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Where are the best Chinese restaurants in New York?

[NOTE: This post was originally on "The Best" board (a New York City area board), but we've moved it to the Food Media and News board, since the resulting discussion is not specific to the New York area. -- THE CHOWHOUND TEAM ]

Today's top Asia Blog story was: The Best Chinese Restaurants in America: Are They All in California?

David Chan, the author, who has eaten at over 6000 Chinese restaurants across America, had some interesting perspectives.

Where are the best Chinese restaurants in New York?

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  1. From this article:

    "...New York has relatively little Hong Kong influence, and I like to describe its Chinese food as being mired in the 1990s. Part of the issue is that while New York City does have a continuing influx of Chinese immigrants, their influx is more of the working class ilk, and heavily weighted towards Fujian province, not a culinary mecca. In contrast, more wealthy/professional Chinese settle in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, and they demand, and can afford, a higher quality of Chinese food. A comment I heard the other day was even more blunt — the person said New York Chinatown food reminded him of post-World War II San Francisco Chinatown food, which is as big of an insult as it sounds."

    Whoa! That's harsh. All 10 on his top 10 are in California! Sounds like a bit of West Coast bias to me. What about Flushing?

    46 Replies
    1. re: swerz

      I've been to 80 Chinese restaurants in Flushing, compared to 300 in Manhattan, and as a whole Flushing is clearly far superior to Manhattan, but significantly behind the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles. You have to visit the San Gabriel Valley to understand the breadth and depth of Chinese food there. Think of a Chinatown probably the size of Manhattan in acreage, with 600 or 700 or 800 authentic Chinese restaurants reflecting the continuing influx of cuisine from Hong Kong, Taiwan and what we used to refer to as Mainland China. Los Angeles, in turn, is a step or so behind suburban Vancouver, and to some extent, suburban Toronto, which reflect similar influences. I'd say the single best Chinese restaurant in New York City is Chinatown Brasserie. (I haven't been to Red Farm and can't opine on that.) South China Garden was one of my favorites, and definitely what I refer to as "San Gabriel Valley quality" but that's gone.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        to echo (echo? maybe augment is a better word) the other posters, in NYC I'd say ask/search for Calvin Trillin's accounts of ventures into Queens.

        I like Manhattan's Chinatown, but have never been bowled over.

        1. re: hill food

          I have to agree with Chandavkl on this.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            oh I agree ipse, looking for good Chinese food in neighborhoods historically known as "Chinatown" is often a losing proposition. there are exceptions but...

        2. re: Chandavkl

          The fact that you put Red Farm in the conversation about the best Chinese restaurant in NYC makes me think that you're using different standards than the rest of us. And Chinatown Brasserie is a gussied up dim sum place.

          Sorry. We live in different worlds.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            David - what are some good places to explore in Flushing? I live in Manhattan and find myself out there from time to time (Mets games, car repair in Willets Point, shopping) and I really don't know where to start. Thanks.

            1. re: swerz

              If you really mean explore, you might consider the food courts--Golden Mall (41-28 Main St.), New World Mall (40-21 Main, but actually accessed on Roosevelt) and Flushing Mall (133-33 39th Ave.) in that all the side-by-side stalls there enable you to do a crawl through various types of regional cuisines. Of course, there are many excellent freestanding restaurants there, too (e.g. Asian Jewels, Little Pepper, Henan Feng Wei, Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, New Imperial Palace, etc. etc. etc.--scoopG can/will provide a listing), but the mall route might be more convenient for you.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                I didn't mean "explore" quite so literally, but now that you mention it, a mall crawl sounds like a fun way to get acquainted with Flushing.

          2. re: swerz

            I think this is based on of a great amount of empirical experience in the US, which also reflects the types of Chinese places available in the US and their relative merits. But that might be less representative of the diversity and quality of various Chinese cuisines as a whole. For example, one of the most famous luxury dish across Chinese cuisines is Buddha Jump Over The Wall, which comes from Fujian; it might thus be a little premature to brush Fujian cuisine aside if the sampling from the Fuzhou places which represent Northern Fujian or a subset of the dishes in Taiwanese places which are more Southern Fujian without some of the more "high-end" parts. Also, the more refined aspects of Fujian/Min cuisine aren't always as well represented as the Cantonese ones. It's valuable to acquire a large sample but to maximise the usefulness of that data will also require understanding where the samples are drawn from.

            1. re: swerz

              Proof that I am not biased in favor of California Chinese food. Note my comment that a North American Top 10 Chinese Restaurant Listing would be all Canadian.


              1. re: Chandavkl

                But your naysayers will still say that you have an undoubted West Coast bias as your list is probably dominated by Vancouver restaurants.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  It would be split between Vancouver and Toronto fairly evenly. Unfortunately there is no such list since I haven't sampled Vancouver (Richmond) or Toronto (Richmond Hill, Markham, Scarborough) to the same degree that I've covered LA, SF, Manhattan and Flushing. But I can tell you I already have 10 in Canada that all exceed California's best.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    I have at least 8 in Vancouver alone that exceed all of CA's best.

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      I think the problem is in the idea of coming up with a list of the “Ten Best Chinese Restaurant in the U.S.” The idea is inherently idiosyncratic and such a list is limited by it’s size and the tastes of the reviewer. If it was billed as “David Chan’s Ten Favorite Restaurants” no one would complain, or at least the complaints would be muted. Claiming that the restaurants are “The Best” raises the ante and causes people to question your assumptions and tastes.

                      Of course that’s not the way magazines and the media work. They’re constantly looking to crown winners and rank things. They feed off the controversy lists like that generate.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I think it is possible to rank restaurants.

                        Would you really argue that Alinea, Saison, Per Se or French Laundry are not two of the best restaurants in the U.S? Where you rank them exactly might differ, but they are certainly in the Top 10 or thereabouts.

                        Same with Chinese restaurants. If one were to say that PF Changs is better than Koi Palace, I would stop reading right then and there. I don't care what your point of reference might be, but if your idea of "best" and "Chinese food" pivots off of PF Changs, then we have nothing further to discuss because we might as well be speaking entirely different languages that neither of us understands.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I think in once the universe of potential choices becomes sufficiently large the idea of crowning a "Best" becomes unproductive.

                          What's the best bar in New York City?

                          Who is the prettiest girl in in Chicago?

                          What's the best TV show ever made?

                          The answer to all those questions is the same. It depends on what you like.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            As they say, sometimes there's no accounting for taste. Obviously it's a matter of personal preference, and my top 10 is my top 10 and not yours or Ipse's or anybody else's. The article resulted from an unsolicited request I received from the Asia Society to do such a ranking, based on the fact that I had the breadth of experience with Chinese restaurants all across the country. And breadth is probably the only thing qualifies me to do a national "best" list over somebody familiar with restaurants in a limited geographic area. But the bottom line is that Asia Society got what they wanted--a spirited discussion about Chinese restaurants in the U.S.

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            If there was a top ten list of best restaurants in America, and it included restaurants like Per Se, French Laundry, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Chez Panisse, Eleven Madison Park, and Joel Robuchon, would we see the same accusations that the reviewer is biased towards French food and how the reviewer is ignorant about any other type of cuisine?

                              1. re: hobbess

                                The question that was asked was "What are the best Chinese restaurants in the United States?"

                                The question that Chandavki *answered* was "What are the best Hong Kong style Cantonese places within a 30 minute drive from my house?"

                                You may not have a problem with that but lots of people do.

                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                  The question that was asked was "What are the best Chinese restaurants in the United States?"

                                  The question that Chandavki *answered* was "What are the best Hong Kong style Cantonese places within a 30 minute drive from my house?"

                                  You may not have a problem with that but lots of people do.

                                  Uh, no.

                                  I don't know where Chandavkl lives, but it is physically and geographically impossible to live within 30 minutes of both Koi Palace (SF) and Sea Harbour (LA).

                                  Even if by "30 minutes" you mean by flight, it's still impossible.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Guess what? Chandavki lives in Los Angeles where *7* out of his top 10 happen to be. What a coincidence.

                                    If you think throwing in 3 token choices from another nearby California city makes his selections credible then you are a more trusting person than I am.

                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                      I know where Chandavkl lives (or at least the general vicinity of where he resides).

                                      But that doesn't change your earlier statement that "[t]he question that Chandavki *answered* was "What are the best Hong Kong style Cantonese places within a 30 minute drive from my house?""

                                      That's just simply wrong on your part. And "nearby California city" is another incorrect statement. Do you realize the distance from Northern CA to Southern CA is greater than all of Manhattan (lengthwise) x 30? It takes a good 1 hour of flight time to get from LA to SF.

                                      By the way, have you ever been to SGV to sample some of the Chinese food there? Or are you simply myopically holding on to the fact that NYC just cannot be inferior to something on the left coast.

                                      Because even if Chandavkl has a west coast bias (or CA bias), he's at least sampled a good majority of the Chinese eateries in the five burroughs.

                                      His opinion -- even a biased one -- is at least informed. What about yours?

                                      Look, NYC does many things well -- and many many things in NYC are far better than those in CA or LA -- but Chinese food is not one of them.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        LOL! This comment reminds me of the Boston-based travel agent who asked me why I couldn't just take a shuttle from my home in the Bay Area to LAX. Some people just don't know what in the hell they're talking about!

                                        1. re: ipsedixit


                                          I've been to San Francisco a number of times. I've also been to Los Angeles. And ... wait for it ... I've even driven from San Francisco to LA. a couple of times to appreciate the pleasures of Big Sur. I really do understand their locations.

                                          I was exaggerating a bit to make a point. Since that didn't seem to register I'll restate it for you - Chandavki's choices were parochial. He is very much in love with a particular style of restaurant which flourishes in his part of the world. He wears culinary blinders.

                                          Now that's fine as far as it goes. There's nothing wrong with liking that type of restaurant. The issue is in declaring that that narrow subset constitutes the best Chinese cooking in the United States.

                                          "Because even if Chandavkl has a west coast bias (or CA bias), he's at least sampled a good majority of the Chinese eateries in the five burroughs. "

                                          I'm not impressed. In his suitcase he packed his prejudices along with a toothbrush and a change of socks.

                                          In effect he's saying "Oh Auntie Em - there's no place like home!"

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              I recognize my own prejudices which lean toward Sichuan, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. I wouldn't claim my tastes are "the best" - they're just my own.

                                              On another topic, I am very impressed with Mr. Chan's achievement of eating at over 6,000 Chinese restaurants all over the United States. If I was going to match that I'd have to eat at a different restaurant each day, 365 days a year, for 16 and a half years, never taking a day off. All my meals would have to be Chinese during those 16 and a half years. No cheeseburgers, no BBQ, no cassoulet, no veal picatta, no meals at home, no sick days, and I could never visit the same Chinese restaurant twice. All Chinese, all the time, no repeats, no days off, for 16 and a half years.

                                              Cal Ripken is celebrated for playing in 2,632 straight games. He is a wimp compared to Mr. Chan.

                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                I was thinking about this last night - how could I match Mr. Chan's achievement of eating in over 6,000 Chinese restaurants across the United States? Eating at a different Chinese restaurant every day for a year only gets you to 365. Doing it for 10 years only gets you to 3,650. It would take a full 16 and a half years during which there would be four presidential elections. That's daunting.

                                                Then I had a brainstorm. What if I had a Chinese lunch every day to go along with my Chinese dinner? Then I could hit 6,000 restaurants in only 8 years (again assuming no days off and no repeats.)

                                                That seemed like the solution until I thought about it some more. I don't know about you but I only get an hour for lunch. Sure, there must be 30 or 40 Chinese restaurants in walking distance of my office but what happens after I visit each of them? Yes, there are plenty of other Chinese restaurants in NYC but they're far enough away so that I couldn't manage to reach them, eat lunch, and then be back at my desk in an hour. No, doing Chinese lunches will only help a little bit.

                                                The other well nigh insurmountable issue is simply identifying 6,000 Chinese restaurants that would actually be worth a visit. Lets be honest - there are a lot of places out there that aren't very good. You know what I mean - the crappy takeout joints which are the Chinese equivalent of greasy spoons. Do I eat at these places just so I can keep the streak alive?

                                                Or do I seek out only worthy places, traveling for miles and miles to have a great meal. Even in New York, a city of eight and a half million people, it would be almost impossible to identify 3,000 good Chinese restaurants.

                                                And finally, there is the issue of repeat visits. I love Chinese food. If I found a great place It would be really hard at the end of the meal to say "So long. I'd like to visit you soon but if I do I won't achieve my goal of 6,000 restaurants. See you again in 16 years."

                                                No, the more I thought about it the more I realized that it would be impossible for me to repeat Mr. Chan's unbelievable achievement. Like Nolan Ryan's record 7 no hitters or FDR's 4 terms, it's a record that will never be broken.

                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  The trick is to eat at several places per meal.

                                                  1. re: limster

                                                    For an accurate assessment, you need to eat several dishes if not several times.

                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                      Not mutually exclusive, no? Multiple meal with fewer dishes would be a better sampling strategy than the same number of dishes at one go, since the former approach also samples day to day variance.

                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    You almost make me sound like a Chinese restaurant glutton! Actually I only add 2 or 3 Chinese restaurants in a typical week, since here in Los Angeles, as you point out, I've run out of good restaurants to try except newly opened restaurants. Where the numbers grow is my out of town trips to places like New York, San Francisco, Vancouver or Toronto, where I will eat at least four meals a day, each at a different restaurant, which can net me 15 to 20 restaurants on a trip. Also, I've been doing this for 35 years, so there are some locations that have 10 or more different restaurants over the years. And you're right, there is a downside. You have to put up with bad Chinese food sometimes (whether a restaurant's reputation is good or bad, I need to see for myself), and you don't go back to restaurants, even if they're good, if there is another new restaurant to try. But then I'm not a foodie like a lot of the people on this board--looking behind the food is also important to me.


                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      Where did you eat in Gainesville and how was it?

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Went to a place called Mr. Han's. It was semi-authentic, likely patronized by Chinese students at the University of Florida. However, did you see this recent thread on Gainesville Chinese on the Florida board?


                                                2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  The list in question has six Hong Kong dim sum / seafood places, but also includes Shanghai, Shandong, Chiu Chow, and whatever you want to call Nei' Chia Ji's style.

                                                  Hong Kong cuisine vs. other Chinese cuisines is kind of like haute French or Japanese cuisines vs. the world. The cuisines travel fairly well and their focus on quality and refinement gives them an edge in that sort of exercise.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    So out of the 20 on Chandavki's list 16 are HK Cantonese? That list runs the gamut from A to B.

                                                    "Hong Kong cuisine vs. other Chinese cuisines is kind of like haute French or Japanese cuisines vs. the world. "

                                                    So the people who like that sort of thing took a vote and decided it was the best? I wonder how the Italians feel about those results.

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      I think you're being a little obtuse. I will say that the best Chinese meals I've ever had -- some of the best meals I've ever had, period -- were not Cantonese/Hong Kong style. But they were specially arranged banquets prepared over a period of days by a highly skilled chef. The number of non-Cantonese/Hong Kong-style restaurants that serve food with that level of ingredient quality and technique is very, very small, and even smaller in the US.

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                        The prevalence of Hong Kong/Canto restaurants on Chandavkl's list has less to do with any inherent selection bias, and more to do with sheer volume.

                                                        There simply are more Hong Kong/Canto style restaurants in the U.S. (and the world) than other Chinese cuisines.

                                                        As a result, any Top 10 list (that is fairly and accurately put together) will reflect -- roughly -- the diversity of the overall population that we are selecting from.

                                                        Same with French and Japanese cuisines.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          The distribution of cuisines on restaurant "best" lists do not reflect the distribution among restaurants in general.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              No, for example, only a tiny percentage of the restaurants in the SF Bay Area are French, but they account for a large percentage of the restaurants on the "best of" lists. Conversely, much larger percentages of restaurants are Mexican and Chinese, but only a few show up on "best of" lists.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                The Mexcian and Chinese restaurants are not part of the population we are sampling from; otherwise, we would have to include fast-food chains like McDonald's, Denny's, etc.

                                                3. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  Then why are none of my top 10 Chinese restaurants in North America located in California?

                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                    Are all of them Hong Kong Cantonese places?

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      No, they aren't, but in Vancouver and Toronto, the mix between Cantonese and non-Cantonese are far more heavily weighted towards Cantonese than in LA, SF or New York., and my Canadian favorites reflect that mix.

                                                      In addition note that in my top 50 Chinese restaurants listing in Los Angeles that I did for the local NPR station here, 35 are not Cantonese, while only 15 are. My Cantonese relatives would say that makes me biased against Hong Kong/Cantonese style food.

                              2. Chan has an admitted bias towards Hongkong, Cantonese food and California and knows very little about the rest of the Chinese cuisines.

                                44 Replies
                                1. re: scoopG

                                  My comment that Cantonese food is the most widely appreciated is based initially on the old Chinese saw identifying the best of everything Chinese includes “to eat in Guandong”. Of course personal tastes differ, and I’m not saying that there isn’t good non-Cantonese Chinese food in the U.S. The San Gabriel Valley has hundreds of outstanding Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Taiwanese, Beijing, etc. etc. style restaurants and I've eaten at almost all of them.

                                  But if this preference for Cantonese food isn’t true, why is the biggest and best Chinese restaurant in any American community having a sizable Chinese community, but few Hong Kong/Cantonese people (e.g., Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta) still a dim sum/Hong Kong seafood palace? What is a fact is that most non-Cantonese Chinese enjoy Cantonese food. And the flip side, which someone without Cantonese family or friends would not be aware of, is that most Cantonese Americans refuse to eat non-Cantonese Chinese food. That’s the case with most of my family members and most of my friends from Hong Kong. In that regard I’m the black sheep in that I do appreciate non-Cantonese Chinese food. If Chinese food is a one way street for Hong Kong/Cantonese people, but a two way street for non-Cantonese, that is either a sign that Cantonese people are stubborn or that Cantonese food is better. And given the love of all Chinese people for food, I doubt if stubborness would stop Cantonese food lovers from enjoying non-Cantonese Chinese food if they thought it was better.

                                  As to the pecking order of New York Chinese restaurants in my listing, along with my comment that New York Chinese food is mired in the 1990s. I have heard many, many Californians comment (indeed, complain) that New York Chinese food is clearly inferior to that back home. This wasn't always the case. In the mid-1980s New York did surpass San Francisco for the best Chinese food in America and I would discuss with my friends what New York Chinese restaurants should be visited similar to our discussions of where we should eat when we went to San Francisco. But that all changed in the 1990s when Los Angeles leaped past New York and San Francisco in terms of Chinese food.

                                  On the other hand, I have heard many New Yorkers comment on how much better California Chinese food is than what they get back home. However, I have never heard a person who has eaten in the San Gabriel Valley say that the Chinese food is better back home in New York.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    Your piece is filled with gross generalizations which do not hold water. Only Cantonese people think Cantonese food is the best of the of the Chinese cuisines.

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      I'm wondering if perhaps many Western folks, including noted Western cuisine chefs, especially in the US, do look for that Heat! Explosion of Flavor! Taste Assault! that they often associate with good "Chinese Food" and thus gravitate to Sichuanese and related foods, over the delicate stuff which I have heard some Western folks describe as "tasteless"? :-) I suspect, too, that many folks remember "Cantonese Food" as that gloppy "Chow Mein" that they had from the takeout when they were growing up in the US... Just wondering, just speculating.

                                      As for Chinese folks, well there *is* that saying that Chandavkl refers to...
                                      生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 喫在廣州, 死在柳州
                                      ;-) :-P

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        You are so right, Most western folks are very dumb and expect bold flavours.

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          MVNYC- I see Mr.Vocabulary has escaped us. We (Western folks) aren't dumb, we're ignorant. 2 very different things. otherwise your and huiray's thoughts have quite a bit of validity, re: just not knowing the full depth and breadth of diversity within what receives the blanket name "Chinese".

                                        2. re: huiray

                                          As for Chinese folks, well there *is* that saying that Chandavkl refers to...
                                          生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 喫在廣州, 死在柳州

                                          A phrase today uttered by Cantonese people only - and since the Cantonese language is much older than Mandarin, they have a slight leg up. There is no way that the Shandongese, Shangainese, Fujianese, Hunanese etc. think their cuisine is not "the best."

                                          It's like saying, "Europeans agree," or "Europeans think" that Southern Italian is the best....

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            While it is true that "conventional wisdom" hold that Cantonese food as being the most famous, it's also equally true that folks from most regions tend to favour their own cuisines, as ScoopG describes.

                                            It's not so different from situation where although French food appears to have to best reputation in Europe, people from that different countries (regions even) in Europe have a tendency to favour their own cuisines.

                                            1. re: scoopG

                                              A phrase today uttered by Cantonese people only - and since the Cantonese language is much older than Mandarin, they have a slight leg up. There is no way that the Shandongese, Shangainese, Fujianese, Hunanese etc. think their cuisine is not "the best."

                                              If you read Chinese, then you wouldn't argue that point. It's a famous saying that's known through China, and it translates basically to, " born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou and die in Liuzhou."

                                              If the Cantonese are the only ones who utter this phrase, then why would they then also say its better to be born in Suzhou or live in Hangzhou instead of Canton?

                                              And, if you're going to discount Chandavkl because he's from California and Cantonese, then what about Jennifer 8. Lee. She was raised in NYC and works in NYC, and her parents are Fujianese. She traveled around the world, looking at Chinese food, but she wrote in her book, "Truth be told, while New York has its share of authentic Chinese dives, there are really no standout fine Chinese restaurants in New York anymore."

                                            2. re: scoopG

                                              This is only directed toward the "best cuisine" comment. Being of non-Cantonese background, I have felt a pro-Cantonese bias on CH.

                                              Non of my relatives would cite Cantonese food as the "best Chinese food"... other than my wonderful and recent in-laws who are Cantonese :)

                                              The best Chinese food I've had has been Jiangsu and Zhejiang provincial cuisines.

                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                I think pro-Cantonese biases are in good part historical in background since it was the only version of Chinese cuisine available in the US for well over a century. And I'm certainly not saying that people with other regional backgrounds prefer Cantonese food over food from their own region. What I am saying is that Chinese from other regions often appreciate Cantonese food, which is more that what you can say about Cantonese people, many or most of whom refuse to eat other regional Chinese food (e.g., 95 percent of my relatives). If you go to Chinese communities without many Cantonese residents (e.g., Atlanta, Dallas, St. Louis), the biggest and most popular authentic Chinese restaurants are largely Cantonese. When you put all that together, you end up with a wider appreciation for Cantonese food than for other regional styles.

                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                  I read your response to ScoopG earlier and I understood what you are saying, I'm lightheartedly supplying my own experiences regarding "best Chinese cuisine". :)

                                                  PS - Have you eaten at Mulan in Flushing?

                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                    This thread got out of hand very quickly and I commend you for having found the earlier post. I don't get to Flushing nearly as often as Manhattan Chinatown, so when I do go to Flushing I like to walk the streets to see the changes from my previous visit. I did come across Mulan a year or two ago, found the menu a little puzzling, then was subsequently scared away after perusing some of the online reviews. Should this go on the list for my next visit to Flushing?

                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                      Reviews of Chinese restaurants in NYC face such a complicated environment. There's a subtle disdain for more upscale Chinese restaurants, and this disdain is not confined to non-Chinese. From my experience, many NY Chinese with money are much more likely to spend money at a non-Chinese high-end restaurant.

                                                      Mulan, because of its superior decor and slightly higher price point, was met with initial negativity. I contrast that with places like X'ian (hole in the wall) and widely popular, or Imperial Palace, a CH darling, even though I find some of their dishes are not well executed and the environment dingy and service brusque.

                                                      Hunan House, which was IMO producing the best Chinese food in Flushing at one point, was largely empty and not getting the critical attention it deserved,

                                                      It seems to me that in Flushing, cheap eats Chinese gets the lion's share of mainstream attention.

                                                      In any event, Mulan which offers some of the best food in Flushing, in the most beautiful room and with more refined service, has very mixed reviews. In part, this is deserved. Their menu has changed numerous times since they've opened, and not for the reason of offering variety, but rather because management was trying to find direction. They've changed presentations on dishes, ingredients, consistency has not been their strong point. Their lion's head meatball was the best in Flushing, until they changed the recipe from pork to pork and crab. It's still very good, but not as good as the initial dish. Their Peking duck has suffered in quality and initially was offered without anything strange, then was offered with potato chips and now shrimp chips, which completely bewilders me. It's still the best PD in Flushing but it was better when they opened. At one point, they offered dim sum then scrapped it when no one was coming.

                                                      Their Chilean sea bass with tea leaves is consistently good and one of their strongest dishes. The walnut shrimp is very consistent and not far off from the quality of Sea Harbour's wasabi shrimp version.

                                                      The chef and kitchen of Mulan is very capable, I'd say probably the best in Flushing. However, consistency is not their strong point. I have noticed a pattern now that whenever their is a banquet or wedding in their sister space, the food in the main restaurant suffers. I stopped by today to eat there before commenting and there was a wedding, both banquet hall and main dining room were closed off.

                                                      I wound up going to Canton Gourmet where the silver treasure fried rice was very good, but the dou miao was lousy, tough and stringy. Then I walked down the block and noticed Kulu, a Chinese dessert place where all their puddings and tofu have milk in them (even though many Chinese are lactose intolerant (sigh)).

                                                      The next time you are in Flushing, I do recommend you try Mulan, if you'd like company, I can help with sharing the cost of ordering more dishes to try.

                                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                                        Pookipichu, you seem to know the New York dining scene quite well. What are your favorite Chinese restaurants in New York? I usually stay in Manhattan, but can make the pilgrimage to Flushing on occasion.

                                                        1. re: bcc

                                                          I don't eat out as much as some of the other CH's are able to so I recommend with caveats. For example, while I love Nan Xiang, out of my past 3 visits (all in this past June), 2 were just ok, 1 was great (focus on XLB). And that's a place I go to fairly regularly. So basically, take recommendations with a grain of salt, YMMV, some of my favorites:

                                                          Hakkasan - Peking duck, sea bass, dim sum, desserts. Truly exceptional desserts, not just for a Chinese restaurant, but any restaurant. The music can be very loud, service lacks knowledge of the food beyond very basic, takes away from the experience because they don't pace well or present well. Most dishes are good-excellent but when a dish bombs, it bombs and you really feel it $$.

                                                          China Blue - Dong po pork, (wuxi eel was fantastic 2 of 3 visits, most recent was tough, chewy awful. Fish blossom dish was so good, crispy, sour, tangy, fragrant, luscious, then next visit chewy, flaccid and too sweet.) I appreciate the old-school Chinese desserts, the treasures glutinous rice is comforting. The main dining area has a weird smell yet the side dining area is sometimes closed. Service ranges from ok to mind-blowingly inefficient. Food when on-point is text book good.

                                                          Decoy - Peking duck, fish chips, dim sum (super cramped space) No desserts as of their open, don't know if that's changed.

                                                          Buddakan - Dungeness crab sticky rice, dim sum (surprisingly some good dishes, some feel a little pre-fab in a 2nd tier city sort of way, food comes out VERY quickly, good if you're hungry, not great if you're looking for a slower pace)

                                                          Szechuan Gourmet (39th St.) - 3 chili chicken, love this dish, when the chicken is crispy. Pretty solid all around and reasonable. They should renovate if they haven't recently, there's quite a bit of wear and tear and the service can be quite brusque.

                                                          Haven't been back to Shun Lee (both) or Mr. K's in over 5 years. Mr. Chow and Phillipe are weepingly bad. Haven't been back to Tang Pavillion in over 10 years but was not impressed in my visit.

                                                          Flushing -

                                                          Fu Run - Lamb chops, cumin fish filets, the best dishes can taste a little same-same with the flavor profiles, the decor and room is a little dingy. The bathroom is just... ick.

                                                          Nan Xiang - The XLB are the best in Flushing and their pork chop with noodles is delicious, various buns and dumplings are all executed well, their beef scallion pancake wrap is tasty but the quality of the beef and portion have all decreased. Service can be quite brusque and unresponsive.

                                                          Canton Gourmet - The crispy garlic chicken and silver treasure fried rice both very good and very reasonable. One of the better values in Flushing (portion/quality/price)

                                                          Mulan - Sea bass with tea leaves, jumbo shrimp with walnut, snowpea shoots with garlic. Best decor, cleanest, lovely room, talented chef. The middle pavilion is impressive seating surrounded by falling water that keeps the air pleasantly humid. Although desserts are not a strong point, still the best in Flushing and offers an interesting variety.

                                                          Biang - Lamb spine, liang pi, skewers, lamb dumplings. The lamb spine is just delicious, messy and not exceptionally easy to eat but very satisfying. The skewers have decreased in quality in the past year, more fatty bits and less meat, but the taste is still very good. Cramped quarters but the decor is chic rustic.

                                                          White Bear - red oil wontons. Just great flavor combinations, if you want heat you'll need to add sriracha or chilis, but the wontons are consistently well made. The place is beyond hole-in-wall. Tiny.

                                                          Spicy Tasty - 3 chili chicken, water cooked lamb, beef tendon. Pretty consistent, not as good as years past but still respectable. With the Szechuan renaissance, its luster has dimmed with the plethora of options. Kitchen is fast.

                                                          Little Lamb Hot Pot- Hot pot - Great broth, many many different hot pot options (meat/vegetables). The condiment table is a little ick and the space is a little closed-in feeling with ventilation that could be better.

                                                          Baidu - Hot pot - More upscale hot pot - very good quality meats, great chinese herb broth, modern decor, very airy. Service can be a little harried.

                                                          Imperial Palace- Crab sticky rice, pork chops, fish tofu casserole - Stick to Cantonese specialties, fyi crab is in the shell in the sticky rice dish, very messy to eat but the rice is delicious. Room is a bit dingy and the waiters are very brusque.

                                                          Hunan House - did a major renovation and menu changed, have only been back once since the menu change but was previously very good. Tried the pork steamed in bamboo was searingly hot. Decor has a slightly more upscale feel to it now.

                                                          Hunan Kitchen of Grand Szechuan - Ginger scallion fish, smoked duck, big fish platter, lamb chops, mao style pork - when they opened, really excellent, there's been a decline in the quality of ingredients, but this is a recurring theme with Flushing restaurants that are weathering the multi-year recession. Prices have stayed the same, quality has suffered. Their lunch special is outrageously inexpensive. The room is clean and has better than average decor, but can get very crowded.

                                                          Jade Restaurant - Dim sum. Sometimes really good dim sum, other times ok. Inconsistent. Decor is standard cliche banquet hall style. Could use a renovation, a little dingy.

                                                          I'm running out of steam. Grand Restaurant, nice space, clean, but wildly inconsistent food in my visits. New World Mall - very crowded, hard to get a seat, I really like Lanzhou Noodles.

                                                          Special mention to Pearl East - Chef tasting menu ONLY(do NOT order a la carte, you will be disappointed) You must call ahead and arrange for tasting menu. Very talented chef and kitchen, excellent ingredients, traditional Chinese desserts (pea cake, radish pastry, mochi, sticky rice treasures, etc.) The room is fairly elegant, service is competent. Some of the best Chinese food I've had in NY has been at Pearl East. I wish more Chinese restaurants had chef's tasting because it really shows what the kitchen can do. Similarly, Tung Ting restaurant in Huntington in the 80's you would reserve chef's tasting and the chef would prepare imperial style banquets that were truly magnificent with elaborate vegetable carvings, ice carvings and delicacies that you hardly see outside of China.

                                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                                            Thanks a lot! I'm going to print out your list and take it with me on our next trip to New York in September. A question: is Imperial Palace the same as New Imperial Palace? We've eaten at New Imperial Palace and really liked it.

                                                            1. re: bcc

                                                              Yes it's the same place :) I hope you get to try some new places that you enjoy.

                                                              PS - there is a great thread on the New World Mall stalls http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7854...

                                                            2. re: Pookipichu

                                                              I'm thrilled Hunan House is open again, must go. Hunan Manor in Manhattan is good but not as good as HH was.

                                                          2. re: Pookipichu

                                                            Pookipichu - interesting re: Mulan, i hadn't gone bc a friend of mine with fairly good taste in chinese food didn't like it, but sounds like its worth trying?

                                                            i agree with you re: the disdain for more expensive chinese options, i think people associate cheap = authentic

                                                            there is a pro-cantonese tone, i clearly have that, but im openly biased towards southern chinese food in particular cantonese. for what its worth, i do agree that jiangsu / zhejiang are definitely one of the better chinese regional cuisines

                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                              Hi Lau, so after my post, I attempted to eat at Mulan twice in the past month, both times at dinner on Saturday. Both times the restaurant has been closed to public because of a wedding. I'm a little annoyed that they close down the main restaurant in addition to the catering hall. I think that they probably do more party/wedding business than walk-ins because they didn't use to close down both sides. So caveat, call Mulan ahead if you don't live in the neighborhood.

                                                              I'm going to try to get in there for dinner just to confirm/modify my positive impressions. I've eaten at Mulan multiple times over the years and it's been up and down but definitely not a restaurant that is consistently bad. The menu and kitchen staff has changed multiple times over the years but I think they've settled in now. The head chef is great, when the restaurant is "on" I think you would enjoy it.

                                                              I'm finding that consistency is a problem in general in Flushing, after trying to get into Mulan a second time, I again went to Canton Gourmet, the garlic crispy chicken was great, but the golden treasures fried rice was almost inedibly salty, but pleasantly and unusually spicy (tasting strongly of XO sauce). On a heat scale, it went from it's usual 0 heat to a mild 2 out of 10. I've ordered this rice many times and it's usually pretty consistent. But on, the plus side, the pea shoots were the best out of three visits in the past month (they were good but not excellent).

                                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                ok great thanks for the rec

                                                                consistency at canton gourmet is a problem (and at most chinese restaurants in NY), i find their food can be too salty sometimes. here's an old review i did

                                                    2. re: Pookipichu

                                                      Really? Maybe on the NY board. I think there's a slight anti-Cantonese food bias, at least on the SF board. With the exception of dim sum, Cantonese food is either associated with old-school Chinese-American food or is seen as generic and/or boring. Even people who appreciate the subtleties of well-done Cantonese food are usually more interested in tracking down some less-well known regional Chinese cuisine.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        I rarely go on the SF board so I can't comment, but "subtleties of well-done Cantonese food" or more commonly "subtleties of Cantonese food" is a trope on the NY board. As if XYZ region: Suzhou doesn't pride itself on the subtlety or their cuisine and the freshness of their fish, produce, or Fuzhou doesn't pride itself on the subtlety of their cuisine, etc.

                                                        I don't find Cantonese food generic or boring, I'd sooner eat any type of Chinese food over non-Chinese food, but my point was that I and other non-Cantonese Chinese, do not consider Cantonese food to be the "best Chinese cuisine". Although it certainly is one of the greats and is part of what makes the Chinese culinary landscape so rich.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          I don't see any anti-Cantonese bias in the SF board's embrace of Yum's Bistro and R&G Lounge.

                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            So because they "embrace" two specific Cantonese restaurants there can't be a "slight" anti-Cantonese bias? I'm not sure you can even say the board "embraces" R&G, because a lot of people think it's overrated or only good for seafood dishes. Furthermore, people rarely mention it unless someone asks for recommendations in Chinatown. On the other hand, there frequent reports and discussions of various regional Chinese places popping up (or changing hands/focus) in the Richmond and Sunset. There's currently a long discussion cataloging all the regional Chinese places.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              I see discussion on the SF board focusing on what's new and good, particularly on places that raise the bar for any particular cuisine or dish.

                                                              There's less discussion of Cantonese because most of the new Chinese places aren't. People were as enthusiastic about Cooking Papa and Yum's Bistro as about any other new Chinese places, maybe more so.

                                                  2. re: scoopG

                                                    bias? an "expert" designation may be prematured. seasoned glutton rings true.
                                                    far for me to say "can't we get along?" as i have ruffled many feathers on chowhound but i believe my tastebuds...and will defend them. i will respect other tastebuds with minor variances.

                                                    i take chandavki comments not as a "take it leave it." checkoff list. but as a guide in a dense menu of unknown eats, esoteric dishes, hidden menus, misleading entree descriptions, etc.
                                                    i need all the help i can get (perferably in english, chinese ok too)

                                                    yep, he's a pioneer, a johnnyseed or a glutton.

                                                    whether you want to wander into a mystery eatery with notes from the internet or go in clueness is up to you. it's your money (and your wasted time).
                                                    i take it a bite at a time. checking out pans and finds. broadening my foodie experience.
                                                    i rather not let the marketplace decide that panda express, pf chang, manchu wok, and
                                                    shophouse southeasian kitchen dictate what asian/chinese food should taste like.

                                                    let a thousand tastebuds bloom! there are thousands of cuisines out there, not just chinese, to say chandavki represents just one kind is shortsighted. cherrypick his finds, refine it, incorporate it. look at other pioneers, cherrypick them also, incorporate, repeat.....
                                                    bon appetitt!

                                                    1. re: shanghaikid

                                                      Thanks for your comments. Unless a "best of" list is a collaborative venture, it will necessarily reflect the tastes and biases of the single person making the list. However, I think I might be a little better positioned than the average person to compare Chinese restaurants throughout the US, coincidentally becoming interested in Chinese food 35 years ago, just when Chinese food in the US started getting interesting. I've managed to eat at virtually every Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles Chinatown, the San Gabriel Valley, San Francisco Chinatown, two-thirds of the Chinese restaurants in New York Chinatown, a similar percentage of the authentic Chinese restaurants in the SF Bay area, half the Chinese restaurants in Flushing, a good portion of the authentic Chinese restaurants in most other cities and neighborhoods with a measurable Chinese population and generally working from the top down to test the eateries with the best notoriety or reputation. So while I obviously have personal biases, I also have a broad spectrum of experience.

                                                      Now if someone is looking for a way to attack my observations, you might focus on the fact that I actually don't see myself as a foodie.


                                                      1. re: shanghaikid

                                                        "let a thousand tastebuds bloom!"

                                                        uhh that's a touch Maoist, no? IIRC Madame Mao.

                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          ...and Mao apparently preferred simple Hunanese fare...

                                                            1. re: scoopG

                                                              Oh that undoubtedly must have been a big factor in his personal preference. :-)

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            "thousand tastebuds bloom"
                                                            -definitely populist, a deviant from letting pundits decide mass tastes or the taste of the masses
                                                            -isn't this what yelp, chowhound, et al. is about right now?

                                                        2. re: scoopG

                                                          I should respond directly to this comment which is largely untrue. In my upcoming piece for the National Public Radio affiliate in Los Angeles on the 40 best Chinese restaurant dishes in the Los Angeles area, only 14 of the 40 dishes listed are Cantonese. The remainder are Taiwanese, Sichuan, Shanghai, Shaanxi, Hunan, Xinjiang, etc. reflecting the mix of Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles. I never said that non-Cantonese Chinese food wasn't good, or that New York Chinese food wasn't good on an absolute basis. However for a restaurant to be a Top 10 restaurant it needs to be memorable, and in my opinion the most memorable restaurants tend to the Hong Kong/Cantonese style, and which style is more advanced in California.

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                            and in my opinion the most memorable restaurants tend to the Hong Kong/Cantonese style, and which style is more advanced in California.

                                                            How do you define memorable?

                                                            I think Koi Palace is very good, but not necessarily memorable. Same with Sea Harbour and/or Elite.

                                                            On the other hand, a place like 101 Noodle Express is "memorable" for the very reason you mentioned -- it ushered in the era of the "Shandong beef roll". Similarly, Noodle Boy was memorable, for me anyway, for the fish balls.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Yes, Noodle Boy fish balls are on the list. My definition of memorable is best referenced to Justice Potter Stewart. "nuf said.

                                                          2. re: scoopG

                                                            Here's my listing of recommended dishes at Los Angeles area Chinese restaurants prepared for the local NPR outlet. Only a small minority are at Hong Kong/Cantonese style restaurants.


                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                              Four Sea (Hacienda Heights) - Taiwanese breakfast

                                                              "Taiwanese breakfast" is not a dish ....

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Yes but I didn't feel like singling any particular item (e.g. twisted crullers), particularly since the radio station's idea was to describe something that would lure readers into the respective eateries.

                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                  Rice roll or radish cake would've been my choices I think.

                                                          3. Silly me. I actually thought this thread was going to be about "...the best Chinese restaurants in New York..."

                                                            Instead I see discussions on (a) whether there is better Chinese food on the West Coast, and (b) what kind of Chinese food Chinese people themselves like. The one recommendation so far, Chinatown Brasserie, is now closed, ironically enough.

                                                            So let me ask again: "Where are the best Chinese restaurants in New York?"

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: BrookBoy

                                                              Well South China Garden is gone. And so is Yogee on Chrystie. Szechuan Gourmet? Red Egg? Dim Sum Go Go? Xi'an Famous Foods? Henan Taste (or is that gone too?) Asian Jewels? Little Pepper? Maybe that new Hunan Manor. I don't know.

                                                              1. re: BrookBoy

                                                                We are awash in good Sichuan restaurants. In part I think some of that is due to increased immigration from mainland China but I also suspect part of the credit has to go to Xiaotu Zhang, founder of the Grand Sichuan mini chain. Chefs work in his restaurants, hone their skills, and move on to start their own places. In my perfect world he's get a ticker tape parade down Broadway.

                                                                Here's my list. I prefer not to try to rank them against each other. Declaring a "best" restaurant in New York is a doomed effort. Some places excel at certain dishes, others excel at other dishes.

                                                                People often declare a place "the best" because they do a great job on their 5 favorite dishes. That's great if you happen to like those 5. Of course, you might prefer 5 other dishes and find that another place makes superior versions. Which is "best?" It depends on what you like. I'm a big believer in the Good Kitchen concept. It means that there are skilled people preparing the food and the overall quality level is high. If you go to Good Kitchen places you're always going to come out fine no matter what you like.

                                                                To keep things simple I'm just going to use two groups - Very Good and Good. The following list is in ALPHABETICAL order.

                                                                Very Good:
                                                                Famous Sichuan
                                                                Grand Sichuan House (Bay Ridge)
                                                                Hot Kitchen
                                                                Lan Sheng
                                                                Little Pepper (College Point)
                                                                Spicy & Tasty (Flushing)
                                                                Szechuan Gourmet (Manhattan branch - the Flushing outpost is so-so)

                                                                Grand Sichuan International (5 NYC locations)*
                                                                Great Sichuan in Chelsea (based on a limited sample)
                                                                Legend (limited selection of Sichuan dishes, some are great, some middling)
                                                                Spicy Bampa (Brooklyn, based on a limited sample. I may move it up to the first list when I try more things)

                                                                * I've had some terrific meals at a number of GSI locations and then returned and had average meals. Then returned again and had another terrific meal. You roll the dice - they have a problem with consistency. I suspect they have a lot staff turnover in their kitchens.

                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                  I've tried a half of the restaurants you list and of those, Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St. clearly stands out over the others I've been to. Indeed, I'd say that (gasp!), Szechuan Gourmet is better than any of the Sichuan style restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                    Bob, you are one of the few sane chowhounders. I have not been to Hot Kitchen but am in that neighborhood often, what dishes do they do well?

                                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                                      After you try it I bet you add HK to your regular rotation. Here's a link to my first post about the place.


                                                                      We've been back about 5 times since then and have never been disappointed.

                                                                      A bonus tip - for pre-dinner drinks Five Points on Great Jones street is a winner. From 5:00PM to 7:00 they serve $5 martinis. Easy walking distance to HK.

                                                                    2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                      We are also awash in excellent Manchurian or Northeastern Chinese restaurants (all in Flushing) and Fujianese (Manhattan) although Fujian gets far less love. Shandong too.

                                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                                        Repeating myself a bit, but I think it's worth pointing out that the Manhattan Fujian places are mostly Northern Fujian (Fuzhou). The cuisine in the southern part is slightly different and less commonly seen.

                                                                        Perhaps somewhat similar to to the US exposure to Cantonese, where Chaozhou food is less commonly found.

                                                                        1. re: limster

                                                                          Good point - I think in all of these regional cuisines there are off-shoots and subdivisions.

                                                                  2. NY-ers are getting a run-of-the-mill SGV import (i.e. Liang's Kitchen).

                                                                    See post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857776

                                                                    I'm curious what the reaction to Liang's will be. In SGV, I'd rank it about a 5 on a scale of 1-10.

                                                                    52 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      Hard to top Main Street Imperial for excellent Taiwanese in Flushing, where we now have seven Taiwanese joints.

                                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                                        There are usually 8 Taiwanese joints in a typical city block in SGV.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          More than that in Rowland Heights (eastern part of the SGV for non-Californians).

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Really? The SGV is 200 square miles with some 46+ incorporated cities and unincorporated neighborhoods. And you need a car to get around to them all!

                                                                            1. re: scoopG

                                                                              Yes, really.

                                                                              Neither Chandavkl nor I are joking.

                                                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                                                So all together, exactly how many Taiwanese restaurants are there in Altadena, Alhambra, Covina, La Puenta, Monterey Park, Pomona, San Madre, South Pasadena, Vincent, West Puente Valley etc?

                                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                                  I'll work on that problem, and you can work on telling me how many grains of sand are on the beaches of Long Island.

                                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                                    I wish there were some kind of current listing of Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. I'm still looking for just a count of total Chinese restaurants in the SGV which I wildly guess at 800. I'll take a wild stab at Taiwanese restaurants in Rowland Heights/Industry (zip 91748) which I'll guess at 30 to 40.

                                                                                    1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                      I wish there were some kind of current listing of Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. I'm still looking for just a count of total Chinese restaurants in the SGV which I wildly guess at 800. I'll take a wild stab at Taiwanese restaurants in Rowland Heights/Industry (zip 91748) which I'll guess at 30 to 40

                                                                                      Do you have an estimate of the total number of Chinese restaurants in Flushing? It didn't seem like it was many as the Chinese restaurants in SGV.

                                                                                      I remembered Main Street and Roosevelt and that surrounding area having lots of Chinese restaurants. But, you didn't see all those Chinese restaurants and businesses in other parts of Flushing. I tend to remember Flushing as being more ethnically diverse whereas I tend to think of SGV as Chinese.

                                                                                      1. re: hobbess

                                                                                        Well my rough estimate of Manhattan Chinatown is 300 and Flushing's numbers would be smaller. 150-200 including food court stalls?

                                                                                        1. re: hobbess

                                                                                          I'd guesstimate that the number of Chinese restaurants in Flushing to be around 50.

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            Nah, you've got 30 in the New World Mall food court by itself. Flushing has really expanded since you left. I've been to about 80 myself.

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              Now you're just fucking with us. :-)

                                                                                        2. re: scoopG

                                                                                          To show the magnitude of Taiwanese food in L.A., here is L.A. Weekly's Listing of just the Top 10 Taiwanese breakfasts.


                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                            To be fair, how many restaurants are there in SGV (west and east) that serve Taiwanese breakfast dishes? And I mean Taiwanese stuff (crullers, soy milk, turnip cakes, rice rolls, etc.) and I'm excluding bakeries HK style cafes that primarily focus on congee. Maybe a total of 30?

                                                                                            And ClarissaW herself was reaching just to get to her Top 10 by including Garage and JJ Bakery.

                                                                                        3. re: scoopG

                                                                                          Just about. Valley Bl. is an east-west boulevard that cuts through about 7 or 8 miles of the western San Gabriel Valley. Non Asian businesses are rare on Valley Bl. (aside from national chains catering to the predominantly Asian residents). I tried counting the Chinese restaurants on this stretch of Valley Blvd. and stopped at 200. (I didn't bother with the bakeries, grocery stores etc.) And while Valley Bl. is the most extreme example, there are many many other similar commercial streets in the San Gabriel Valley.

                                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      I stayed in the Flushing Best Western a couple of weeks ago and was stunned to find Liang's downstairs from the lobby. Not sure how they can keep opening new branches since they've gone from zero to 10 or 12 branches in three years.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        just saw this thread

                                                                                        LA vs NY Taiwanese: since i wrote the post ill answer this...NY taiwanese food isn't in the same league at LA taiwanese food. I grew up in socal and i've lived in NY for almost 12 years, so i've had ample experience eating chinese food in both.

                                                                                        Liang's in Flushing: I thought the Liang's in Flushing is pretty decent though, it had its hits and misses but the hits were pretty good (also i think it depends on which branch of liang's you go to, they can vary in quality for comparison purposes). that said the better taiwanese restaurants in SGV are much better

                                                                                        #s of taiwanese restaurants in SGV: i couldn't even guess how many are in SGV. I can count all of them in NY on two hands

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          NY-ers are getting a run-of-the-mill SGV import (i.e. Liang's Kitchen).

                                                                                          See post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857776

                                                                                          I'm curious what the reaction to Liang's will be. In SGV, I'd rank it about a 5 on a scale of 1-10

                                                                                          Mark Bittman, like Jennifer 8. Lee, another non-Cantonese NY Times writer who grew up and still lives in NYC, wrote that what would only be considered average in SGV would pretty much trump the best Chinese food in the rest of this country.

                                                                                          I'm a bit surprised by all the sturm und drang this topic evoked on chowhound since I thought it was already commonly accepted by knowledgeable people in such food matters about the hierarchy of Chinese food in North America- Richmond is the best, San Gabriel Valley is below that, and Flushing falls below SGV.

                                                                                          Its not like this is the first time I've read the points Chandavkl brought up; I've read similar things before in Gourmet Magazine and Atlantic Magazine.

                                                                                          I know Chinese diners, including many of whom aren't Cantonese, who travel back and forth or lived in both LA and NYC, and the consensus from them was that Chinese food in SGV is better than the Chinese food in Flushing.

                                                                                          There's Jennifer 8. Lee, a non-Cantonese New Yorker, who literally wrote the book about Chinese restaurants, where she wrote, "Truth be told, while New York has its share of authentic Chinese dives, there are really no standout fine Chinese restaurants in New York anymore."

                                                                                          There's also respected food critics like Jonathan Gold, the only food critic to win a Pulitzer, and Ruth Reichl, who have covered and reviewed restaurants in both NYC and LA , and they both said that the Chinese food is better in SGV.

                                                                                          Reichl said, "After living in California, it's hard to get very excited about Chinese food in New York. We just don't have the kind of monied, sophisticated Chinese eaters who support great restaurants. So it's hard for me to get really enthusiastic about local Chinese restaurants. They just don't have the same quality as those on the other coast - or those in Canada - where most of the big Chinese money resides."

                                                                                          When people are arguing that there's too many SGV restaurants in a top 10 list, I'm curious how many SGV restaurants they've eaten at. My hypothesis is that those who say that Chinese food in SGV is better than Flushing are the ones who've eaten more Chinese food from those areas than the ones who haven't.

                                                                                          Finally, if Chinese food in NYC is as good as Chinese food in Richmond or SGV, then why do knowledgeable NYC food people lament that the Chinese food in NYC in the late 1960s to early 1970s was the city's Golden Age for Chinese food instead of today's Chinese food in Flushing?

                                                                                          1. re: hobbess

                                                                                            Yup! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that opinion should be based on fact, knowledge and empirical experience.

                                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                                              As if Reichl and Gold are the standard bearers of the Chinese cuisines. They are not. Reichl comments are from seven years ago. Lee's book was less about food than about the Chinese diaspora in the USA. The lament about Chinese food being better in NYC in the 70's (not 60's) is a total wash. That solo is only played by a few folks (like Ed Schoenfeld) who's central, nostagia-driven theme is simply: I was there and you were weren't so take a hike.

                                                                                              The SGV is 200 square miles and requires a car. NYC is far more compact and eco-friendly.
                                                                                              As Bob Martinez says, Chandavkl's list should be viewed as a favorites list only.

                                                                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                Some general points in response to the thread rather than a specific reply to scoopG:

                                                                                                1. Any list of top x restaurants is inherently going to be influenced by the list maker's personal preferences, and should of course viewed as a list of favourites. It would never match any other individual's preferences. Everyone needs to eat and think for themselves.

                                                                                                2. It's perfectly fine to disagree with any list etc. I think we should expect that for any savvy and independent-thinking community. However, there must be an empirical basis for a difference in opinion. One can't say that X is not better than Y if one hasn't tried X or Y or both. One needs to think for oneself based on empirical experience.

                                                                                                It would be great and valuable if others could provide similar comparisons based on a similar sample size. Or at the very least provide specifics. If you don't think those top tens aren't the best, then let's hear of specific examples of places that are better, with thoughtful comparisons of the cooking techniques and dishes between the restaurants in question-- it would be beneficial to everyone.

                                                                                                3. An undercurrent that seems to run through the thread is an issue of home loyalty aka "my city has better chow than your city." That's not productive -- we're all out to eat the most delicious stuff anywhere and we're willing to travel for it. We should be happy that others have uncovered delicious stuff anywhere.

                                                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                  You are correct that New York is the only North American city where you can visit all of the top Chinese restaurants without a car. Not only can you not do that in LA, you can't do that in the SF Bay Area, Vancouver or Toronto, due to the distances involved. But if for some reason you placed yourself strategically on the right intersection in the city of San Gabriel, you would find a larger array of highest quality and diverse Chinese restaurants within walking distance of each other, than you could in any other city, including Flushing.

                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                    I don't think Chandavkl ever claimed that his list was other than his (very well informed) opinion. He didn't write the article, he was just interviewed for it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                      I agree that unless it is a collaborative work, if there is only input from one person it's really just personal opinion. Actually, the OP did solicit me to write the article with the Top 10 title, so from her point of view I think it was presented as more than just opinion.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                        Oops. I guess you did write the article. I guess what I meant was what you said, which was that it wasn't your idea to put yourself out there. Someone asked, and you told them.

                                                                                                    2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                      The SGV is 200 square miles and requires a car. NYC is far more compact and eco-friendly.


                                                                                                      Sorry, you totally lost me here. I fail to see how that's anyway relevant to a discussion about the best Chines restaurants, or why a Flushing Chinese restaurant must be in the top ten because of that fact.

                                                                                                      1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                        The SGV is vast enough to almost be unknowable to any one single diner in a land where for the most part no one drives more than 30 minutes to a destination restaurant. Carbon footprints matter in today's culinary scene.

                                                                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                          Not as tough as it may seem to plow through the San Gabriel Valley. I'm actually at a severe disadvantage in that I don't live in or particularly near the SGV, so I'm lucky to get there 2 or 3 times a week for a couple of hours. There are Chinese who live out there who dine out 15 or 20 meals a week, and most of them have cars. (Dining out in the SGV is not a budget buster. I have heard many SGV residents explain dining out regularly by saying it's no more expensive to eat out than to cook at home. And I heard a restaurant owner explain that this is possible due to the gap between wholesale and retail food prices) And the Chinese grapevine, which has always been quite effective in sending people to the best places, has been turbo charged by the Internet via vehicles like Chowhound, and yes, Yelp.

                                                                                                          1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                            The SGV is vast enough to almost be unknowable to any one single diner in a land where for the most part no one drives more than 30 minutes to a destination restaurant. Carbon footprints matter in today's culinary scene.

                                                                                                            Uh, no.

                                                                                                            I would argue that the geographic expanse of the SGV (both west and east) is part and parcel of why the Chinese food in SGV is so fantastic.

                                                                                                            And to suggest the geographic expanse of a region is somehow relevant to how good the food is there is like saying Mila Kunis isn't beautiful because she's a bad cook.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              just to chime in since im pretty experienced in both areas:

                                                                                                              - getting around SGV: once you are in the SGV its very easy to get around; saying its difficult to get around the SGV is silly, driving in your car 10-15 mins is a piece of cake
                                                                                                              - getting to SGV: getting to the SGV can be a pain depending on where you live in LA, which is the roughly equivalent to saying where do you live in the tri-state area? If you live way on the westside, getting to the SGV is far (could take you 40 mins to an hour depending on where you live and how bad traffic is), but if you live closer towards downtown LA then its a piece of cake (could be 10-20 mins drive easy)

                                                                                                              - getting around flushing: generally very easy unless you want to go certain restaurants like palace diner or main street imperial or even some of the places on kissena which are not all that close to the 7 train or LIRR stops
                                                                                                              - getting to flushing:
                                                                                                              a) car: if you have a car it can be easy or hard depending on where you live and parking is awful in flushing
                                                                                                              b) LIRR: the LIRR is fast (20 mins), but getting to the LIRR can take a while depending on where you live. For me coming from the LES, it takes 20ish mins to get to the LIRR, so in order to get there and get my tickets, i'm realistically looking at an hour to get to Flushing
                                                                                                              c) 7 train: this takes ~40-45 mins + getting to the 7 train which is the same ordeal as getting to the LIRR
                                                                                                              d) chinatown bus: this also takes ~20-25 mins, but again you need to wait in line and get to the bus + it's kind of a nasty bus, so again you're really looking at an hour

                                                                                                              so that's the real scoop of it instead of making generalized statements. i don't think one is so much more convenient than another realistically
                                                                                                              (LIRR is 20 mins to flushing, but getting to LIRR can be a pain depending on where you live; 7

                                                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                Actually many times driving in/around West SGV is often more difficult than getting to SGV from the Westside.

                                                                                                                But regardless, how is any of this even relevant?

                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                  the original premise was how difficult the logistics of the SGV are vs Flushing

                                                                                                                  my only point was that i dont think its hugely more difficult once you factor everything in. yah its easy to get to walk around flushing once you're there, but you have to factor everything in (getting there etc).

                                                                                                                2. re: Lau

                                                                                                                  c) 7 train: this takes ~40-45 mins + getting to the 7 train which is the same ordeal as getting to the LIRR

                                                                                                                  so that's the real scoop of it instead of making generalized statements. i don't think one is so much more convenient than another realistically


                                                                                                                  Distance-wise, things are closer in NYC but that doesn't make it necessarily more convenient or faster.

                                                                                                                  I don't even live in LA County, but it takes me around an hour to drive to SGV by car. Last time I was in SGV, I was seated to another table where they drove to SGV every week for Chinese food even though they lived outside LA County too.

                                                                                                                  But, that's not really any worse than the commute I had when I lived in Flushing and took the 7 train to Manhattan every day. And, that's assuming you're coming to Flushing from Lower Manhattan. I remember declining an invitation to go to somebody's house party in Brooklyn because that trip from Queens to Brooklyn was going to be a major hassle.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                    yah i never take the 7 train b/c its just too much of an ordeal, i almost always take the LIRR or if sometimes ill take the chinatown bus although that's usually on the way back if i missed the LIRR.

                                                                                                                    When I'm at home I'm coming from orange county so it takes me an hour to get to the SGV when I go.

                                                                                                                    Flushing to brooklyn is a pain in the ass, no good way to get there

                                                                                                          2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                            As if Reichl and Gold are the standard bearers of the Chinese cuisines. They are not. Reichl comments are from seven years ago. Lee's book was less about food than about the Chinese diaspora in the USA. The lament about Chinese food being better in NYC in the 70's (not 60's) is a total wash. That solo is only played by a few folks (like Ed Schoenfeld) who's central, nostagia-driven theme is simply: I was there and you were weren't so take a hike.

                                                                                                            Even if you want to to question Schoenfeld's motives, other highly regarded food people fondly remember the Chinese food of that time period. There's a certain plausibility to that claim- it was after immigration quotas were lifted so great Chinese chefs from overseas came to NYC but before Chinese food exploded in popularity to the degree that Chinese restaurants over-expanded and thereby diluting the talent pool of Chinese cooks.

                                                                                                            But, did you eat Chinese food in NYC during that time? If you didn't, then I don't see how you can so emphatically discount Schonefeld's claims about the quality of the Chinese food in that era.

                                                                                                            And, that's my point about the criticisms of Chandavkl's list- how many of the people who adamantly insist that Flushing is just as good as SGV have eaten at a fair sample of Chinese restaurants in SGV? Chandavkl has already said he's eaten at 80 Chinese restaurants in Flushings, so how many, if any, did SGV Chinese places did the New Yorkers eat at?

                                                                                                            You can try to dismiss all the people who've said that SGV Chinese food is better- Chandvakl for being Cantonese and Californian, Reichl and Gold for not being Chinese, Jennifer 8. Lee for writing a book about Chinese food that also focused on Chinese diaspora, bi-coastal Chinese people for I-don't-know-what-you'd-come-up-with-next, etc..

                                                                                                            But, you can't deny that all those people are people knowledgeable about Chinese food who ate lots of Chinese food in Flushing and SGV before they reached that conclusion.

                                                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                              "But, did you eat Chinese food in NYC during that time? If you didn't, then I don't see how you can so emphatically discount Schonefeld's claims about the quality of the Chinese food in that era. "

                                                                                                              You know what? I ate Chinese food in the 1970s in New York. There a few, a very few good places. The rest was dreck. The Chinese restaurant scene is vastly improved now, especially over the last 15 years.

                                                                                                              Ed Schoenfeld is a fatuous ass, a master self promoter who takes credit for everything except inventing the wok. He's currently modestly claiming that his restaurant Red Farm is "the best Chinese restaurant in New York." In your dreams Eddie.

                                                                                                              You know where Ed was in 1992? He was busy opening "Chop Suey Looey's Litchi Lounge."

                                                                                                              And we're supposed to be impressed with his opinions?

                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                I'd roll forward to the mid-1980s where out here in LA, we Chinese food fans would talk about Chinese restaurants in New York that we should go visit to get better Chinese food than LA. At that time, Los Angeles was just emerging as a source of good Chinese food, and while it didn't make sense to take a trip to New York to just for a few superior Chinese meal, we all did regularly make the trek to San Francisco to get the good stuff. Now the flow has reversed, as San Franciscans drive down to the SGV for food,.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                  You know what? I ate Chinese food in the 1970s in New York. There a few, a very few good places. The rest was dreck. The Chinese restaurant scene is vastly improved now, especially over the last 15 years.

                                                                                                                  I was specifically referring to the late 60s and early 70s because after Nixon's visit to China, Chinese food exploded in popularity and so many new Chinese restaurants opened that it diluted the talent pool. When you say you ate Chinese food in NYC in the 70s, was it during the later part of that decade?

                                                                                                                  Olivia Wu, the SF Gate food writer and chef, has also praised the Chinese food in NYC in that time period where she wrote, "In the late 60s and early 70s..Those were some of the best Chinese meals I've ever had...the cook was formerly the personal chef to the UN ambassador from China. "

                                                                                                                  1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                    I've lived in NYC my entire life. I can tell you that Chinese food was not better in the late 60s/early 70s than it is now - not remotely better. Sure, some new restaurants opened up that blew the competition out of the water but that's because the prevailing standard was so low. You didn't have to be great to beat that, merely good. And even the good restaurants were few and far between.

                                                                                                                    I'll give you an example. Fat Ed Schoenfeld raves about the restaurants run by the Yuan family (for whom, not coincidentally, he worked. As a greeter BTW - he never set foot in the kitchen.) He's right in some ways - those restaurants were much better than the competition. I particularly enjoyed the Flushing branch of Hwa Yuan. I was a regular there and was greeted warmly every time I walked in the door. It was a sad day when the restaurant closed at the end of 1990. (They lost their lease. The landlord tore down the restaurant and put up a big apartment building.)

                                                                                                                    But you know what? If Hwa Yuan was magically brought back to life today it would be considered just a good restaurant with above average ambiance in a field that has a lot of great ones. That's the truth, no matter what Fat Ed claims.

                                                                                                                    God. I hate false nostalgia.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                      You are right that on an absolute scale the stuff in the 1970s and 1980s would be primitive by today's standards as the cuisine evolves. But the fact is that New York once had the best Chinese food in the US back in the mid-1980s, which would lead one to try to figure out what happened in the ensuing two decades.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                        "But the fact is that New York once had the best Chinese food in the US back in the mid-1980s, which would lead one to try to figure out what happened in the ensuing two decades."

                                                                                                                        I can only speak knowledgeably about the state of Sichuan in NY. After the various Yuan restaurants closed in the very early 90s it was miserable. It finally got better, lots better, with the opening of Spicy & Tasty, Szechuan Gourmet, and the various branches of the Grand Sichuan International mini chain. I've got no explanation for the 10 year drought.

                                                                                                                        Incidentally I've got dim sum loving friends who were quite happy about the offerings in NY during that 10 year period. I assumed it was a Sichuanese drought, not a Cantonese one.

                                                                                                                        I've got no way of confirming whether NY had the best Chinese food in the country in the 1980s. I traveled in Europe extensively during that time and i thought NY beat London handily. Paris, OTOH, had a number of very good Chinese restaurants with subtle French influences. They were different from NY restaurants but just as good in their own way.

                                                                                                                        Back to the present. I'm very happy that the general state of Chinese dining in NY is on the rise. Hakkasan, which opened about 6 months ago, is an attempt at the type of high end HK style place that appeals to you. The critical reception has not been warm but you might feel otherwise. You may want to try it on your next visit. Be prepared for a big check.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                          Hakkasan is coming to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I guess they want to give us all the opportunity to empty our wallets.

                                                                                                                2. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                  Nostalgia is a very powerful argument. As I hear it, everything was better back then: French food, humor, sex etc...I did not dismiss Reichl and Gold for not being Chinese. Reichl's comments are 7-8 years old. Chandvkl's top ten list is superfluous. It would have been better if he culled his 6000+ list to a top 400 - like Apu in The Simpsons for his "top 400 Indian movies" of last year.

                                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                    As I hear it, everything was better back then: French food, humor, sex etc...

                                                                                                                    I think sex is better now than in the 1970s.

                                                                                                                    I wasn't allowed to have sex in the 70s, didn't even really understand it, if you want to be totally frank about it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                      I think there's a misunderstanding here. Saying the the best Chinese food in the US in the '70s was in NY is not the same as saying that all Chinese food in NY was great. It was relative: Chinese food in the '70s in NY was better than Chinese food in LA in the '70s. That has nothing to do with whether Chinese food in the '70s in NY is better than Chinese food in NY in 2012. They're talking about relative quality in each of the time periods.

                                                                                                                  2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                    >>The SGV is 200 square miles and requires a car. NYC is far more compact and eco-friendly.<<

                                                                                                                    >>Carbon footprints matter in today's culinary scene.<<

                                                                                                                    Where are you coming from? This tangent stinks of desperation. I've always respected your opinions in general but what the heck is this? It's tantamount to arguing about which car does 0-60 in the shortest time, where the Lambo dusts the Prius. The Lambo is the clear winner, but the Prius driver claims foul, saying that because the Prius's carbon foot print is lighter than the Lambo, the Prius wins the event. C'mon, scoopG - you are much much better than that....

                                                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                      Guess that aspect of food has not arrived in California yet? Sustainability and the environment are increasingly becoming more relevant in today's food discussions. The beauty of living in NYC is the lack of need for a car.

                                                                                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                        Don't get me wrong. I love New York's subway system, and sustainability etc. are legitimate parts of the discussion about food and dining. But if you know anything about Chinese culture and people, which you obviously do, those points carry little weight in the Chinese culinary world, viz. a few years ago when they had the rush in Hong Kong to eat up a particular fish that was about to be placed on an endangered list at the first of the next year. Or, for that matter, shark fin.

                                                                                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                          >>The beauty of living in NYC is the lack of need for a car.<<

                                                                                                                          More like it's impossible for most people there to own a car in that city. Lived in Singapore for a while which is even more prohibitive in carrying the burden of a car. Didn't need one, but I sure would be nice to have one...

                                                                                                                          I agree that issues impacting our environment are important - you're preaching to the choir. But expecting anyone to accept this as a trumping point makes no sense in this thread. Like other space-challenged cities (e.g., Singapore and Tokyo), the New York area's public transit is a circumstance of its geographical issues, which seems to be your fallback in terms of your tangential foray. Sticking with the car analogy, your Prius couldn't keep up in the race so you veered off the highway at the nearest exit, proclaiming yourself the winner of the race because you drove less. imho, it seems obtuse to pull such tactics in attempt to save face for the Chinese food scene vis-a-vis LA's. New York has such a strong rep for so many food things. For NYC to not have the best of the many Chinese regional cuisines is no shame - just a matter of changing demographics.

                                                                                                                          1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                            Guess that aspect of food has not arrived in California yet? Sustainability and the environment are increasingly becoming more relevant in today's food discussions. The beauty of living in NYC is the lack of need for a car.

                                                                                                                            That aspect of food has been so prevalent in San Francisco that its a cliche. Dan Barber has gotten a lot of attention, but restaurants on the West Coast had already been doing that for years before he opened his Stone Barn farms. Just because that aspect of food only became popular in New York later on doesn't mean it didn't already exist or it was somehow less 'relevant' in its impact on the environment before New Yorkers discovered it. But, its not really relevant in a discussion on what the best Chinese restaurants are.

                                                                                                                            And, if we're going to talk about carbon footprints, you can grow a lot of food yearlong in California's climate so you can get local food and thereby avoid the carbon footprint of transporting non-local food. You can get great corn and tomatoes from nearby New Jersey in the summer, but that's not really a realistic yearlong option for the New York area especially during the winter.

                                                                                                                            I always scoff at Alice Waters for lecturing others across in this country on how to eat locally and sustainably when those people are living someplace with harsh winters.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                              well yeah, fresh anything in January in some places just isn't feasible.

                                                                                                                              I ignore the snow. it goes away given time.

                                                                                                                              yet the beauty of it all is flexibility.

                                                                                                                  3. Surely this thread belongs in the Manhattan forum, for answers to its question.

                                                                                                                    1. Koi Palace #1? The best dishes I had there were first-rate but overall the two meals were hit and miss, and dinner was overall so bad that I probably will never go back. I can imagine that if you went with a regular who knew exactly what to order you could have a stellar meal.


                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                        As Ipse and I have alluded to, this discussion focuses on the United States, and if you threw Canada into the mix you'd have a large number of places better than Koi Palace. So while Koi Palace is very good, I don't think anybody should go overboard on how good it is on an absolute basis.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                          Hey, you're the guy who put it at #1 in the US. I wouldn't rank it #1 in San Mateo County.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                              Well since this topic has popped up again - what do you consider the #1 Chinese restaurant in San Mateo County?

                                                                                                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                I haven't been to that many, but I'd go to Cooking Papa, Little Sheep, Everyday Beijing, or any of the dim sum places in Millbrae rather than go back to Koi Palace.

                                                                                                                        2. Generally, the best Chinese restaurants are concentrated in areas with a high percentage of Chinese residents.

                                                                                                                          Monterey Park - 44%
                                                                                                                          Arcadia - 34
                                                                                                                          Alhambra 33
                                                                                                                          Rosemead - 29
                                                                                                                          San Francisco - 21
                                                                                                                          New York - 6

                                                                                                                          Eight of the ten US cities with the highest concentration of Chinese residents are in SGV.

                                                                                                                          49 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                            I believe your percentage for New York is misleading due to the total population of NYC is far greater than any of the areas you have listed in California......without doing any research, I would not be surprised if the total population of NYC exceeded all the others combined.

                                                                                                                            I would say Flushing and its environs have a pretty high concentration of Chinese residents.....or Asians in general, if you include the Korean community....That may rival the numbers you have posted.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                Sure, it's more complicated than that.

                                                                                                                                In the SF Bay Area, there are not only lots of Chinese, but lots of them are fairly affluent, can afford to eat out a lot, and demand the best for special occasions.

                                                                                                                                Are there any high-end places like Koi Palace, Sea Harbour, or even Jai Yun in Flushing?

                                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                  Mr. Laurison did something really creative with his statistics. He cited *percentages* instead of actual numbers in order to make California's Chinese population seem much bigger than it actually is. Lets take another look -

                                                                                                                                  numbers from Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...

                                                                                                                                  Chinese in NYC - 486,463.

                                                                                                                                  Chinese in San Francisco - 172,181

                                                                                                                                  Chinese in Los Angeles - 66,782

                                                                                                                                  Monterey Park - 24,758

                                                                                                                                  Alhambra, California - 28,437

                                                                                                                                  Arcadia - 18,041

                                                                                                                                  I can anticipate Mr. Laurison's reply.

                                                                                                                                  "But ... but .... but .... the Chinese who live in those California cities are concentrated so that supports the restaurants."

                                                                                                                                  Guess what? So are the Chinese in NYC. In Flushing, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Elmhurst, and lastly, in Manhattan's Chinatown.

                                                                                                                                  If you add in the greater NYC metropolitan area (like Mr. Laurison did with Los Angeles) the number becomes even bigger. Again, from Wikipedia -

                                                                                                                                  "The New York City Metropolitan Area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 682,265 individuals as of the 2010 United States Census, including at least 8 Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, two in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown and the Elmhurst Chinatown), three in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown, the Avenue U Chinatown, and the Bensonhurst Chinatown), and one each in Edison, New Jersey and Nassau County, Long Island, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area."


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                    NYC has about 1,600 Chinese residents per square mile, San Francisco has 3,500, Monterey Park 3,250.

                                                                                                                                    But the impact on restaurants is more complicated than that. Undocumented immigrants from villages in Fujian working low-wage service jobs don't go to restaurants as much as programmers and doctors from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                      "NYC has about 1,600 Chinese residents per square mile, San Francisco has 3,500, Monterey Park 3,250."

                                                                                                                                      You're still playing games. Let me simplify things for our readers -

                                                                                                                                      486,463 (NYC) is a much bigger number than 66,782 (LA.)

                                                                                                                                      The Chinese population of New York is not dispersed either - it's concentrated in the eight different neighborhoods cited in the Wikipedia article.

                                                                                                                                      Aren't you glad you decided to introduce the issue of the size of the Chinese population?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                        I'm looking for facts that explain why there are more great Chinese restaurants in SGV and the SF Bay Area than in NYC.

                                                                                                                                        There are probably more and better Fujian restaurants in NY than in LA.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                          "I'm looking for facts that explain why there are more great Chinese restaurants in SGV and the SF Bay Area than in NYC."

                                                                                                                                          Better hallucinogenics?

                                                                                                                                          OK, I'll be serious. While it's been a really long time since I've eaten Chinese in LA or SF I have no doubt, zero, that a lot of it is terrific. Really. I'd love to spend a couple of weeks eating my way through the SGV and San Francisco. I'd have a great time.

                                                                                                                                          But just because there are a lot of wonderful restaurants in your part of the world doesn't mean that there can't be really good places in other cities. Maybe not as many, but there ought to be some.

                                                                                                                                          As far as NYC is concerned there has been an explosion in our Chinese population. You've already seen the numbers. Sure, some of them are poor and don't support higher end restaurants but there are growing numbers of young affluent Chinese who love to eat out. They're supporting an increasingly diverse restaurant scene. It's a different world than it was 20 years ago and it's getting lots better fast.

                                                                                                                                          BTW, that's true with Indian restaurants for the same reasons.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                            Nobody's arguing that there's not great Chinese food to be had in Flushing, but that doesn't mean that it rises to the level where it would be on anyone's national top 10 list.

                                                                                                                                            Are there places in NY at the level of Jai Yun or Yank Sing?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                              I've got no idea. I haven't eaten at either of them.

                                                                                                                                              My core issue, and that of a number of other people, is that a top 10 list compiled by a LA resident contained 7 LA area restaurants and 3 from San Francisco. Imagine if the SF 49ers were playing the NY Giants in the Super Bowl and the head referee was from Marin county.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                Can I help it if I happen to live near the best Chinese food in the country? If you lived here you'd be singing its praises, too. And over the past 10 years, half of my Chinese eating experiences have been away from home (see my response to you in the part of the thread further up)--over 20 visits each to New York and DC in that period, and several trips to Canada.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                  I live in the SF and I'm skeptical that the three places in SF belong on that list, and as Chandavki has noted, his top 10 North America list would be all Canadian.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                    Honestly, there is nothing that approaches Yank Sing or a Koi Palace in NY. Within the world of Dim Sum / Cantonese cuisine, these two places are so far superior to anything in NY its not even funny. Where it gets tough is how do you compare this food to some of the top tier Szechuan places in NY? And the answer is, you can't. Whereas some might argue that the delicacy / refinement of Cantonese cuisine places it on another level from the pure heat and brute force approach of Szechuan food, others might argue that they like those bolder flavors.

                                                                                                                                                    I've observed this thread as its raged. If you are talking canto food, we can stop now. Cali is better, hands down. But, whether you view Canto food as the pinnacle of chinese cuisine ultimatley decides which side you fall on this argument.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                  I'll ask the obvious, being a NYC transplant who has been in the Bay Area for a year now with frequent trips to SGV. What restaurants in NYC would you put up as top-tier Chinese restaurants? Certainly nothing in the dim sum arena.

                                                                                                                                                  Where I would potentially draw a line is the lack of non-cantonese places. NY, to me, has a really strong szechuan presence as well as some less well-known cuisines, such as fuzhou or xian. Those are typically the restaurants I recall as being great when I think about NYC Chinese food. However, I haven't eaten enough of those foods in the Bay Area / LA because the Cantonese is so good, that it's tough for me to compare.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                    Your point about Sichuan is well taken. Back in June I came up with my own list.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                      Right, and if you notice, Dave actually responded with "I've tried a half of the restaurants you list and of those, Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St. clearly stands out over the others I've been to. Indeed, I'd say that (gasp!), Szechuan Gourmet is better than any of the Sichuan style restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley."

                                                                                                                                                      So, the debate is clearly more about whether Cantonese restaurants simply have a higher baseline of "good" than other Chinese cuisines and less about some geographic bias.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                        And since this is such a cluttered thread, I'll repeat that a larger listing of 50 top LA area Chinese restaurants and representative dishes that I did for the local NPR station includes 15 Cantonese restaurants and 35 non Cantonese.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                          I've got my own biases which I freely admit. I've got no use for Cantonese. Zero. Where some people find it subtle I find it bland. Distinguishing between Cantonese places is like picking out the differences in shades of beige.

                                                                                                                                                          But that's just my tastes. If someone was silly enough to ask me to put together a list of the "best" Chinese restaurants in NYC I'd beg off. My own tastes are too limited for me to put together a well rounded list that fairly represented *all* Chinese cuisines, not just the ones I really like.

                                                                                                                                                          I've taken plenty of shots at David Chan's list here and I've got to say he's been kind and graceful in his responses. I tip my cap to him.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                      This quote from the article says it all and how Dave formed his list, whether you agree with it or not: "Virtually all observers, particularly Chinese themselves, agree that the best Chinese food comes out of Hong Kong. Furthermore, the great thing about Chinese food is that it continues to evolve and improve. And most of the evolution starts in Hong Kong, where food obsession is the norm." But I don't its really a bias towards LA / SF vs NY, it's a bias towards the Cantonese food.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                        And as I may have mentioned before, that comment was not intended for publication, though it has precipitated a separate food fight of its own.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, didn't catch that... but that comment in and of itself, I don't find all that problematic. Either you agree with that statement or you don't, and that ultimately forms the basis for where you side on this. For me, it at least confirms that you don't have a bias for Cali vs NY, which is where this entire discussion has unfortunately sidetracked.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm a little torn though on whether I find Cantonese food to be superior. Certainly, I find it to be more delicate, more artistic, but taste is so subjective, and sometimes you just want to be punched in the face with flavor, as you would be at the Xian place in NY. But how do you compare such different cuisines? In many respects, it is the same bias we see in best restaurant rankings where French restaurants occupy an extremely higher % relative to the actual % of French restaurants in the total population. Yet, people seem to have less of an issue with that...

                                                                                                                                                          Anywho, this is a pretty interesting discussion to follow.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, everything except for the Top 10 itself was intended as an explanation to the editors, and this encompassed both the part about California vs. New York, as well as the Cantonese tilt. But the whole thing was published, and indeed it has led to lively discussion.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                          Only Cantonese people say their cuisine is number #1! Folks from every other province generally believe their own province does it best. And you are right, Chandavkl is biased towards Cantonese food. He admits he is not an aficionado of XLB. Take that, Shanghai! That's why his "North American list" (read Toronto and Vancouver) will also be heavily skewed towards Cantonese - the dominant Chinese ethnic group there. Only in the past 10-12 years have mainland Chinese started streaming into Canada - at the rate of some 30,000 per year now.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                                                            So why is 70 percent of my top 50 in LA non-Cantonese?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                              Would you find that if you were to do a non-Cantonese Chinese food top 10 list, that more of your names would come from outside of California? Or, how far would you have had to extend your top ten list before you had a non-California restaurant?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                Well California, particularly the Los Angeles area, is also quite strong for non-Cantonese food as indicated by the 70 percent mark. That top 10 would definitely include Szechwan Gourmet and probably something from Flushing, but it would be difficult to put that list together because I frankly had trouble getting to 10. Szechwan Gourmet might be in the second 10 of an overall list, but it'd take a lot of work to sort such a list out.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                  What about a place like that Xian food stall? Which I think people generally agree makes some damn good food, but is decidedly low-brow? How do you think about something like that?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                    I really like XFF and it would be high on a list of non-Cantonese restaurants. One trouble, though, is that it's difficult to classify a restaurant as one of the best where the number of menu items is quite small. I suspect that's part of the thinking when they opened their new larger sit down branch on Main St. Flushing, which gives them a different kind of credibility

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                                                              And why is my favorite Chinese dish not Cantonese? (I usually hide this interview because they got my name wrong, and because it was translated from English to Italian, back to English, some of the quotes were garbled.)


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                Have you had the Shandong / Korean-Chinese fish dumplings at Great China in Berkeley? Too bad if not, they had a fire and won't be open at their new location until next year.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Don't get to the Peoples Republic as much as I would like. Traffic's a bear (pun intended) on game day, and that seems to be when I end up in Berkeley.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                    Anyone can quote wikipedia. I'd note that the number of Chinese in the SF Bay Metro area is over 500,000. San Francisco + Oakland + San Jose is about 270,000, and then you start adding in the communities in between (starting with Fremont at 34,000).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                      Bob Martinez was being quite selective in quoting his figures!

                                                                                                                                                      According to the very same article he cited: "According to the 2010 Census, the three metropolitan areas with the largest Chinese American populations were the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area at 682,265 people,[1] the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area at 592,865 people, [2] and the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area at about 473,323 people. New York City is home to the highest Chinese American population of any city proper (486,463), while the Los Angeles County city of Monterey Park has the highest percentage of Chinese Americans of any municipality, at 43.7% of its population, or 24,758 people. The San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County in particular has one of the most prominent collections of U.S. suburbs with large foreign-born Chinese-speaking populations, ranging from working-class residing in Rosemead and El Monte to wealthier immigrants living in Arcadia, San Marino and Diamond Bar. Conversely, the suburbs of New York City within the state of New Jersey are notable for their widespread and increasing prevalence of Chinese Americans (see list below), reflecting their general affluence and propensity for professional occupations."

                                                                                                                                                      Considering that the metro NY area is 2-3 times the size of the metro SF area (depending on how you measure it), the number of Chinese in the SF area is much more significant. Yes, concentration makes a difference. There are more Jews in the US than in Israel....

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                        Also demographics are different. New York City has a lot of low income urban Chinese residents, while California has a larger concentration of suburban professional technical Chinese residents. (Not to say there aren't categories of both in each locale.) And which group do you think is more demanding as far as Chinese food quality is concerned, and can afford to pay for it? On the other hand, the numbers in New York are. in a way, larger than official population stats, in that there is a constant flow of Fujianese workers from the eastern half of the US who come to New York on their days off. Indeed, I'd say that a lot of the Chinese restaurants on East Broadway and environs owe their existence as much to these nonresidents of New York as local residents. However, the food around East Broadway is not gourmet food.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                          I agree with you. There are plenty of poor Chinese in NYC and the restaurants they frequent reflect that. OTOH the beauty of a population of over half a million is that there are also plenty of middle class Chinese as well who support the more upscale restaurants. I suspect that as a percentage it's lower than on the West Coast but in terms of raw numbers there are lots of them. So the answer is more complicated than "they're all poor" or "they're all college educated professionals." It's a mix.

                                                                                                                                                          The next 10 years should see a lot of change as the population works it's way up the economic ladder.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                            It's probably been over 25 years since Chinese real estate developers and salespeople started touting the San Gabriel Valley as the "Chinese Beverly Hills" in overseas advertising. It's probably not coincidence that that point in time also began the rise of Chinese food in the Los Angeles to national pre-eminence.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                              The other factor driving Los Angeles area Chinese food to new heights is the rise of the "626" generation, 626 referring to the area code that encompasses the San Gabriel Valley. As chronicled this past week by the Los Angeles Times a culture of twenty and thirtysomethings has arisen in the SGV, unlike anything else found in the US. Among other things these people are obsessed by food. (I should know--my kids and their friends are part of this group). Check the rise of food sites like 626foodettes.com and clarissawei.com among others.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                I think that's going on in SF and Oakland as well. Boba shops are more common than Starbucks.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Well boba's always been big with the kids for over a decade. I think what makes the "626" different is that it is suburban, rather than urban (read comfortable, spoiled kids), plus it's a large contiguous area.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                          Guess what? So are the Chinese in NYC. In Flushing, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Elmhurst, and lastly, in Manhattan's Chinatown.

                                                                                                                                                          "The New York City Metropolitan Area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 682,265 individuals as of the 2010 United States Census, including at least 8 Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, two in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown and the Elmhurst Chinatown), three in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown, the Avenue U Chinatown, and the Bensonhurst Chinatown), and one each in Edison, New Jersey and Nassau County, Long Island, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area."

                                                                                                                                                          But, if we're talking about Chinese food in Flushing, shouldn't we be looking at the Chinese population living in Flushing, and not the Chinese people living in Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, etc..?

                                                                                                                                                          When I lived in Flushing, I commuted to Manhattan every day. But, I wouldn't travel to Brooklyn and I declined invitations to go there because there wasn't a direct, convenient way to get from Flushing to Brooklyn. If you're Chinese and already living in Brooklyn, I don't know if they'd really go to Flushing to eat when its so inconvenient and they already have a nearby Chinatown in Brooklyn.

                                                                                                                                                          And, if you really wanted to complicate things, we'd probably need to look at Chinese populations in the areas we're talking about as well as the Chinese population outside those areas who would be willing to travel to go into the area to support those restaurants. For the latter group, you'd have to look at factors like convenience and whether or not there's already nearby good Chinese restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                          For example, I live outside SGV. In fact, I live outside LA County but it takes me an hour to travel to SGV which I find acceptable. But, if it took me two hours, I probably wouldn't make that trip. Or, if there were already good Chinese restaurants nearby, I probably wouldn't go to SGV anymore either.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                          Yes Ruth, anyone can quote Wikipedia. It takes a special type of person to read this quote and draw the opposite conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                          "The New York City Metropolitan Area contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, enumerating 682,265 individuals as of the 2010 United States Census, including at least 8 Chinatowns, comprising the original Manhattan Chinatown, two in Queens (the Flushing Chinatown and the Elmhurst Chinatown), three in Brooklyn (the Sunset Park Chinatown, the Avenue U Chinatown, and the Bensonhurst Chinatown), and one each in Edison, New Jersey and Nassau County, Long Island, not to mention fledgling ethnic Chinese enclaves emerging throughout the New York City metropolitan area."

                                                                                                                                                          Just how did I, and Wikipedia, and the US Census Bureau get that wrong? The enormous number of Chinese in NYC are not scattered, onesie twosies, all over the city. They're concentrated in historically Chinese districts and huge new ones that have grown up over the last 30 years. And in those districts there are lots of restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                          That's the reality on the ground. If you doubt it please don't blame me. Take it up with the Census Bureau and Wikipedia.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                            New York City is the mothership for the entire Fujianese American community in the United States, and the large numbers of Chinese in NYC reflects this fact. There is a network of bus lines between East Broadway and points all over the East Coast, Midwest and South where the Fujianese operate a good portion of the Chinese restaurants in those areas. The bus lines provide economical transportation for workers who have no documentation and would be unable to take other forms of transport. On any given Monday (the typical day off for Chinese restaurants), some significant portion of these out of town workers swell the ranks of Chinese in New York even further. Interestingly there are very few Fujianese in the western US since there aren't any buses running from East Broadway out west. This is a fascinating subculture which is unique to New York City.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                              that cheap bus system is interesting, there have been a few nights around 10 PM in DC near 6 and H NW that the idea of jumping on a $12 bus to NYC or Philly or Atlantic City for an overnight of bleary silliness was very tempting.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                              "The enormous number of Chinese in NYC are not scattered, onesie twosies, all over the city. They're concentrated in historically Chinese districts and huge new ones that have grown up over the last 30 years. And in those districts there are lots of restaurants."

                                                                                                                                                              I owe the NY Times big on this one. Today they published a handy dandy map which shows where the Asian population of NY is clustered. They confirm what I said last week. The Chinese population of NYC is heavily clustered in Chnatown. Flushing, Elmhurst, Sunset Park and Bensonhurst.

                                                                                                                                                              Some screenshots from the map. Asians are represented by red dots, whites by green, blacks by blue, and Hispanics by yellowish dots.


                                                                                                                                                              Elmhurst and Flushing

                                                                                                                                                              Manhattan's Chinatown -

                                                                                                                                                              Brooklyn's Sunset Park -

                                                                                                                                                              Here's the full map -

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the info. It is quite intuitive. New York is like L.A. You see people asking on the NY board for good Chinese food in the UWS or UES like you see requests on the LA board for good Chinese food in West Los Angeles or Hollywood, which hardly exists due to the demographics. The Bay Area is a little different, though, in that the Chinese started integrating in the metro area better since they've been a higher percentage of the total populace for many many decades. Consequently, finding a great Chinese restaurant in any part of the Bay Area wouldn't surprise me, while one in the San Fernando Valley or the Bronx would.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                        6%? You really need to tell that to the NY Times and the US Census Bureau. This comes from an article written in June 2011.
                                                                                                                                                        "Asians, a group more commonly associated with the West Coast, are surging in New York, where they have long been eclipsed in the city’s kaleidoscopic racial and ethnic mix. For the first time, according to census figures released in the spring, their numbers have topped one million — nearly 1 in 8 New Yorkers — which is more than the Asian population in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined. "


                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for making me look that up.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                          The term, "Asian," refers to a broad spectrum of nationalities and ethnicities. This is from the same article:

                                                                                                                                                          >>But making that happen is not easy, because the population that calls itself Asian is extremely diverse. Asian-Americans in New York trace their roots to dozens of countries, and speak more than 40 languages and dialects.<<

                                                                                                                                                          The article goes on and mentions that about half of those Asians in the survey indicated that they were Chinese, with Indians making up the second largest group.

                                                                                                                                                          One also has to define what Los Angeles is. The article states,

                                                                                                                                                          >>...which is more than the Asian population in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.<<

                                                                                                                                                          The city of Los Angeles is a much narrower in terms of political geography and population. The Los Angeles area includes the city of LA, as well as all surrounding incorporated and unincorporated areas around Los Angeles County. Also, using San Francisco is odd for this article's purposes, since the center of Asian population growth is more around the areas roughly from Richmond to San Jose.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                            I suspect the largest Asian ethnic groups within the city limits of Los Angeles are Koreans and Indians. Chinese population within LA city is rather small. They're mostly out in the San Gabriel Valley cities.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                          I suspect the percentages of Chinese in SGV cities are higher than stated. I think it also depends on one's definition of Chinese. I frequent the SGV one-four times a month, and just by casual observation, I could easily double most of those percentages and still feel it was too low.

                                                                                                                                                        3. Maybe a better way to approach the question is, what are the top 10 regions in North America for quality and diversity of Chinese food? General consensus among Chinese restaurant geeks might be:

                                                                                                                                                          1. Toronto
                                                                                                                                                          2. Vancouver
                                                                                                                                                          3. Los Angeles
                                                                                                                                                          4. SF Bay Area
                                                                                                                                                          5. New York

                                                                                                                                                          Does anywhere else rate high enough to merit a mention?

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                            The one possible contender I could think of is Houston. However, they don't have the same quantity of Chinese restaurants as the top 5, or anything approaching it. The one city I don't know much about is Calgary. Was there 8 years ago and there wasn't much there at the time. However, I have heard that it is rocketing up the charts.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Here's the Olivia Wu article where she talks about the great meals her uncles would order in the late 60s and 70s, and how she was unable to get the same food when she went on her own.


                                                                                                                                                            I don't think Chinese restaurants in NY were ahead of SF in the 70s or 80s. When I went there I was kind of shocked at how backward they were, though the chinas comidas were pretty cool.

                                                                                                                                                            1974 was the year when Tony Hiss wrote in the New Yorker that the Hunan in SF was the "best Chinese restaurant in the world."

                                                                                                                                                            Yank Sing moved from its original Broadway hole to Stevenson St. in 1974 and added the Battery St. branch in 1981.

                                                                                                                                                            China Moon opened in 1986,

                                                                                                                                                            Harbor Village, a branch of a Hong Kong place, around the same time with 375 seats and 12,000 square feet.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                              It was 1985, my first visit to New York Chinatown, and the food at Sun Yeung Shing and Chui Yuen Noodle in Chinatown was better than anything I had eaten up to that point in time. However, shortly after that, the Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley and the Bay Area really started to explode.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                As I noted above the scene had been exploding in SF for a while by then. In the 80s we also had Fountain Court, still the best Shanghai food I've had. Yuet Lee had hit its stride a few years earlier, it was already a famous local favorite when the chef was murdered in 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                Here's a 1982 article from the NY Times about the Chinese restaurant scene in SF:


                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for digging this up. The first restaurant I remember my crowd travelling from LA to SF for the new style Hong Kong food was Nam Yuen on Washington, some 40 years ago. But the first SF Chinese restaurant that sent Angelinos on the shuttle to San Francisco in packs (probably on Pacific Southwest Airlines) was Kam Lok back around 1978. I remember flying up to SF one Saturday and having lunch and dinner there before flying back home the same day. Funny that even though Kam Lok is still around I haven't thought about going back.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                Here's a list of the Chinese restaurants in the 1986 "Restaurants of San Francisco" guidebook compiled from Chronicle reviews by Stan Sesser and Patricia Unterman.

                                                                                                                                                                China House *
                                                                                                                                                                DPD Noodle House *
                                                                                                                                                                Empress of China
                                                                                                                                                                Fountain Court
                                                                                                                                                                Golden Dragon Noodle Shop
                                                                                                                                                                Gou Bu Li
                                                                                                                                                                Hunan (SF)
                                                                                                                                                                Hunan Restaurant (Oakland) *
                                                                                                                                                                Imperial Palace
                                                                                                                                                                King Tin
                                                                                                                                                                Kum Moon
                                                                                                                                                                The Mandarin
                                                                                                                                                                Mandarin House **
                                                                                                                                                                Mike's Chinese Cuisine *
                                                                                                                                                                Narai **
                                                                                                                                                                North China *
                                                                                                                                                                Royal Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                Szechuan Taste
                                                                                                                                                                Taiwan Restaurant *
                                                                                                                                                                Ton Kiang (original Broadway location) *

                                                                                                                                                                Kam Lok
                                                                                                                                                                New Ocean *
                                                                                                                                                                Ocean *
                                                                                                                                                                Yuet Lee **

                                                                                                                                                                dim sum
                                                                                                                                                                Asia Garden **
                                                                                                                                                                Canton Tea House
                                                                                                                                                                Jade Villa *
                                                                                                                                                                Tung Fong **

                                                                                                                                                                * very good food
                                                                                                                                                                ** excellent food, worth going out of your way

                                                                                                                                                              3. recent visit to San Gabriel …clearly on the more subtle than assertive flavor profile:


                                                                                                                                                                Shanghai smoked fish
                                                                                                                                                                Hongshao rou


                                                                                                                                                                If I could simply step outside my door and be in SGV or Flushing, well (as a native), ok.

                                                                                                                                                                Now don't try to step-up on who can best fetishize, we'll drop you cold ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                                                                                  There are lots of Shanghainese restaurants in NYC with those dishes and a whole lot more. Just wondering, why did the OP's question bring about a discussion of Chinese restaurants just about everywhere else other than NY?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    Despite the thread title, most posters took the topic as, "Why are there no NY restaurants on David Chan's 'top 10 Chinese restaurants in the US' list?"

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      As the psych prof said to the doctoral candidate who was ratphobic and had devised an experiment not using them, "what's that going to tell you abou rats?"

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      Why ... "proper" nouns.
                                                                                                                                                                      "There are lots of Shanghainese restaurants in NYC with those dishes and a whole lot more"
                                                                                                                                                                      What would you suggest?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm forever posting on the topic on the. Manhattan board. Current favorite is Shanghai Heping on Mott. AubWah and sccopG among many others know and love the cuisine too.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                          an earlier poster noted an aspect about the SGV that I believe influences a palpable difference ... $

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                                                                                            If you live in NY and environs, the excellence of and ratio prix-qualité of restautants in the SGV is (sadly enough) fairly immaterial.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                              With regard to the specific cuisine and particular demographics i, respectfully, disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't really understand, are you suggesting I shouldn't eat Shanghainese food in NYC because it's cheaper and better in the SGV? By that token I shouldn't have eaten any Chinese food since leaving Taipei in 1982, after 18 months of dead cheap and utterly amazing food cooked by the former chefs of KMT bigwigs who found themselves unemployed after the demise of their employers and opened restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                  two matters here ...
                                                                                                                                                                                  the cuisine (great interest) and the fork in this thread.
                                                                                                                                                                                  w/ respect to the hijack, i've stated my preference.
                                                                                                                                                                                  w/ respect to attempting to "right" the OP's query ... good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                                                                                                                                                  [QUOTE]We are awash in good Sichuan restaurants.[QUOTE]

                                                                                                                                                                                  California is awash in good Chinese restaurants that specialize in different regional specialities- Cantonese, Shangong, Chiu Chow, etc.- and not just one region like Sichuan.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The thing Southern California Chinese seems to be lacking in is Fijuanese, who mainly tend to operate the all-you-can-eat buffets on the West Coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And, you'll also have a hard time NY Style Chinese food in LA:


                                                                                                                                                                    3. Thanks to the board for crystallizing the issues on why the best Chinese restaurants are in California. Here's the final analysis.


                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                        Just out of curiosity....what do you think of Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger restaurant and his style of cooking?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                          I liked the restaurant, but maybe I was dazzled because the man himself was there and I got his autograph. On the other hand, on a blind taste test I wouldn't wouldn't rate it as being exceptional, though I wouldn't fault him because looking around the room it's easy to see who the target audience is.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                            Your thoughts and experience were much the same as mine.....I enjoyed the meal and the restaurant, but I really did not feel it was very Chinese, maybe more Asian fusion.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                              Blue Ginger is like Yujean Kang's.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure either of those restaurants belong in the discussion of Chinese restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                Compared to Mr. Chow and P.F. Chang, they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                                                                                                                  If that was the baseline, then so would the Cheesecake Factory.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Well, for starters do you mean Authentic or American Chinese. If you want traditional authentic go to China Town. Look no further. There, you will find Chinese Broccoli and more of Dim Sum which is a small delicate appetizer -- some including steamed dumpling, stone crab legs.
                                                                                                                                                                        Please note that the Authentic Chinese cuisine tastes much different than a regular Chinese Restaurant (American).
                                                                                                                                                                        The regular Chinese Restaurants are all over. I would like to suggest Mee Noodle Shop. go to: www.yellowpages.com and find out what neighborhood in New York, NY they are in.
                                                                                                                                                                        Good Luck. And if you want, you could also use other resources to find the best in Zagat book. Zagat's may also have a referenced website as well.
                                                                                                                                                                        Good Luck with your journey for the best. Also remember in New York, NY most all of the restaurants are the best!