I am heading to China in a couple of weeks and would appreciate some advice on my dinning choices!! I have read through a number of the previous posts but am a little overwhelmed with all the suggestions and options.
Ideally I would like to have 3-4 good options (must tries, local specialties, street food/hole in the wall, middle/upper scale) in each city.
Below is the list I have going so far definitely open to substitutions and/or complete overhaul.
Tim Ho Wen
Temple Street night market
Nanhai Number 1
Jia Jia Tang Bao
DinTai Fung/Xiao Nan Guo
Nanxiang Mantou Dian
Black Sesame Kitchen
I know this is not a very extensive list but that is why I need some help!
Aron - From your post of today, I understand that you are frustrated that no one responded to this one. I'm an American who recently visited China for the first time -- hardly the kind of local or regular visitor who can give in-depth guidance. But as no one else has responded, I'll throw in my 2 cents:
Of the restaurants you listed, here is where we ate:
Beijing - Da Dong. We enjoyed this meal very much, although it was on the pricey side. Was it the best Peking Duck in the world? We did not think so (Indeed we thought that the Peking Duck at Sun Wah in Chicago, where we live, was perhaps better but that may be one of those perceptions where price affects what you expect -- Sun Wah is dirt cheap). Patronized by a lot of westerners.
Shanghai - DTF. Good food, reasonably priced (maybe not by local standards). XLB were especially good (not a novel observation). As I recall, a mix of western and Chinese customers.
Hong Kong - Nan Hai #1. This is one of the best meals we had in China. We went with one of the set menus and enjoyed virtually every dish.
We also ate at Lei Garden in Chengdu, but not in HK (we needed a break from the spiciness of authentic Szechuan food). This was one of the weaker meals that we had, but may just reflect local management problems -- service was interminably slow and they had run out of some of the dishes we ordered. The HK restaurant, which I believe is the original, could be completely different. (This was also one of the restaurants where we had the greatest communication difficulty, although again I would assume that the staff at the HK branch would be far more proficient in English than in Chengdu.)
Wish I could give you more details but it's been several months and I cannot remember specific dishes eaten.
Thanks for the reply!!! I think maybe a little sensitive more than frustrated. I know I asked a question that has been posted many many times on the board. I tried to do some research on my own before posting but it only confused me with all the opinions and options.
I have expanded my list since my original post and organized it by food type. I am going to post a new question which will hopefully help me make some decisions.
Da Dong- What do you define as pricey? We will definitely go for Peking Duck once in Beijing at Da Dong or Made in China. I have been leaning towards Da Dong b/c of board comments but have both restaurants on our list.
Thanks for input on DTF, Nan Hai #1, and Lei Garden. Hopefully when I re-post people will comment on Lei in Hong Kong or make other suggestions.
Your comments were very helpful and I appreciate the response.
I don't remember the price at DaDong but don't recall that it was excruciatingly expensive -- just one of the pricier meals that we ate. Our dinners in HK at Nanhai No 1 and Ming Court were probably more. I mainly think we were a bit disappointed in DaDong because it had been hyped so much so we were expecting to be blown away by the duck and also because so much of the clientele was western; we like to feel that we are experiencing the local culture, which we did not with about 50% of the patrons being western.
As I recall, we each selected the 4-course prix fixe dinner, and it was about $80 (US) each. We also ordered wine (rather than beer, which we drank at many places) and had sparkling water, both of which were priced on the high side -- total bill $200 for 2 people, maybe? Note that we'd not blink at spending this kind of money in Chicago or other cities for a good meal. It's just at that price, we expected to like the food better.
It is not "expensive" for the genre of restaurant -- white table cloths, a whole coterie of wait staff, including a wine steward, as I recall.
For Tim Ho Wan make sure you go to the mother ship. I heard the other branches are not as good. For Shanghai are you not going to a Shanghai cuisine place (Din Tai Fung is not really one). How about Jizi?
I am not familiar with Beijing. But I have heard Made in China is better than Da Dong (better service).
Hope you get more replies.
Do you know which location is the Mother ship?? Also, as I am expecting a long wait, do you know if we can put our name down and come back or if we have to wait at the restaurant?
I will check out Jizi. It makes sense to have Shanghai Cuisine when we are there. I listed DTF b/c it receives positive comments on the board but I’m definitely open to other ideas.
The MongKok location is the "mothership", 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok. Yes there will be long waits, but I think you take a number. I like DTF too, but since it is a branch of a Taiwan restaurant many will say it's not typically Shanghainese, although of course it serves Shanghai cuisine. Their service is also excellent.
I can only second the comment from PeterL. If you have the time, just go to the MongKok location. It is cheaper AND better. If you don't have the time, you can also go to the IFC one. They are still quite good, but a little more expensive.
About Beijing Duck in Beijing: I had one at Made in China and was not really blown away. It was good, but not great. I had a better one in Shanghai in the Quanjude branch in Purple Mountain hotel in Pudong.
Also for Shanghai, I would highly recommend Xin Ji Shi (Jesse), had a very good meal there!