Best Chinese Food in America
Where are the best Chinese restaurants in the USA? Find out where to go, what to eat, and what to avoid when looking for authentic Chinese cuisine when dining your way across America.
The Best Chinese Restaurants
What appears as simple and authentic Chinese dishes are more often harder to recreate in your own home. Chinese restaurants offer a new world of Asian cuisine, full of exciting tastes and flavors.
However, good quality Chinese restaurants are often the hidden gems in Chinatowns or the city suburbs, surrounded by Asian grocery stores selling spices, sauces, herbs, oils and vinegar. Chinese restaurants like their dishes are full of life, character, and history.
With such a vast array of ingredients to choose from and recipes passed down and taught through the generations, it’s no wonder that eating Chinese food is such a treat that many of us would struggle to replicate at home! Chinese chefs have a knack for keeping their cooking a closely guarded secret!
Today we’re taking a look at some of the best Chinese restaurants in the USA, how to find authentic Chinese food, and things to avoid if you’re looking for flavor but also familiarity with your food.
Looking for a Chinese Restaurant?
For the most authentic Chinese food, always head to where the Chinese and Asian communities eat. You’re looking for quality and authenticity. This rule of thumb applies anywhere in the world to any style of food. If you want an authentic experience, you’ve got to live like a local.
China towns across the USA are cities within cities offering authentic food, delicacies, specialty shops, and street vendors and go beyond the major locations of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Braising, sauteing, and tenderizing are all elements of Chinese cooking you’ll find in any quality Asian restaurant, so consider exploring a new state, city, or area of town and support your independent family-run restaurants and kitchens where you can. A dish made with love is a delicacy in itself.
Whether it’s the sweet, salty, umami, spicy or bitter taste of Chinese food you’re looking to try. Or a crispy, soft, melt in the mouth or succulent texture, Chinese cuisine has got you covered, and so have these fantastic restaurants in some of the greatest Chinatowns the US has to offer.
Which is the best city for Chinese food in America?
Los Angeles and New York are renowned destinations for Chinese food, so we’ve chosen two other cities with a thriving Chinese food scene, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Both cities will offer the standard Chinese food offering of soups, seafood, rolls, noodles, rice, and pancakes with sauces, stir fry, and sautéed in Chinese five-spice.
San Francisco is the dark horse of Chinese food in America. Known for its tight-knit community, Cantonese barbecue, and bao, San Fran has a whole host of must-visit restaurants.
As the original Chinatown in the US, the city has an affinity for Chinese cuisine unlike any other within the USA. And with a range of Chinese grocery and spice stores such as S&M Ginseng, Tung Fung, and the vendors down Stockton Street provide authentic and sourced specialist ingredients.
San Francisco’s Best Chinese Restaurants
- Shanghai House (Shanghai Cuisine)
- Shanghai Dumpling King
- Terra Cotta Warrior (Cold Noodles’ mian pi’)
- Dumpling Alley (Dumplings)
- House of Pancakes (For when you want carbs)
- Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant (Traditional Chinese Islamic food)
Philadelphia’s Chinatown is home to a rich Asian culture. Just 100 miles from New York, Philly offers a taste of the best at a more affordable price tag. Home to the famous Hop Sing Laundromat bar, Philadelphia offers Hong-Kong style bakeries and serves a wide range of Asian cuisines beyond Chinese.
Philadelphia’s Best Chinese Restaurants
- Bai Wei (Pancakes)
- Feng Tian Xiao Chu (Vegetable dishes)
- Chinatown Dumpling House (Dumplings)
- Buddakan (Fine Chinese dining)
The United States has some amazing Chinese restaurants, ranging from small, family-run Chinatown restaurants to global Chinese brands bringing authentic tastes of China to a new audience. Let’s explore some of the best Chinese restaurants in the USA.
Little Szechuan - Tempe, Arizona
For a family-owned and run restaurant with quite the reputation for authentic Chinese food, look no further than Little Szechuan in just a stone’s throw away from Arizona State University. They have been offering fine Chinese food since 1976, offering a range of Chinese dishes, specializing in pan-Asian comfort food.
Little Szechuan also offers tofu, eggplant, and impossible meat, a vegetarian alternative to meat within their famous dishes in addition to their meat and fish options: fried shrimp, moo shu medley of cabbage, eggs, and onions in their Little Szechuan house source within homemade crêpes. Their compound, sizzling rice, and Sun Devil dish using homemade chili and bamboo shoots are some of their signature dishes. But the locals recommend their potstickers.
Pot Stickers are their famous dish adored by students and foodies alike and made fresh in their kitchen every day. Their potstickers are available in pork or plant-based meat substitute. Potstickers are filled to the brim and have a crispy, crusty bottom with a tender filling full of flavor.
Voted best Chinese restaurant in Arizona by Phoenix New Times and MSN, Little Szechuan is the perfect spot for made-to-order Chinese cuisine. Meet you for a bai jui at the bar!
Red Farm - New York City, New York
The Red Farm is a lunch, dinner, and after-hours spot on Hudson Street in New York. Known for having the bustle and noise of New York within its restaurant, red farm creates Asian food that’s show stopping.
Focused on modern Chinese cuisine in the heart of Greenwich Village, their approach to food is simple and cozy, with their refined dishes elevating their carefully concocted flavorful food. Their small plates and highly edited aesthetics are a fresh take on Chinese food with fresh flavors, communal tables, and a laid-back aesthetic that fuses Asian heritage with modern rustic design direction, in line with their farm-to-table theme.
Their menu includes pastrami egg rolls, arugula, and mango salad with a yuzu vinaigrette, their Internet-famous Pacman dumplings, three chili chicken, and a selection of fish dishes that redefine Chinese food the present day.
Our hot tip is to try ordering the Peking duck from the sister restaurant, Decoy restaurant, downstairs to your table. The duck is $95 and will feed up to 4 people and makes a great addition to any of your red farm’s appetizers or sides.
Wazuzu - Las Vegas, Nevada
Wazuzu is the pan- Asian restaurant inspired by Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine in surprising new ways. Created by chef Jimmy Widjaja the food is not the only focal point of this Las Vegas restaurant. With a 27 foot Dragon featuring 90,000 crystals, the interiors of this restaurant are a must-see.
The food has featured on many national TV shows, including the Food Network’s ‘The best thing I ever ate’ For Wazuzu’s drunken noodles, which they offer with different proteins. Wazuzu has a range of rice and noodle dishes, sushi, dim sum salads, and their specialties crossing the boundaries between Asia’s cultural inspirations.
They also have an extensive wine and sake collection. And a dessert menu featuring Thai crêpes and ice kachang.
Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling - Little Rock, Arizona
If you’re looking for a taste of Taiwan, try Three Fold Noodles and Dumplings in Little Rock. A small Chinese-influenced café provides hearty and healthy lunches featuring noodles, salads, noodle soup, and dumplings on its menu. Their small but craftily curated menu garnered rave reviews for their beef noodle soup which is an accurate representation of what you would be served in Taiwan. If you are ever overwhelmed by too much on the menu, this is the place to go.
Their signature bowls include their noodle bowl, dumpling bowl, and their steamed buns, which are made in-house—using locally sourced fresh veggies, greens, cilantro, and freshly prepared sources alongside the protein of your choice. Served in simple bowls placed on metal trays with sauce on the side, three-fold noodles and dumplings are simply perfection.
The price range is very accessible, and they cater to vegetarians, vegans, and those looking for gluten-free options. They also serve highly rated coffee and bubble tea, which we’ve been told is very difficult to find in Arkansas! Choose to dine in, eat outside or explore their new reheat at home option.
Peter Chang - Stamford, Connecticut
Peter Chang was created with the aim to challenge and change the perception of Chinese food within America. For Peter Chang, this is created through creative and re-inventive approaches to Chinese food. He is playing with flavor to create a modern twist on traditional Chinese dishes appealing to those who enjoy more authentic Chinese food as opposed to American Chinese food.
The destination dining spot of Asian natives within the tri-state area Peter Chang’s black pepper steak, beancurd, and spicy chili wontons are all familiar favorites for the restaurant’s regular diners. This restaurant stands up to its claims of being a tried and truly authentic Chinese restaurant.
Tiger Fork - Columbia, Washington, D. C.
Bringing a taste of Hong Kong to downtown DC this communal restaurant features striking paper lantern designs, high ceilings, and thick wooden benches, and that is where the tradition stops. Tiger Fork creates excellent cocktails and modern dishes using herbs, spices, and medicinal elements to create complex, unusual flavors for their food.
Dishes include beef chow fun, the Chinese alternative to beef brisket as well as rice noodles, bok choy, black pepper steak in a clay pot Chung fun, and a show stopping bobble waffle dessert that could serve as a meal in itself.
Located off the beaten track, this take on Hong Kong St food, traditional dim sum, and classic Chinese dishes create a unique dining experience featuring global influences, flavors, and ideas. A must-try restaurant for any foodie, flavor connoisseur, or top restaurant hunter.
Mala Sichuan Bistro - Houston, Texas
Winner of the James Beard award, and for a good reason, Mala Sichuan Bistro provides hearty, fresh food that is full of taste with sizable portions. Noted time and time again as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Houston known for their top-notch food and great family service.
Map tofu, chilling cucumber sticks, and Kung pao chicken are firm fan favorites. Mala Sichuan Bistro has a fresh take on fish, eggplant, and duck dishes. They are breaking away from American Chinese stereotypes.
Through balancing spice and garlic to create a menu that is enjoyable for everyone, as well as your tastebuds creating an enjoyable, memorable meal. If you’re after something special or can’t decide from the menu, ask for Winnie, she’ll point you in the right direction.
Rainbow Palace - Ft Lauderdale, Florida
For a fine dining experience of Chinese cuisine, try Rainbow Palace Florida. The creative flare from their kitchen explores simple Chinese dishes such as noodle soups, dark and wontons and elevates them to a new level with their in-house special sauce and spice mix.
Their mushroom trio is a must-try using Portobello, shiitake, and button varieties sautéed in sherry soy sauce and garlic; notable to is their orange beef cilantro scallops and shrimp and lobster dumplings.
Served by tuxedo-wearing waiters and waitresses, Rainbow Palace elevates your dinner into a dining experience. A full-service restaurant with a unique approach to sauce pairings described by the Miami Herald as flavors being a pot of gold at Rainbow Palace.
Tan Lu - Chinatown, Chicago, Illinois
Barbecue fish restaurant tan Lu is a well-known brand within China, with more than 30 cities in nine provinces within China having a Tan Lu restaurant. Specializing in one fish with two flavors, Tan Lu represents the combination of yin and yang and the culinary arts spirit of barbecued fish, Chinese style. As you’d expect, the fish selection is impeccable.
Awarded a Michelin star, the menu is impressive with fish specials, including a whole catfish in broth with pickled cabbage as well as more unusual Chinese offerings within the US of grilled frog’s legs with potato and cauliflower and preserved eggs with tofu in cold soy and vinegar sauce. Don’t discard tan Lu for being a well-established brand; they are exceptionally good at what they do on the go-to for Chinese fish dinners.
Yang Chow - Los Angeles, California
Yang Chow restaurant offers mandarin cuisine with multiple locations across Los Angeles. Including Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley, as well as the main location in downtown Los Angeles.
The downtown LA location has been open since 1977 and has become famous for its slippery shrimp recipe after being featured in the Los Angeles Times in the early 1980s. Consisting of fried shellfish in a sticky chili sauce paired with ginger, garlic, and vinegar, it is without a doubt the most popular dish.
Their menu features Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine, which allows you to discover a taste of Asia. Offering dishes we all know and love, including low meins, hot and sour soup made with woodland mushrooms, tofu bamboo shoots, green onion and egg, and traditional teas like oolong, green tea, and boba. Yang Chow remains a family-run restaurant run by the Yun family, who hope to continue the tradition of making great food providing good service now and for the next generation.
Queens English - Columbia Heights, Washington, D. C.
Last but by no means least is the dynamic couple behind Queens English in Washington. Kenji Cheung and Sarah Tompson run the family restaurant in Columbia Heights focused on Cantonese cuisine and natural wines. They also have an on-site wine and candle shop as well as indoor and outdoor dining.
Awarded a Michelin star, it’s not just their wine that stands out. The food is zesty and bright with floral and refreshing notes that pair perfectly with their wine selection. The curated menu allows ease of choice and confidence in their cooking. Fish features heavily on the menu, with tuna jellyfish, cuttlefish, and crab appearing alongside tofu beef tongue and foie gras.
All the hallmarks of Chinese cuisine are on their menu in new guises adding an element of discovery to your dining. Water chestnuts, sour cherries, fermented soybeans, shallots, and Thai basil all elements you’d find in any Chinese restaurant within America playfully pushed beyond its typical boundary to create Chinese cuisine fit for a Queen.
What should you avoid ordering in a Chinese restaurant?
As with any restaurant, don’t order what the restaurant doesn’t specialize in. You wouldn’t eat a salad in a steakhouse or drink a beer while at a winery, so avoid the English dishes on offer in the Chinese restaurant. Don’t order off-menu unless you have been recommended to do so; experimental rarely lives up to the expectation set by American movies.
It’s also best to avoid ordering anything that you’re not familiar with, such as hairy eggs or wang eggs, which is a chicken embryo. Many people don’t ethically approve of eating hairy eggs, turtle soup, or shark fin dishes; these dishes should be avoided. Stinky tofu, pig intestine, and roasted pig brain are also most likely on your veto list.
Basically, don’t order anything from an area of an animal you’re not accustomed to eating. If you’d like to try something new, perhaps try a flavor you haven’t tried before with meat you eat regularly, such as chicken, or opt for the vegetarian vegetable or tofu option.
What is the unhealthiest Chinese food?
Even unhealthy foods can be ok, so long as you eat them in moderation. A deep-fried egg roll as a treat once in a while will be ok. Other unhealthy Chinese cuisine choices include Sugar-based sauces, such as barbecue ribs and sweet and sour dishes.
Foods fried in oil such as egg fried rice or dishes containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) While MSG most often features in take-out food to further enhance vegetable flavors, it is also used in restaurants to encourage you to eat more. Most restaurants will remove the MSG upon your request.
What is the healthiest Chinese take-out?
If you’re avoiding deep-fried foods, opt for a healthier stir-fry dish that will retain the authenticity and flavor of Chinese cuisine. Steamed fish, tofu, soups, and boiled lettuce are a few examples of healthy Chinese dishes that are filling and featureless salt and added sugar or oil.
Many Chinese dishes pack a nutritious punch, such as tofu miso soup which provides a great source of protein and a variety of nutrients due to the simple combination of its five ingredients. Simple, effective, delicious.
Why is Chinese food so affordable?
Noodles, rice, eggs, and tofu are all key elements to Chinese cuisine and are relatively low cost to buy and cook. They’re filling foods and absorb the flavor of what they’re cooked or paired alongside.
Most Chinese dishes feature various vegetables which are widely accessible across the world or available in Chinatowns and specialist, Oriental supermarkets and are cooked in affordable Chinese flavors and staple store-cupboard ingredients.
These ingredients allow variations of dishes to be produced using a small number of ingredients.
Affordable Chinese Food Staples
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Chinese 5 Spice
- White rice vinegar
- Dried chilies
- Black beans
- Vegetable oil
- Jasmine rice
Chinese restaurants translate Chinese store cupboard essentials into heritage masterpieces. Whether it’s a dish drizzled in sweet chili sauce, a soup in a bowl, or something you’ve never tried before, the USA has some fantastic Chinese restaurants for you to try new dishes, delicacies and tantalize your taste buds in a whole new way.
Whatever you choose from the menu, from scallops with glass noodles to satay chicken udon noodles, Chinese food always has something new for you to try.
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