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June 20, 2012 3:25 PM   Subscribe

David Chan has eaten at 6,090 Chinese restaurants. He's eaten at more than 300 Chinese restaurants in New York alone and visited every state. Here's his list of the top ten Chinese restaurants in America, all of which are in California, most in Los Angeles.

Chan has posted reviews and restaurant news to Chowhound as Chandavkl since 2000.
posted by 2bucksplus (117 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been to #3 and #6. In fact, I'm kind of addicted to #6...
posted by mr_roboto at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2012


Or at least in Los Angeles County. I'm very fond of #6 as well, but #9 is wonderful. I think #7 has no business being on the list.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:30 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting that he is so Cantonese/HK-centric. None of the top-10 places in NY are that style. But the things is I've always been told the regional places in the San Gabriel Valley knock the socks off of the regional places in NY. So I'm not making an argument that NY got hosed, but rather that his choices seem quite focused, and that I can believe one of the great SGV regional places shouldn't be on the list. Any suggestions?
posted by JPD at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, New York has relatively little Hong Kong influence, and I like to describe its Chinese food as being mired in the 1990s.

This is completely true, and completely delicious. (It's sort of like West Coast Unix and East Coast Unix; whatever you were raised on was the right Unix.)
posted by DarlingBri at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2012


Metafilter SF meetup proposal for Koi Palace in 3 ... 2 ...
posted by zippy at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the list is really dim sum-heavy.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2012


I don't eat out all that much but I've eaten at two of the listed restaurants. Din Tai Fung is great, has long lines, and everyone raves about it. I was surprised to see 101 Noodle Express on the list. Most of the time when I go to 101 I get takeout Dan Dan noodles. I had no idea that there might be more good stuff there waiting for me to discover it.
posted by rdr at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2012


Note to web designers: please do not steal my spacebar and make it cycle through photos instead of scroll down.
posted by koeselitz at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Seriously, how am I supposed to page down here? The page down button is SO FAR AWAY.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:35 PM on June 20, 2012


Din Tai Fung is sort of pan-pacific chain.

Popularly abbreviated "DTF" on the food boards.
posted by JPD at 3:38 PM on June 20, 2012


I've eaten at #1 and #6 and can confirm that they are delicious!
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2012


So he likes the way Chinese food is prepared in California, I guess that's interesting...he also seems to conflate "chinese restaurant" with "dim sum place" which might be normal there but to many folks those are as different as "burger joint" and "diner."
posted by trackofalljades at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dan Dan noodles

Great. Now I'm drooling.
posted by Hoopo at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2012


So he likes the way Chinese food is prepared in California, I guess that's interesting.

Actually, if you read the article, he has very detailed reasoning for why California dim sum places floated to the top. You may or may not agree with his argument, but he at least attempts to defend the lack of diversity.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


And now I really, really want to eat at #10.
posted by koeselitz at 3:42 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man what I want to know is, if #7 is so awesome, why can't I find their hot sauce anywhere? I love the Yank Sing hot sauce. Yet I went to 12 grocery stores in Oakland Chinatown and no one had it. I went to about 5 on Stockton in SF Chinatown before I found some. What am I supposed to do without my Yank Sing hot sauce, I ask you?

I'd like to see a list like this but non-Dim-Sum heavy, or maybe just more veggie-friendly. Those might be the same thing.
posted by fireflies at 3:42 PM on June 20, 2012


trackofalljades: “So he likes the way Chinese food is prepared in California, I guess that's interesting...”

Indeed. He probably barely even ate at those six hundred Chinese restaurants in New York. Probably just got appetizers and left. Amateur!
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know I have (obviously) but I can't even understand/comprehend if I've eaten 6,090 meals...let alone that many out...let alone keep track of them. For that alone, I find this post interesting.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:45 PM on June 20, 2012


Oops, it was only three hundred. So he's even more of an amateur than I thought!
posted by koeselitz at 3:45 PM on June 20, 2012


Actually, if you read the article, he has very detailed reasoning for why California dim sum places floated to the top

But that reasoning AFAICT was basically "these are the new-fashioned restaurants". But what's wrong with the old-fashioned restaurants working in a different style? Why shouldn't these assessments be dismissed as trend-chasing?
posted by kenko at 3:48 PM on June 20, 2012


Good point. Food criticism does put a very heavy emphasis on novelty, for better or worse.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:49 PM on June 20, 2012


Still, koeselitz, it's kind of like having a list of your top ten movies of all time that has Godfather, Godfather II, Goodfellas, Heat, Infernal Affairs, The Departed, Scarface, Carlito's Way, L.A. Confidential and The Dark Knight. Even if you've seen a lot of other movies, you clearly have a distinct bias.
posted by Etrigan at 3:53 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


His logic is all predicated on the statement that "Hong Kong has the best Chinese Food, therefore places with the most recent HKG influence have the best food"

If you accept that bias as a legit, then this is maybe a great list. If you reject that as bias you might look for some regional cuisines to be represented, but even then the bulk of the list is going to be from the SGV I suspect.

This list is a little bit like someone declaring Milan as the best place to eat in Italy and then giving you a list of places serving tremendous fried veal and risotto and calling it "The best Italian Restaurants in the US"
posted by JPD at 3:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really like Koi Palace and Jai Yun, but I'm kind of surprised to find Yank Sing on the list, unless he means "Yank Sing twenty years ago."
posted by trip and a half at 3:56 PM on June 20, 2012


Given that apparently he doesn't like to return to restaurants multiple times, he might!
posted by kenko at 3:58 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was born and raised in California and just spent a year living in New York. I was also pretty much raised on Chinese food since that's all my family would go out to eat since I was a toddler. I spent most of college eating in authentic Chinese restaurants in LA. There's definitely differences in preparation between the two coasts, especially in American Chinese restaurants. Sauces in New York tend to be thinner, heavier on the vinegar and nothing tasted quite as fresh or flavorful to my palate. Ingredients tended to swim in sauce. Preparation kind of rested on what feels like a standard formula that hasn't changed since the 70s.

Needless to say I prefer the Californian way of doing things. I can name 3 places in a 1 mile radius of me where I live in LA that I prefer to any of the Chinese I ate in New York.

I actually found the differences less profound in the really authentic Chinese restaurants because they're marketing to people who know what the food should taste like. There's going to be regional variation, but there's a way that customers expect things to taste that they can't deviate too far from.
posted by mikesch at 4:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


kenko: “But that reasoning AFAICT was basically 'these are the new-fashioned restaurants'. But what's wrong with the old-fashioned restaurants working in a different style? Why shouldn't these assessments be dismissed as trend-chasing?”

Well, he also gave the answer that "Virtually all observers, particularly Chinese themselves, agree that the best Chinese food comes out of Hong Kong." Which, frankly, is even worse as a criticism – has there ever been a region that hasn't made a similar claim?

But I think the breadth of his experience gives this list a little weight – they are his favorite restaurants, and I'm not going to assume they're the best, but he's got an interesting perspective.

Etrigan: “Still, koeselitz, it's kind of like having a list of your top ten movies of all time that has Godfather, Godfather II, Goodfellas, Heat, Infernal Affairs, The Departed, Scarface, Carlito's Way, L.A. Confidential and The Dark Knight. Even if you've seen a lot of other movies, you clearly have a distinct bias.”

My problem with this list isn't with his bias – he's welcome to it, and everybody's got one. It's understandable that, if he likes Dim Sum and Hong Kong cuisine best, those are going to be at the top of his list.

If I have a problem with this list, it's that "here are the top 10 of 6,090!" seems completely ludicrous – doesn't it? I don't even know how one would begin to try to narrow it down to such a list. I've probably listened, really listened, to less than a quarter that many records in my lifetime; and yet, if you asked me "what are the ten best records among the thousands you've heard?" I would laugh. And, yeah, if you caught me on a particular day they would all be Mekons records.

A much better list would have 500 or even 100 different restaurants on it. That would be an interesting list to read, for a number of reasons. For one thing, his mind would be forced into a bit more diversity in his choices of types of food, I think; and we'd probably get more geographical diversity, too. Most of all, it would start to have meaning. This is supposed to be a list of the 10 best out of 6,090, right? That means that, even if everything were simplified and he was picking based on category or something, for every six hundred he had to pick the best one. Can you really hold six hundred restaurants in your mind and choose one? Somehow I doubt it. If he were doing the top 100, he'd only have to pick the best out of every 60. And that at least seems somewhat feasible.

Most of all, it would actually give us a taste of the breadth of his experience, rather than just pointing to what he happens to prefer.
posted by koeselitz at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


That LA Weekly article is hilarious.
Most notable is his observation of the movement of Chinese restaurants further east of Los Angeles.
In what universe is that notable?

And it really boggles my mind that someone so committed to Chinese food-- who by all accounts criss-crosses America just to try it-- has only been to Asia five times. I'm live in the SGV and am familiar with all the SGV restaurants on this list, but my time spent in China/Taiwan (all together ~6 months) broadened my tastes profoundly.

That said, DTF and 101 Noodle Express are very delicious.
posted by acidic at 4:08 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having spent time in Sichuan eating at tiny cafes perched on the edges of mountains, I find the claim that HK represents the best of all Chinese food to be silly. When you go visit Beijing, they're not trying (and failing, but still) to recreate food from HK, but from Sichuan.



Even so, that's my opinion and others are entitled to disagree. But it's important to be aware that many, many places in China hold out their local cuisine as the best of Chinese food, as does Taiwan. It's ludicrous, it genuinely beggars belief, that every one of the top ten is in or near LA. I can't accept none in New York, but only LA? Shenanigans!
posted by 1adam12 at 4:11 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's your nominee for NYC then? All of the chowhound faves are more regional places - Shandong places, Henan, Hunan. Xian. They love the shock of the new. We've had this tremendous flowering of Sichuan in the last five years, but I've still heard the places in LA are better.
posted by JPD at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2012


Amusingly it's not even geographically diverse for LA! They're all in the San Gabriel Valley, which is sad. I mean, he gives a reason for it that makes sense to me, and I'm not saying he's wrong, but thats a pretty small part of LA.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2012


Note to the posters saying that the list is "dim-sum heavy" - these restaurants (as he points out) do dim-sum AND dishes. Like many Cantonese restaurants. Dim-sum is lunch and breakfast food, dishes come out at dinner time.
posted by awfurby at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2012


I was just in San Francisco and we took the train and a cab to Koi Palace on the recommendation of Chowhound. It was awesome and I'm chuffed to see that it is number one according to some dude who has eaten a lot more Chinese food than I have.

We had their snow pea leaves and the Peking duck. Both were superb. It was well-priced, too. Here's a picture of the meal, which we took because we are big nerds. I'd definitely recommend it, even though you do need a car to get there.
posted by k8lin at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2012


Amusingly it's not even geographically diverse for LA! They're all in the San Gabriel Valley, which is sad. I mean, he gives a reason for it that makes sense to me, and I'm not saying he's wrong, but thats a pretty small part of LA.

The odd thing would be for one of the restaurants to not be in the SGV. That's where these places are. Hell, I was there this weekend and the line for #6 was too long so I walked across the street and ate at #9.

Anybody making a list of the best Korean restaurants in America would have multiple selections from a very small part of Los Angeles as well.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


thats a pretty small part of LA.

Geographically, yes, but in terms of Chinese cuisine, SGV is a monster. There simply isn't a larger concentration of very good to excellent Chinese restaurants of that diversity anywhere, including most of China.
posted by cell divide at 4:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone in New York have a list? I only ever go to Shun Lee or get takeout from down the street. Chinese food is a mystery to me.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2012


Yeah, I get that, I just meant that I was hoping to find one that was practical to go to when I saw the title/lead in about all these great restaurants in LA. Going to the SGV for a meal is way outside my normal range. But it's not surprising, I suppose.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:25 PM on June 20, 2012


You have to make a day of it, wildcrdj. What I did this weekend was drove out there with some friends, got some lunch, went to the local multiplex and caught a movie, went to a bar, got some dinner and then stopped at Chun King for multiple orders of their amazing amazing fried chicken to take home. Two days worth of meals, and we didn't even hit the grocery stores.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:28 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's right about NYC. When my parents come to visit I like to take them around, but I have yet to find one that matches or exceeds what they have in Vancouver.

(exception: We discovered a place in NJ that serves camphor-smoked duck that was truly impressive, better than in Taiwan/Hong Kong. Mail me if you want the address).
posted by polymodus at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2012


California does not actually exist.
posted by jonmc at 4:31 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey the flip side is NYC has great Japanese food and of course Michelin-starred food. One can't have the best of everything, right?
posted by polymodus at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2012


I've been told to go to Yank Sing by some people whose taste in Asian food I suspect runs to the industrial sweet 'n sour. House of Banquet on Clement is delicious & hilarious- immense upstairs dining room that reminds me of Wolfie's on Miami Beach back in the day, except that it's Chinese families shouting to be heard instead of Jewish families shouting to be heard.
posted by squalor at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2012


Lunasia doesn't belong on the list, imo. So many better dim sum options. I don't care that they're ticky-box menu based as opposed to carts. The service slow as hell and they charge for tea. Tea!
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2012


Can't argue with Ding Tai Fung, but I sacrilegiously prefer 888 to Sea Harbor and I've always been kind of disappointed in the beef roll at 101. Most glaring omission: Luscious Dumplings. God I get tingles just thinking of that place.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:52 PM on June 20, 2012


Looks like my partner and I have some eating to do! We're both Chinese, but we never go to Chinese restaurants anymore because they're often mediocre, even though we live in the SF Bay Area. I lived in Melbourne, Australia for two years before moving to California, and it surprised me that the dim sum, Sichuan and Cantonese restaurants in Melbourne were quite superior to their Californian counterparts. Koi Palace was good (at least they didn't serve har gows the size of my fist), but I'd be really disappointed if there's nothing better.

That said, there is an excellent Taiwanese restaurant in Seattle, and I would seriously consider moving there just to be able to dine at Facing East every week.
posted by peripathetic at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any great Chinese places in Chicago? Anyone?

*crickets*
posted by adamdschneider at 5:00 PM on June 20, 2012


Any great Chinese places in Chicago? Anyone?

Hell yes there are. Sun Wah for duck, and (at number 20 in his list) Lao Sze Chuan for everything else. Though he says Peking duck can be gotten at LSC, but I'm not sure that's accurate...pretty sure you have to walk 300 feet down the strip and into Lao Beijing for that. (But the duck at Lao Beijing is indeed pretty great. Not as good as Sun Wah, but that would be hard to do.)
posted by phunniemee at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I need to try these because I despise Chinese food, and I'm thinking I just don't know what good Chinese food is.
posted by scunning at 5:15 PM on June 20, 2012


The most passionate discussion I saw between Chinese grad students was whose region/city had the best cuisine. Oh, no passion for engineering but it was shouting and table slapping about whose food was better and what region produced the superior product. I read the article with great interest. Truly, the best Chinese I have had is in southern California which is a bummer since I am more a northern California person.
posted by jadepearl at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2012


Oh, right, I have actually been to Sun Wah. I had the duck fried rice, or something like that, and was slightly put off by the bone in it. I will have to go to Lao Sze Chuan!
posted by adamdschneider at 5:19 PM on June 20, 2012


If your meal doesn't contain at least one piece of an animal that would never be found in American cuisine, you're doing it wrong.
posted by phunniemee at 5:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


thats a pretty small part of LA.

But it's the part where there are the most Chinese restaurants. I don't much care about eating Chinese food in Irvine or Hawaiian Gardens or Malibu.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2012


Yeah, the mediocrity of Chinese food on the west side is shocking. it's O-K, but nothing like going east gets you.
posted by flaterik at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2012


Sure, but in Irvine you're pretty close to Garden Grove for Vietnamese and (I think?) Korean, so.
posted by kenko at 5:50 PM on June 20, 2012


Koi Palace is totally worth the trip down to Daly City. Hell of a wait on a Sunday morning, though.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2012


"Hey the flip side is NYC has great Japanese food"

As someone who grew up in NYC and now lives in Tokyo, I'd be interested in your list of great Japanese restaurants in NYC. (Not including Masa because who among us can afford to eat there!)
posted by gen at 5:59 PM on June 20, 2012


Amusingly it's not even geographically diverse for LA! They're all in the San Gabriel Valley, which is sad. I mean, he gives a reason for it that makes sense to me, and I'm not saying he's wrong, but thats a pretty small part of LA.

Well, I just realized my problem. I lived in LA for many years and the constant refrain was "there are no good Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles". Everyone I know said it and I was shocked when I read the premise of this article. It never occurred to us to go to the SGV. We ate Thai, which is everywhere.
posted by bongo_x at 6:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'd be nice if he just labeled this a list of the best Hong Kong-style food in the US. And certainly not everyone considers Hong Kong food to be the peak of Chinese cuisines.

Here in the Twin Cities, there's an ongoing competition between restaurants to have the most authentic Sichuan food, with chefs being hired back and forth from place to place. Hunan, though, always seems to get short shrift; no one even really mentions it as a specialty. There's Tea House, who do a pretty dang good 干煸牛肉丝。But there must be other places around where I can get good Hunan food. (Or, I admit, just other places where I can get a good 干煸牛肉丝。)
posted by jiawen at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's what really makes me sad about Chinese restaurants in the US: I can't find one that serves dry-fried string beans the way I like them. Beans soft but not limp, and just on the verge of crispy on the outside. Lots of lightly crispy ground pork, Sichuan peppercorn, and big salt crystals. Every once in a while somebody will get one of the elements right (usually the bean texture), but nobody puts the whole package together. I've pretty much stopped ordering the dish because I'm convinced no one will get it right.

I've tried making the dish myself. I can get a flavor balance that I like, but the textures are all wrong. The beans are too crunchy or too limp or the outsides aren't the right sort of oily-crispy. Or everything is too wet. Or the pork is crumbly or damp or has absorbed all the flavor and left the rest of the dish tasting like nothing. It's so frustrating.

When I lived in Beijing, I decided between the ubiquitous homestyle food restaurants based on how well they made that dish. My favorite -- and even then I think it depended on who was in the kitchen that day -- was probably bulldozed years ago.

Sadly, it doesn't look like this list will help me out at all. If anyone has any suggestions, especially in the SF bay area, I'd love to hear 'em!
posted by Serf at 6:13 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, there's some timing. jiawen, I actually love 干煸 anything, so if I'm ever in the Twin Cities I know where I need to go!
posted by Serf at 6:17 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a non-American, how do the restaurants on this list compare to restaurants in other immigrant communities like Vancouver, Toronto and Melbourne?
posted by tksh at 7:03 PM on June 20, 2012


It'd be nice if he just labeled this a list of the best Hong Kong-style food in the US.

This ain't HK style food! Where's the macaroni and ham? Cutlet pork on vermicelli? Fishcake, thin noodles and fish broth?!
posted by tksh at 7:04 PM on June 20, 2012


My favorite NYC Chinese restaurant whose name I can remember is Grand Sichuan on St. Marks, but I also like Congee Village and various places in Bay Ridge.

The best Chinese food in NYC is in Flushing, Queens, but I don't remember the names of specific places.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:06 PM on June 20, 2012


I can't take any food authorities seriously if they don't have a diversity of location and show what they are rating and why. Bostons china town has some amazing restaurants.

And I concur with the "diner" vs "burger joint" argument.
posted by varion at 7:09 PM on June 20, 2012


Is this where I get to tell all of the SF MeFites to get their asses to Mission Chinese Food?

Because, it's seriously among the best meals that I've ever eaten at a restaurant. The fact that the entrees cost about $11 a plate makes this completely insane.

Go there. Right now. You can thank me later.
posted by schmod at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


"particularly Chinese themselves, agree that the best Chinese food comes out of Hong Kong"

At this point I am inclined to wonder if he even knows any Chinese people who are not from Hong Kong.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah... he's certainly oppinionated. He also actually says that all of the best Chinese restaurants in North America as a whole are in Vancouver. But ultimately this list is really only useful for people who actually live in CA and prefer that type of food over others.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on June 20, 2012


The top ten is nice if you live in LA or San Fran but if he's traveled, and eaten, so extensively it would've been nice to hear some regional best-of so that everyone in the US, and perhaps Canada and Mexico, might be able to actually benefit from his knowledge.
posted by PJLandis at 7:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There should be lists that include what you would get when take a native Chinese with you to order the stuff that isn't even close to what's on the menu.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 7:55 PM on June 20, 2012


Hmmm..Im not sure about this list. I've been to 2, 4 , 6 on this list - 2&6 multiple times. 2 is a very good dim sum place but does not really near the quality of the best dim sum in Vancouver, London, New York or HK. 4 is a very interesting place for seafood it seems and you can get your birds nest soup there, but My one big dinner experience there was average/ lackluster . 6 is a decent famous Taiwanese soup dumpling franchise which is reliable but I've had better soup dumplings at several places in NYC.
posted by Bwithh at 7:59 PM on June 20, 2012


He also actually says that all of the best Chinese restaurants in North America as a whole are in Vancouver.

Vancouver has a good claim to have the very best Chinese restaurants in the world today, period. ( I am not Canadian or from Vancouver)
posted by Bwithh at 8:04 PM on June 20, 2012


I spose it all depends if you like Chinese food or not.
posted by Damienmce at 8:26 PM on June 20, 2012


Lao Sze Chuan was some of the best food I've had in my life, period, so yes, if you're in Chicago, go there!
posted by stoneandstar at 8:41 PM on June 20, 2012


Vancouver has a good claim to have the very best Chinese restaurants in the world today, period. ( I am not Canadian or from Vancouver)

As an LA native and frequenter of DTF and Luscious Dumpling, I have to admit that Shanghai River out close to the airport in Vancouver has probably the best XLB I have ever had outside of a China. And they have a nice, big window into the kitchen to watch the XLB-making process.

The Italian food is very good in Vancouver as well. Just a fantastic food city all around.
posted by roquetuen at 8:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone got any idea how to tell if he's ever reviewed the Gourmet House Of Hong Kong in Phoenix, AZ? Because that's my favorite Chinese place I've ever eaten at in my life, and seems like it would be right up his alley, but I'm not going to crawl through his entire chowhound review list page by page looking for it, and their search function isn't giving me easy clear results for his username.

Just curious to see if he's been there, and if so what he thought.
posted by hippybear at 8:51 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Brooklyn, Michael & Ping's is so good that his omission of it renders the entire list invalid.

Ollie's, up by Columbia University, is pretty solid. And if you like super-authentic, Jackson Heights is the place to go.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:57 PM on June 20, 2012


If he's had Chinese food in all 50 states, I'd love to hear his opinion on Montanan Chinese food--worst I've ever had, speaking as a native Californian. Or perhaps Alaskan, which probably has similar issues.

Other than that, well, duuuuuh, California has the best food. Though obviously he's biased on location.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:14 PM on June 20, 2012


I don't want to sound lik a Canadian Asshole - but having lived in California, all I can say is get thee up to Vancouver/Ricmond BC. Awesome Chinese food.

Sea Harbour is not a Vancouver chain as described - but a chain from China. It is very good but serves a very Guangzhou style Chinese as opposed to HK. Splitting hairs I know.

I also think the lack of Northern/Sichuan/Shanghainese restaurants a little glaring. Surely there places in Queens / NYC that are worth a mention. Joe Shanghai? (though I have not been myself).
posted by helmutdog at 9:30 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now I really, really want to eat at #10.

So do I!. The description in the article got me interested, but clicking the link to the Yelp reviews, with all of the one star reviews from people who complained that it wasn't what they expected sold me on it. Personally, I think that an 18 course, 3 to 4 hour Chinese dinner sounds great.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:34 PM on June 20, 2012


There should be lists that include what you would get when take a native Chinese with you to order the stuff that isn't even close to what's on the menu.

Yeah, one of the best meals of my life was at a SGV seafood place when a native Hong Kong citizen did all of the ordering for us. I have no idea what I ate or how I could ever have the meal again even if I returned to the restaurant.

And I also have to say, having eaten there this weekend, that there's no way 101 Noodle is one of the ten best Chinese restaurants in the country. Hell, it wasn't the best (or second best) place we ate that day.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:36 PM on June 20, 2012


Flipping through the photos on Yelp, restaurants 1-5 definitely make dishes with a more finessed appearance than 6-10. Of course, looks and taste don't always align.
posted by polymodus at 9:48 PM on June 20, 2012


Is this where I get to tell all of the SF MeFites to get their asses to Mission Chinese Food?

schmod: Sigh, I suppose I will have to give them a third try, because this is what I keep hearing from every direction. But it has not been my experience twice now.

The first time, I thought maybe I had accidentally ordered from the wrong restaurant, it being a "restaurant inside another restaurant" and all, but it was definitely the guy in the photo in that blog post, and the food I was served was definitely prepared by him in that little cooking station in the front window there. Both times.

And both times my impression was, "this food is definitely tasty and worth the price". But neither time did I think it was particularly 'Sichuan', and both times as I left I noticed that I still had my socks on.
posted by trip and a half at 9:55 PM on June 20, 2012


I say 'definitely' a lot.
posted by trip and a half at 9:57 PM on June 20, 2012


California is also the birthplace of the fortune cookie.
posted by ryanrs at 10:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


hahaha some of the Chinese food in Vancouver beats some of the Chinese food in Hong Kong. It's the close proximity to fresh seafood and the diverse immigrants, I think. I got lectured by a sweet old Sichuan lady who told me 'Hong Kong people can't eat spicy food' when I ordered noodles from her, so she gave me only one scoop of pepper oil and laughed at me when my eyes started streaming one bite later. Loved it. Real old school food - I think she even brought over her gigantic cast-iron wok with her: it was this huge giant blackened thing, all loved and cared for. And some of the best damn Shanghai dumplings I had in a mall food court that they made from scratch right in front of you. This was in Richmond.

But nothing beats street noodles in Mong Kok at 1AM while mildly drunk. Delicious fishy salty brothy noodle-y goodness. Or pork and preserved egg congee with yau ja gwai in the morning while hungover! Mmm deep-fried awesomeness.
posted by zennish at 10:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"here are the top 10 of 6,090!" seems completely ludicrous – doesn't it?

Not to me. 80% of those are all going to be much of a muchness. Discard them, leaving 1218. Repeat - 243. Repeat - now you're down to your top 50, and that would be an interesting list. It hasn't even been hard till now - if you have a twinge of doubt, leave it on the list.

But 50 is still a big number. It shouldn't be too hard to pick ou the elBullis, the Fat Ducks, the Tetsuyas. You've only got to ruthlessly cull that bottom 80% again and you've got your top 10. You didn't choose them, necessarily. They just survived repeated rounds of culling.

And those ten should be an order of magnitude better than anything else on the list.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:51 PM on June 20, 2012


Okay -- I am from Vancouver, originally, and my folks still live there, so I'm back there a lot. But I left before the really massive influx of HK immigrants, so the restos of Richmond are a closed book to me.

This guy says that Vancouver has the best Chinese food. Several of you agree. Please, will you tell me which places are the best, and when I next go to visit my folks I will take old friends from high school and eat and eat and eat.
posted by jrochest at 10:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Based on the guy's surname (Chan), he's most likely Cantonese, and hence his preference for Cantonese / HK cuisine. Its important to remember that China is huge, and talking about Chinese cuisine is really sort of like talking about "European" cuisine. If you ask a French guy what are the 10 best European restaurants in the US, how many Italian, Greek, German, Spanish restaurants do you think he's going to mention?

Its important to note the north/south divide too; Cantonese food is from the south, whereas many of the other styles mentioned above are more northern in nature. Many things are different between the styles... preference for rice versus wheat (noodles/buns), use of seafood, method of cooking, etc. If you ask me to compare a good Cantonese restaurant versus a good Shandong restaurant, I'm not sure how to even begin... too many differences.

Nevertheless, it is generally recognized that Cantonese cooking is considered one of the best styles of Chinese cooking out there, but perhaps more amongst Chinese from the south (and their descendents). I'd also suspect that Hong Kong being a colony helped develop Cantonese cuisine more than the other styles.
posted by destrius at 10:58 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bear in mind that LA county has a Chinese American population of over 400,000, the majority are within the San Gabriel Valley (SGV), about 10 miles east of downtown LA. Among the 40 cities in the SGV, here are the ones with the highest percentage of Chinese Americans:
  • Monterey Park - 43.7% (24,758) - Previously Taiwanese, nowadays Mainland Chinese


  • San Marino - 39.3% (5,260) - Taiwanese


  • Arcadia - 34.0% (18,041) - Taiwanese


  • San Gabriel - 33.6% (13,376) - Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese


  • East San Gabriel - 28.2% (4,096)


  • Alhambra - 33.1% (28,437) - Mainland Chinese


  • Rosemead - 29.3% (15,678) - Mainland Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese

  • Many are foreign born, and the neighborhoods range from working-class Chinese American neighborhoods like Rosemead and El Monte to very affluent areas like Arcadia and San Marino.

    People can quibble with the author's focus on HK style restaurants (though not all are), but given the variety of options it's fair to assume that the SGV would be similarly overrepresented whatever the preferred style. (One of my favorites: Islamic Chinese food)
    posted by Davenhill at 11:23 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Based on the guy's surname (Chan), he's most likely Cantonese, and hence his preference for Cantonese / HK cuisine

    He's a third-generation American, doesn't speak Chinese at all—I'm not sure how much we can infer from his being Cantonese.
    posted by kenko at 11:25 PM on June 20, 2012


    He's a third-generation American, doesn't speak Chinese at all—I'm not sure how much we can infer from his being Cantonese.

    That all depends on what his mother served him regularly while he was growing up, and what her mother served her during her formative years.
    posted by hippybear at 11:34 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    kenko: He's a third-generation American, doesn't speak Chinese at all—I'm not sure how much we can infer from his being Cantonese.

    True, but he would probably have grown up eating Cantonese food I guess? And consider that to be representative of Chinese food.

    Another observation: most Singaporean Chinese come from southern China, and as a result most of us find northern Chinese food slightly odd and exotic. Hence the difficulty of talking about the best "Chinese" food... its too varied a category!
    posted by destrius at 11:37 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Serf, I learned to love 干煸牛肉丝 at a little hole-in-the-wall in Weigongcun in Beijing. The chef was a nice Hui guy, and the 干煸牛肉丝 was my favorite rendition of it ever. I kinda doubt that restaurant still exists.

    While I was living in Taiwan, I tried at many "Hunan" restaurants to get that dish, but they mostly had no idea what it is. One place knew how to make it, but it was a poor imitation of the real thing.

    Tea House's rendition is easily my second favorite rendition of it, even on a bad day. There are other places in town that do it, but they add weird things like carrots. So yes, if you're ever in the area, go to Tea House! (But, I should add, go to the Plymouth location -- the other branches' chefs don't know how to make it.)
    posted by jiawen at 11:48 PM on June 20, 2012


    That shandong beef roll sounds delicious. WOnder if any Seattle spots have it on the menu?
    posted by billyfleetwood at 12:17 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'd agree with those who've said that Vancouver/Richmond has the best Chinese food outside of China, and I'd say its Cantonese food is better than Hong Kong's.
    posted by smorange at 6:13 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I'm sitting here, monitoring a student lab, YEARNING for some authentic Chinese food now.
    posted by SentientAI at 6:25 AM on June 21, 2012


    Vancouver has a good claim to have the very best Chinese restaurants in the world today, period.

    Outside of China, maybe. Otherwise? No.

    Any great Chinese places in Chicago? Anyone?

    LTHForum has a great list, as always.
    posted by kmz at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2012


    Just, STFU. The food called 'Chinese', in Europe, as well as South Africa, generally sucks. Not always, but in general.
    posted by Goofyy at 7:04 AM on June 21, 2012


    Uh huh. And what does that have to do with a list of the best Chinese restaurants in America?
    posted by kmz at 7:22 AM on June 21, 2012


    I've also had someone tell me (online) that Vancouver has better Italian food than Rome does. Either it's the greatest food city in the world or they just get real excited about their food over there.
    posted by Bookhouse at 7:39 AM on June 21, 2012


    kmz: I can't eat at them cuz they aren't here. And since I'm American, and grew up there, I miss them. It's my fault for actually looking at the link, you see. There was good-looking food there.
    posted by Goofyy at 8:02 AM on June 21, 2012


    Looking at the bigger picture, from a sociopolitical point of view, Hong Kong had been protected from the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution that happened in mainland. So with its artists largely intact, plus the legacy of wealth due to the British Empire, it kind of makes sense that the "best" Chinese food has turned out to be Cantonese, for the time being. And this is for some value-laden definition of "best", of course.

    Cultures are defined by their foods, and this is perhaps no exception.
    posted by polymodus at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2012


    kmz: I can't eat at them cuz they aren't here. And since I'm American, and grew up there, I miss them. It's my fault for actually looking at the link, you see. There was good-looking food there.

    Oops, sorry! I misread that as some kind of "all Chinese food is bad so why even talk about it" thing. My bad.
    posted by kmz at 8:46 AM on June 21, 2012


    The Cantonese invented dim sum. Case closed!
    posted by Bwithh at 9:14 AM on June 21, 2012


    The Cantonese invented dim sum. Case closed!

    Peking Duck.

    Your argument is invalid.
    posted by kmz at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Outside of China, maybe.

    Fun fact: a lot of Chinese food made in China is terrible. Just because the cuisine was born there doesn't make it the best ever (just as the best pizza in the world is definitely not Italian - you'll find it in Chicago or New York). Most authentic, okay, fine. But "authentic" can also mean "authentically crappy ingredients," or "authentically hidebound cooks," or "authentically made in dirty pots."

    Aside: Chan mentions that the ten best Chinese places in North America would all be in Vancouver or Toronto, and setting aside his bias towards Cantonese/Hong Kong cuisine, he's still right because Vancouver and Toronto have such enormous and diverse Chinese populations that you get absolutely everything in the cuisine here. Toronto has half a dozen Hakka restaurants, for example, which is half a dozen more than anywhere else outside their part of China with the exception of Vancouver and New York.
    posted by mightygodking at 11:12 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    There's a restaurant here in the Twin Cities that's primarily labeled as Taiwanese, but the folks who run it are also Hakka.
    posted by jiawen at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Geographically, yes, but in terms of Chinese cuisine, SGV is a monster. There simply isn't a larger concentration of very good to excellent Chinese restaurants of that diversity anywhere, including most of China.

    Also don't forget that SGV has been recipients of multiple waves of Chinese immigration over the last 40 years from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China.

    With that said, as a native Southern Californian that makes frequent trips back to Rowland Heights/Hacienda Heights area, the single biggest weakness in the region I feel is the near total absence of Xinjiang Cuisine. I learned about this cuisine after living in Beijing, where there are numerous carts (or sometimes just simply a metal grill placed on cinder blocks) cooking meat chuanr (kabobs). I can remember many hot summer nights in Beijing where it was nothing but a liter of Yanjing beer for a US dollar, a handful of kabobs for another dollar, and a plate of naan for $.50.

    Now, there has been more and more immigration from Mainland Chinese to Southern California in the last 20 years or so, but I still haven't seen any Xinjiang restaurants in Rowland Heights. Which is unfortunate, because I feel that Xinjiang/Uyghur food would be really successful in SoCal.

    So, also imagine my surprise that the only opportunity I've had to eat Xinjiang food outside of China is in Munich, Germany. I was in awe at finding the Taklamakan Restaurant across the street from the Central Munich Train Station. I walked in and they were serving more than just Turkish styly doner kabobs, and I had a plate of langman noodles. The lady working there guessed I was born in Taiwan from my Mandarin and at that point my curiosity got me and I had to ask where she was from (she turned out to actually be Uyghur).
    posted by FJT at 12:56 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I have to make a note to try and find some myself, but according to Jonathan Gold in 2010, Xinjiang food is "almost mainstream" in LA, although I've yet to come across any http://www.laweekly.com/2010-12-02/eat-drink/you-d-better-like-lamb/
    posted by Bwithh at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    BTW: Metafilter SF/Daly City Koi Palace meetup proposal. Because Koi Palace is number one. Suck it, LA.
    posted by zippy at 3:08 PM on June 21, 2012


    FJT: I haven't been to any of them, but I swear I've seen signs for a few halal chinese food places on Vermont near Beverly. Perhaps you'll find it there?
    posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    FJT, that's an awesome story. The Uygher neighborhood that used to exist on Xi San Huan Bei Lu was the source of many, many awesome meals.

    The only way I can account for it is that Uygher food would have to aggressively cater to non-Chinese clientele, because (and I say this only based on my own experience) Han people won't eat there.
    posted by 1adam12 at 6:27 PM on June 21, 2012


    Amusingly it's not even geographically diverse for LA! They're all in the San Gabriel Valley, which is sad.

    It would be strange if most of the best chinese food were NOT in San Gabriel Valley. To me, it's the mecca of chinese cuisine in the US.

    I completely disagree with people who say Vancouver is the best place outside of China for chinese food. Please. It's not even the best place for chinese in Canada. That would be Toronto. Vancouver does superior people-pleasing cantonese and dim sum but that's it's only advantage. The depth and range of Toronto is far superior. And I would say San Gabriel Valley is even more breathtaking in range than Toronto.
    posted by savvysearch at 8:08 PM on June 21, 2012


    I did a search of all of the threads on the Phoenix board that mention Gourmet House and have posts in them by Chandavkl. I then looked through the threads, but couldn't find any instances of Chandavkl himself commenting on Gourmet House. He seems to recommend Tao Garden and Nee House most often. I also checked the Southwest board, since our Phoenix board is relatively new, but didn't find much else there, either -- no mentions of Gourmet House specifically, more recommendations for Tao Garden and Nee House and a couple of other things.

    I hope that helps.

    Love, your friendly neighborhood Community Manager for Chowhound.
    posted by jacquilynne at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Thanks jacquilynne. Effort well above and beyond the call of duty, and appreciated.
    posted by hippybear at 9:38 AM on June 22, 2012


    He's a third-generation American, doesn't speak Chinese at all—I'm not sure how much we can infer from his being Cantonese.

    I'm going to refrain from commenting too much here because as a Chinese person in Vancouver and having eaten a lot of Chinese food, I have some somewhat strong opinions that would probably drag me into arguments with people, but basically: if he doesn't speak Chinese at all, he isn't adequately equipped to determine which is the best Chinese restaurant but only (possibly) the best Chinese restaurant for people who don't speak Chinese.
    posted by juv3nal at 3:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Yes, and since I speak French and have a French parent I can tell you unequivocally that I am specially qualified to tell you non-French speakers what is the finest French restaurant in the world.
    posted by JPD at 8:06 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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