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Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the US - ??

bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 11:03 AM

I caught news of this ceremony/"competition"/event via Sunday Morning's Bill Geist's usual tongue-in-cheek segment:


While the segment was entertaining - Bill Geist has one of the greatest jobs in the media world - I was flabbergasted by the absence of any notable Chinese eateries. The California-based Chinese eateries (particularly from the San Gabriel Valley area) that should have otherwise been top-heavy in the list were nonexistent. And a place in - Pennsylvania ?? - was number one? Hound greygarious posted this related info earlier:


If there ever was a list that could be called contentious, questionable and without merit, I think this is the one. The only redeeming factor about this all is the fact that I found out about it through Mister tongue-in-cheek, Bill Geist.

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  1. ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 11:43 AM

    This is a pay-to-play list.

    Chinese Restaurant News, which publishes the list, doesn't even have a dividing wall between its editorial and marketing depts. because it's all marketing. You pay (and subscribe) you get an article written up about you, or your restaraunt.

    That said, nothing wrong with the list. It's interesting to look at, if nothing else.

    1. Melanie Wong RE: bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 11:44 AM

      Not even worth getting in a tizzy over, the list is so off base. The ones in NorCal include some good ones, but not "the best", as well as some not anywhere close to good quality. One of the latter would be the Sakura buffet in Salinas http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/320986

      1. s
        samj530 RE: bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 12:02 PM

        Here in the Yuba-Sutter area of NorCal, we have 3 great places each good in their own way.
        #1 Chinese Garden. Family owned, the head chef was trained in China. The Sizzling Beef is fantastic, tender & flavorful. Also try Salt & Pepper Ribs & Barbecue Pork.
        #2 Dragon Inn. The Egg Rolls are outrageous! Buy a double order. Also try Beef with Seasonal Vegetables (particularly during Asparagus season).
        #3 China Moon. Decor is kitschy (picture bright pink paint & plastic flowers) but fun. Try the Sweet & Sour Shrimp.

        If you are looking for authentic Chinese food (not Americanized) look elsewhere!

        1. Chandavkl RE: bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 10:03 PM

          Some of the restaurants very actively campaign for votes, so having seen signs asking for votes in some restaurants in the past I knew it was kind of shady. Actually I'm surprised that there are some pretty good and authentic restaurants that take part in this exercise.

          1. K K RE: bulavinaka Jan 16, 2011 10:30 PM

            Ipse and Melanie have nailed it. Nothing more than an advertising medium. In fact many of the SF Bay Area (NorCal) listings belong to some various clubs or associations, quite a few are frequent guests at certain functions, and almost always get coverage by the local Chinese TV station (and newspaper mentions).

            In some ways it is better that the really great places are not on that list. Too much exposure would just ruin it.

            1. s
              sushigirlie RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 06:56 AM

              I'm so happy to see that Kome Sushi Buffet is on the list.

              1. c
                cheesemaestro RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 07:22 AM

                "And a place in - Pennsylvania?? - was number one?"

                Isn't it rather ridiculous to assume that Pennsylvania couldn't have a fabulous Chinese restaurant? At how many of the restaurants on the list have you eaten? Have you been to the winning restaurant in Bryn Mawr, PA? (Neither have I, but I live in PA.) Believe it or not, not all of the excellent restaurants in the US are in California or NYC.

                That being said, I don't put much stock in "competitions" of this sort. It's more of a popularity contest than anything else.

                58 Replies
                1. re: cheesemaestro
                  Chandavkl RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 09:01 AM

                  In theory it's possible to have a great Chinese restaurant in Pennsylvania and indeed there are some good ones in Philadelphia Chinatown. But in Bryn Mawr--very unlikely unless a Chinese community has sprung up in the area in the past few years. Having a great Chinese restaurant requires a critical mass of Chinese residents in the vicinity, since it is only a collection of demanding Chinese diners that will push a Chinese restaurant to greatness. You do find some really good Chinese restaurants in unlikely places, but that's usually because there is that critical mass even though it may not be readily apparent. Plus the Chinese community finds out about these places incredibly quickly.

                  1. re: Chandavkl
                    cheesemaestro RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 09:43 AM

                    I agree with your observations, but the OP painted Pennsylvania with a broad brush. As you say, Philadelphia has a good size Chinatown and some very good restaurants. It's certainly conceivable that it could support a great one. And without having been to a restaurant, how can one possibly know if it is better or worse than than places at which one has eaten?

                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                      ipsedixit RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 10:02 AM

                      No, it is certainly is not conceivable.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 10:07 AM

                        I wouldn't say certainly not conceivable, but close to it, only because there are some quirky chefs out there. I remember there was an outstanding regional Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area (Hunan style?) and the chef moved to Fresno. (Melanie can fill us in.) And don't forget that place that operated up in Hanford, CA for so many years. And some master Chinese chef parked himself I believe in Knoxville, TN for a couple of years. But that aside, I agree with you.

                        1. re: Chandavkl
                          ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 10:09 AM

                          I should rephrase.

                          It is certainly not conceivable that there would be a great Chinese restaurant in PA by Chinese people standards.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            cheesemaestro RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 10:52 AM

                            Why not? What makes the Chinese who live in CA more demanding of good food than those who live in other states? I'm not saying that there is a truly great Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia, but I'm not convinced that there couldn't be one. Why do Californians always think that nothing could be as good anywhere else?

                            1. re: cheesemaestro
                              ipsedixit RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 11:00 AM

                              It's not a superiority complex, but one of demographics as Chandavkl already mentioned above.

                              You not only need talented chefs and staff to operate and maintain (key word here "maintain") a quality Chinese restaurant, but you need a critical mass of Chinese ex-pats to serve as your client base. The majority of non-Chinese clientele simply do not care for, nor really can appreciate, the finer points of quality, high-end Chinese dining.

                              Having said that, this isn't a slam on non-Chinese restaurant goers vis-a-vis Chinese restaurants. The same logic and principle applies to, for example, an Italian restaurant in the middle of Chengdu. You may have Italian restaurants in Chengdu, but the best in all of China? No go.

                              And there is no superiority complex with Californians regarding their Chinese food. Most of those who know better will agree that both Vancouver and Toronto far outpace San Gabriel Valley (in Southern California) in terms of quality Chinese restaurants (at least high-end ones).

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 11:23 AM

                                Absolutely, it's in the demographics. Numbers are a big part of it--a lot more Chinese in SF, LA, Vancouver and Toronto. But it's more than numbers, it's also the composition. New York also has lots of Chinese but it trails far behind the four cities named, which have a significantly greater Hong Kong influence. Hong Kong and Cantonese people are the most passionate about their food, plus they're starting with a highly developed cuisine. Philadelphia, in fact, has turned into a outpost of sorts of New York Chinatown in recent years, and lags quite a bit behind New York in the Chinese food pecking order here in the New World.

                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                  scoopG RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 11:38 AM

                                  As far as I know NYC is home to the only Shandong restaurants in the USA. There is a more diverse offering of Chinese cuisines in NYC. Do Toronto and Vancouver have Fujianese, Henanese, Shandongese joints? I don't think Cantonese are any more or less passionate about their cuisine than any other group.

                                  1. re: scoopG
                                    Chandavkl RE: scoopG Jan 17, 2011 11:59 AM

                                    There are a number of Shandong restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. New York does have some unique regional Chinese cuisines, such as Henan, Xi'an and Weizhou, so New York certainly deserves credit there But don't forget there's the old Chinese saying about the best food being Cantonese, and this seems to be replicated here in the U.S. Best demonstration is the fact that even in U.S. cities with Chinese communities not having a significant Hong Kong/Cantonese component (i.e., cities without a historic Cantonese Chinatown, but modern day non-Cantonese immigrants), the biggest and best Chinese restaurants for banquets etc. are always Hong Kong/Cantonese style. You can find this in places like Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta and Louisville, and I'm sure there are many others in that category. Also, many, if not most non-Cantonese Chinese Americans like to eat Hong Kong/Cantonese style food. Most of my Hong Kong-Cantonese friends and family do not like to eat other regional cuisines.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl
                                      scoopG RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 12:08 PM

                                      The old Chinese saying about Cantonese food being the best was invented by the Cantonese! Cantonese cuisine is one of the four oldest, along with Shandong, Huiyang and Sichuan.

                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                  scoopG RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 11:33 AM

                                  There is a chance that Richmond (Vancouver) and Toronto outpace the SGV in Cantonese food, but that would be the only cuisine.

                                  1. re: scoopG
                                    Chandavkl RE: scoopG Jan 17, 2011 12:01 PM

                                    I freely admit that Richmond/Vancouver is clearly superior to the SGV in Cantonese food. Toronto is not quite as clear, but Toronto's best exceeds California's best.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl
                                      scoopG RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 12:04 PM

                                      But only in Cantonese food, right?

                                      1. re: scoopG
                                        Chandavkl RE: scoopG Jan 17, 2011 12:15 PM

                                        Actually, the bar is so high there, Vancouver is probably better in all regional cuisines.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl
                                          ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 12:30 PM

                                          The thing that separates Vancouver-Richmond (and perhaps Toronto) from the San Gabriel Valley is the diversity.

                                          While Vancouver may be better overall -- and better overall in all types of cuisines -- SGV still outpaces Vancouver in overall diversity. At least this was the case since I was last up in BC (about 8 months ago).

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 12:33 PM

                                            True, you can't beat the SGV for total breadth of Chinese regional cuisine, despite the lack of Fujianese food. But even the Shanghai food is better in Richmond than the SGV, in my opinion.

                                3. re: cheesemaestro
                                  raytamsgv RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 01:01 PM

                                  "What makes the Chinese who live in CA more demanding of good food than those who live in other states?"

                                  If you look at the restaurants on the Top 100 Chinese List, there are 15 with "Buffet" in the title and three with Japanese names (including "Wasabi Japanese Restaurant" and "Kome Sushi Buffet"). Chinese cuisine almost never has raw vegetables or meat, unlike Japanese cuisine. It's hard to believe three such restaurants could serve better Chinese food than the thousands of Chinese restaurants found in the San Gabriel Valley, New York, San Francisco, or Vancouver.

                                  Suppose a list of the 100 best Philly cheesteak sandwiches in the US contained only 15 restaurants in Philadelphia (with only 2 in the top 10) and 40 of them in California. (and some of them named "California Fusion Cuisine" or "Xiao Wang's Seafood Buffet"). Such a list would be very questionable to even someone who isn't an expert in cheesesteak sandwiches, such as myself.

                                  1. re: raytamsgv
                                    cheesemaestro RE: raytamsgv Jan 17, 2011 02:29 PM

                                    Philly cheesesteak and Chinese food are hardly comparable. There's nothing magical or complicated about a cheesesteak sandwich. I think that an excellent one could be mastered almost anywhere, although a born and bred Philadelphian would probably never admit it.

                                    I have spent the majority of my life in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, but I've relocated twice to California (once LA area, once SF area). I've dined in numerous cities with large concentrations of Chinese, so I harbor no illusions that the average suburban Chinese-American restaurant or buffet represents anything close to the ideal.

                                    My problem with the arguments being made is their equating what is generally true with what may be true in a particular instance. Of course, there are areas of North America with a far larger population of Chinese ex-pats and with a far greater number of good Chinese restaurants than Philly. I would certainly agree that the overall quality and variety of the Chinese food in these areas is substantially better than what one finds in Philly and most other parts of the eastern seaboard and that a primary reason for this is the large size of the their Chinese communities. However, it does not follow that the area with the largest Chinese population will necessarily have the SINGLE best Chinese restaurant. It may be more likely to be found there, but it's not a given.

                                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                                      raytamsgv RE: cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2011 09:29 AM

                                      Let's say that Californians like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with thick slices of beef, unmelted gouda cheese, and panini-pressed sourdough. If California restaurants serving this type of sandwhich make up most of the list of top 100 Philly cheesesteak sandwich restaurants in the US, I'm sure many people would say that it's not a true Philly cheesesteak.

                                      That is the problem I have with the list. Chinese cuisine does not normally have all-you-can-eat buffets nor does it have raw foods such as sushi. The person(s) who compiled the list have a strange definition of Chinese food and even stranger definition of "Top 100".

                                      I'm not discounting the possibility of good Chinese cooking in areas where there is a lower concentration of Chinese immigrants. I'm sure that if you talk with the owners, they'll be able to cook some tasty and authentic dishes. But there is a much greater probability of finding better Chinese restaurants in areas where you have more Chinese immigrants.

                                4. re: ipsedixit
                                  linguafood RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 11:19 AM

                                  That's utter BS. Our local Sichuan place (right in the middle of PA, btw) can easily compete with Sichuan places in NYC AND Sichuan province, according to many Chinese people who have eaten there.

                                  There is a fairly large Chinese community here due to the university, but only one Sichuan restaurant among a few other generic, Americanized slop places.

                                  1. re: linguafood
                                    Chandavkl RE: linguafood Jan 17, 2011 11:30 AM

                                    I think you proved my point about surprisingly good restaurants due to unexpected demographics. I recently found a pretty good Chinese restaurant in Buffalo (actually Amherst) and was puzzled about the location until the owner told me that the SUNY campus and its 35 percent Asian population was a couple of miles away. But that only gets us to good, and unless there's another factor (e.g., an extraordinary chef who happens to be there) I don't think you'll find great.

                                    1. re: Chandavkl
                                      linguafood RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 11:41 AM

                                      Oh, it's great alright, trust me. In fact, the best resto in town.

                                      1. re: linguafood
                                        cheesemaestro RE: linguafood Jan 17, 2011 11:49 AM

                                        Just curious, linguafood. What restaurant are you talking about?

                                        1. re: cheesemaestro
                                          linguafood RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 12:21 PM

                                          Not that it'll be much help, cause I doubt it's known beyond the 'city' limits --

                                          Chopstick Express is the American name, but I'm pretty sure the Chinese characters mean something else. It's a total hole in the wall that serves fantastic Sichuan food at night. At lunch, it's super-cheap, Americanized glop.

                                          1. re: linguafood
                                            Das Ubergeek RE: linguafood Jan 17, 2011 08:21 PM

                                            The first character isn't very clear—it could be yáng (样), which means "shape" or "style" or even "method/way". The second character is lóng (龍), which means "dragon". If it actually is 样龍 (in which case, what awful calligraphy!) then I guess it could be translated as "Dragon style".

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                              skylineR33 RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 18, 2011 06:17 AM

                                              No, you have it in the wrong way. It is 龍样 from right to left, not 样龍 .

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                linguafood RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 18, 2011 08:11 AM

                                                Yeah, I thought my buddy mentioned it was 'Dragon' something or the other. The food is awesome-style, is all I know '-D

                                              2. re: linguafood
                                                raytamsgv RE: linguafood Jan 18, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                I think you have the wrong character. I think it is xiáng​ (祥), not yáng (样). In this case, you can read it from left to right as "auspicious dragon". At any rate, I don't like the calligraphy very much, too.

                                                1. re: raytamsgv
                                                  Das Ubergeek RE: raytamsgv Jan 18, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                  It could be. I'm certainly not fluent enough to make that call... but I have issues with the "handwritten" calligraphy anyway. It's sometimes easier to read the chicken-scratch on the bill pad.

                                                2. re: linguafood
                                                  buttertart RE: linguafood Jan 18, 2011 04:06 PM

                                                  Lucky dragon, no? Xiang Long. The calligraphy isn't bad, it wasn't done by Zhu Yunming or anybody, but it's serviceable.

                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                    scoopG RE: linguafood Jan 27, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                    Is there a CH review on this place? Where is it exactly?

                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                      linguafood RE: scoopG Jan 27, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                      funny you should ask.... why yes, there is.


                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                        scoopG RE: linguafood Jan 27, 2011 01:44 PM

                                                        Thanks, next time I am in Happy Valley then!

                                                        1. re: scoopG
                                                          linguafood RE: scoopG Jan 27, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                          I think you'll like it.

                                                          1. re: linguafood
                                                            scoopG RE: linguafood Jan 27, 2011 01:55 PM

                                                            I'd love to see their menu!

                                                            1. re: scoopG
                                                              linguafood RE: scoopG Jan 27, 2011 02:01 PM

                                                              there ya go (it's very small, but I could send it to you via email if you like).

                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                cheesemaestro RE: linguafood Jan 27, 2011 02:10 PM

                                                                Great! I'll be in State College for a couple of days late next week. I'll see if I can make it to this place for dinner.

                                              3. re: Chandavkl
                                                scoopG RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                Bryn Mawr is a Philadelphia exoburb. In addition to Bryn Mawr College (1700 students) nearby is also Haverford (1200) and Swarthmore Colleges (1500).

                                                Not all that far away are “the Big Five:” LaSalle (6200), Penn (25,000), St. Joe’s (8500), Villanova (20,000) and Temple (37,000).

                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                  Chandavkl RE: scoopG Jan 17, 2011 12:22 PM

                                                  To oversimplify (quite) a bit, there are two North American Chinatown models. There's the Los Angeles-San Francisco-Vancouver-Toronto-New York-Washington DC-Houston model where the core center city historic Cantonese Chinatown has pretty much fallen apart (not literally or entirely) and most all of the action is in the suburbs (San Gabriel Valley, Richmond B.C., Flushing, Richmond Hill/Markham). Then you have places like Chicago and Boston where the core center city Chinatown retains its influence and the better Chinese restaurants. Philadelphia follows more of the latter model, except that there is that Fujianese community growing in NE Philadelphia (which I haven't had the pleasure of visiting yet). Consequently, an exurb of Philadelphia would be a surprising place to find a signature Chinese restaurant.

                                                  1. re: Chandavkl
                                                    cheesemaestro RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                    I wish people would stop calling Bryn Mawr an exurb. It's only about four miles from the Philadelphia city line and 10 miles from Center City. It's not some remote outpost.

                                                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                      scoopG RE: cheesemaestro Jan 17, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                      Who said it was in a remote outpost? Exoburb just denotes the area beyond the suburbs. St. Joe's campus for example along city line. Half of it is in Philadelphia, the other half in suburban Philly.

                                                      1. re: scoopG
                                                        Chowrin RE: scoopG Jan 20, 2011 07:14 AM

                                                        exoburb is 30 miles out, at least. ymmv.

                                              4. re: linguafood
                                                Chowrin RE: linguafood Jan 20, 2011 07:17 AM

                                                ... but can it compete with those in vancouver? [not as crazy a Q as you might think... Vancouver's got better shipping routes than NYC, and in Sichuan prov, you expect food made to the local "ability to pay", which is probably less than in America.]

                                                1. re: Chowrin
                                                  linguafood RE: Chowrin Jan 20, 2011 09:28 AM

                                                  who knows? i've never been to vancouver (unfortunately), and this thread was about the US.

                                                2. re: linguafood
                                                  bulavinaka RE: linguafood Jan 24, 2011 06:02 PM

                                                  >>That's utter BS. Our local Sichuan place (right in the middle of PA, btw) can easily compete with Sichuan places in NYC AND Sichuan province, according to many Chinese people who have eaten there.<<

                                                  Here's an article that Hall-of-Famer Hound raytamsgv posted today:


                                                  What caught my eye was this excerpt:

                                                  >>On our third day at The Culinary Institute, they choose to eat in a notoriously bad Chinese restaurant rather than brave another fine Western meal.<<

                                                  I've had the same experience with my wife's family - Malaysian-Chinese - and they'd take any pseudo-Chinese glop dive over just about any "American" joint on any given day.

                                                  My Father-in-law blurted out, "Ah - no good Chinese food on our bus trip from LA to the Grand Canyon until we got to Vegas."

                                                  "Oh - where did you eat?"

                                                  "Panda Express - much better than boring steak or Italian. And how can you people eat salad? Raw food is very bad for you - unsanitary and too cooling."

                                                  My point is that it's been my experience that Chinese visiting the US will gravitate toward just about anything that is familiar to them, and claim or at least feel it is good/great/better relative to what they aren't familiar with.

                                                  With all due respect: your assessment on your local Sichuan place is based on second hand information. Like the eatery that was voted #1, I don't know how well it would hold up to more objective tastes. Yeah, I've never been to either of these places, so I'm going out on a limb but my bias is because I've eaten a fair amount of meals in one of the most broad and dense Chinese food areas in the US.

                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                    Chandavkl RE: bulavinaka Jan 24, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                    Yes, confirmed by Chinese tour groups (from both China as well as tours organized in Chinatown) who dine only at Chinese restaurants, even in locales where there is no authentic Chinese food. (That's why I didn't take the Chinese tour to Europe.)

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                                      buttertart RE: bulavinaka Jan 25, 2011 04:52 AM

                                                      And the general run of Americans (not CHers of course) on tour in China will gravitate to Western restaurants.

                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                        Chandavkl RE: buttertart Jan 25, 2011 08:00 AM

                                                        Yes, but a higher percentage of American tourists are open minded about trying local cuisine, particularly as part of the overall experience of the trip. I took the Monterey Park tour to the Canadian rockies where tour provided meals was an optional add on that most of the people signed up for. (Mind you this was a Chinese-American tour, not a Chinese based tour.) The bus stopped for lunch at a Chinese buffet in this British Columbian wilderness town so we followed the group in to take a peek at the food. Ewww--Chinese food at its grossest. The handful of us who didn't eat there were never so grateful to find a Subway sandwich shop in that little town. On the other hand, at the overnight stop, also in the British Columbian wildneress, there are so many Chinese tours staying over that there's actually an authentic Chinese restaurant that caters to the Chinese tourists passing through, and which closes when tourist season ends.

                                                      2. re: bulavinaka
                                                        linguafood RE: bulavinaka Jan 25, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                        My assessment of our local Sichuan place is based on

                                                        a) my own observations, tho, for full disclosure, I personally have not been to Sichuan province

                                                        b) my friends' observations, some of whom are Chinese (tho not from Sichuan), some of whom are from Sichuan, and some of whom are American and have travelled extensively in the Sichuan province.

                                                        With all due respect, I'll trust my friends and my own judgments on this one.

                                                        The fact that your extended Chinese family will eat anywhere Chinese and like it adds nothing to this discussion.

                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                          bulavinaka RE: linguafood Jan 25, 2011 05:20 PM

                                                          >>The fact that your extended Chinese family will eat anywhere Chinese and like it adds nothing to this discussion.<<

                                                          >>My assessment of our local Sichuan place is based on

                                                          a) my own observations, tho, for full disclosure, I personally have not been to Sichuan province

                                                          b) my friends' observations, some of whom are Chinese (tho not from Sichuan), some of whom are from Sichuan, and some of whom are American and have travelled extensively in the Sichuan province.<<

                                                          And yours does?

                                                          Point being about my example is that I've found that Chinese folks will eat just about anything labeled, "Chinese" as opposed to just about anything else. Your Sichuan place reminds me of this. Again, I have no idea how good or bad it is, but it sounds like neither do you. Assuming that the place is at least decent to pretty good on some arbitrary scale, and considering that it is probably the only place that the local Chinese population consider it as such, they will have no issues assessing this as "the best Sichuan." The countless examples of Chinese visitors, expats and such having this mindset about food and playing it out is plenty enough for me to question the validity of this place's status.

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                                            linguafood RE: bulavinaka Jan 25, 2011 05:27 PM

                                                            You're right. Nobody can make any quality assessment about any Chinese restaurant anywhere, not even the Chinese themselves.

                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                              bulavinaka RE: linguafood Jan 25, 2011 08:11 PM

                                                              >>You're right. Nobody can make any quality assessment about any Chinese restaurant anywhere, not even the Chinese themselves.<<

                                                              Given their lack of choices in this circumstance, you are correct. Drop them off in the San Gabriel Valley, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Flushing, or San Francisco/Bay Area, and it's a different story.

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                linguafood RE: bulavinaka Jan 26, 2011 07:29 AM

                                                                Right. And of course, none of these people have any experience eating Chinese food anywhere else outside of Sichuan, China, or PA.

                                                                Do you just not WANT to get it, or is it more important for you to be right?

                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                  bulavinaka RE: linguafood Jan 26, 2011 06:30 PM

                                                                  I can say the same to you, so I guess we can agree to disagree as they say. Your angle is that these folks all line up to say that this is the best Sichuan ever, or at least outside of Sichuan. My angle is that with only one place in your area to show for this, I have a hard time believing this. Tastebuds do strange things in terms of judgement when only one choice is given - albeit I will grant you it's probably decent - and like I and many have experienced around Chinese diners outside of their normal realm of choices: they will gladly lower their expectations without even batting an eye. If my FiL tells me that Panda Express was very good, and I know what he normally eats (between my MiL who is an excellent cook, and the neck-deep choices of excellent food around his part of town in Malaysia), I can easily extend this logic to others. It's all about the number of good to great choices in terms of how I view it. You can stick with your argument and I will gladly stick to mine. Howz that? Fair enough?

                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                    linguafood RE: bulavinaka Jan 27, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                                    Sorry, but this doesn't quite get to the point that - regardless of the scarce availability of Sichuan food in THIS particular area, the people who judge the place have eaten at plenty OTHER Sichuan restaurants ELSEWHERE, INCLUDING SICHUAN province, NYC, Toronto, etc. that I trust their opinion, which seems to be quite well informed.

                                                                    Maybe a different example will help you understand - I am German. I have eaten German food in many places in the US, in Germany, and outside of Germany. I would say that I have a pretty indepth understanding of how certain dishes should taste. There is ONE German/Austrian place in town that I don't consider to be particularly good. I've also had German food in NYC that wasn't great, and I've had German food in NYC that was pretty damn close to what I expect.

                                                                    So, NO - just b/c that Austro/German place in town is the ONLY place in town, I will not nor have I lowered my expectations as to what entails GOOD German food.

                                                                    And I don't see any reason to presume my friends would do this in the case of the Sichuan place.

                                                                    You can easily extend your own strange logic to this case, for sure. But yeah, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Cause your logic is warped.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                      bulavinaka RE: linguafood Jan 27, 2011 05:33 PM

                                                                      Words and phrases like, "strange," and, "Cause (sic) your logic is warped." aren't necessary but it also tells me a lot about you. I'm done.

                                              5. re: cheesemaestro
                                                Chowrin RE: cheesemaestro Jan 20, 2011 07:12 AM

                                                the best chinese restaurant that I've ever eaten was in Burlington VT. not known for its chinese community. So Bryn Mawr isn't SUCH a stretch. But is there really much to recommend it? Plenty of four star restaurants in teh boonies... I'd wager more "far out" than in suburbia.

                                          2. Das Ubergeek RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 07:47 AM

                                            Oh, please.

                                            The Wok Experience isn't even in the top 100 Chinese restaurants in Orange County, much less the top 100 Chinese restaurants in the US.

                                            In other news, I'm going to be featured in "Who's Who In Online Food Board Posting", just as soon as I send off the cheque for my pleather-bound copy of the book.

                                            1. raytamsgv RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 10:40 AM

                                              It's difficult to take this list seriously because it lists so many buffets, and one of them is a sushi buffet.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: raytamsgv
                                                kevin47 RE: raytamsgv Jan 17, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                Yeah, the Minnesota listing, Fresh Wok, is simply Americanized take out. Pity this organization couldn't use it's ratings to elevate the credibility of really great restaurants while still finding a way to make a buck.

                                                1. re: kevin47
                                                  scoopG RE: kevin47 Jan 17, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                  Chinese Restaurant News (the sponsor of the "competition") earns its dough by trying to peddle their magazine to every one of the 45,000 Chinese restaurants in the USA. (Canada and Australia are next.) Then each Chinese restaurant (or buffet) that wants to play writes them a check for $1,000 and hopes to be one of the top 100 in class so they can proudly display the top 100 plaque. Those that don't place go home with a Chef's apron that reads: I went to San Francisco in January and all I got was this Lousy Chef's Apron.

                                                  It all reminds me of Apu talking to Homer one day. Apu grabs a video he wants Homer to watch and says, "Here, last year it was on every Indian critic's top 400 list!"

                                                2. re: raytamsgv
                                                  K K RE: raytamsgv Jan 17, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                  By definition a sushi buffet is Chinese run for the most part, includes Chinese food, so therefore if they pay to play, they can enter and qualify to win! This should be in a fortune cookie somewhere.

                                                3. Delucacheesemonger RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 12:59 PM

                                                  Currently a very good Szechuan restaurant called Han Dynasty in Philadelphia, usually 80-90% Asian customers., but Yang Ming is not it. Tablecloths, not necessarily bad, and frenchified chinese food that l avoid like the plague, and l used to live in Bryn Mawr.

                                                  24 Replies
                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                    scoopG RE: Delucacheesemonger Jan 17, 2011 02:02 PM

                                                    How about a Chinese restaurant that serves Western bottles of wine?

                                                    Or did you bring those bottles of wine to Han Dynasty yourself? So "Frenchified Chinese food" (whatever that means) is bad but French (or Italian/German/American/Australia etc...) wines served with a Chinese meal is fine?

                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                      K K RE: scoopG Jan 17, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                      Most of the big name Cantonese seafood joints carry Cali and French wines. Koi Palace in NorCal, as I heard, has bottles in the four digits, as they know the VIP golfers are into the good and sometimes hard stuff.

                                                      1. re: K K
                                                        scoopG RE: K K Jan 17, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                        Thanks - I just wanted to know from Delucacheesemonger I guess where the line is drawn from "Frenchified Chinese food" and a "Frenchified" Chinese meal? (Or "Westernized Chinese meal" with non-Chinese wine/bai jiu served.)


                                                      2. re: scoopG
                                                        Delucacheesemonger RE: scoopG Jan 18, 2011 04:13 AM

                                                        It was BYOB at Han Dynasty, whether the group l was with brought wine or beer, it was a mix. Frenchified refers to a comparison to Susanna Foo in Eastern Pennsylvania, which was highly praised for its cuisine but was as far from authentic Chinese as you could get. A French Chinese fusion loved by some but not me.

                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                          scoopG RE: Delucacheesemonger Jan 18, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                          You don't see the irony in drinking Austrian, French, German and Italian wines with your Chinese meal at Han Dynasty, while steering clear of Frenchified Chinese food?

                                                          1. re: scoopG
                                                            linguafood RE: scoopG Jan 18, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                            I don't get that comparison. And until China produces some decent wines, any other wine will do.

                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                              huiray RE: linguafood Jan 18, 2011 02:46 PM

                                                              But why do you even need to drink wine with Chinese food anyway?

                                                              It has always struck me as odd, how Europeans and Americans (in a broad sense) seem to need wine with their food, even when the food is NOT European or American in nature. Is it nature or nurture? Why do you even need alcohol to enjoy food?

                                                              To me alcohol with Chinese food is superfluous and oftentimes antagonistic to the nature of the food. Even if folks in some parts of Asia drink lots of Johnny Walker Black Label mixed with Coca Cola at Chinese banquets, at least at one time. (It's a mark of supposed prestige, not much more than that, IMO...)

                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                linguafood RE: huiray Jan 18, 2011 03:33 PM

                                                                I personally don't "need" to drink wine with any food, frankly.

                                                                I do enjoy having wine with various kinds of food, Chinese (Sichuan) being one of the cuisines that pair exceptionally well with German Rieslings.

                                                                Mostly, tho, I drink beer with Chinese food. I hope that answers your question.

                                                                1. re: huiray
                                                                  ipsedixit RE: huiray Jan 19, 2011 08:38 AM

                                                                  But why do you even need to drink wine with Chinese food anyway?


                                                                  Moutai ... yum!

                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                    sushigirlie RE: huiray Jan 19, 2011 08:35 PM

                                                                    There's nothing more ridiculous than the trend of authentic, well-regarded Chinese restaurants having wine lists focused on "prestigious" cabernet sauvignon (e.g., Bordeaux). I'm no food and wine pairing snob, but pairing cabernet with Chinese food is a travesty.

                                                                    1. re: sushigirlie
                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: sushigirlie Jan 19, 2011 09:36 PM

                                                                      It's about status, not about correct pairing. Bordeaux is considered the best wine in the world in China, and so serving Bordeaux even when eating food that doesn't go with it is a mark of willingness to serve the best.

                                                                      Besides, any wine tastes so much better than baijiu that it's worthwhile to seek it out.

                                                                  2. re: linguafood
                                                                    scoopG RE: linguafood Jan 18, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                                    Chinese do not drink Western wines with their meals.

                                                                    Chinese Baijiu, beer or tea will do. So in a sense, drinking a French, German, Austrian wine etc...with a Chinese meal is not "authentic."

                                                                    My point is that Delucacheesemonger dislikes what he calls "Frenchified" Chinese food (because that is not "authentic") but is not opposed to having a Frenchified Chinese meal with Western wines - which is not authentic!

                                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                                      linguafood RE: scoopG Jan 19, 2011 08:06 AM

                                                                      Well, I couldn't care less whether Chinese drink Western wines with their meals or not. I am not Chinese, and I will drink whatever lifts my luggage with the food of my choice, authenticity be damned.

                                                                      Authenticity..... >yawn<

                                                                  3. re: scoopG
                                                                    K K RE: scoopG Jan 18, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                                    Hmmm Frenchified Chinese... I suppose can be quite tasty if done right.

                                                                    If you look at Alvin Leung's Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, deconstructed fusion Chinese / molecular, he does pair it with some exotic sour grape, including his own brand "Demon riesling".

                                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                                      yfunk3 RE: scoopG Jan 19, 2011 04:57 AM

                                                                      I was raised with the "belief" that alcohol (being a "heat-y" drink) doesn't go with a good amount of food, especially spicy foods (which are, of course, "heat-y" as well). But that's a Chinese thing and I don't expect Westerners to be aware of it. I do think it's a cultural thing for a lot of Chinese people, though. Doesn't really matter since I almost never drink alcohol of any kind and only cook with it occasionally.

                                                                      1. re: yfunk3
                                                                        Das Ubergeek RE: yfunk3 Jan 19, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                        Maybe that's why watermelon juice tastes so good with Sichuan food. :)

                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                          raytamsgv RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 19, 2011 12:45 PM

                                                                          I drink milk with my Chinese food, so I'm a true heretic.

                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                            buttertart RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 27, 2011 03:32 PM

                                                                            Watermelon in Chinese is xigua - western melon...don't think it's indigenous.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: buttertart Jan 28, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                                              The point was that watermelon—which, indigenous or not, is everywhere in southern China—is an extremely cooling food. It's why pregnant women are told not to eat watermelon.

                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                scoopG RE: buttertart Jan 28, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                                                Certainly watermelon had turned up in China by the Ming Dynasty.

                                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                                  yfunk3 RE: buttertart Jan 28, 2011 08:36 PM

                                                                                  the "xi" refers to Western China, specifically the Xinjiang province area. Watermelon has been a popular fruit grown there for centuries, probably longer. Its location along the Silk Road means that watermelon was fairly common in the more eastern parts of China ever since...well, the Silk Road was started, at least.

                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                    huiray RE: buttertart Jan 28, 2011 09:20 PM

                                                                                    Adding to the above comments, watermelon cultivation is believed to have started in China before the 10th Century CE. It appears to have been introduced to Europe only in the 13th Century by the Moors, and it has been suggested it reached native Americans in the 16th Century.

                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                      buttertart RE: huiray Jan 29, 2011 07:10 AM

                                                                                      Thanks for the corrections.

                                                                                2. re: yfunk3
                                                                                  Chowrin RE: yfunk3 Jan 20, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                                                  what does go well? cultural xchange through cooking!

                                                                        2. ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 01:26 PM

                                                                          As an aside, without a pay-to-play component, how would one go about actually determining the best Chinese Restaurant in the U.S.?

                                                                          As of 2007, there were about 40,000 so-called Chinese restaurants in America per NPR (see: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st... )

                                                                          Some 3 years later, that number may be even higher.

                                                                          Wouldn't a person have to sample a good majority of those 40,000+ restaurants to make a fair determination?

                                                                          Let's say a person eats 3 meals a day -- all at Chinese restaurants in America -- that would only come out to a little more than 1000 restaurants in a year. So to do even half of the 40,000 restaurants it would take nearly 20 years or so.

                                                                          That's alot of soy sauce, rice, msg, and fortune cookies .. not to mention all the bad and rude service you'd have to put up with.

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                            Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 01:41 PM

                                                                            Well, it might not be that hard. It's probably in California, and as experienced Hounds, we've probably read about it on one of the California boards. Of course the determination is subjective, plus there's the ebb and flow. I used to say that Koi Palace in the Bay Area was the best Chinese restaurant in the U.S., but after my last visit there I'm not so sure.

                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                              ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 02:20 PM

                                                                              I used to say that Koi Palace in the Bay Area was the best Chinese restaurant in the U.S., but after my last visit there I'm not so sure.

                                                                              Ok, I've got to ask. What do you consider the best Chinese in the U.S.?

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                                                Good question. I don't know. You probably recall a thread from late last year on the L.A. board in which there was sort of a consensus that in ranking Bay Area and LA area Chinese restaurants, Koi Palace was #1 and then various SGV restaurants claimed the next 6 or 7 slots. So if it's not Koi Palace it would be Elite or Sea Harbour. But I've only eaten at 5,000 of the Chinese restaurants, so who am I to judge?

                                                                                Of course since there are probably dozens of places in the Vancouver and Toronto areas better than what we have in California, it's sort of academic.

                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                  K K RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 03:46 PM

                                                                                  I'm curious, what is your measurement of a good Chinese (in your case, Cantonese) restaurant? Seafood? Wok breath? Any specific dishes you use as a bar, and what is your baseline?

                                                                                  1. re: K K
                                                                                    Chandavkl RE: K K Jan 17, 2011 04:08 PM

                                                                                    Nah, it's more like Justice Potter Stewart's definition of pornography, i.e., I know it when I see it. Consistency in quality and diversity of flavor would be important, as is the simple question of whether I would want to go back regularly.

                                                                                  2. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                    ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Jan 17, 2011 05:30 PM

                                                                                    Which Koi did you go to? Daly City or some other one?

                                                                                    I think with their expansion they've simply spread themselves too thin.

                                                                                    High-end Chinese banquet cuisine is hard to replicate on large scale over multiple locations. Unlike Din Tai Fung, for example.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                      Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 08:31 PM

                                                                                      Been several times to Daly City, once to Koi Garden in Dublin (and also Just Koi in Dublin). While some Yelpers claim Koi Garden is as good as Koi Palace, that's not the case though Koi Garden is very good. it's a rung below. Also Koi Garden was half empty the night I went there, which would never happen at Koi Palace. Probably the best testimony to Koi Palace is the fact I've made multiple visits there. When I go to the Bay Area my first priority is trying the new restaurants that opened up since my previous visit, so it's sort of a sacrifice to go back to Koi Palace instead of someplace else on my hit list. Indeed, Koi Palace is my second most frequented Bay Area restaurant.

                                                                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                scoopG RE: ipsedixit Jan 17, 2011 01:55 PM

                                                                                The "criteria:"


                                                                              3. r
                                                                                Rocknrope RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 04:32 PM

                                                                                I too came looking on Chowhound after watching this segment to see if there were any Hounders with experience at any of the top eateries. I was sad and shocked to see New York restaurants severely underrepresented in the top 100, and from reading this thread I can gather why.

                                                                                As an example, take a look at these photos from one of the only three New York restaurants represented in the "Top 100 Buffets" http://us.chinesemenu.com/r/514742580...

                                                                                Not to judge a book solely by the cover, but those sad heat trays don't look appetizing at all.

                                                                                1. s
                                                                                  Sgee RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 09:33 PM

                                                                                  Hahaha, funny list.

                                                                                  I have actually dined at Yang Ming, honestly can't remember anything about the place...

                                                                                  I don't recognize any of the other places in the top 10 besides Congee Village and I'd pick that over YangMing anyday.

                                                                                  1. g
                                                                                    gan911 RE: bulavinaka Jan 17, 2011 10:28 PM

                                                                                    this list is completely bunk. no inclusion of atlanta restaurants (though tasty china made it)?? no restaurants from monterey park or san gab or garfield? lots of south florida chinese restos? hmm....i call BS

                                                                                    1. chowser RE: bulavinaka Jan 18, 2011 04:48 AM

                                                                                      How did those Japanese restaurants make the Top 100 Chinese restaurants list?

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                                                        K K RE: chowser Jan 18, 2011 08:13 AM

                                                                                        Sushi buffets (that also do Chinese food) in the San Francisco Bay Area are run by Chinese....the ones in the upper part of SF Bay Area (closer to SF), mostly Cantonese speakers, who heavily advertise in the likes of Sing Tao, World Journal (local Chinese newspapers), maybe even KTSF (our local Chinese evening station). Again this is all part of a boys club type of thing. Pay $ to play, and get each other to help vote to get in the polls.

                                                                                        1. re: K K
                                                                                          chowser RE: K K Jan 18, 2011 08:37 AM

                                                                                          In the DC area, both Chinese and Japanese restaurants are often run by Koreans or Vietnamese. But, since the food served is Chinese or Japanese, I don't think of them as the nationality of the owners but of the primary type of food served. But, there is fusion on the menu, though not usually within the dish. And, I do get my favorite Thai food from an American Chinese place owned by someone Korean with a Thai trained chef. I think of it as its primary cuisine so in this case, Chinese.

                                                                                          As polls like this go, it's about popularity and getting people to vote. It's along the lines of Bristol Palin making the top three of dancers on DWTS or the reality star making the top of the SWTS show--meaningless as talent goes.

                                                                                        2. re: chowser
                                                                                          Chandavkl RE: chowser Jan 18, 2011 09:13 AM

                                                                                          Most Chinese buffets serve sushi. If the restaurant serves "authentic" Chinese food and the target audience is Chinese, then there's no problem labeling it as a Chinese buffet since the sushi is really an incidental attraction. However if you have a significant non-Asian client base, there's a good chance that the sushi is the lead attraction, and hence the restaurants are given a Japanese name to enhance the perceived authenticity of the sushi.

                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                            chowser RE: Chandavkl Jan 18, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                                                            I just thought a restaurant called Wasabi Japanese restaurant was Japanese but I've never been so maybe it's just misnamed. In my area the best Chinese restaurants aren't buffet and don't serve sushi.

                                                                                        3. Chandavkl RE: bulavinaka Jan 19, 2011 08:24 PM

                                                                                          Uh-oh. This is getting out of hand.


                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                            zenim RE: Chandavkl Jan 24, 2011 08:50 AM

                                                                                            Asking what is the best Chinese restaurant in USA is like asking what is the best European restaurant in USA or African or South American. How does one compare Szechuan with Cantonese with Uigher with yada yada yada?

                                                                                            And there have been posts on pairing Chinese food with wine that really work. I have followed it on occasion and it does present an enhanced dining experience. Just because a wine is from France doesn't mean it needs French food.

                                                                                            I have always found The Best of......... whether it is doctor, lawyer, farmer, lasagna, foie gras or whatever to be worthless lists and usually represent ...follow the $$$$$$. Why should Chinese Restaurant be any different. Take it for what it's worth...0000000.

                                                                                          2. b
                                                                                            beachmouse RE: bulavinaka Jan 26, 2011 05:49 AM

                                                                                            One of our local restaurants hit the top ten. One of the best in the country, likely not, even if it's just among the strip mall subgroup of such restaurants. But they're good for an area that otherwise seems to be limited to gloppy buffet sorts of places, even if they too feel the need to have a third of the menu be Thai, which is seen as the 'good' Asian cuisine takeout option in these parts .

                                                                                            1. The Chowhound Team RE: bulavinaka Jan 26, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                                                              Folks, this thread has gone way far afield of the original topic, and while some of the discussion has been really interesting, much of it was devolved into idle speculation about restaurants that might or might not theoretically exist and tourists who may or may not eat at them. If you've got something to add about food that actually does exist, or about the nature of the Top 100 List, please go ahead and add it, but otherwise, we'd ask that you let this one go. Thanks.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                                                                bulavinaka RE: The Chowhound Team Jan 26, 2011 06:31 PM

                                                                                                Sorry - just read this after my last post. I'm done. Thank you...

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