According to the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on January 31 this year. You can celebrate 2014, the Year of the Horse, this year by visiting your local favorite Chinese restaurant. For the Chinese cuisine cognoscenti with a discerning palate, here’s a list of the top Chinese restaurants around the Triangle:
Raleigh’s list of decent Chinese restaurants that do not exclusively cater to American-Chinese food have dwindled since the closing of Fortune Palace and Asian Grill.
Despite the abstruseness of the restaurant name, the addition of Captain J’s on Capital Boulevard has ingratiated itself as a bright spot in an area of bleakness for authentic Chinese fare. For the most fulfilling experience, skip the buffet altogether. Instead, ask for the authentic Chinese menu (which has since been updated with pictures for those less familiar) filled with a potpourri of Shanghainese, Sichuan and Taiwanese offerings. Made as they are ordered, xiaolongbao (soup dumplings, referred shorthand as XLB) are a rarity in this area and are definitely recommended. Also of note at Captain J’s are the Beef Wrap with Scallions and the Stewed Beef Noodle Soup.
4420 Capital Blvd
Raleigh, NC 27604
For more authentic Chinese cuisine, Cary and Morrisville still reign supreme in the Triangle area for the most varied options.
Banana Leaf is the latest addition to Cary’s constellation of Chinese restaurants. I’ve heard positive rumblings so far, including a glowing endorsement from my mom, an erudite of good Chinese cuisine. Banana Leaf serves Cantonese-style Chinese fare, which tends to rely heavily on seafood dishes and roasted meat dishes. From all accounts, the Peking Duck is a can’t-miss dish at Banana Leaf.
1026 Ryan Road
Cary, NC 27511
The space inside Super Wok is cozy, but ample enough for smaller parties. Super Wok’s traditional Chinese menu consists of many Sichuan-style dishes. The hot stone pot selection is ideal for cold winter days, especially the seafood and tofu hotpot. The fried salt and pepper spareribs always tend to hit the savory spot and the stir-fried string beans in pork sauce make a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of white rice. And, now online ordering is available at Super Wok.
1401 Southeast Maynard Road
Cary, NC 27511
35 Chinese has long been a mainstay in Cary for over a decade. Red lanterns illuminate the dining room overhead as families seated in rattan furniture gather to share traditional Chinese dishes. 35 recently revamped its menu over the holiday season. The spicy fish fillet and tofu and the twice-cooked pork belly are two can’t-miss dishes at 35 Chinese.
1135 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511
Named after one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, Taipei 101 opened in Cary to rave reviews several years ago and the crowds still keep coming back. Though the chefs have changed over the years, the Taiwanese and Sichuan cuisine remains largely the same. The beef scallion roll is one of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers and the spicy, crispiness of the Sichuan-style fish fillets are unrivaled in the Triangle. Those seeking traditional Taiwanese fare would be advised to steer towards an order of the stinky tofu.
121 East Chatham Street
Cary, NC 27511
The last time I was at C&T Wok, I had the most interesting dish I’ve ever consumed at a Chinese restaurant—coffee shrimp. I’m not sure if this dish is still on the Sichuan menu but it was listed as a C&T special and the description was spot on. Regardless, C&T work cranks out some of the best Sichuan Chinese cuisine in the Triangle. Seating is especially tough since the restaurant quarters are tiny, but if you’re lucky enough to snag a table, the Sichuan stir-fried string beans can’t be beat and the mapo tofu is pretty good as well.
130 Morrisville Square Way
Morrisville, NC 27560
Dim Sum House is the only restaurant in the area that caters exclusively to dim sum (Hong Kong in Durham serves it at lunchtime on the weekends) and so if you crave dim sum during the week, your choices are pretty slim. The familiar dim-sum favorites are all served at Dim Sum House: chicken feet, roasted pork buns, gai lan, and sui mai. Dim Sum House recently changed ownership, so be forewarned that DSH might be a shadow of its former self.
Dim Sum House
100 Jerusalem Drive
Morrisville NC 27560
In a town that largely caters to the university students, Gourmet Kingdom still manages to remain a reliable purveyor of authentic Sichuan cuisine. Dishes like the twice-cooked pork and the tea-smoked duck are recommended at Gourmet Kingdom. Don’t let the shabby exterior misguide you, the food that awaits you inside is pretty majestic.
301 East Main Street
Carrboro, NC 27510
China Express, otherwise a nondescript Chinese restaurant in RTP, is on the list of recommended Chinese restaurants for one reason only—its Handmade Chinese Noodles. Skip the rest of the menu and direct your eyes to this one specific section of the menu. Made in two styles, “Chinese” or “Korean”, the jan pong noodles are unparalleled in the rest of the Triangle. Perfect for a cold day, the bowl of noodles at China Express is perhaps the best value in the region.
2223 North Carolina Highway 54
Durham, NC 27713