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(HyperChina has an extensive section on Chinese food and restaurants, don't miss it.)
TOP 10 CHINESE RESTAURANTS IN THE S.F. BAY AREA:
1. Mandarin Garden (LU MING CHUN) - Mandarin - Berkeley [Try Shrimp Eggs Tofu]
2. Little Sichuan (FU EN YUAN) - Sichuan - San Mateo [Try Sichuan Cold Noodle, Mrs. Son'g Noodle, Spicy Beef Tendon. Entrees not recommended.]
3. Shanghai 1930 - Shanghai - San Francisco [Fancy, expensive, and pretentious, but food is genuine!]
4. Abacus (RU YI XUAN) - Shanghai - Hayward [Ask for the Chinese menu]
5. Yank Sing (YANG CHENG) - Cantonese Dim-Sum - S.F. [Best dim sum in town. Excellent service. Long lines. Lunch only.]
6. Harbor Village (HAI JING) - Cantonese Dim-Sum - S.F. [Second best. In Embarcadero Center]
7. Happy Seasons (SI JI) - Cantonese - Oakland [Fresh seafood. Try steamed "Chong" fish.]
8. Minchu (MIN CHU XIAO GUAN) - Shanghai - Foster City
9. Shandong Mandarin (SHANDONG GUAN) - Dumplings - Oakland
10. Long Life Veggie House (CHANG SHOU) - Vegetarian - Berkeley
TOP 10 BAY AREA CHINESE RESTAURANTS TO AVOID:
1. House of Nanking - S.F.
2. Douhua Fanzhuang - S.F.
3. Ding Tai Feng - S.F.
4. Chef Ding's - San Bruno
5. Hunan Garden - Oakland
6. Little Shin Shin - Piedmont
7. Yan King - Berkeley
8. East Ocean - Emeryville
9. Wukong - S.F.
10. Hai Loon King - Berkeley
TOP 10 (un)CHINESE DISHES TO AVOID:
1. Fried Wonton
2. Sweet & Sour Pork
3. Sweet & Sour Shrimp
4. Sweet & Sour Chicken
5. Sweet & Sour Anything
6. Lemon Chicken
7. Spring Egg Roll
8. Sizzling Rice Soup
10. Broccoli Beef
Hot Tip: Avoid dishes that Westerners usually recognize on the menu.
Hotter Tip: Check out the weekend specials in some non-Cantonese restaurants. Try things like salty soy-bean milk, Xiaolongbao (steamed buns with ground pork filling), boiled or steamed dumplings, pan-fried onion cakes, shredded turnip cakes, etc. Western customers are usually not given this type of menu in the U.S. (because they are always addicted to the sweet-and-sour kind of stuff).
Hottest Tip: Ask for the other menu that Chinese customers always get!