If there’s one style of food where we tend to think, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” it’s Chinese food. To some, this conclusion might seem obvious, and it is perhaps not without some justification. After all, many Chinese restaurants are surprisingly similar, right down to their dish names and descriptions. But in certain parts of the country, you can find Chinese food that’s legitimately spectacular. So to honor these restaurants, we’ve rounded up the 10 best Chinese restaurants in the country.
Travel to just about any American city and odds are there’ll be at least one Chinese restaurant (in fact, that’s pretty much a global truism). Convenient, inexpensive, and full of flavor, Chinese food is one of the country’s great adopted cuisines. Sadly, in much of the country it’s still very difficult to find anything other than “Chinese-American” cuisine – sesame chicken, egg foo young, and the like – but that doesn’t mean that great Chinese food doesn’t exist; it’s just usually found on the coasts (especially the West Coast), where the majority of Chinese immigrants have settled.
From Sichuan and Canton to Shandong and Beijing, we’re a fortunate nation to have so many provincial Chinese cuisines represented. Whether you’re sampling San Tung’s addictive chicken wings on the run in San Francisco or tucking into some insanely delicious hand-pulled noodles from New York’s Xi’An Famous Foods, the restaurants on our list are worth writing home about.
The Daily Meal surveyed dining scenes across America to seek out the best Chinese restaurants, examining strip mall holes-in-the-wall, bustling Chinatown institutions, and bold new kids on the block. We consulted our own group of chefs and city experts to ask which restaurants are their favorites, as well as both nationally and locally trusted sources online and in print in cities across the country. Not only are all these restaurants extremely popular and renowned, the dishes they serve are as close to authentic Chinese as possible (or put a playful and creative spin on authentic dishes), are prepared with care and pride, and are astonishingly delicious. These 10 Chinese restaurants are America’s best.
#10 Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, Los Angeles
Din Tai Fung Dumpling House is a popular Taiwan-based chain of dumpling shops that got its start in 1958. Today there are locations throughout Asia, and six in the United States: three in the Los Angeles area (Arcadia, Glendale, and Costa Mesa), and two in Seattle (in Bellevue and the University District).
As the name might suggest, Din Tai Fung sells a variety of dumplings, with fillings including pork, pork and crab, fish, chicken, and vegetable; pork buns; soup dumplings; and shao mai. But there are also a wide variety of appetizers (fried pork chop, pork rice bun, soy noodle salad); soups (braised beef, chicken, wonton, hot and sour); noodles (with minced pork sauce, spicy sauce, pickled mustard seed, and shredded pork); wontons with sauce; fried noodles (with pork, chicken, or shrimp); fried rice; greens; and desserts including red bean buns.
If you’re looking for authentic dumplings, Din Tai Fung is the place to go. If you need any more prodding, the New York Times named the Taiwan flagship one of the 10 best restaurants in the world in 1993, and its Honk Kong branches have been awarded Michelin stars.
#9 San Tung, San Francisco
This perennially packed restaurant serves an array of dough-based items like dumplings and fresh-cut noodles (try the shrimp and leek dumplings or dry black bean sauce noodles), but the dish that has people lined up out the door every night are the dry-fried chicken wings. With a sticky-sweet exterior, they’re about as far from Buffalo as you can get and come slicked with spicy garlic sauce bolstered by even more red chile heat. Forego the rice and snag some garlic string beans to balance out all that heat.
The no-frills dining room doesn’t give the impression that this restaurant is any more special than the many others in San Francisco, but one taste of menu items including shrimp and leek dumplings, hot and sour soup, and dry fry beef will have you sold.