Winston Ho 何嶸.
University of New Orleans,
Department of History 紐奧良大學歷史學系.
2021 Mar. 17, Wednesday.
[Twice cooked pork with Chinese cabbage 回鍋肉, sauteed baby bok choi with white sauce 小白菜, and white rice 白飯. Authentic Chinese cuisine from Five Happiness 五副川菜. Photograph by Winston Ho. 2021.]
Someone on the Where Nola Eats Facebook page recently asked that timeless question: where is the best Chinese restaurant in New Orleans?
Every time this question is asked, the same list is usually given — Five Happiness, Ming’s in Lakeview, Little Chinatown in Kenner, China Doll in Harvey, and Trey Yuen in Mandeville. The five Wong brothers at Trey Yuen are considered celebrity chefs, and Trey Yuen is often listed by food critics as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. It is certainly one of the most innovative — with Chinese-Creole house specials like Szechuan Alligator and Crawfish in Lobster Sauce — and it is well worth the drive across the lake for special occasions. One of my personal favorites is actually a Vietnamese Chinese restaurant in Belle Chasse called Lucky Garden. They have some of the best Chinese seafood dishes in the city, and are also worth the drive out to Belle Chasse.
If you’re looking for authentic Chinese dishes, you can find it at places like Five Happiness, Golden Dragon on Magazine Street, China Rose in Metairie, and Wei Dao in Metairie, all of which have “Chinese menus” in additional to their regular menus. The truth is, everything on the Five Happiness “Chinese menu” is also on their regular menu, so dishes like twice-cooked pork 回鍋肉, mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐, and Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce 魚香芥蘭 are traditional Chinese dishes on both menus. However, Golden Dragon and China Rose have several items that can only be found on the Chinese menu, and sometimes appear as specials. Little Chinatown in Kenner does not have a separate Chinese menu, but features authentic Chinese dishes on both its regular menu and as specials. There are also three dim sum 點心 restaurants in New Orleans right now — Royal China in Metairie, Panda King in Gretna, and Dian Xin in the French Quarter. All three restaurants have authentic dim sum and are quite good.
I used to wait tables at Five Happiness myself, and we used to joke that customers only order five things from the menu, and everything else was decoration. And, this is very true. Most people order the same things from every Chinese restaurant, like General Tso’s chicken or the fried appetizers (if you’re getting egg rolls or appetizers, always ask for a bowl of sweet and sour sauce, even if you have to pay an extra dollar for it… real sweet and sour sauce is much better than the packets of orange/yellow duck sauce they usually give you. Some Chinese restaurants even send you bowl of sweet and sour sauce for free). There’s nothing wrong with this. General Tso’s chicken is difficult to do well — with a light crispy breading and soft juicy meat. Nearly all the restaurants listed above have excellent Chinese American dishes, like the General’s chicken.
But to get the most from these restaurants, be adventurous and order something you wouldn’t normally order. You might be surprised at how good the steamed fish 清蒸魚 is (watch out for bones, though) or the braised beef noodle soup 紅燒牛肉麵 (it isn’t anything like Vietnamese clear-broth pho, though it does resemble Creole yakamein, but better, and without eggs). Ask your waiter or try flagging down a manager and tell them you want something “authentic” that the chefs or managers would make for themselves, with chicken or shrimp or vegetables or something. Also, indicate whether you want something spicy or not. Spicy food at Chinese restaurants are supposed to be mild, but when in doubt, ask for it not to be spicy, with some of chili sauce on the side.
NolaChinese: Best Chinese Restaurant in New Orleans (https://nolachinese.wordpress.com/best-chinese-restaurant-in-new-orleans).
Where NOLA Eats Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/whereNOLAeats/).
McNulty, Ian. “Giving thanks at a Kenner strip mall, entry point for the modern American melting pot.” Times-Picayune (2017 Nov. 21). Accessed from the Times-Picayune (https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/eat-drink/article_000ea3d5-45c2-5cbc-b325-63e9fdd4fbfe.html).
830 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey (Westbank) (https://chinadoll.restaurant/).
China Rose 玫瑰園.
3501 N Arnoult Rd., Metairie (http://www.chinaroseno.com/).
Dian Xin 點心.
1218 Decatur Street (French Quarter) (http://www.dianxinnola.com/).
Five Happiness 五副川菜.
3605 S. Carrollton Avenue (Carrollton) (http://fivehappiness.com/).
Jung’s Golden Dragon 金龍.
3009 Magazine Street (Uptown) (http://www.jungschinese.com/).
Little Chinatown 港之味.
3800 Williams Blvd., Kenner (https://www.littlechinatown.net).
8236 LA-23, Belle Chasse (Westbank).
7224 Pontchartrain Blvd. (Lakeview) (http://www.mingslakeview.com/our-story.html).
925 Behrman Highway, Gretna (Westbank) (http://www.pandakinggretna.com/).
Royal China 中國樓.
600 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie.
Trey Yuen Restaurant 翠苑川菜.
600 Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (Northshore) (http://www.treyyuen.com/).
Wei Dao 味道.
5024 West Esplanade Avenue, Metairie.