal and Kirin Court are probably the two most authentic to at least the parts of southeast China that I have been to, but Bengal Coast even though the atmosphere is somewhat cheesy has some dishes that aren't bad and seem to me to be fairly authentic, but I am not an expert when you start breaking Chinese into each of the subcategories.

                      1. OK I will take the heat for this one.

                        Anyone know of a good "americanized" (sorry) chinese place in the Carrollton area? I cut my chinese teeth on Lim Yee's in Lakewood BITD. One of the many reasons I miss living in lower Greenville.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: well fed

                          First Chinese is quite authentic, and they do have some americanized choices on their menu. They have good BBQ pork and duck, both of which are pretty "safe" selections. LH provided a good description, they are good and consistent.

                          1. re: air

                            + 10000000 for First Chinese BBQ. They're really one of the best chinese places I've ever been to. We've been going there as a family ever since I was a child. Even now that we all live in different parts of the country, everytime we meet back in Dallas or Austin we swing by.

                            1. re: civic4982

                              I sure hope you swing by any of the locations except Richardson. Although it is the original my wife and I dined there this week and had absolutely horrible service. We are veteran of their menu and usually dine at the Plano or Carrollton locations due to the proximity to our house in Lewisville. This time we were in Richardson for a meeting. Not only did our water not ever get refilled but we asked to have the special menu translated that is on the wall. The waitress basically told us no and that everything was on the menu. We have never been treated so rudely before. We also had to ask for the check and to-go boxes from another waitress because ours avoided us all night. I was not aware if you ask simple questions at the Richardson you get punished the rest of the night. That was my last time I dine there and the food was not that great. I even like Mr. Wok in E. Plano better now. The Shrimp Crispy Noodle was kind of gloppy with a too much cornstarch in the sauce and the veggie dish suffered from the same.

                              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                W e never have bad service there. They treat us like family like everyone else.

                                Why is it rude to tell you the dishes on the board are already in the menu Lewisville Hounder? You siad you can't read Chinese so how would you know she wasn't telling the truth?

                                1. re: OCNC

                                  I eat there alot at lunch as my office is close. I generally get very surley service also. They seem to rush the ordering process and the check. Maybe b/c it is lunch. I do get a little put off by it also.

                                  1. re: OCNC

                                    I have ordered off the special white board enough at the Plano and Carrollton locations to know there is different dishes on that board. I am also good at relating characters to what is already on the menu. I could already tell the proteins by the characters but not the exact preparation.

                                    Do you not believe that I had bad service at FCBBQ or that I can remember the dishes I have had off the white board at other locations? I could tell by her tone and body language she was not going to be helpful on that particular night. I might not be fluent in Mandarin but I can read people. I am glad you have great service when you dine there but I saw others the same night that were off put by the same waitress.

                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                      LewisvilleHounder, have you tried Plano BBQ yet? It's at Alma and Parker.
                                      If you like FCBBQ, you will like this place. The deco and ambience is not as good as the chain FCBBQ, but cooking is very authentic and reasonably priced. Run by husband and wife.

                                  2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                    I've always thought that surly service and Chinese restaurants go hand in hand. It's pretty typical and in some Chinese restos, it's part of their reputation.

                                    If you're expecting the "Hi, I'm Jennifer, I'll be your server this evening" treatment then you're probably in the wrong place.

                                    I find the service at Bistro B to be very abrupt but that's just the way it is.

                                    1. re: Scagnetti

                                      Ditto! To us good service at Chinese restaurants is a bad sign (unauthentic or bad food).

                                      1. re: kuidaore

                                        I don't think there's necessarily correlation. Some places have good service and good food (ie Little Sichuan, La Me). You can't mistake being "abrupt" for bad service either, most of the time they just don't have great command of the English language.