Chinese menus in Southwest Connecticut (Fairfield County, New Haven County)
We moved to Fairfield County (initially Stamford and now Westport) from Shanghai in the summer of 2011. Over the last two years, there were many transitions to life here, but the most difficult was food. My wife and I enjoyed the variety of a lot of different types of Chinese food while in Shanghai, and missed that a ton. Thanks to the folks on Chowhound though, we found some places to tide us over in between visits to Flushing or my family in the 626.
I was going through some of the old threads to see if there were any new updates or recent finds, but didn't see anything so thought I'd summarize my learnings over the last 2 years to see if I've missed anything. If nothing else, maybe this can help others who might be newcomers to Southwest CT.
I've titled this post Chinese menus because I've found that restaurants who have menus (or sections of menus or at least items with English names that you know has a standard Chinese equivalent) in Chinese tend to be 'authentic' in the sense that they are serving traditional dishes that someone who is Chinese would recognize. So all the restaurants below meet that criteria.
1. Lao Sze Chuan (老四川)
1585 Boston Post Rd, Milford, CT 06460
There's a ton of commentary on Lao Sze Chuan already on other threads, so will just say thank you to all the Chowhounds for pointing this out - for a while we loved to hit up Costco and then have dinner at Lao Sze Chuan before going home.
2. Hao Si Chuan (好四川)
1049 Boston Post Rd, West Haven, CT 06516
We've only gone once since it's a little further away, and it was almost a disaster because I had a very hungry wife, toddler and grandfather in the car while I was trying to find the place which made for a pretty rough start when we finally got there and sat down. However, 10 minutes into the meal we started to turn it around and by the end of the meal I was forgiven for taking the family so far for dinner.
3. Little Kitchen Westport
423 Post Rd E, Westport, CT 06880
When we first moved to Westport, we ordered takeout once and then never went or ordered again because while the food was fresh it was not what I would consider 'authentic'. Over the summer though, we went and was surprised to see that the sitdown menu had some items that I would consider to be some 'authentic' but not necessarily fancy staples such as Yung Chow Fried Rice (扬州炒饭), Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉面), Pan Fried Noodles (两面黄) including using ingredients like Chinese sausage (more the Taiwanese sweet kind). I didn't see it on their drinks menu, but on the wall in the back they have popular beverages from Taiwan such as Guava Juice (芭乐果汁/番石榴果汁), Sarsaparilla soda (黑松), and Apple Sidra (苹果西打). It's good enough to keep me going back just for those few things - although on occasion I'll have the Nasi Goreng or the Massaman Curry Beef.
4. Pearl East (东海楼)
2720 Summer St, Stamford, CT 06905
Have gone once when hosting colleagues visiting from China and we were looking for something 'authentic' in Stamford. As others have mentioned they have a "Traditional Chinese" section to the menu which has a number of items that I'd like to try next time I go and would be typical of a restaurant serving Huaiyang cuisine (e.g. typical appetizers, pig ear 麻辣猪耳朵, marinated beef 五香牛肉, jellyfish 凉拌海蜇, drunken chicken 醉鸡). I have to admit the food we had last time was ok, I wasn't blown away, but this is the only restaurant I've found in the area that is definitely more Shanghainese vs. #1 and #2 which are Sichuan or #3 which is more Taiwanese/ Indonesian).
We have on occasion also gone to Westchester - which is not Southwest Connecticut I know, but thought I'd include for completeness sake.
3 Barker Ave, White Plains, NY 10601
Aberdeen has also received many mentions on Chowhound for dimsum/ Cantonese food so the only thing I'll mention is that we found that we could park in the gated parking lot with the entrance on Barker for free (can't remember if it's Sat, Sun or both). You take a ticket to get in but coming out the exit gate just lifts when you pull up.
6. Imperial Wok (湘园)
736 N Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603
Imperial Wok also has a section of the menu with Traditional Chinese dishes, which tends to also be Sichuan or Taiwanese style (which is confusing because from their Chinese name of the restaurant you would think it is more Hunan style, but what do I know). I have to sheepishly confess that my favorite dish there is a basic stir fried shrimp and egg, although I do enjoy their West Lake Beef Soup as well.
Would love to learn if there are any other Chinese restaurants in the area that I've missed with Chinese menu items, or other styles of Chinese food. In particular my wife grew up in Xi'an so if there's anything in the area serving Shaanxi staples like Liang Pi Cold Noodles 凉皮 without having to trek to Flushing (http://www.xianfoods.com/) or into the city that would be fantastic.
Thank you so much for this post. It is very refreshing to have the area Chinese restaurants reviewed in detail by someone who both lived in China and understands the variations in the country's regional cuisines. I am not Chinese, so I greatly appreciate the views of someone with local knowledge
I clicked on the link with great optimism that you had uncovered some new gems, but at least it was worthwhile to see you ratify some of the local favorites. Sadly, I still believe that the vast majority of local Chinese restauranteurs don't see the the commercial promise of offering more authentic cuisine.
Since you have ventured into Westchester, have you tried Central Seafood in Hartsdale? (I know I'm off-topic, but it's in response to the OP) They have a large Chinese speaking clientele, and dim sum carts on the weekend. My favorite dish there is a salt fish tofu cooked in a clay pot - every time I order it they ask me if I'm SURE I want it, so I suspect there are other items that are specifically designed for Chinese customers hiding in plain sight on the broad menu.
And if it's any consolation, Xi'an Famous has opened a new location near Grand Central, so you can at least take an express train for the Liang Pi noodles.
Thanks SteveSCT - thanks for the heads up on Central Seafood. We go to that Hmart around the corner all the time, so look forward to trying it next time we go. Also nice to know about the XFF near GCT - the missus will appreciate next time I bring some home when I go down to the city for a mtg.
You might try China Palace on Orange St in New Haven. It has a nice 2nd menu of more authentic dishes and there is a nice Asian market across the street
Royal Palace not china palace on Orange St in New Haven has a very authentic chinese menu, I'm pretty sure the family is from Shanghai so you should have something to talk about with Tommy and Tony the owners. Another favorite of mine in New Haven is the Great Wall on Whitney Ave. Very good dim sum all the time but they have a greater variety and carts on Sat. and Sun. We've never had a bad meal at either of these places. As many others I also go to and recommend Lao Sze Chuan (had lunch there today) and Hao Si Chuan.
My Bad, chefstu is right it is Royal Palace. somehow it did not sound right even as I typed it
I notice you don't include Clinton's Taste of China -- perhaps because it's too far from you. They definitely have a Chinese menu, and commentary on this board has always been quite positive. The dishes I've had there over the years have been quite well executed.
But I have only recently learned that Taste of China has opened another restaurant in New Haven. I haven't had a chance to go there yet, but I wonder why I haven't seen any comments here about it. Comments elsewhere (e.g. yelp) have been by people who pretty obviously knew nothing about "real" Chinese food, so I don't learn anything from them. Basic questions, though: how does the New Haven menu compare with the Clinton one? And does the New Haven place have the wonderful Belgian and other interesting beers that the Clinton one has?
Thanks, I have seen others mention it quite frequently but your guess is right. It's 50+ miles for us to get out there, so it's a little further than we would typically consider given that Flushing is closer at 40-ish something miles. However, we went to Newport RI over the summer and it would have been a nice place to stop at on the way (vs. the Wendy's we did stop at), so will look for a chance to try it out!
Iron Chef (previously of West Haven)
Over the weekend we went to Milford so I went to look for Peking Duck House. However, I found that it was long gone. I its place was a restaurant called Eastern Lake. Even this restaurant seemed not to be open as it looked like the place was under renovation. On the front door though was a reprint of a review for Iron Chef previously of West Haven. I assume this means that Iron Chef, which the review described as serving Taiwanese cuisine is planning to move in once renovations are complete. Any chowhounds here previously frequented Iron Chef?