Americans love Chinese food, as the cuisine accounts for more than 40,000 restaurants in the country. The best Chinese restaurants cater to American tastes while staying true to the original cuisine.
Chinese food is much more than won-tons, chow mein, and fortune cookies. From spicy Szechuan to Cantonese, Chinese restaurants serve a range of foods representing eight culinary traditions.
The following is a subjective list of the top 5 Chinese restaurants in the United States (in no particular order). Some of the restaurants listed below are mainstays on these types of lists, while others inexplicably fly under-the-radar and don’t often get the recognition deserved for the quality of their food.
Z & Y Restaurant in San Francisco
Z & Y Restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem for foodies in San Francisco, which abounds in excellent Chinese eateries. Although it rarely lands on the top of the typical Chinese restaurant lists, distinguished guests of the restaurant include two Chinese Presidents and four Chinese foreign ministers. Those types of guests don’t just eat at any old place.
In business since 2008, the restaurant features authentic Sichuan and Northern Chinese cuisine, noted for spicy, hot flavors. Favorites include pancakes with beef, Szechuan chicken and spicy fish with flaming chili oil. Other picks include the Dong Po pork and wok-seared prawns with salty egg yolk.
Grand Sichuan in New York City
Located in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City, the Grand Sichuan is a no-frills eatery that offers authentic Sichuan food with a Chongqing flavor.
The small restaurant is noted for excellent service in the restaurant and quick delivery of takeout. Patrons love the big servings. The hot-pot, Sichuan hot and sour soup and dan dan noodles are favorites.
Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago
Opened in 1998, the Lao Sze Chuan is part of the Tony Gourmet Group of Chinese restaurants. Chef Tony Hu is proud of his authentic Szechuan Chinese cuisine. Lao Sze Chuan is his flagship restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown. This busy establishment is staffed with several chefs direct from Sze Chuan, China.
It is known for the quality of its ingredients and extensive menu. The foods use lots of garlic, chili, ginger and peppers, like its famous sour pickle and pork stomach soup. Other favorites include Chengdu dumplings, twice-cooked pork and dry chili chicken.
Xi’an Famous Foods in New York City
Xi’an Famous Foods operates six eateries in Flushing, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, all focusing on the cuisine of Xi’an and Northern China. The flavors are a mix of Chinese and Middle Eastern, with an emphasis on cumin, Sichuan peppercorns and chili.
Favorites include cold skin noodles, spicy cumin lamb burgers and spicy hot seared hand-ripped noodles. Other specialties include spicy cucumber salad and spicy and sour lamb dumplings.
Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles
Serving classic Shanghai-style food since 1972, Din Tai Fung is famous for its soup dumplings, called xiao long bao. The restaurant has locations in Glendale and Arcadia in the Los Angeles area.
The place is famous for its truffle dumplings and six other soup dumplings, They are made with a thin skin holding in juicy fillings. Diners love the flavor of the Taiwanese beef noodle soup, made with big chunks of meat, and the steamed chicken soup.
[Image Credit: Z & Y Restaurant – Chicken with Explosive Chili Pepper]