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Fed up with Chinese food restaurants...

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abhoriel

Now I am no longer in China, I struggle to find good Chinese food back in London.. I know of a few authentic restaurants. When I got to China, I was pleasantly surprised by how different (and in my opinion better) the food was than what you get here.

It may seem a little dismissive (not intended), but I agree, somehow you're doing it wrong.

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imron
we've all had better Chinese food outside of China.

Ok, and now I'm not on my mobile and I see you're from Melbourne (snap).  So now I'm curious, what Chinese restaurants here do you rate?  If I turn on food snob mode, I don't rate half of the Chinese restaurants in Melbourne, and the other half are mostly ordinary.  Friends and colleagues will be gushing about how amazing such and such a Chinese restaurant is, and when I go there it's all rather meh.  Granted a large part of that is because there's a lot of southern style food in Melbourne and I spent most of my time in China in the north, and so that's the food I miss.  Unfortunately, besides the occasional jewel in the rough (here's looking at you 南波万), good northern food of the kind I became accustomed to in China is pretty hard to come by.

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hutudekongfuzi

You're probably right, must be because we're holding our chopsticks upside-down...

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hutudekongfuzi

I see what you mean. The food in Melb is mostly Cantonese and it's hard to compare because obviously fare changes with location in China, but I prefer southern rather than northern myself. I still live in Nanjing and am heading back next weekend, so if anyone can suggest some nice eats that are not 外婆家 or 大排档 I'd be really grateful. Mostly what everyone agreed was that because of low quality produce, poor standards of hygiene etc. the general Chinese take-away outside of China is better. It's just a conversation I've had more than once.

In terms of Chinese restaurants in Melbourne, I'd suggest Lau's Family Kitchen or Supper Inn for something more moderately priced. But if you seriously can't find a decent Chinese restaurant in this city, perhaps I'm not the only one who's doing it wrong?

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imron
But if you seriously can't find a decent Chinese restaurant in this city...

Decent *northern* Chinese, and I can find the occasional one (see the one I mentioned above), but they are few and far between.  Adequate ones are slightly more common, but most fall far short of the variety and quality I became accustomed to when I was in China.

 

Lau's Family Kitchen I've eaten at quite a few times (I used to work nearby in Fitzroy St).  It's not bad, but nothing great, especially not for the price.

 

As for Supper Inn, most restaurants in Chinatown I dismiss as a matter of course.

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imron
I still live in Nanjing and am heading back next weekend, so if anyone can suggest some nice eats that are not 外婆家 or 大排档 I'd be really grateful.

Don't know where you are flying out of, but if you pass through Beijing, be sure to check out 馅老满 - oh to find its equivalent in Melbourne...

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Lanchong

What do you all think about food in restaurants in hotels in China? For the most part that's where we ate while there, a holiday inn in Beijing and a crown plaza in henan.

Some hotel food is good; most is not. I've also eaten at a Holiday Inn in Beijing, and the Crowne Plaza in Henan, and both weren't great. If you're back in Zhengzhou sometime, try 花豫川 (huayuchuan). There are a couple of branches not far from the Crowne Plaza, and the Chinese food is better than anything you'll get in the hotel.

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gato

Don't know where you are flying out of, but if you pass through Beijing, be sure to check out 老馅满

Should be 馅老满. It's crazy good. We don't have its equivalent in Shanghai, either.

The Dianping (点评) mobile app is a good way to find good restaurants around the city. You can search by distance from your current location.

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imron
Should be 馅老满

Oops, yes, yes it should.

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AucklandLove

@hutudekongfuzi thats the opposite of what I (and pretty much anyone I know) has experienced. The Chinese food in China is a lot better than outside in China, both in terms of variety and quality. Not that this should surprise anyone, French food is better in France too after all.

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trisha2766

Really? I thought it was pretty good! But what do I know.  We only ate at the buffet though.  I wish there had been more variety.  There was a noodle place near the crown plaza that we were going to eat at one night but it was too crowded. 

 

 

Some hotel food is good; most is not. I've also eaten at a Holiday Inn in Beijing, and the Crowne Plaza in Henan, and both weren't great. If you're back in Zhengzhou sometime, try 花豫川 (huayuchuan). There are a couple of branches not far from the Crowne Plaza, and the Chinese food is better than anything you'll get in the hotel.

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crazy-meiguoren

So far I have not had the chance to visit China.  It sounds like one has to ask some of the locals as to which restaurants are the good ones. I've eaten at some pretty good Chinese restaurants in the States, although American restaurants have a reputation for making "Chinese" dishes that are adjusted for the American taste.  By far, the best Chinese meals I have ever had were home-cooked.  Years ago, I had several housemates.  One of them was Chinese.  She spent hours preparing the dinner on the days it was her turn to cook.  The end result was excellent.  It was far better than what even the best restaurants served.

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's a restaurant I go by during my commute.  It's called "$1 Chinese Food".  I am not making this up.  And I am not about to try it. :nono

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vivivivi

It really depends on what you order, not all chinese foods are greasy and too salty. I'm sure you will explore something healthy.

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Koonder

Well, I don't really like eating at a Chinese restaurant outside of China. Since I haven't been to China, I don't know what to think about it yet. I'm sure there are great restaurants, but I bet that those restaurants aren't cheap either. Most of the time, the dishes that are cooked are greasy, prepared in a nasty kitchen. I don't want to generalize because I did eat fantastic Chinese food in a Chinatown, italy. :)

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Silent

 

but I bet that those restaurants aren't cheap either.

I think price and quality are barely related when it comes to restaurant food. Maybe it has more to do with my personal taste, but in Asia I strongly prefer small cheap restaurants and foodstands that tend to have limited choice of simple but tasty authentic dishes.  They seem to use fresh ingredients directly from the market/producer, have a decent turnover due to the limited choice and you can see the food being prepared.

 

I think price has more to do with service and ambiance, with the bigger amount of time people spend in a restaurant resulting in less turnover of food per m2 while the owner needs higher turnover in money to cover the higher costs and to make a profit.

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ChTTay

In South East Asia i'd agree with you but in China I wouldn't. There are a few gems, family run places with cheap, amazing food but, at least in Beijing, if I walk into a local, cheap as chips place then 7/10 times its going to be not good. Usually they are cheap because of the cheap produce. They may be "fresh" but that doesn't necessarily mean good quality.

It depends on the food too... I mean more 家常菜 type places. Most 兰州拉面 type places are pretty standard and decent if you're just eating noodles.

I'd agree that more expensive restaurants don't necessarily use better ingredients too. However, its more likely you'll find better quality in a more expensive place. I don't mean crazy expensive either, mid-range and above.

I think the best 盖饭 place I've ever eaten in China is still this tiny Sichuan place in 银川 Yinchuan called Old Wang's. They had 5 tables and one room upstairs you could rent. Three generations lived above the restaurant. Old Wang was a 50+ Grizzled Sichuan guy. Man, every time I think of the food there I want to take the next train to Yinchuan. Even expensive Sichuan places in Beijing don't touch Old Wang's.

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Silent

 

Usually they are cheap because of the cheap produce.

In many places this is true, but cheap produce is not by definition bad produce. In the market most consumers want food that looks good. This often results in use of chemicals to prevent damage by insects. Imho this is inferior produce than produce with less chemicals but with insect damage.  Fruit and veggies with a little bruising that is used immediately in a foodstall is not really that inferior to  it's unbruised counterparts, specially not if that unbruised produce is bought and lays around a while due to the lower turn over of the restaurant. The expensive juicy and tender meat parts of an animal are not really better then the less tender parts, it mainly effects the 'bite' and preparation plays an important role too.

 

Of course I could easily hold a completely different plea. Fact is that food quality is perceived in very different ways, from a cucumber (not) being straight to how healthy food is too how well it tastes etc. To me a good taste of food, which  is personal, is very important. Also the fact that I usually feel better at home at a low end restaurant is a factor to consider. 

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ChTTay

No, not by definition. However, if we are talking about China, i would question how and why that produce is so cheap. Especially with meat. If this gong bao ji ding is 8kuai and is primarily chicken, what kind of quality must this meat be? What additives have been used to increase its size? Which hormones have been used to make the chicken mature quicker? Etc

Equally, using pesticide isn't necessarily to make the produce look better but to yield larger crops. On a really large scale, a bigger crop would mean being able to sell your produce cheaper to undercut any competitors.

Also, you mention perfect looking produce and more mainstream cuts of meat. It seems both of these are less important in China, where produce tends to be a bit more "gnarled" and people often eat cuts of meat (or other parts of the animal) not eaten as often in the West.

I do agree with you in that I also prefer smaller places. These are usually cheaper too and, as my example of Old Wangs above, can also offer amazing food. There are restaurants in China, both small and cheap or larger more mid priced, where I really start to question what I'm putting into my body - particularly with meat or fish.

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Koonder

I think price and quality are barely related when it comes to restaurant food.

 

Unless China practices the other way around, I disagree with your statement. You always get what you pay for. If the food that is served doesn't meet your satisfaction, it's overpriced.

 

 

 Fact is that food quality is perceived in very different ways, from a cucumber (not) being straight to how healthy food is too how well it tastes etc.

 

When we talk about food quality, it is, IMO, easy to distguinsh between good quality food and utter trash.

 

Taste shouldn't play a part in determining the food quility. Low quality food that taste bad, processed to taste great will still remain low quality food.

 

I mean everyone will agree with me that Mc Donalds serves terrible quality food, right? But even if you're a health freak, you can't deny that there food taste OK. There food is ment to taste good, appealling to 99% of the population.

 

I'm just trying to make the case that tasty food doesn't equal to quality food. With that in mind, I think the more expensive restaurant do serve quality food, or atleast the chance of serving quality food is higher.

If you think that expensive restaurants don't serve better food, what can you expect from cheap restaurants?

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Silent

 

You always get what you pay for it. If the food that is served doesn't meet your satisfaction, it's overpriced.

Sorry, but you're mixing up things here. First of all price/quality is not a constant. So, no you won't always get what you pay for. You pay for the expectations they manage to create with you what actually is delivered may match expectations, but may also be quite different (good or bad). If you go to a restaurant these expectations consists of a lot more then food alone. You expect and pay for a certain 'experience' (location, seating, (indoor) climate, ambiance, amenities, speed of service, friendliness of service etc etc.) 

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