Chinese Chowdown: Your faves

Your favorite Chinese Restaurants

Chinese food needs a good agent these days.

After years as the reigning exotic starlet of the American palate,
she’s really let herself go–appearing regularly in freezer sections
and mall fast food courts. She’s licensed her name to abominations like orange chicken (which tastes like neither) and spongey egg rolls and tasteless fried rice studded with frozen peas and carrots. Poor dear.

When a complex, centuries-old national cuisine is reduced to a line of microwaveable dinners, there’s cause for concern.

Unlike Thai and Vietnamese, more recent culinary newcomers which
have survived the ocean-crossing fairly intact, Chinese rolled into our
consciousness at a time when Velveeta was considered a modern marvel.
To appeal to wary American palates in inventions like chow mein,
General Tso chicken, mayonnaise-sauced walnut prawns, ketchupy sweet
and sour pork and fortune cookies mixed familiar tastes with the
illusion of something more exotic. Sorry if I burst any bubbles there.

With such a massive Chinese population here in the Bay Area,
there’s no reason we can’t do better than Panda Express and the all-you
can eat buffet at Fu Zhou
(and trust me, I’ve done some serious eating at both).
What are you favorite authentic Chinese spots? We’re not talking buffets here (I’ve already done that). I want to know who has the best dumplings, dim sum (is there even any in the North Bay?), soup, moo shu and Peking duck? What are you secret guilty pleasures? Who’s got the most exotic cuisine? Who deserves a shout-out and who’s totally over-rated?

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4 thoughts on “Chinese Chowdown: Your faves

  1. Hang Ah across the 101 from Coddingtown (in the old A & W) does a pretty competent job with dim sum at lunch. Mmmmm shrimpy dumplings

  2. China Light has been closed for awhile now. They were infested with cockroaches. I worked there many years ago. Very embarassing. China Rooms owners got a divorce and she kept that place while her ex opened Fresh China formerly Genghis Kahn in Coddingtown. They kept the same monglian bbq and buffet. Good stuff. By far though is Gary Chu and Kirin. Also Jennie Lows in Petaluma got a great write up by the Press Demo, haven’t been but want to soon.

  3. Spring Lake Chinese is my families newest favorite. The food is always good, fresh and hot. The service is spectacular and the owner is very sweet and attentive to her customer’s needs. So nice to eat at a restaurant where you are treated as a customer not as an inconvenience to the waiter/waitress. This restaurant actually has new ownership (for about a year), but they kept the original name. If you haven’t tried it lately, check it out. Really good!!!! Hot and sour soup is as good or better than any of the high $$ in town.

  4. Posted By: Jennifer (23/11/2007 11:54:27 PM)
    Comment: Have you heard about the new Chinese restaurant in Petaluma on 212 Western St? It has the best General Cho’s Chick and an awesome beef Chow Fun! You don’t have to go to SF anymore for great Chinese food. You’ll love it!

    Posted By: Leo (17/11/2007 2:25:55 PM)
    Comment: I’ve lived in SoCo for 27 years. Top two are Chinatown Restaraunt on Kentucky St. in Petaluma and Kirin on Yulupa in Santa Rosa. Lily Kai in Petaluma is very good as well.

    Posted By: Buck (10/09/2007 6:03:01 PM)
    Comment: Wow! Jook! How about yao jow guwai (deep fried bread sticks)! Steam pork with black bean sauce? Maybe I should have all of you over for some real home cooking! I cook a lot of home dishes!

    Posted By: buck (10/09/2007 12:29:29 PM)
    Comment: WOW! Real Chinese JOOK with deep fried breadsticks! I don’t know any places here except for home. It would be nice to have steam pork with black bean sauce and Lo Bok Go radish cakes! Your best bet is the city. Maybe I’ll open my house to all for some home cooking.

    Posted By: Jelly (04/09/2007 5:39:52 PM)
    Comment: Naw, the supposed Chinese food up here is not very good. No roast houses, noodle houses, very, very Midwestern, at best. The ONLY place I have sort of come close to liking is the roasted pig and duck at G & G market on West College on SR. But being a n Oakland Chinatown kinda gal, and LOVING places like Daimo in Richmond, I find the food up here to be pretty slim pickins’…anybody know where to get a bowl of Jook with preserved egg around here?

    Posted By: Russell (04/09/2007 4:27:16 PM)
    Comment: China Chef in Cotati has the best Chinese food I have tasted north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The staff are absolutely delightful and the food is always served piping hot.

    Posted By: Buck (04/09/2007 4:07:04 PM)
    Comment: Per the original blog, the question is about authentic Chinese spots. All the restraunts in Sonoma County are concidered American Chinese food. I have eaten all over Asia. Since I lived in Sonoma County all my life, I haven’t experenced any traditional chinese food except for home cooking. If you want good dim sum, San Franciso is your best bet. I have eaten at almost all the Chinese places in Sonoma County so here’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth. On a scale of 1 – 5 where 5 is the best. Yinkeng in Windsor = 1, dishes are too sweet. I also didn’t find it clean. They have been cited for many violations. Royal China in Santa Rosa = 4. Confusious in RP = 4. Hunan in Petaluma = 4 All with good service and friendly people. Gary Chu’s = 3. Over priced for what you get. China Room = 3 use to be better. China Lite in SR = 2, Great China in SR = 2. We don’t have a 5 in Sonoma County. Of course this is my opinion and you will have your own favorites. Also, FYI, when they say no MSG, how do we know that for sure? They might not have MSG in the bag but many ingredients used contain MSG or flavor enhancers.

    Posted By: kudzu (01/09/2007 1:07:23 PM)
    Comment: There are two places for dim sum in Marin. One is an otherwise dowdy old restaurant on 4th Street, right downtown — House of Lee. I have never had anything there but their dim sum, which came out freshly prepared — ordered from a menu, no carts. The other is the chic new Harmony in Strawberry Village, Mill Valley, where the chef uses as many organic and sustainably produced infredients as possible. You know that this translates into higher prices, but the quality is fine, the atmosphere upscale — and they have a take-out counter as well. We certainly need more dim sum sources and I long for regional-cuisine Chinese dining sources here.

    Posted By: Marie (30/08/2007 9:43:51 AM)
    Comment: Check out Go-Go Wok located in the Safeway plaza at Marlow and Guernville Road…they will prepare dishes for you that aren’t on their spareribs or chicken in black bean sauce, or my favorite is pork tofu…their dishes are always fresh and flavorful and the service is GREAT!

    Posted By: Mimzie (29/08/2007 10:25:25 PM)
    Comment: I thought the bay area would have better chinese food,too. Makes me curious why good chinese is hard to find. Royal China on MARLOW/FULTON is best I’ve had in Sonoma County. Clean, varying palette of flavors-not generic sauces and overcooked globs! Ming’s Kitchen in San Anselmo, too!

    Posted By: hunan fan (29/08/2007 4:38:29 PM)
    Comment: Tracey…Your analogy was rather tasteless. Yes, the two restaurants are different, but no need to make rude comments. Let’s use this blog to praise good food and not trash restaurants. (Especially when a few people have already complimented both places.)

    Posted By: Tracey (29/08/2007 4:18:52 PM)
    Comment: There is no Hunan Village in Santa Rosa. DO NOT confuse Hunan Village (PET)with Hunan Kitchen (RPK)thats like comparing apples to rotten oranges.

    Posted By: denaruth (29/08/2007 3:10:10 PM)
    Comment: To: Looking for Chow Fun, I get pork chow fun 2X a week at Ying Keng in Windsor to the right of Raley’s on Lakewood Drive and it’s very good and plentiful, good service too.

    Posted By: Neva (29/08/2007 1:34:16 PM)
    Comment: I agree Gary’s is about as good as it gets in S.R., their Martini Prawns are awesome! I will never return to the China Room, it was great several years ago but went a couple months ago and it was absolutely awful. The lemon chicken has a sauce that came with it tasted like canned pie filling! We had wonderful Pork Pot Stickers last week at the China Garden on the westside of S.R.

    Posted By: psycat90 (29/08/2007 12:04:05 PM)
    Comment: With such a massive Chinese population here in the Bay Area I moved here from NJ 7 years ago and was excited about the prospect of delicious Chinese Food. Haven’t really found it. The buffet is probably my favorite spot. I haven’t found a decent take out or delivery place, and for dining in Dynasty in Rohnert Park is the best I’ve had so far. Pretty depressing.

    Posted By: Joergo (29/08/2007 10:53:53 AM)
    Comment: A top contender for Best Spicey Garlic Chicken & Mushu in Santa Rosa is China Light. Believe it or not!

    Posted By: Emily (29/08/2007 9:29:13 AM)
    Comment: CHINA ROOM. No msg, filtered water, organic veggies and free range chicken… they offer some dishes that can’t be found at other Chinese restaurants. Must tries are the lettuce rolls (w/ pine nut, prawns, and chicken), the soft shell crab, and the pine nuts and seaweed fried rice.

    Posted By: Looking for Chow Fun (29/08/2007 9:26:28 AM)
    Comment: No recommendations. I’m from San Fran so very picky maybe. But, willing to try any recommendation for Chow Fun noodles. I miss them.

    Posted By: TRACEY (29/08/2007 9:23:09 AM)
    Comment: I almost forgot… THE BEST EGG FOO YOUNG ever is at Hunan Village in Pet also. But where is their sister restraunt in Santa Rosa??

    Posted By: YUMMY! (29/08/2007 8:48:26 AM)
    Comment: Yes I agree, Hunan Kitchen in Rohnert Park (haven’t had the one in SR but I know it’s they same owners) best TAKE OUT chinese. I highly recommend Hot Basil Chicken. Sesame chicken, and the black pepper chicken are pretty good too. They’re good at the chicken dishes what can I say. You can also call and order what they don’t already have made so that it is ‘fresh’ take out, or eat in their modest dining room. The line is out the door on most evenings.

    Posted By: Raeny (28/08/2007 9:12:39 PM)
    Comment: The Canton in Petaluma serves dim sum, their egg rolls are really good. I also like Chinatown on Kentucky Street in Petaluma… I think there’s a restaurant in Cotati that serves dim sum as well…

    Posted By: another chinese food enthusiast (28/08/2007 7:16:28 PM)
    Comment: Hunan Kitchen in Santa Rosa has the best take out in the city. Maybe not what this blog is exactly looking for, but the food is GREAT! They also have a location in Rohnert Park.

    Posted By: missikie (28/08/2007 4:48:45 PM)
    Comment: Having just spent the weekend in Chinatown, I can’t compare. In Sonoma County, Kirin and Gary Chu’s top my list.

    Posted By: chinese food enthusiast (28/08/2007 4:16:10 PM)
    Comment: I don’t think Chinese food in the North Bay comes anywhere close to that which is found in San Francisco. The best Chinese food in this area is found in home cooking only. No restaurant makes it on the list in my mind – it’s just not authentic enough. Heather, don’t forget chop suey in your American concoctions list.

    Posted By: Tracey (28/08/2007 3:35:07 PM)
    Comment: Best Mu Shu is Hunan Village in Petaluma, they also have the best Crab Wontons. Best Hot & Sour soup Tahoe in Forestville Best basic menu Gary Chu’s Haven’t found the best pot stickers yet but I’m looking! Do I have a eating disorder?

    Posted By: Rachael (28/08/2007 2:38:33 PM)
    Comment: I crave Kirin’s won ton soup all the time. It is the best. I tried to order it yesterday but they are now closed on Mondays. China Room is also a good choice. They make fabulous green onion pancakes and they only use free-range chicken, no MSG, and I think organic veggies but don’t quote me on that.

    Posted By: Jay (28/08/2007 2:31:42 PM)
    Comment: This should be interesting ! besides the food, lets not forget to mention how clean, or not, the dining establishment was. Thankyou.

    Posted By: Jeri (28/08/2007 10:30:02 AM)
    Comment: I have never been disappointed at Kirin on Yulupa Ave here in S.R. The princess Prawns are fabulous, as are the peking spareribs. The fried rice is never too oily, and the service is great too! YUM!

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