Some of the city's best Cantonese restaurants might be hiding right in plain sight, and if you're on the hunt for some harder-to-find cuisines (Dongbei cai, anyone?), we have some of those for you, too. Good fortune is shining. Here are the 10 best Chinese restaurants in Phoenix.
China Chili302 East Flower Street
602-266-4463China Chili is a Phoenix institution. The dining room at this longtime spot is reminiscent of the large and ornate dining halls you'll often find in San Francisco's or New York's Chinatowns. There's well-worn carpet, sparkling chandelier lighting, and a fish tank. Tables are decked out with rotating Lazy Susans and paper placemats depicting Chinese zodiac signs. The food is classic Cantonese-American fare done well. Tables of friends chat over noodles, families gather, and kids dig into plates of sweet and sour chicken. Takeout orders fly out the door. For something hearty and warming, try the Hunan Chicken, a dish made with a black bean sauce almost like gravy. Whether you're looking to satisfy a craving, enjoy some nostalgia, or please a crowd, China Chili can't be beat.
Chou's Kitchen1250 East Apache Boulevard, #101, Tempe
910 North Alma School Road, Chandler
480-821-2888Sure, you can get delicious Chinese food in the Valley, as evidenced by this list. But finding another place that serves northeastern Chinese cuisine like Chou's Kitchen in Chandler and Tempe? Well, good luck. This humble restaurant has plenty to offer on its menu of unique Dongbei Cai delights and specializes in doughy dumplings. We like to start with an order of the xiaolongbao, or 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, a spicy dish that's actually served at room temperature. The Szechuan Spicy Chicken offers a savory, crunchy, and satisfying bite filled with mouth-numbing peppercorns.
Dim Sum Cafe2711 South Alma School Road, #2, Mesa
480-268-9991 Dim Sum Cafe is a tiny, square restaurant that makes smart use of mirrors to give the illusion of a much bigger space. But contrary to the small seating area, the menu is massive. Flip through multiple plastic pages of dishes with helpful photos as you decide what sounds good. Servers also drop off little sheets of paper and pencils for those looking to order the restaurant's namesake dim sum. We recommend ordering a mix from both menus. Make sure to place a checkmark next to the Shumai, a collection of four hearty pork and shrimp dumplings that are so stuffed they are more like meatballs with a soft, yellow wrapping. Plump Shanghai Soup Dumplings and pillowy custard buns are also must-try bites. It's a good idea to order multiple rounds of the different shapes and sizes of dim sum dishes. Extremely friendly servers are happy to help as you navigate the menu and indulge in the wide selection of offerings at this ideal East Valley lunch cafe.
George Yang's Chinese Cuisine6048 North 16th Street
602-368-2688George Yang's Chinese Cuisine is decidedly more upscale than many of the great Chinese restaurants in town. The lighting is dim and moody, a glass wall displays an impressive wine selection, and customers don their date-night best. Attentive servers walk you through a menu filled with classics, including Mongolian Beef and Moo Shu Pork, and more unusual offerings, such as the Crispy Dried Sauteed Taro that resemble French fries. All of the Cantonese classics are available, but the quality is upped on every single dish. Make sure to order the Shrimp Miona, a hearty portion of soft shrimp fried in a light, crispy batter and doused in a bright orange, slightly spicy, tangy sauce.
Great Wall Cuisine3446 West Camelback Road, #155
602-973-1112At Great Wall Cuisine, the dim sum spread is impressive, with towering piles of noodles, crispy egg rolls and chicken feet, and dumplings of all varieties. The eatery attracts a pretty large Sunday morning crowd, so definitely be prepared to wait — or go on Saturday when there are fewer people. The restaurant's regular dinner and lunch services are worthwhile, too, with a giant menu of a la carte dishes, ranging from Americanized favorites to more authentic fare.
66 South Dobson Road, #112, Mesa
480-912-1207Located inside the Mekong Plaza shopping center, Happy Bao's makes some of the best dumplings in town. This little restaurant is accessed through the mall's food court and has just a few tables. Servers pass plates of food through a kitchen window to fill takeout orders and please hungry diners. Dishes other than dumplings are available on the menu, including Dan Dan Noodles with spicy minced pork, sprinkled with ground peanuts, and red bean and custard buns. Everything is excellent, but our favorite is one of the simplest items on the menu. Small, soft, savory dumplings — their misshapen nature is a dead giveaway that these bites are handmade — are filled to the brim and satisfying. The dumpling wrappers are thicker than those used to make common pot stickers or soup dumplings, and they are served with an al dente bite. Get the signature flavor filled with pork, chives, eggs, and shrimp, or dive a little deeper with the rich lamb and squash variety.
Mekong Palace66 South Dobson Road, #120, Mesa
480-962-0493 The full name of this Mesa restaurant is Mekong Palace Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant, but it's known as Mekong Palace. It's inside Mekong Plaza and next to Mekong Supermarket. You get the idea. During brunch and lunch rush hour, servers weave throughout the dining room, pushing stainless steel carts brimming with small plates. Some carts are filled with dumplings; others have sweet and savory buns or seafood dishes. Taro cakes are made at the front of the restaurant, and customers eagerly await the freshest batch. Mekong Palace offers a full menu, but dim sum, served daily until 3 p.m., are the real draw.
New Hong Kong Restaurant2328 East Indian School Road
602-954-9118Drive down Indian School Road, and you can't 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 eatery is a go-to spot for top-quality Cantonese cuisine. New Hong Kong offers lunch specials, combination dinners, and family-style meals to feed a crowd. We are partial to the Szechwan-style wontons, an order of handmade dumplings doused in a spicy chile oil and served with broccoli, and the Curry Chicken, a dish of tender chicken in a bright yellow spice-scented curry sauce that will have you coming back for seconds. This spot serves food in-house, but it's also the perfect contender for takeout.
Old Town Taste1845 East Broadway Road, Tempe
480-702-7107 This strip mall Chinese restaurant is easily identified by its bright-red neon sign, and its interior showcases muraled walls and turquoise booths. Old Town Taste's menu has a Sichuan bent. It promises some exciting dishes, including braised eggplant, Ma Po tofu, and Szechuan-style blood curd. One of our favorite plates is the Chongqing-style platter. This house special is offered with chicken or fish, and both options are phenomenal thanks to the piping hot meat coated in thin, crunchy batter. The dish is further weighed down with string beans and chile.
Shaanxi Garden67 North Dobson Road, #109, Mesa
480-733-8888 This casual restaurant specializes in the bold, elusive flavors of northwest China's Shaanxi province and its capital city of Xi'an. Shaanxi Garden's expansive menu spans more than 50 dishes, including stews, dumplings, offal, barbecue, and handmade noodles. Service is exceptional, and you'll find plenty of items that are hard to locate at other Chinese restaurants around metro Phoenix. Don't miss house specialties like crispy Shaanxi-style chicken and broad, silky biangbiang noodles served with slow-roasted pork. On weekends, the restaurant hosts traditional guzheng (Chinese harp) musical performers.