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Oct 2, 2011 08:03 PM

Pizza and Chinese food in Central Valley

Hi all.

I'm interested in great pizza and Chinese food around Modesto, Stockton, Merced range. I've eaten at lucalis and dafarrahs in NYC and delfina in bay area. I haven't found anything close in CV. Best in mod is chefs of new York, but it's a long way behind those I mentioned.

I haven't found any really good Chinese food either. Have tried dynasty and imperial garden and not impressed. My fav dish is gen tso's but can't come anywhere near NYC places. Yes, I know gen tso's isn't a real Chinese dish.



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  1. ok,well. good luck in your search.

    Re pizza: I am not a pizza fan so don't look much, but I am fairly certain your search will come up fairly empty. Hopefully some Modesto Hounds will chime in, but I am fairly certain you won't find anything fairly similar to Delfina.

    For Chinese food: you should check out Hunan in Fresno, almost certainly the best in the CV. Worth the drive from the northern SJV, (or even further afield) check out the many reports on the board re what to order.

    However, while I am no NY expert my understanding is that even some hounds in the bay area can't really find what they consider NY style Chinese food. That said, you should also know that those of us like me who have spent lots of time in the bay area (I can't compare to NY since I have only visited there a few times) have two scales for Merced restaurants: an overall scale (as in 'it's a five of ten on an overall scale') and a 'good for Merced' scale (the same restaurant that is a five on the overall scale might be a seven or eight on the 'good for Merced' scale). Keep in mind that the fact that the CV has been hit so hard by the recession and has not recovered makes it difficult to open and run non-chain restaurants (with 20plus percent unemployment in Merced County, folks don't go out to eat much!); this is of course particularly true in the smaller towns like Merced.

    In Merced, the best Chinese food, IMO, is at New Asia on Main Street (about a seven on the 'good for Merced' scale) and the Tawainese specialties at Mel's Cafe in the Raley's Center on G. Fairly sure that New Asia has General Tsao's Chicken, though I haven't ordered it.

    If you want Asian on a general scale in Merced, stick to Thai or Laotian food. Bangkok Thai, in particular, competes well on a bay area scale. and, as I said, good luck in your search and please report back!

    Bangkok Thai Restaurant
    235 W Main St, Merced, CA 95340

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      Hi Susan. Thanks for the reply. I know what you mean by "good for Merced." We have a great Thai place called Tasty Thai that's a solid 8.5 and Chefs of NY is an 8.3 if you eat there, though the pizza quality is inconsistent, 7.8 for takeout. Delfina is a 9.3 and Lucali a 9.5! There isn't even a Chinese place I'd rate as a 7.5 here.

    2. Hi, Rc. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think your search for anything comparable to east coast pizza or Chinese will prove to be in vain. My partner is a New Englander and I'm from the Great Lakes region, and neither of us have found anything the even comes close. We lived in Bakersfield for two years and have been on the Central Coast for over a year now and have been sorely disappointed in what the region has to offer, esp with Chinese. I'm dying for an east coast style egg roll an egg fu yung but what's available here doesn't even come close.

      1 Reply
      1. I have never had a good New York pizza, so I can't give you a relative indicator of quality, but the best pizza in Stockton (IMHO) is at Dante's at the corner of Thornton Road and Wagner Heights Road. And while I've similarly never had New York Chinese food, I *do* know good Chinese food (nothing compares to Mom's, as long as Mom was born in China...), and I'd recommend Dynasty in Stockton (not the same as Dynasty in Modesto) in the shopping center at the corner of Benjamin Holt Drive and Pacific Avenue. A lot of local Chinese are also raving about Chef Chu's, which is just south (perhaps a quarter mile or so) of the aforementioned Dante's on Thornton Road.

        Of course, as you allude in your OP, you're really not looking for *good* Chinese food, but the kind of Chinese food to which you're accustomed...and that's ok, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all. Having said that, tho, I don't know whether either Dynasty or Chef Chu's will provide what you seek. For all I know, you're really after gweilo Chinese food...plenty o' that in Stockton, too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ricepad

          Thanks RP. You're right about that. Gweilo is the same as gaijin in Japanese, isn't it? lol
          You've given me several places to try in Stockton and I appreciate it. Ocean Palace is the place that make General Tsao's chicken closest to the way I like it.

          Ocean Palace
          2900 Standiford Ave Ste 11, Modesto, CA 95350

          1. re: RCranium666

            Yeah, in popular usage, they're pretty much the same (altho they translate differently if taken literally). There's plenty o' gaijin Japanese restaurants in the Stockton area, too. In fact, I'm not aware of any Japanese restaurants in Stockton run by Japanese any more. Most are run by Koreans, Taiwanese Chinese, or Southeast Asians. But you didn't ask about those...!

            FWIW, a friend from college who grew up on Long Island used to complain about not being able to get a decent pizza in California. You may be out of luck!

            1. re: ricepad

              Can't speak to Stockton, but in case OP or anyone else reading is interested, Modesto Sukiyaki on Tully Road in Modesto is Japanese owned: the chef/owner and his wife are from Tokyo. I've had a few good meals there.

              Modesto Sukiyaki
              3507 Tully Rd, Modesto, CA 95356

              1. re: susancinsf

                I've eaten @ sushi garden and Osaka sushi. 1st excellent, 2nd average. I'll have to try MS.

        2. My son went to Univ of the Pacific in Stockton and we went out to dinner alot. Pizza: we didn't go to Dante's - prob b/c neither of us knew about it, but went to Michaels Pizza a few times. It is on Alpine Road, between 5 and Pacific Ave. Very good pizza, tho not NY style by any stretch of the imagination (and I'm originally from NYC, so I definitely know that style). Order at the counter, they deliver to your table. I don't recall going out for Chinese at all.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alwayshungrygal

            It's actually Alpine AVENUE, not Road. Alpine Road is east of town, and I don't think there are any places to eat on it!

            Michael's is one of a local quasi-chain. The others are Eric's, David's, and Rick's (in Lodi). They have the same look, the same menus, and the same pies. Michael's was the first of the bunch, and supposedly they're all brothers (or cousins?), but I don't know the straight dope.

          2. RC, did you try Imperial Garden in Fresno? I think their food is excellent, especially dim sum. Also, Hunan in Fresno is highly touted, though I haven't been there for awhile. I am not familiar with NY Chinese, but have travelled in China. What do you mean by NY Chinese? If you are looking for truely authentic, I'm told go to Hunan and ask for the Chinese menu.

            Imperial Garden Restaurant
            6640 N Blackstone Ave Ste 108, Fresno, CA 93710

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gail

              Hi Gail. No, I haven't, though there's a restaurant by that name in Modesto that I have been to. I don't get down to Fresno much.