The Lucky Eight: Best Chinese Restaurants in Buenos Aires

Shan DongIt’s time we all toss aside ground beef empanada filling “spring rolls” with fluorescent pink sweet and sour sweet sauce, say chau-chau to chaw fan, put down the fork, pick up some chopsticks, and tuck into a more authentic world of Chinese cuisine. Here are the top 8 picks for the best Chinese restaurants in Buenos Aires.

El primo de esta nota acá en mi blog de Guia Oleo (castellano)

HONG KONG STYLE – Montañeses 2149, Barrio Chino

HK Style

Why is it awesome?

Hong Kong Style is by far the best Chinese restaurant in all of Barrio Chino. Chef Lui Cheuk Hung and his wife Lily preside over the restaurant serving the coveted Dim Sum (one of the only spots in BA) and other Cantonese food favorites. It’s important to go big for a complete HKStyle experience: large group, Sunday brunch, sit at a round table and patiently wait for the food to slowly creep out of the kitchen. Service may be slow as all the food is made to order, but you will leave with a happy Chinese-full belly.

What should you order?
dumplings-2

Order one of everything off the short Dim Sum menu, like shrimp dumplings served in bamboo steamer, spareribs, and pork shumai. The sopa agripicante never fails as a soupy starter, nor does the Kung Pao chicken, roasted pork with pineapple, whole fish in oyster sauce, and salt and pepper fried shrimp. MAKE SURE TO ORDER THE SALT N PEPPA FRIED SHRIMP. If you see a large table of Chinese men in business suits, order what they are having.

SHI YUAN - Tagle 2531, Recoleta

shi yuan

Why is it awesome?

Shi Yuan is everything you want in a janky Chinese neighborhood joint: Koi fish pond without any Koi fish swimming around, massive portions of food with a twinkling sheen of grease coating, and toothless waiters who bark in a Spanish-Mandarin dialect. Unlike many who undergo physical stomach distress when leaving a Chinese restaurant after an MSG numbness, I welcomed it with open Xanax tranquilized popping delight.

silverfungus

Another reason Shi Yuan is totally awesome in just five words? SILVER FUNGUS IN LUNAR PALACE. (Which belongs on one of my favorite websites, Engrish menu)

What should you order?

Skip the fungus palace and go for the Peking roasted duck (you need to order in advance), and green onion pancake. Seafood dishes are always fresh and delicious, as is the sautéed green beans and pork gyoza. Once I had a waiter who accidentally dropped off a menu in Chinese, so I know a whole other bizarro world menu existed. And proceeded to find someone who spoke Chinese to translate the menu for me. #DoAnything4DIMSUM.

Puwen Kevin Li Melisa Liu Shi Yuan

SHAN DONG RESTAURANT - Vera 468, Villa Crespo

restaurante chino

Why is it awesome?

It’s a spot for a select few in the know; for those who don’t mind getting dirty with a grubby hole in the wall. A restaurant must be pretty bomb when the majority of the tables are occupied by actual Chinese people, so that gives me reason enough I’m making a good restaurant choice. It’s not the type of spot to go for the trendy ambiance, since it’s located in basically a big room with round tables, greasy walls, and extremely minimal decor, but there’s something about cheap Chinese food and mean faced mozas that just makes the food taste better.

What should you order?

_MG_3317.JPG - Version 2

This spot is all about the bountiful endless pillows of dumplings, pan-fried or steamed (order the fried, always fried). The fried chicken wings will bring some tang to your life, as will the shrimp pan-fried noodles, sweet and sour/kung pao pork, and tofu with pickled cabbage. Warning: Some have claimed they reuse their soy sauce and rice, but as a proud member of the five-seconds rule club, I frankly don’t see the difference between sharing double dipped sauces and tomar-ing a mate with an unhygienic friend.

ASIA ORIENTAL - Mendoza 1661, Barrio Chino

Asia Oriental

Why is it awesome?

I cannot-not go to Barrio Chino without stepping up to this food counter snack bar in Asian Oriental supermarket. It’s easy to ignore the pungent permeating fish smells from the pescadería after dunking face into cheap, big portions of fresh Chinese food to order.

What should you order?

asia oriental counter

Probably the freshest food possible, all the ingredients are the same that come daily to the supermarket. Order the dumpling soup and peanut sesame noodles (neither top 20 pesos), stir fried vegetables or wide rice noodles with pork or shrimp. Grab some spicy sauce and go to town. Warning: many recommend the iced zapallo tea but don’t do it unless you want luke warm sweet cavity water.

BAI FU – Scalabrini Ortiz 152, Villa Crespo

IMG_1702Why is it awesome?

Make sure to skip the Argentinized Spanish menu at this Cantonese hole in the wall and ask for the real deal, even if it’s written in Chinese and you don’t understand anything. The space won’t win any design awards, but go for a casual meal or order take away.

What should you order?

Bai Fu

Duck.duck.more crispy duck. If you like your chicken spicy, order the Kung Pao chicken. Or your pork crispy and sweet, get the cerdo agridulce.  Steamed buns, fried eggplant and ma po tofu are also the tops as are the homemade egg noodles sautéed with plump shrimp beauties. Fun fact: Once some friends dined a duck feast, and afterwards they walked out onto Scalabrini Ortiz to find 3 duck heads perched on a pole in the street in front of the restaurant. Good luck?

RESTAURANTE CASERITA (aka Original aka 家常菜饭店) – Bravard 1170, Parque Centenario / Villa Crespo

soup dumplings

Why is it awesome?

Another hidden Chinese gem on the outskirts of Villa Crespo, the harsh fluorescent lights shine brightly down on local Chinese families tucking into massive plates and deep bowls. Mozos may not speak Spanish, but just closely watch what is being brought out of the kitchen and order the same, even if you don’t quite know what it is.

What should you order?

Asian community friends rave about their soup dumplings and cold duck smothered in a sweet sauce. On a cold day, the clam soup will warm the soul, as will the light and fresh vegetable stir fry, whole steamed fish, and mu shu pork. It’s also one of the only restaurants to serve the ever-addictive steamed buns, xiao long bao. If you go on a good day, the kitchen may be serving their crab specialty. (Photo: Frances, The Lost Asian)

Beware: Word on the street is that Caserita is closing at the end of February 2014. 

COMIDA TRADICIONAL CHINA - Arribeños 2122, Barrio Chino

Chinese

Why is it awesome?

Any gritty hole in the pared displaying ducks and chicken feet in the window needs no explanation for its pure awesomeness.

What should you order?

IMG_6159

Look around the tiny space and you’ll see Barrio Chino locals head first in a bowl of soup. The duck isn’t on the menu, but you can order by the weight. Same with the chicken feet. And pig ears.

BEIJING RESTAURANTE - El Salvador 5702, Palermo Hollywood

_MG_5475

Why is it awesome?

It’s the sister restaurant of Shi Yuan, chef Li Xin Ying opened up this upscale version in Palermo Hollywood earlier this year. Walk in and you’re greeted with a large fish tank, big round tables banquette tables and grand wooden chairs. A finer dining version (with the prices to match) from your standard Chinese barrio joint, go for lunch and order the executive menu or with a large group and order a special fixed feast menu.

What should you order?

_MG_5488

Stand out dishes include green onion pancake, sautéed Chinese vegetables, pork belly in spicy sauce, Peking duck (order in advance), fried eggplant, and HOT POT aka Chinese style fondue. To drink? Green tea with the meal. And of course this wouldn’t be a true Chinese food post if I didn’t give a mega SHOUT OUT to the one and only Frances Ren Huang aka The Lost Asian of Buenos Aires who may no longer be lost in Argentina, but her food eating, food cooking and food photo taking presence is heavily missed.

Wild Card: I’ve heard positive things about Jing Cheng (Medrano 472, Almagro), a banquet-like hall rumored to be frequented by Chinese mafiosos (?), but have yet to verify the actual deliciousness. 

<<<<<<<<——————————————————>>>>>>>>

Before you embark on your Chinese restaurant Buenos Aires food hop, it’s crucial to first keep in mind some very important Chinese food tips: 

- If you walk in and only see Argie families with forks, run away. You want authenticity, ie loud Chinese families with their heads buried in a bowl of noodle soup.

Always ask for the non-Argentine “other” menu. Most restaurants have two menus (even if they claim otherwise), you want the one they don’t drop off at the table, even if it’s only written in Mandarin and you don’t understand a word. Find a token Chinese speaking friend to bring along as a valued dining companion, or make nice with the unfriendly waiter.

Go with adventurous eaters. The best part about Chinese food dining is ordering a bunch of different plates to plop in the middle of the table, passing and sharing the entire meal. It’s no one’s fault but your own if you invite a bad sharer or bad eater. You’ll always lose inviting a vegetarian along, or a picky I-only-eat-fried-rice eater, or THOSE people who go out to eat together and each order the same dish as the other (WHAT HOLE DID YOU PEOPLE CRAWL OUT OF?!!?!).

Expand your culinary horizons by being a creepy eater. Keep your eyes awkwardly peeled on the other diners and what’s coming out of the kitchen. Order what looks good from plain sight even if you have no damn clue what it is. Nothing you’ll find in Chinese restaurants is anymore revolting than morcilla or what your grandmother puts in her puchero.

Steer clear of dessert. You’ve never heard anyone rave about a dessert they’ve eaten at a Chinese restaurant. Why? Chinese restaurant postres rarely satisfy. General rule of thumb: Don’t waste your calories. Unless it’s a Melona (Korean) or mochi ice cream (Japanese).

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10 Responses to The Lucky Eight: Best Chinese Restaurants in Buenos Aires

  1. Susana says:

    LOVED this post, you know your stuff.

  2. Martin J. says:

    sorry to say but Bravard 1170, the Xiao Long Bao place is gonna close at end of February.

  3. Pingback: What’s Going On | Como Sur | Culinary News From The Southern Cone

  4. nicosandller says:

    You should try ‘Min-Min’ in ‘Las Cañitas’ or belgrano for quick (also greasy) super tasty take out chinese!! AAaaand you might also enjoy ‘Tao-Tao’ in Belgrano. I went there as a child and it was my first shock of delight on Asian food!! email me on nicosandller@gmail.com (if you dont think its creepy or anything) and I’ll give you the adress of these 2!

  5. Pingback: The Mighty Fine Long Weekend Highlights: Feb 28th-Mar 4th | Mente Argentina Blog

  6. Valentina says:

    Hong Kong Style – Salt and Pepper Shrimp – Amazing – best prepared shrimp dish in Buenos Aires. Thanks for the recommendation. Everything else was great too.

  7. I like Chinese dishes and this hong kong style restaurant is too good. I will try.

  8. Pingback: Eating Asian Food in Buenos Aires, Argentina | GO WHERE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN

  9. Christopher Powell says:

    Allie- What about Palitos on Arribenos!? Their “pollo con tres aromas” is out of this world! Chris

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