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Top 5 Chinese restaurants in America


eatingwitheddie
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Further out on 46, there used to be a noodle place that had 'Dao Mian' --- knife cut noodles. Mostly they were in soup, but they stir/fried them for me, when I asked. I don't know if they are still there.

Yep, thats Taipei Noodle House. I havent been there in a long time, not sure if they are still open, but they have a sister restaurant that makes mostly the same stuff in Teaneck called Taiwan Noodle House. Every time we go the place is packed (usually on a friday or on weekends) and theres a long wait, and I refuse to wait on long lines, so we havent been in a while.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Jason Perlow --- Thanks for the tip on China 46 in NJ. I didn't know it was there!! I will most certainly visit it soon.

I googled it, and was impressed with their menu. Extensive and interesting. 

A question ---- Their noodle listings didn't mention what kind of noodle.  Could I assume they would be the thick hearty 'Shanghai' variety?  Also, I didn't see Shi Zi Tou -- Lions Head Meatballs.  Too commonplace?

(I just found this site, and I can see that I will be here often.)

Hi this is Cecil from China 46.

Our Shanghai Stir Fry noodles are like those thick and hearty noodles you are talking about.

Most of our noodes in soup are thin noodles (not very thin but thin compared to the Shanghai Stir Fry).

Our Thin Noodle with Chicken is the thinest, it is like angel-hair noodles.

Besides these noodles we also have Chow Fun noodles which are wide and flat noodles that are made out of rice.

Our Shi Zi Tou -- Lions Head Meatballs used to be a special, but now it is available everyday.

Looking foreward to see you,

______

Cecil

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Hi this is Cecil from China 46. ---Our Shanghai Stir Fry noodles are like those thick and hearty noodles you are talking about. ---Most of our noodes in soup are thin noodles (not very thin but thin compared to the Shanghai Stir Fry). ---Our Thin Noodle with Chicken is the thinest, it is like angel-hair noodles. ---Besides these noodles we also have Chow Fun noodles which are wide and flat noodles that are made out of rice. ---Our Shi Zi Tou -- Lions Head Meatballs used to be a special, but now it is available everyday. ---Looking foreward to see you,

Cecil --- Thank you for that explanation about your noodles. I look forward to many visits! The problem will be -----What to select first!!!!

May I ask you the meaning of your logo --- "Jiu Yu" -- nine fish??

( Pardon the bold/italics. I haven't figured how to get quotes in that box, yet. )

Jo-Ann

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With all deference due the East Coast, I think you are missing out. A number of years ago, perhaps in anticipation of the changeover in Hong Kong, an enterprising realtor began selling real estate in the San Gabriel Valley, and in particular in Monterey Park (touted as "the Beverly Hills of the San Gabriel Valley"), to soon to be Chinese expats. The result is an amazing collection of places (though unfortunately, I've only gotten to Lake Spring). These are explored in some detail on Chowhound although too frequently from a cheap eats standpoint. (Come to think of it Tissue should wiegh in here.) Even outside Monterey Park, Yujean Kang in Pasadena has an inventive cuisine with a very good wine list. Also detailing the San Gabriel Valley scene is Jonathan Gold in Counter Intelligence and in his LA Weekly columns. Surely, several of the top 5 in the US are here.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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I was unimpressed with Chinese food on the east coast.

There is both good and bad food on both the east & west coasts. Had lots of both in each place. If you want to talk about where the food is of an overall higher quality perhaps you'd need to focus on Vancouver where there is lots of good cooking, and the really good is really world class.

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[(Pardon the bold/italics.  I haven't figured how to get quotes in that box, yet. )

Jo-Ann

There are two ways you can do it:

#1 hit the "quote" button to quote the post to which you are responding.

#2 copy the section that you want to quote and bracket it with QUOTE tags, like this:

[QUOTE]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Donec luctus feugiat mi. Vivamus malesuada, libero eu posuere pellentesque, mi dolor laoreet ipsum, at tincidunt mi tortor ac felis. Cras gravida dolor in nulla. Fusce adipiscing ligula vel erat. Nunc metus nulla, placerat id, vestibulum sit amet, bibendum et, magna. Aliquam justo purus, luctus et, suscipit eu, adipiscing in, pede. Donec nonummy accumsan ante. Nam nibh augue, vehicula vel, ornare in, rhoncus et, lorem. Proin aliquet luctus ligula. Nullam felis massa, ullamcorper in, auctor nec, iaculis vel, quam. Cras tempus. Praesent tincidunt varius elit.[/QUOTE]

--

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excuse me for resurrecting this long-dormant thread but i was struck by the lack of l.a area chinese restaurants here--major east coast bias huh? i've eaten chinese food all over the u.s and i'd be hard-pressed to pick too many outside of the san gabriel valley

I'm an east coaster, but I couldn't agree more. I raised this very same point earlier on in this thread, but the discussion keeps moving back to New Jersey, go figure.

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I'm from NJ (via Mass.), but is it really a regional thing?

To me, the chef is the important element, followed by the demands of the clientele. A good chef from HK, or the RC, or the PRC, or homegrown can settle anywhere, and that is where the good food is. IMMHP.

Find an area that has a large ethnic settlement, and you will probably find good/excellent food. Again IMMHO.

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I think I have the same problem in Canada, convincing people that great Chinese restaurants, don't only operate in the Vancouver-area. That many of the best Chinese restaurants in North America are in the Toronto-area. Particuliarly in the Chinese satellite towns of Markham & Richmond Hill. I have a friend who keeps telling me about the Chinese satellite town Monterey Park(& San Gabriel Valley) in the LA-area, & of their many many great Chinese restaurants, but San Francisco gets most of the talk in the media.

------------

Steve

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excuse me for resurrecting this long-dormant thread but i was struck by the lack of l.a area chinese restaurants here--major east coast bias huh? i've eaten chinese food all over the u.s and i'd be hard-pressed to pick too many outside of the san gabriel valley

I'm an east coaster, but I couldn't agree more. I raised this very same point earlier on in this thread, but the discussion keeps moving back to New Jersey, go figure.

Only because you have to go and get your L.A. brethren to come and comment back. There's a nice healthy West Coast contingent on eGullet now, but from what I've seen they tend to cluster in the regional board. The N.J. contingent is used to meandering all around eGullet, mostly because its one of the oldest memberships here due to press and word of mouth earlier here on the East coast.

Overall, the state of Chinese food in New Jersey is dreadful (although we almost make up for it with Korean). The reason the good places get a lot of play here is actually BECAUSE of that. New York is only marginally better--plenty of crappy Chinese food along with a smattering of really really good ones. L.A., I've always been told, tends to average much better quality with its Chinese, although a heck of a lot of it is still Cantonese.

Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I do not feel qualified to discuss the topic at hand, but I will say that we have recently organized some glorious excursions in the LA area. Just for reference, here are links to threads to restaurant visits in the Monterey Park/Rosemead/San Gabriel Valley area (East of downtown Los Angeles): Sea Harbour and Din Tai Fung. Also, a few of us also went to Hua's Yuanan Garden, but unfortunately, there aren't any pictures on that thread. It's sad that inexpensive (cheap as hell) food doesn't get treated as if it's "serious food" because the quality of the results and level of technique at some of these places is often astounding, IMHO.

Since we're talking about America, I'd wager that there may be a few Chinese restaurants in Honolulu, Hawaii of national caliber, but I don't know them well enough to suggest one.

~Tad

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#2 copy the section that you want to quote and bracket it with QUOTE tags, like this:

[QUOTE]Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Donec luctus feugiat mi. Vivamus malesuada, libero eu posuere pellentesque, mi dolor laoreet ipsum, at tincidunt mi tortor ac felis. Cras gravida dolor in nulla. Fusce adipiscing ligula vel erat. Nunc metus nulla, placerat id, vestibulum sit amet, bibendum et, magna. Aliquam justo purus, luctus et, suscipit eu, adipiscing in, pede. Donec nonummy accumsan ante. Nam nibh augue, vehicula vel, ornare in, rhoncus et, lorem. Proin aliquet luctus ligula. Nullam felis massa, ullamcorper in, auctor nec, iaculis vel, quam. Cras tempus. Praesent tincidunt varius elit.[/QUOTE]

Hey, I thought this was a thread about Chinese food, not Latin food! :laugh:

Say, what does that text mean (I had only one year of Latin in school), and where's it from? I guess it's old enough to be in the public domain. :laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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SLKINSEY --- Thank for the tips on "Quote boxes". I think I have it now, and am red-faced because I couldn't figure it out for myself. LOL!

About the question of the Top 5 Chinese restaurants in America (or, really, North America). ----Aren't some of the major restaurant guides reliant on diner votes, rather than actual knowledge of the food? I've added my thoughts to Zagat's surveys, and If I had any hang-ups, it would alter the star quality of the restaurant -- good or bad. If a number of people like Sweet/Sour Pork in one place but not the Pork with Chinese Pickle in another, then The S/S Pork restaurant gets the plug, even if the Pickle place has superior food.

Who is qualified to judge? Do dining critics really know their stuff, or are they just good writers?

Even with those who really know their Chinese food, do they have their own biases? Would regional prejudices be a factor?

(I'm so glad I someone told me about eGullet. So many interesting discussions!)

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Who is qualified to judge? Us.

I'm not sure that most (non-Chinese) people know enough about the various Chinese cuisines to even have regional biases. I am assuming however that you are speaking of biases for and against certain types of Chinese, as opposed to western-region quirks, like the fact that people in Boston eat their Chinese food with Bread instead of Rice.

I've noticed a few major divisions in people's "standards":

Like spicy/don't like spicy (and the third most complex position--the people who understand that the best chinese uses a wide variety of spices and flavor enhancers, and in fact has multiple ways to describe the phenomenon of "spicyness")

Like seafood/don't like seafood

Like gloppy starchy chinese/don't like gloppy starchy chinese

It's also about expectations. A lot of people have very low expectations when it comes to Chinese food. It's like they EXPECT it to all taste the same.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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It's all about taste. How one chef in one particular restaurant prepares any particular dish may not be the exactly the same as the next chef preparing what is purportedly the same dish out of the same kitchen. Chinese cuisine has so much latitude (room for creativity), that no restaurant owner can impose a strict milligram by milligram list of ingredients for his chef de l'heure to use. That means what you get from one chef may be different when you order the same dish the next time around, from a different cook, yea, even from the same chef. Soooo, when a food critic reviews a restaurant, he/she must look for consistency over a time and over several visits. And as Jo-Mel, so aptly puts it, what about variations in personal taste?

Having said all that, except for a few interesting examples in San Francisco, maybe NYC, I can honestly say that the most consistently good Chinese restaurants are to be found in Toronto and Vancouver. This is the word according to my colleagues in the Hong Kong and Chinese diplomatic community, believe me, they KNOW their food. :raz: The best in HK is the BEST. Toronto has a better average, according to them.

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The best Chinese meals I've had were in Malaysia and Thailand, not Hong Kong, but that's probably just a matter of my preferring those types of Overseas Chinese cuisine to Hong Kong style. Hong Kong was excellent, though, and I had a terrific dim sum breakfast in the Guangzhou train station, too.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Who is qualified to judge?  Us.

I'm not sure that most (non-Chinese) people know enough about the various Chinese cuisines to even have regional biases. .

We don't know enough about the various Chinese to even have regional biases, yet we're qualified to judge?

It seems to me that in order to vet something you have to have some experiential basis. You may have eaten at only Cantonese restaurants (however excellent) in the past and walked into a Shanghainese restaurant, and felt that it was all "wrong" in the balance of ingredients and the preparation.

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Having said all that, except for a few interesting examples in San Francisco, maybe NYC, I can honestly say that the most consistently good Chinese restaurants are to be found in Toronto and Vancouver.  This is the word according to my colleagues in the Hong Kong and Chinese diplomatic community, believe me, they KNOW their food. :raz: The best in HK is the BEST. Toronto has a better average, according to them.

There may be some bias there, as Toronto's Chinese tend to be urban middle-class Hong Kongers who migrated within the past 15 years or so. In San Francisco, by contrast, the Chinese are predominantly from rural Guangdong. The two groups may bring different culinary sensibilities to the kitchen.

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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There may be some bias there, as Toronto's Chinese tend to be urban middle-class Hong Kongers who migrated within the past 15 years or so.  In San Francisco, by contrast, the Chinese are predominantly from rural Guangdong.  The two groups may bring different culinary sensibilities to the kitchen.

really? that's interesting. i didn't know that.

Are you referring to Toronto and San Francisco proper, or their metro areas?

I would have expected San Francisco metro area's Chinese population to be predominantly Chinese educated professionals and their families, in significantly higher numbers than in areas such as Philadelphia, with Chinese from rural China and poorer Guangdong to be in SF Chinatown.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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If it pleases the panel, may I humbly offer a short historical dissertation on the Chinese in North America.

There are four or five very significant historical events that should be kept in mind:

a) the influx of Chinese coolies (slaves) during the gold rush in Cal. and the railroad building period in both

the US and Can.

b) the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act by both the USA and Canada in the late 1920s

c) the repeal of the Exclusion Act in Canada (and later in the US) in 1947

d) the liberalization of the immigration policies in Canada in the mid 1960s

e) the agreement between Margaret Thatcher's British Gov't and the PRC under Deng Shiao Peng to

repatriate Hong Kong in 1987.

The periods covered in a) to d) concern the Chinese of southern Guangdong Province, more specifically the county known as Taishan (Toysaan). Taishan was the home territory of 98% of all the Chinese in North America up until the liberalization of immigration rules in the mid 1960s. Then Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, and mainlanders came , but they all had some family ties with the Chinese who were already here. Yes, these people were not in the least bit wealthy or middle class, (except those of the overachieving second and third generations). These are the people who most North Americans think of, if they even think of the Chinese at all in those days. People holed up in their greasy kitchens slinging sweet and sour spare ribs to the unsuspecting gwai loh; slaving over their irons while pressing countless "shirtees", operating small convenience store for 20 hours at a stretch. These are the people who were ghettoized in the dozens of Chinatowns all over North America (San Francisco, NYC., Vancouver, Toronto, et al) to develop a cuisine that is a uniquely Americanized version of Taishanese village cooking. Great food to my Taishan tastes, but the cuisine was not very haute.

Enter Thatcher and Deng. The fear and trepidation that swept through Hong Kong after the agreement was signed by both leaders was palpable and profound. I was there on business trips during that period and my contacts were all scrambling to get out..to Australia, England, USA, and Canada. Fortuitously the Canadian government established a program whereby a new category of immigrants was named, the "Immigrant Investor." With this act, our government unintentionally high graded (cherry picked) the Hong Kong exodus. In the 10 years leading up to the final sign over in July 1997, Canada enjoyed a large influx of hundreds of Hong Kong millionaires and dozens of billionaires. This wave was extremely rich, in fact it was the only time in western history where an immigration class was richer and better educated than the indigenous population. They came in their hundreds of thousands to settle in Vancouver, Toronto and to a lesser extent, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton.

Some stats for those who are so inclined. Before 1985 there were probably 200,000 Chinese in Canada. Now there are well over 1,000,000. Toronto before 1985 had about 100,000 Chinese. Now it has over 500,000. In fact Chinese is the third language of Canada after English and French.

Now back to the topic of cuisine. Most of you here would probably know that all Chinese would rather eat a well prepared meal than do almost anything else. Well, that holds true for the rich Hong Kong people who came to Canada and found to their horror that what passed for good food was virtually unpalatable to their refined sensibilities. So they brought their own "style", built fantastic eating emporiums, hired the best cooks out of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai and introduced Chinese haute cuisine to North America. By doing so, they elevated and educated the locals to achieve higher standards. I hazzard to say that without these people, this board would be talking about the quality of a particular restaurant's sweet and sour spareribs over another's. :smile: Toronto and Vancouver=Nirvana.

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Before 1985 there were probably 200,000 Chinese in Canada. Now there are well over 1,000,000. Toronto before 1985 had about 100,000 Chinese. Now it has over 500,000. In fact Chinese is the third language of Canada after English and French.

Food, and many other aspects of life in Canada, has been improved considerably by the addition of a million or so Chinese.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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