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Best Chinese Food Midtown East

matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 01:33 PM

What's the best chinese restaurant in midtown?

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  1. Motosport RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 01:45 PM

    I have three in Midtown East:
    Mapo Tofu
    Hunan Manor
    Phoenix Garden

    1. scoopG RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 01:55 PM

      Hunan Manor is your best best. Phoenix Garden is an old style Cantonese - haven't been yet. There are much better Sichuan options than Mapo Tofu further west at Szechuan Gourmet or Lan Sheng on West 39th Street, between Fifth and Sixth.

      Hunan Manor:

      Mapo Tofu:

      1. j
        JC2 RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 01:55 PM

        La Vie En Szechuan.

        1. s
          SomeRandomIdiot RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 02:19 PM

          Land of Plenty
          Cafe China

          1. p
            Pookipichu RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 03:55 PM

            Hands down Hakkasan. There's NO comparison.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Pookipichu
              diprey11 RE: Pookipichu Apr 11, 2013 05:14 PM

              "Hands down" implies a challenge. I would like to put forward Szechuan Gourmet (@39 St) for comparison. I ate lunch there today: I had a very simple chicken dish, nothing fancy and under $10. Perfectly diced, lovingly stir-fried, tastefully seasoned. (Perfectly even-sized cubes, different cuts of chicken meat have appropriately different sizes, some juice on the plate--but not too much and the right--small, heh--amount of cornstarch, a nice balance of Sichuan peppercorns vs regular heat.) Yes, I like honest Chinese food.

              1. re: diprey11
                Pookipichu RE: diprey11 Apr 11, 2013 07:29 PM

                :) I've eaten at Szechuan Gourmet many times, it's affordable and the food is tasty but in my opinion, it is not in the same league as Hakkasan, not even close. Of course my ratio of dining at Szechuan Gourmet is going to be 10 to 1 due to not being able to afford Hakkasan.

                1. re: Pookipichu
                  diprey11 RE: Pookipichu Apr 11, 2013 07:57 PM

                  We agree to disagree. :-) different people have different tastes of course.

                  I gave an example of a $9 item, but there are dishes priced $85 and up. There is no shortage of luxury food items at SG: you just have to ask the head waiter. It's not the price as such, rather it's a bang for the buck.

                  I wouldn't discount them for offering economy-style food: it's in their system of values, not an admission of inferiority. They have a seriously talented chef.

                  1. re: diprey11
                    Pookipichu RE: diprey11 Apr 11, 2013 08:36 PM

                    I've eaten at both. At SG I have sampled many dishes over the years. I think it's a fine restaurant on the level of Hunan Kitchen of GS in Flushing. That being said, even though people have different tastes, they're not even aspiring to the same market. It's like saying that Carmine's is better than Del Posto. I'm not disparaging or downgrading SG because it's less expensive, it's about execution, quality of ingredients, ambiance all of which are superior at Hakkasan. Hakkasan has seriously talented chefs (not to mention a genius pastry chef), and a lot of the negativity directed toward Hakkasan is simply because it is expensive for a Chinese restaurant in NYC. Their Peking duck is phenomenal. Their chocolate orange has the showmanship of EMP and is beautiful.

                    1. re: Pookipichu
                      diprey11 RE: Pookipichu Apr 12, 2013 04:38 PM

                      Then I simply have to try their Beijing duck. Thank you for the leads!

                      1. re: Pookipichu
                        kosmose7 RE: Pookipichu Apr 12, 2013 08:34 PM

                        As a Korean who used to live in Hong Kong for 10 years, I always crave fine dining Chinese cuisine and Hakkasan is indeed welcome rain to drought. My only complaint is Hakkasan's dishes lack seasonality unlike those haute Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, but that's understandable given lack of locals in New York who appreciate such fine dining Chinese foods.

                        1. re: kosmose7
                          diprey11 RE: kosmose7 Apr 13, 2013 05:28 PM

                          As somebody who has enjoyed HK fine dining over the years, I do agree. And I always ask myself, how is Hakkasan like Le Bernardin, my yardstick for fine dining in NYC? It's quite possible to name a comparable restaurant in HK, and the price tag will be appropriately high. But I think people tend to be overly generous in who they call "a talented chef". Well, I do (blush).

                          I would never call LB too expensive: just not everyday's meal. I hope the difference is clear, but to hammer things into the perspective, I do think MacD is expensive while LB is not.

                2. re: Pookipichu
                  GaryUES RE: Pookipichu Apr 11, 2013 06:06 PM

                  Hakkasan is not in midtown East

                  1. re: GaryUES
                    Pookipichu RE: GaryUES Apr 11, 2013 07:30 PM

                    You're right, I just read the body of his text and not the headline.

                3. c
                  comiendosiempre RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 05:16 PM

                  Land of Plenty. Focus on their Sichuan dishes.

                  1. Monica RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 06:45 PM

                    Land of Plenty for sure..I ate there 3 times this week.
                    .and I thought I wasn't a fan of Chinese food.
                    I feel lucky I work very close from the restaurant.
                    Plus the restaurant is actually clean and I love the waiters there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Monica
                      Monica RE: Monica Apr 12, 2013 11:16 AM

                      Just ordered some beef tendon appetizer, tripe and ox tongue appetizer, zsechuan dumplings and pork with smoked tofu and chinese celery for lunch.

                    2. a
                      AubWah RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 07:14 PM

                      Honestly it's not even close. Hunan Manor, Szechuan Gourmet on 39th is also very admirable.

                      1. Bob Martinez RE: matt5150 Apr 11, 2013 08:10 PM

                        Since no one has mentioned it yet, Lan Sheng. It's terrific.

                        It's been awhile since I've been to Szechuan Gourmet but I've had plenty of very good meals there and no reason to think it's slipped. I've only eaten at Land of Plenty once but I liked it a lot.

                        I thought Cafe China was pretty enough but the food was good, not great.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                          scoopG RE: Bob Martinez Apr 12, 2013 04:24 AM

                          Since no one has mentioned it yet, Lan Sheng.

                          1. re: scoopG
                            Bob Martinez RE: scoopG Apr 12, 2013 05:26 AM

                            Missed it.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez
                              scoopG RE: Bob Martinez Apr 12, 2013 06:16 AM

                              I was not a fan at first but they do have some stellar dishes, including a steamed pork rib dish in ground rice powder.


                        2. m
                          mwhitmore RE: matt5150 Apr 12, 2013 10:25 AM

                          No love for Shun Lee any more? Haven't been there in years, but...

                          1. guanubian RE: matt5150 Apr 13, 2013 09:29 AM

                            Szechuan Gourmet and Lan Sheng are very similar, very good Szechuan restaurants on 39th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. I think SG is a little better, but Lan Sheng is kind of hardcore in a way that draws me there more often.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: guanubian
                              diprey11 RE: guanubian Apr 13, 2013 05:35 PM

                              They are very similar in everything, except they are not in the same league. After eating there almost every week since 2005 I always recall the reaction of Paul, then the head waiter in SG to my question what he thinks of the competition from across the street. He said, please excuse an unfirm old man, I cannot see any competition.

                              1. re: diprey11
                                guanubian RE: diprey11 Apr 13, 2013 07:04 PM

                                Yeah, I think SG is better, but I don't think the difference is that meaningful. I do think Lan Sheng sometimes overdoes the bitterness in the key Szechuan sauces. You can taste this most obviously in their rendition of the staple SZ cold noodles, at least on most days. I have Chinese (not Chinese-American) friends who also call it for SG, but do enjoy LS.

                                1. re: diprey11
                                  Bob Martinez RE: diprey11 Apr 14, 2013 02:18 AM

                                  Funny. Michelin thinks differently.

                                  It doesn't diminish SG to say that Lan Sheng is a great restaurant.

                              2. p
                                plf515 RE: matt5150 Apr 13, 2013 05:43 PM

                                Phoenix Garden is very good. I especially like the oyster-roast pig casserole.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: plf515
                                  SomeRandomIdiot RE: plf515 Apr 13, 2013 07:51 PM

                                  Do you know how many oysters they typically put in the casserole?

                                  1. re: SomeRandomIdiot
                                    plf515 RE: SomeRandomIdiot Apr 14, 2013 03:59 AM

                                    I never counted them.... Maybe half a dozen? It's a big pot of food.

                                    1. re: plf515
                                      SomeRandomIdiot RE: plf515 Apr 15, 2013 10:39 AM

                                      Thanks for the rec. I tried the oyster casserole for lunch today as takeout. A bit pricey for what they give you but it was tasty. I would have liked more than just 4 smallish pieces of roast pork.

                                      I also had :

                                      an over sauced version of "Pork Chop in Peking Style". I'll just ask for sauce on the side if I order this again.

                                      "Beef-Flank with Turnips in Casserole." I forgot to ask them to sub the daikon with bean curd sticks but I liked this version because they give you the three types of beef that should be in this dish. There was the gelatinous tendon, the brisket and very chewy connective tissue? (i'm not sure what that's called).

                                      Golden Fried Bean Curd meatless - I ordered this thinking it was something else. Fairly generic fried cubes of tofu with a shrimp on top even though it says meatless in the name. The best part of this was the soy sauce with scallions and cilantro that came with it.

                                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot
                                        plf515 RE: SomeRandomIdiot Apr 15, 2013 12:27 PM

                                        Another good dish here is the salt and pepper shrimp.

                                2. LeahBaila RE: matt5150 Apr 16, 2013 05:54 AM

                                  Cafe China
                                  Lan Sheng

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