Is Sing High Chop Suey House Crave-able Chinese?

Categories: Dare to Dine
singhigh2.jpg
Jonathan McNamara
Wor Mein at Sing High Chop Suey House.
Every town has a handful of sketchy restaurants. Often it's the joints that look the most questionable that hold the secrets of culinary enlightenment. Then again, they might hold nothing more than a one-way ticket to whatever you stuffed down your gob firing back out from both ends. It's the most adventurous of eaters who are willing to risk back alley slop houses and decaying lunch counters to find out if the scariest of local eateries lead to Heaven or Hell.

Only the brave need sup. Welcome to the first installment of Dare to Dine. 

In an industry where keeping your doors open for even a few years is an arduous task, Sing High is an anomaly. The self-described "chop suey house" has been feeding Phoenicians' appetite for Cantonese fare since 1928. I took comfort in this longevity, when sent here by my colleagues on this first dining dare. Surely, I thought as I rolled up to Sing High's front doors, a place that has existed for more than 80 years couldn't be a disappointment.

Generally speaking, I'm not much for obsessing over the dining experience. I don't need to eat in a gilded palace surrounded by post-modern art work to enjoy a good sup. I don't desire to have my lunch stacked in towers or topped with herby foams. So I paid little heed to the drab dining areas that, admittedly, had a great deal in common with Luby's Cafeteria. When my dining companion noticed the years of dust clinging to the silk hanging "plants" suspended over our heads (and our table), I ignored that, hoping the food would make up for the lack of ambience.

singhigh1.jpg
Jonathan McNamara
Pot stickers and egg rolls at Sing High.
First came a round of pot stickers and a pair of egg rolls. Hardly revolutionary, these steamed and fried pouches filled with shredded vegetables and proteins were, at the very least, edible.

I felt my guard lowering -- and at the worst possible time. My main course, a noodle soup called "Wor Mein," was a Trojan horse packed with culinary rogues that ought not be trusted, let alone ingested. I speak of canned mushrooms.

A package of dried mushrooms meant for re-hydration before being added to a dish are cheap as chips, common to most forms of Chinese cuisine, and fairly tasty to boot. Canned mushrooms are fungi hell-spawn that can make even the tastiest of dishes deflate faster than a suicidal soufflé.

But Sing High's cardinal sin was its rice. Steaming and yet dry as a bone, the plump nuggets of carbohydrate befuddled my mind like a raging, feverish dream. How could a restaurant claiming to serve Chinese food make a mockery of its primary staple?

Faced with mushrooms that until recently had spent most of their lives swimming in a putrid liquid contained within an aluminum can and a general abundance of bland flavors and over-cooked veg, I came to one conclusion: Sing High is Chinese food for old, white people who don't know any better. It is a den of mediocre expectation met daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the sort of Chinese chow that would get you killed in Shanghai.

I dared to dine and lived to tell my tale...but just barely. 

Who will be next? Leave your dares in the comments sections, and stay tuned to see which brave Chow Bella contributor will be the next victim, er, diner. 

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Location Info

Sing High Chop Suey House

27 W. Madison St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant


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13 comments
monkeyrotica
monkeyrotica

Why you gotta hate on canned mushrooms? There's nothing better on a pizza (fresh mushrooms just dehydrate) and some of us like that texture. As for it getting you killed in Shanghai, this stuff is American-Chinese food. It's not trying to be from Shanghai or Canton.

Rmac
Rmac

I don't understand the harsh criticism here- I'm a long time downtowner and have eaten here for years. The place doesn't pretend to be "modern" or up with latest "fusion" dishes. It's a Cantonese, Hong Kong style restaurant that has served generations. I don't see "dirty" anywhere; turn up the lights at some of the other places and you'll dirty. I guess I'm an old white guy- but I assure you I've been around. BTW, Jordan's a great place too!

roger morris
roger morris

At the end of the day, you will be back!  A downtown staple for Chinese food is, and has been for all people of Arizona since the days of Woolworth.  Sing High is not your $45.00 wonton Snottsdale, Sushi House Arizona.  Sing High is not your $15.00 sushi roll with a $3.50 cent lettuce wrap. Singh High is the bomb for the people of Arizona and downtown Phoenix.  Tasty, filling, and price worthy of a dollar.  So at the end of day, in front of the tracks Sing High (Shrimp egg-foo-young) so you get it right "you do come back" good.  Old white people!  What is That.  Seriously what is that. Take your mother there have some lunch let him or her enjoy a great lunch remember the good ol days and have a huge "eggroll for two.  Don't let the diverse america "scare" you not to have some "tea." Save the rhetoric Sing High is off the chain and always has been.  Since 1963 and that old railroad track that didn't lead to a courthouse but a backdoor to some serious "shrimp fried rice."  Sing High is a great place to eat and dine with family, friends and your GRANDMOTHER.

mb
mb

thanks for the heads up!  i was just about to eat there too!i now dare you to try comedor guadalajara!!!

Brian
Brian

seriously one of the worst restaurants I've ever eaten at in Phoenix. 

helentroy4
helentroy4

One of my favorite memories of "old" Phoenix was going to Sing Hi on Christmas day. I've never ventured into what is now the "new" restaurant. The old one was fun and yes, tacky and kitschie. But after you've seen A Christmas Story with your kids, you just have to do this once in your life.

I don't even remember what we had, what it tasted like, or if there were canned mushrooms. My kids still mention that trip way back when. It's a family memory for sure. And in a good way.

SoDelft
SoDelft

Another candidate for this column is Jordan's on 7th  Street. Christmas lights still up and  dirty carpet. Empty at noon, I was very afraid of what the kitchen might be like. Macayo has gone down hill too. Almost 10 dollars for a watered  down sour margarita, they ask you if you want guacamole or sour cream  on the side when it is posted as part of the meal.and then charge $1.50 if you order both. and a $4.50 gratuities charge on each of 7 people...

AO
AO

I made the mistake of trying it a couple weeks ago as well. The chow mein was disgusting. I paid 11 bucks for a meal that I picked at and tried to eat the fried pieces off of. Never would go back.

Guest
Guest

That place is truly the worst chinese food in Phoenix

Modern Man
Modern Man

Dude, it's SO dirty and sketchy. Sing High is where taste buds go to die. Sort of like a Culinary Hospice. No bueno.

Krazybill
Krazybill

"Sing High is Chinese food for old, white people who don't know any better."  i could've told you that 50 years ago. 

Modern Man
Modern Man

You're right, "You will be back" to serve papers on your civil law suit after your guts explode. You must be a loyal employee to write such a nice lie, but that place sucks. Panda Express is fine dining compared to sing high.

Rmac
Rmac

Don't really know much about food or the downtown, do you?

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