Helen Yung's 5 Best Chinese Restaurants in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Personal Best

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Helen Yung
Dimsum at Great Wall.
The countdown to Best of Phoenix is on. Mark your calendar: This year's issue will be on newsstands September 26. What better way to warm up than by asking some local "experts" to list their own personal bests? This week Helen Yung of the artisan ice cream shop Sweet Republic shares her favorite Chinese restaurants in metro Phoenix.

By Helen Yung

Eating has always been a family affair. I grew up in Hong Kong sitting down at the dining table at home every weekday night at 7pm with my sister and parents and on Sundays with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Every meal consisted of at least a long-boiled soup, rice, stir-fried dish and maybe something steamed, braised or fried.

As I grow older, I increasingly crave Chinese food, in particular Cantonese -- the kind of food I grew up with in Hong Kong. Cantonese food is all about highlighting the freshness of ingredients with quick high-heat wok cooking and minimal sauces. And the best way to eat it is to order up a storm and share the spread with a big group of friends. So with that bias in mind, here's my list of favorite Chinese restaurants in Phoenix.

See also: Wendy Porter's 5 Best Egg Rolls in Metro Phoenix

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Chow Bella
Asian Cafe Express
Asian Café Express (ACE)
ACE proves that you CAN have good, fast and cheap, as long as you're willing to overlook the no frills décor. Chef Michael Leung has created a huge menu that offers something for everybody and it works. ACE has the most diverse clientele I've seen at any restaurant from ethnicity, to age, to social class. I love that he's included dishes from old-school diners in Hong Kong that you rarely find at Chinese restaurants here - East-meets-West dishes that came to be when Hong Kong was a British colony. My favorite is the Baked Pork Chop Rice with Tomato Sauce (two deep-fried breaded pork chops on authentic egg fried rice (no soy sauce here), covered with a tomato onion sauce and baked for 30 min). Another reason to love ACE is that you can bring live seafood from Mekong Supermarket across the street and have them cook it any way you like for a small fee.

Nee House
As with most Chinese restaurants in the Valley especially one located in North Phoenix, the menu is filled with Americanized dishes. However there are a few authentic Cantonese dishes that I have to order every time I'm here: egg white and crab fried rice, wok-fried snow pea leaves, fried silken tofu with a dried scallop sauce and either a live lobster and/or fish from the tanks. These are more "upscale" dishes that require more skill. Nee House's owner/chef is probably one of the most technically skilled Chinese chefs in town. His fried rice has perfectly al dente kernels of individual rice filled with the "breath of the wok" that requires perfect control of heat and speed. It always amazes me how he manages to fry delicate silken tofu in a crispy tempura-like batter and serve it with a clear sauce infused with flavorful dried scallops. Chef also steams fish from his pristine tanks beautifully and does justice to the lobsters and crabs.


Location Info

Asian Café Express

1911 W. Main St., Mesa, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sweet Republic

9160 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Nee House Chinese Cuisine

13843 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Chou's Kitchen

910 N. Alma School Road, Chandler, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Great Wall Hong Kong Cuisine

3446 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Lucky's King Wah

4306 W. Northern Ave., Glendale, AZ

Category: Restaurant


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7 comments
cliffordjwong
cliffordjwong

Oh Helen dear... why oh why would you recommend Great Wall?! The ambiance is gross and it's the ONLY restaurant I've ever been to where I had a cockroach crawl up my leg and I've eaten in dai pai dongs in HK and mom/pop noodle shops in SH and GZ.  

Trust me kids, if you want hella good dim sum, load up the car and head southeast to Phoenix Palace in Chandler.  The dim sum is legit, fast, hot, and PRICED very competitively.

Additionally, don't go to Nee house. The service sucks.  If you're in that strip mall, put on your bunny costume and hop 30 feet East for Mediterranean food at Eden's Grill.  Markus, the owner, will treat you like family and the food will blow you away.  

chrislee
chrislee

I always ping Helen to find out the new & best Chinese places around! 

kimspangler
kimspangler

Thank you... ever since I moved here from San Francisco I have been trying to find Dim Sum and other places that serve good Chinese food.  This list will be a great start and I appreciate the recommendations from Helen on which dishes to try at each place.  

Hr Hamada
Hr Hamada

of course, we all know the best place in the valley for ice cream!

Hr Hamada
Hr Hamada

Thanks Chow Bella and Helen! Great post! I'm half Chinese/Japanese from California and so far just about every Chinese restaurant experience I've had in Arizona has been horrible. Of this list I'd only tried Great Wall and have been there numerous times for weekend brunch (dim sum). Now I can try out some food that might taste a little closer to "home" for me!

opinionatedbutright
opinionatedbutright

You gave away all our secret places! Enjoy, everyone. They are truly spectacular.

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