And here's the Chinese Food reviews:
Parents Restaurant [Chao Gui Gui Dynasty]] at Dun Hua & ZhongXiao Road intersection is good for Dim Sum. The Lucky Star Hong Kong 24 Hour dim sum place at the same intersection is not good. The Lucky Hong Kong Star 24 Dim Sum Place [the name's aren't identical, but they both have some combination of Star, Hong Kong, 24 & Lucky] on NanJing East Road, is, however, good. The cool thing is that Parents' restaurant is still good for dim sum at strange times like 8p.m. on a wednesday [it's also still crowded then]. They also have main dishes that are good, although I would avoid the kong bao ji ding and the spareribs in special sauce.
The Nanjing E / Fuxing North interesection also has the Brother Hotel [Xiong Di] that has a dim sum place on its second floor. One of the few [only one I've been to here] that has carts. Their dim sum is good, but very different from anything I've had in the US. I don't really know how to describe it. For instance, the chopped spare rib wasn't in black bean sauce, but rather some sort of unidentifiable red sauce. Good, but I have no idea what it was. Parent's and the good Hong Kong dim sum place are more like the stuff available in the US, just better quality, more skill and more types. And no carts.
The Grand Hotel is not good for dim sum. It's fun. It's old school Taiwan -- everything's red and covered with dragons, ceilings are kind of low, and bathrooms are kind of dank. I'm told there's gardens you can walk around, but the hotel's pretty damn big on it's own. I wouldn't eat dim sum there, though. It sucked.
A neat place : People's Restaurant. An He Lu, Section 2, #191, Basement. Behind the Far Eastern Hotel. It's a super trendy restaurant/bar and just kind of neat. There's no doorknob. You stick your hand in a hole in a pile of rocks, which trips a sensor & opens the door. The hong shao tofu is neat and the lime fish is limey [I like sour stuff], but the DIY spring rolls are more of a concept than a food. The bar serves these crazy drinks that are like big bowls of fluorescent blue or purple [haven't drunk them; they just look cool]. I think it's cooler than any place in DC or maybe I've just gone native. You should check it out.
The card lists the following additional locations, which I have not visited:
An He Lu, Section 2, #68 - this one looks like a fancy Japanese place from the outside.
Dun Hua Nan Lu Section 1, #21-1 [#21, 1st floor? #211? dunno]
Jian Guo Bei Lu, Section 1, #80, basement.
Peking Duck. We've been to a place called Tien Chu [Heaven's Kitchen] on Zhongshan N Road or thereabout. It was good. It's in Japanese tourist guidebooks, so its very popular. My teacher [and us] prefer Beijing Lou [Beijing Floor / Beijing Restaurant] on Roosevelt Road, right by the Taipower Building stop because it's just as good [or better] and cheaper. It's on the northeast side of the road. When you leave the subway stop, walk northwest, toward Heping road and you'll find it. My teacher claims the service at Beijing Lou is better, but I'm not so sure. Northern restaurants seem chronically hostile to me. Beijing Lou doesn't speak much if any English. Not sure if they have an English menu either. The prices are definitely cheaper and the food I think is a little better.
Sichuan Food. There's a chain called Kiki's [people know it by that name] that's good but always very crowded. One's on Xin Yi, toward the 101 Building, the other's on Fuxing across from the Breeze center. We've also been to a place called Lao Gao that was good, near Yongkang Jie [below]. Kiki's has have a white, crunchy, garlicky vegetable the call "garlic flower" [don't know chinese name] that's pretty cool. Deep fried tofu is really soft inside if you're into that [I am], and iron bowl beef will numb your mouth.
Shilin night market is great. You should go on a weekend evening to get the full insanely-crowded experience. The people standing in a long line at the front of the Night market building are waiting to buy deep fried chicken cutlet, served in a paper bag, red pepper powder optional. It's good, but at the end of the day, it's still a chicken cutlet.
Yongkang Jie [always health street?] is a lot of fun. It's a smaller street running off XinYi Road, near Din Tai Fung, a very famous restaurant. The main drag of Yongkang Jie has Ice Monster and a number of smaller, family-style places that specialize in that shaved ice dessert with condensed milk, tapioca, red bean, and anything else. Right now, mango, strawberry & kiwi combo is very popular. The big dim sum restaurant [Uncle Kee's Snack House?] at the entrance to Yong Kang Jie should be avoided. They forgot some of our food, and then couldn't get it to us when we told them about it. The food that did arrive wasn't good either. Dim sum at Parents or the Nanjing Road place is much better. Infinitely. Din Tai Fung is on Xin Yi Road, a little to the east. It's a Shanghai style dumpling house, or so I've been told. You can recognize it by the immense crowd of people waiting in line at all hours. Never tried to make it through. Some people say it's worth it, others say it isn't. No idea.
If you go down YongKang Jie from Xin Yi, and make a right at the 2nd or 3rd intersection, you'll come to a somewhat famous dumpling house [or so we've been told]. It has a fish pond out front. If it was in Rockville, I'd probably be happy to drive there, but it's in Taiwan. So I'm not sure why it's dumplings are that much better than the other thousands of other dumpling stalls in the city. In its defense, it has pretty much every kind of dumpling [steamed, boiled, pan fried, shrimp or pork, not sure if it has soup dumplings or chive dumplings. Maybe only cabbage flavor] all in one place. Many dumpling stalls will only have one type [i.e. cabbage & pork boiled dumplings]. So it's not a bad place to eat. I've seen a lot of people eating hot pots too.
One street to the west of Yong Kang Jie is the Lao Gao Chuan Cai -- a independent Sichuan restaurant. Pretty good. Fried whole fish in red sauce is extremely popular, although we didn't have enough people to eat one. The Lao Gao tofu is just tofu in brown sauce with pork. Good, but I was hoping for something insanely spicy. Their Kong Pao Chicken contains Sezchuan ma la peppers as well as the normal dried red ones. All the stir fries here are hot enough [temp wise] to burn your tongue. Stir fried veggies, everything is just really hot [temp].
Soup Dumplings: Check out Ming Yue Tang Bao on Ji Long lu, somewhere north of HePing, on the west side. It's a small storefront place with a yellow sign. The chef graduated from Din Tai Fung and the soup dumplings are great. They have two flavors: pork and seafood. The menu's pretty limited, maybe 12 items on it. I'm not sure if they have an English menu or if the staff speaks much English. The hot and sour soup is also good, as is the baked pastry with red bean inside. More expensive than your average dumpling stall, but your average dumpling stall doesn't make soup dumplings. Well worth it. And still cheaper than a fancy restaurant.
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