In their quest to narrow the nation’s 41,000 Chinese restaurants to the top 50, the folks at CNN Travel interviewed chefs, restaurant associations and food writers — and downed plenty of noodles, stir-fries and dumplings themselves.
As they note, to be successful, a restaurant must “cater to the American palate, but still be authentic enough to be considered a reputable Chinese joint.”
California dominated the list with 12 honorees — more than any other state. The list included Chef Chu’s in Los Altos, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in San Mateo, three San Francisco restaurants and a Southern California location of Din Tai Fung.
Just where the 50 rank in relation to each other is impossible to tell. The list is alphabetized by state name, giving California restaurants high billing and making it appear that an Arizona eatery called China Magic Noodle House is the best in the nation when, in fact, it just happens to be located in an “A” state. That numerical ranking method puts the best of Washington state and D.C. at the very bottom of the list.
Among the nation’s best Chinese:
— At Chef Chu’s, a Los Altos institution for 47 years, “specialties are Peking duck (order four hours ahead) and a scintillating chicken salad with hot-mustard peanuts,” says CNN, which also notes the restaurant’s famous clientele, which over the years has included world leaders (Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev) and celebrities (Justin Bieber).
— San Mateo’s Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, a branch of an international chain, “sets the standard” for hot pot dishes.
— San Francisco’s Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant features meat-free dishes that are also free of MSG, onions and garlic. Also honored were the city’s San Tung Chinese and R&G Lounge.
— Class 302, located in Rowland Heights, draws crowds for its authentic Taiwanese fare, including pork belly rice, and shaved ice, CNN says.
— Del Mar Rendezvous in Del Mar was praised for its inventive Chinese fusion dishes such as duck breast Shangri-la with teriyaki glaze, plus its vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings.
— The celebrated Din Tai Fung chain, with its juicy soup dumplings, won a spot on the list via the Arcadia location.
— Alhambra’s Savoy Kitchens has developed a cult following for its Hainan chicken rice, CNN says.
By LINDA ZAVORAL