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Chinese Food tour for an ex-Hong Kong resident

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My brother in law is coming to town on a weeklong business trip and he's specifically requested to eat a LOT of Chinese food. He spent a semester in Hong Kong last year and now lives in a city without a lot of Chinese food options (Milwaukee). My BIL is staying with us in Manhattan and working during the day and spending evenings/weekends eating Chinese food (and maybe eating leftovers for lunch, ha).

Because he's only here a week, I don't think we'll make it out to Flushing more than 2 times (sadly!). I'm trying to plan some meals in Manhattan (especially since it'll probably just be 3-4 dinners after work). Obviously it's not going to be as good as HK but he's really homesick for this kind of food.

On my list I've got:
- Szechuan Gourmet - one of our favs, and if we can do Sichuan in Manhattan we can focus on other stuff in Flushing
- Xian Famous Foods - just for kicks since Xian food is definitely unavailable in Wisconsin!
- NY Noodletown, as he specifically requested roast meats especially roast goose which he ate every week in Hong Kong. I don't think there's anywhere to get roast goose here, right? I really like the roast pork at NY Noodletown and my husband really likes the roast duck. Is Big Wong a better choice?
- A-Wah, as he specifically requested claypot rice, unless there's a Flushing place that does it better/just as well?

If we can't get to Imperial Palace in Flushing I'm trying to decide on a seafood Cantonese restaurant.

Is the currently preferred on South China Garden FKA Cantoon Garden? Or is there another seafood restaurant we should do instead? Doesn't have to be as good as Imperial Palace, just the best available in Manhattan.

FYI, For Flushing, I'm planning to spend basically the whole weekend there doing:
- Dim sum at Guangzhou FKA Perfect Team on one day
- Walking tour of snacks on another day: duck bun window (Corner 28), wontons (White Bear), fried dumplings (Zhu Ji Guo Tie), boiled dumplings (Best North), Taiwanese gua bao (Temple Snacks), Xinjiang grilled skewers, maybe some of the hawker-type stalls (fish balls on a stick by the LIRR station) and a British-Chinese style bakery (Sun Mary). Maybe shaved ice too (Fire & Ice).

Hopefully we'll have time to take the LIRR out to do Imperial Palace for dinner one night, but I'd love to have some backups in Manhattan just in case.

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South China Garden
22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

Big Wong
67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

Szechuan Gourmet
21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

Xi'an Famous Foods
88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

A-Wah
5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

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  1. Maybe you guys should also try a Fuzhou place in the city? I think scoopg wrote a few reviews. If you guys have the time I think A Taste of Shanghai has excellent shangainese food, especially the pork shoulder in brown sauce. Best of luck i'm sure Lau and others will chime in. I never been there but I think I read on the boards here that south china garden fka cantoon garden is the place of choice in manhattan for cantonese seafood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: daffyduck

      Interesting, I'll have to ask him about Fuzhou food. But given the limited time, he might want to stick to stuff he had frequently in Hong Kong.

    2. Here you go: NYC best Chinese restaurants: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

      4 Replies
      1. re: sockster

        Yeah, I'd seen that but found Sietsema to be wrong/in disagreement with me about other things.

        Also I'm specifically looking for food an ex-Hong Kong resident would miss.

        1. re: kathryn

          Not to mention that just about all the picks seem to be based on information here, gleaned by scoopG and others. Don't care for Sietsema, especially on Chinese food.
          In re Cantonese seafood, we love the South China Garden - but if you intend to have a conversation there, go at lunchtime - we took friends from France there who loved the food (were blown away by the lobster - and how cheap it was) but it was absolutely unbelievably noisy. It was renovated a couple of years ago and seems to have been made noisier by it! Gives new meaning to the Chinese accolade for an exciting place to be, renao (hot and noisy, although the hot part doesn't particularly apply here).

          -----
          South China Garden
          22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

          1. re: buttertart

            buttertart, was this on a weekday or weekend night?

            1. re: kathryn

              A Tuesday night at around 8 pm.

      2. have you tried lucky eight in sunset park?

        3 Replies
        1. re: AubWah

          No, I really don't go to Brooklyn's Chinatown a whole lot. Do you think it's worth the trip?

          1. re: kathryn

            Yes - post on the outer boroughs board...

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              Will do. Basically I'm curious if it's better than Imperial Palace since my preference would be to do IP over South China Garden/Fuleen/Oriental Garden/etc in Manhattan.

              Brooklyn Chinatown is going to be 45 min for us on the subway whereas Flushing is only 30 minutes away (10 minutes on the train, 20 minutes on the LIRR).

        2. Sounds like you have everything covered Kathryn and your BIL will be quite pleased!

          As to the Cantonese style BBQ roast pork, I give a slight edge to Big Wong over NY Noodletown simply because they slice it thinner; which works better for me texturally. There is a downhill alert on A-Wah from at least two posters: it seems now that they have been discovered they are having to resort to using some short cuts to keep up with demand. Perhaps Lau has been recently and can provide an update. I am not aware of any claypot spots in Flushing. Fuleen Seafood on Division is another fresh seafood choice but I have not been in awhile and have yet to get to South China Garden. As to Flushing you know that you also have the option of visiting one of the two Xian Famous Foods locations and might also consider adding the XLB from Nan Xiang. No need to shock his system by taking him to Best Fuzhou. Save that for next time!

          2 Replies
          1. re: scoopG

            if u stop by nan xiang the sesame pancakes with beef are delicious. i actually like them more than the xlb.

            1. re: scoopG

              Thanks scoopG! I might go to Noodle Village instead because I really liked their claypot rice, and I've not been back in a while.

              -----
              Noodle Village
              13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

            2. sorry just saw this, i agree with your list generally.

              NY Noodletown: Roast goose (unfortunately) is not available in NY. I like NY Noodletown the best, but big wong is fine as well.
              - South China Garden (Cantoon Garden): this has not changed at all, the food / staff / chefs are all the same. I think its the best cantonese seafood in the city. I'd take a look at the original post that i posted as i think those are generally the best dishes there.
              - A-Wah: just fyi, ive heard complaints that they are cutting corners and pre-cooking the rice and its not as good anymore, i havent had a chance to re-visit it to confirm, but just an fyi.

              Additional:
              - New Chao Chow: chiu chow / chao zhou food is very popular in HK, you can find their noodle / bbq shops all over the city, id say its probably the 2nd most popular chinese food in HK after cantonese, there is a huge population of them in HK as well. New Chao Chow has the best chili oil in the city (they use dried shimps in it, its very good), specifically get the Combination Rice Stick Soup On The Side (use the chili oil generously) and the chao zhou duck (lu shui kao ya). Those are both really good and very cheap.
              - Sifu Chio: this place is the only decent wonton noodle soup ive had, ill write a full post on it once my blog is up and running (which will be very soon). I recommend the shrimp wonton noodle soup version with the noodles on the side (you cook the noodles in an oyster sauce)

              -----
              South China Garden
              22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

              New Chiu Chow
              111 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

              A-Wah
              5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

              17 Replies
              1. re: Lau

                Three separate friends went to A-Wah this weekend and reported good experiences. So I'm willing to give it a shot. It's possibly they had a momentary dip in quality after the New York Times review?

                Thanks Lau! I look forward to reading your blog!

                -----
                A-Wah
                5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                1. re: kathryn

                  ah that is good to hear when i was going there alot i was very surprised at the quality of the bo zai fan, i do need to go back there soon, i hope it was just a momentary lapse in quality as it was one of the best in chinatown for sure

                  1. re: Lau

                    I hit A Wah up this weekend and was pretty happy. I went a few times before the Times article came our and once afterward and noted that it did dip a bit in quality (came out much quicker too). Saturday though it came out as good as when I first had it. I was there on an off hour though so that may have helped.

                    1. re: Lau

                      Which bo zai fan would you recommend? I might try it out tomorrow for dinner.

                      1. re: daffyduck

                        try the very first one, it says like house special in english and in chinese is just says hua zai bo zai fan (the name of the restaurant is hua zai in chinese). It will have lop chong (chinese sausage), a pork patty and pieces of fatty bacon in it. Pour the dark thicker soy sauce they have over it and mix it up, make sure to get the crusty part of the rice on the bottom. I'm pretty generous with how much soy sauce i add, but add as much as you please.

                        1. re: Lau

                          Definitely get the house special before you branch out. The general rule of thumb is to add more soy sauce than you would think makes sense.

                          If you mix it up and there is no crusty rice on the bottom then let it sit for a bit. The crusty rice is one of the best parts

                          1. re: Lau

                            lop chong is the hard dried sausage that they sell at hong kong supermarket and other asian groceries right? if so, i had them growing up as a kid but was never really a fan. i'll give this dish a shot though because i dont think ive ever had claypot rice.

                            1. re: daffyduck

                              yah thats it, its sort of semi sweet....definitely try that one though, its really good

                              1. re: daffyduck

                                be VERY generous with the sauce

                              2. re: Lau

                                i tried it yesterday for dinner and wasnt really impressed. it just tasted like fried rice with burnt rice at the bottom and sides topped with all those ingredients, maybe i got them on a bad day? but like almost everything in chinatown it was cheap so i'm definiately willingly to try it again, im curious about the eel one, ill probably try that next.

                                1. re: daffyduck

                                  haven't tried the eel one, but the frog one was quite good when i tried it

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    is the dish suppose to just taste like fried rice with crusty rice at the bottom and sides?

                                    1. re: daffyduck

                                      no it should not, the rice on the bottom should be crusty and somewhat burnt. The rice should be flavored with whatever was cooked on top of it (which is why i'm most inclined to like the pork patty with lap chop b/c the flavor runs through it better) and you mix it all up with the darker thicker soy sauce. It's pretty flavorful, but doesn't taste like fried rice.

                                      I will go back there in the next two weeks to try it myself and tell you what i think

                          2. re: kathryn

                            oh there is one other restaurant in flushing to consider, Canton Gourmet is pretty good, theyve amazing garlic crab and their food is generally pretty good

                          3. re: Lau

                            Where is Sifu Chio, and is that what their sign says in English?

                            1. re: Pan

                              its in flushing on the corner of 40th road and prince. The name is not shifu chio in english, its got a burgandy onning and says CHML HK in english. Fyi, noodles and wontons are excellent, broth is just okay....but that beats any other places where all three are bad to ok at best

                              1. re: Lau

                                For a while, at least, they had a paper menu that said Sifu Chio (linked on the place record below). I thought CHML HK might've been the name of a previous tenant, but they've left it untouched on the awning for a long time.

                                -----
                                Sifu Chio
                                40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                          4. If you are close to Midtown East try Phoenix Garden on E40th. It's Cantonese but run by Hong Kong natives. Excellent food with lots of fresh seafood specials.

                            -----
                            Phoenix Garden
                            242 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Motosport

                              Phoenix Garden is not bad for midtown, but South China Garden is much better

                              -----
                              Phoenix Garden
                              242 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016

                              South China Garden
                              22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                            2. A-Wah sold their soul to the devil

                              -----
                              A-Wah
                              5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                              1. Here's where we ended up going:

                                Guang Zhou for dim sum on Saturday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5180...

                                Best North Dumpling on Sunday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738176

                                Golden Mall on Sunday: Shangdong Dumpling, Wang-Zheng's Halal Snacks, Old Wang Ji
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6672...

                                Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao on Sunday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6890...

                                Szechuan Gourmet on Monday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7177...

                                Great NY Noodletown on Tuesday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7335...

                                A-Wah on Wednesday
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7021...

                                Thanks to a delayed flight (9 hrs! Ugh!) on night #1 we weren't able to go out for Chinese food.

                                Tonight's his last night in town and my husband called an audible. So we're going to Kabab Cafe in Queens instead and South China Garden will have to wait.

                                -----
                                South China Garden
                                22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                Szechuan Gourmet
                                21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                North Dumpling
                                27 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                                A-Wah
                                5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: kathryn

                                  yea that is an insane amount of nonstop chinese food. i thought i was a fanatic but i dont think i could do that

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    i would love to know what you ordered at these places if you would be up for sharing

                                    1. re: AubWah

                                      If you follow all of the links, I did a quick write up of each with the dishes we got.