Okay, so we don't have a Chinatown in Phoenix. But that doesn't mean you can't find delicious and authentic Chinese food here. You just have to know where to look. Some of the city's best Cantonese restaurants might be hiding in plain sight, and if you're on the hunt for some harder to find cuisines (dongbei cai, anyone?), we might have some of those for you, too.
From incredible dim sum to a one-of-a-kind dinner show, here are the best Chinese restaurants in Phoenix.
Chou's Kitchen: If you know where to look, it's not hard to find good Chinese food in the Valley. But finding another place that serves northeastern Chinese cuisine like Chou's Kitchen in Chandler? Well, good luck. This humble restaurant has plenty to offer on its menu of unique dongbei cai delights and specializes specifically in doughy dumplings. We like to start with an order of the xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). Chou's version offers a delicate wrapper that holds in a flavorful meat filling and a mouthful of precious juices. Continue your meal with a bubbling hot pot or an order of the cold noodles, an spicy dish that's actually served at room temperature. (910 N. Alma School Road, Chandler, 480-821-2888)
King Wah Express: You might know King Wah Express as Lucky's King Wah, but either way you refer to it, it means the same thing: flavorful, authentic Cantonese fare in a low-key Glendale strip mall. You may have heard about the chef's special at Lucky's, which entails sitting down and letting the chef cook you something delicious and suited to your allergy/spice tolerance. That's definitely the way to go at King Wah, but if you're not up for mystery, try out the sizzling, bubbling short rib and eggplant hot pot. Even the fried rice is the best you'll find in town. (4306 W. Northern Ave., Glendale, 623-937-3960)
China Magic Noodle House: It's true, many people come to China Magic Noodle House for the show. But that doesn't mean that the food — noodles and non-noodle dishes included — isn't top-notch. You'll watch as the talented chefs stretch and sling and toss and chop fresh dough into noodle form before it arrives at your table. You can choose from five types of noodles to be served in soups, fried, or smothered in sauces. We particularly enjoy the shaved noodles, which are hand-cut from a piece of noodle dough. The thick, short noodles make for a perfect foundation for the saucy dishes. (2015 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, 480-786-8002, www.chinamagicnoodle.com)
China Chili: Downtowners know to go to China Chili on any holiday that typically closes other restaurants in the area. It's why it's packed full of people, with an hour wait or more, on Christmas Eve. Luckily, if you go at other times, you won't be met with such a wait, but there will be a steady buzz of folks dining around Lazy Susans and sharing plates of yu shiang chicken and salt-and-pepper pork chops. We like to start with a big bowl of meaty West Lake soup. Fair warning: Even during off times, the service at China Chili tends to be on the slow side, but good things come to those who wait. (302 E. Flower St., 602-266-4463, www.chinachilirestaurant.com)
New Hong Kong: If you drive on East Indian School Road near 24th Street, it's hard to miss the giant neon sign that reads "Hong Kong Restaurant" and advertises an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. But don't let the old-school appearance fool you: This Central Phoenix spot is a go-to spot for top-quality Cantonese cuisine. The family-run New Hong Kong comes courtesy of Chinese chef Jian Yu and has both an American menu and a Chinese one. Smart diners will make sure they order off the latter. That's where you'll find authentic options like flavor-packed hot pots, pigs feet, and more. Less adventurous diners can opt for knockout dishes including the black pepper beef, salt-and-pepper pork, and West Lake soup. (2328 E. Indian School Road, 602-954-9118)
King Wong: There's arguably no sweeter family in the Chinese take-out game than the one that runs King Wong. We love supporting their family business, and the restaurant's absolutely gigantic delivery area, cheap deals, and monster portions make it that much easier to adore. Twice-cooked pork (double the tasty breading!) is a favorite on lazy nights in, and one entrée-size order can supply three filling meals. Call in your order and pick it up, or, if you live pretty much anywhere in East Phoenix (including parts of downtown and Arcadia), you can have King Wong bring the food to your door. (2545 N. 32nd St., 602-954-8088, www.kingwongaz.com)
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Nee House: For those who live in the North Phoenix neighborhood around Nee House, this restaurant is a blessing. Amid chains and fast food spots, Nee House offers a solid menu of remarkably good, authenic Chinese dishes, with a few Americanized entrees as well. If you're feeling adventurous, go for something from the sea. The restaurant offers everything from sea cucumber to whole lobsters, which will be plucked from the tanks at the back of the dining room and prepared however you wish. Talk about fresh. (13843 N. Tatum Blvd., 602-992-3338)
Asian Café Express: Asian Café Express is an institution of legit Hong Kong-style cuisine in Phoenix. If you're one of those naysayers who say you can't find this kind of food in the Valley, simmer down and check out this eatery off Main Street and Dobson in Mesa. You'll find a seemingly endless menu of dinner combos. But don't be intimidated; just crack open the big old menu and point at pretty much anything — you're sure to get the best of the best. For soup lovers, though, you absolutely have to try the preserved pickle and shredded pork soup with ho fun noodles. The fatty, decadent broth, hunks of pork, and thin noodles may be the key to happiness. (1911 W. Main St., Ste. 3, Mesa, 480-668-5910, www.asiancafeexpress.com)
Great Wall Cuisine: Do you know how we know Great Wall Cuisine has authentic dim sum? It has chicken feet. And they're delicious. The rest of the dim sum spread also is impressive, with towering piles of noodles, crispy egg rolls, and dumplings of all varieties. The restaurant attracts a large Sunday-morning crowd, so be prepared to wait — or visit on Saturday, when there are fewer diners. The restaurant's regular dinner and lunch services are worthwhile too, with a giant menu of à la carte dishes, from Americanized favorites to more authentic fare. (5057 N. 35th Ave., 602-973-1112)
Wahsun: We won't sugarcoat it: Wahsun does not wow in terms of ambiance. If you're looking for fancy décor and background music, go elsewhere. However, if you're looking for an array of freshly made sauces with explosive flavor smothering perfectly prepared veggies, tofu, and meat served in homey dishes, you've come to the right place. If you're not brought to your knees by Wahsun's roast duck, which is only $8 for a generous portion of half duck, you're made of stone. Seriously, that duck, which is spiced perfectly with heaps of Chinese five spice on its crispy skin, is a showstopper. (8056 N. 19th Ave., 602-995-4606, www.wahsunrestaurant.com)