See in Chinese New Year at one of our favourite places for a proper Chinese feast – and those who haven’t completely abandoned their resolutions can pick up some smart healthy ordering tips too

I crave Chinese food whenever I’m away from my kitchen too long; it’s not only my native food, but also my go-to comfort food. So I naturally seek out the most delicious Chinese food wherever I travel. In these – my favourite places to eat in my favourite cities in the world – the chefs are Chinese, as are most of the diners: the mark of a true Chinese restaurant. I’ve narrowed them down using one ultimate consideration: time. If I was passing through town, and had time for just one meal, this is where I’d go; this is the kind of cooking I crave. And – as healthy options can be harder to find when you’re travelling – I love that these restaurants have healthy and vegetarian options too.

New York

New York

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao: Shanghai Xiaolongbao Dumplings

38-12 Prince St, Flushing, NY 11354, USA
+1 718 321 3838


Coming to New York in my early twenties, I was desperate for authentic Chinese food – not least my favourites, Xiaolongbao (Shanghainese soup dumplings, pictured above) – until I stumbled upon no-nonsense dumpling house Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao. The chef is from China; the dumplings are made fresh every day, perfectly formed; the soup is piping hot; and the meat, tender and moist. Their menu has some healthy vegetarian options too, like scallion pancakes that aren’t too oily and vegetable noodle soup, or cold appetisers like cucumber and garlic, spicy bamboo shoots, soy peas, cabbage and shredded bean curd – all light and full of flavour. Make sure you get there as early as possible; the dumplings make the perfect breakfast too, especially when jetlagged.

Hong Kong

Gi Kee: fresh Cantonese seafood

Shop 3, 2/F, Wong Nai Chung Complex, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
+852 25749937


Fine dining is everywhere in HK, so it’s refreshing to eat like a local at Gi Kee, a ‘Dai Pai Dong’, meaning a traditional Cantonese canteen. This is a loud and bustling, no-frills restaurant where you can eat like a king without the price tag: the freshest seafood served cooked to perfection. Dishes like lobster noodles, black bean razor clams and braised abalone, as well as Cantonese comfort dishes like garlic shallot fried chicken, are popular. For those who want a lighter touch, their Cantonese steamed seasonal fish is fresh from the live fish market downstairs, and if you request no MSG or ‘less oil’ they’ll cook it to your liking. Chef Chan Chung Fei is at the helm, an award-winning cordon bleu chef who cooks with four-foot-high flames – you can taste the wok hei! Celebrities such as Jackie Chan are fans too but, luckily, you can book in advance.

London

London

Hakkasan: dim sum and refined Chinese dishes

8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HD, UK
+44 020 7927 7000


As a student in London (many moons ago), I was well-versed in Wagamama. Years later, there was talk of another brainchild by Alan Yau, which has become a restaurant any Chinese person would be proud of. Michelin-starred for over a decade, the food (pictured above) is naturally exquisite, and the service impeccable. Standout dishes include baked venison puffs, fried mooli and onion pancake, abalone and chicken shumai from the dim sum menu; à la carte dishes of jasmine tea-smoked ribs and stir-fried lobster with dragon well; while the vegetarian dim sum platter hits the spot with light yet flavourful dishes like stir fried lotus root, three-style mushroom and Singapore vermicelli. Their cocktails go down far too easily, too! It’s the perfect place to host a Chinese meal in style, for all, without worrying you’ll be let down.

Taipei

Lan Jia Gua Bao: Gua Bao

No. 3, Alley 8, Lane 316, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Road, Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan
+886 02 2368 2060


Gua Bao is a Taiwanese dish with braised pork belly, also known as ‘Tiger Bites Pig’ – the pillowy bun resembles the mouth of the Tiger biting into a big pig belly. It’s probably Taiwan’s biggest culinary export – huge over in America, and getting bigger in Britain – but no one tops this joint; Jia Gua Bao is the real deal. Chef Jack Lan started from a humble cart, and his casual open-door eatery is still going strong 20 years later, drawing local and student regulars, as well as tourists and die-hard fans from far and wide. Jack also has an innovative spin on his Gua Bao; customers can choose the leanness/fattiness of the meat – lean, fatty, or half and half. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t one for vegetarians…

San Francisco

San Francisco

R&G Lounge: Chinese comfort food

631 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
+1 415 982 7877


When I first arrived in San Francisco, my taste buds weren’t happy until I found the Cheng family who – once they introduced me to R&G Lounge – became adopted family! Although as close to authentic as you’ll find here, this is still not your typical Chinese restaurant; they serve their own specialties like geoduck sashimi on top of classic dishes like roast duck or salt and pepper crab. They have great healthy options too, like steamed clams, vegetarian ‘goose’ and mu shu vegetables, plus the lightest egg fried rice. Casual downstairs, slightly more formal upstairs, there is a no reservations policy for dinner, so go at 5pm so as not to miss out.

Chengdu

Yu’s Family Kitchen: masterful and creative Sichuan

No. 43 Zhai Xiang Zi, Xia Tong Ren Road, Chengdu, China
+86 028 8669 1975


I had the pleasure of cooking with Chef Yu Bo for a BBC TV show and fell in love with his food. After days of dining at ‘fly’ restaurants, eating rustic Sichuan Mala hotpot and pigs brains, Chef Yu’s welcoming food was on another level. This chef blends an admirable ethos (his food is free range/organic and seasonal) with a vast knowledge of Sichuan cuisine, also making his own, natural umami flavouring. Dine on his 16-course menu for a truly creative – and remarkably reasonable – culinary journey. You’ll need to book in advance, then he’ll tailor your meal to your budget and culinary requirements (perfect for those watching what they are eating) and advise on what is best in season. No two meals are the same; be prepared to be surprised and delighted.

If you don’t find yourself in one of Ching’s favourite cities this Chinese New Year, try one of these choice Chinese eateries elsewhere in the world:

Vancouver: Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
163 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X3, Canada
+1 604 688 0876
An award-winning, contemporary Chinese restaurant serving up imaginative, organic and sustainably sourced food alongside cracking cocktails.

Mumbai: Yauatcha
Raheja Tower, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051, India
+ 91 922 22 22 800
Like Hakkasan, Yauatcha was launched in London by Alan Yau – a more affordable (now Michelin-starred) Chinese restaurant. Its first Indian offshoot is always a safe bet for excellent dim sum.

Tokyo: Tenryu
2-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
+81 3 3561 354
World-famous, absolutely enormous gyoza (Chinese fried dumplings) – they shift an incredible 5,000 a day.

Sydney: Mr Wong
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
+61 612 9240 3000
Often described as the best Peking duck in Sydney, equally beloved for tank-fresh crab (pictured above) and daytime dim sum.

Paris: Davé
12 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France
+ 33 01 42 61 49 48
No prices, no menus and more celeb patrons than all the boutiques on the Champs Elysées, this is more of an A-list experience than typical Chinese dining destination.

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