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A hot pot full of broth, surrounded by meats and vegetables.
Hot pot setup from So Hot in Cary..
So Hot

18 Essential Chinese Restaurants in the Triangle

Find hot pot, dumplings, and dim sum in Durham, Cary, and Raleigh

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Hot pot setup from So Hot in Cary..
| So Hot

The Year of the Dragon has arrived, and with it, Eater Carolinas is unveiling the inaugural list of Essential Chinese Restaurants in the Triangle. Let’s get something out of the way straight off — the region is blessed with a plethora of Chinese restaurants of all styles and price points. Fans of traditional Chinese-American staples like General Tso’s chicken, Mongolian beef, and pork fried rice don’t have to travel far to find perfectly serviceable renditions of these and more.

However, this map focuses on the slightly more unique Chinese dining experiences the Triangle offers. Think mouth-numbing Szechuan entrees, spicy hot pot, perfectly crispy duck, and fine dining options. Some of the restaurants listed stray into pan-Asian territory, but all offer exceptional dishes drawn from traditions and flavors spanning a wide swatch of China’s vast culinary repertoire. Lo mein can be found almost anywhere, but these 18 restaurants all deserve a visit (or three).

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Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant

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North Durham’s Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant is best known for its traditional weekend dumpling service. Carts are filled with steaming baskets of dumplings, plates of turnip cakes and egg tarts, and trays of stuffed rice noodle rolls. The Chinese noodle soup menu (with options like beef and vegetable, shredded pork, and Happy Family) is also popular.

Shanghai Restaurant

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Open since the late 1980s, Shanghai Restaurant has been Durham’s go-to for Cantonese cuisine for generations. Specialties include sliced beef (or shrimp) with scrambled eggs, salt and pepper squid, garlic yu choy, and pork chop with sweet black vinegar. A large menu of other more common dishes like sha cha chicken, beef with broccoli, and chow mein complements the Cantonese classics.

Szechuan Mansion Hotpot

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9th Street got a bit spicier when Cary hot pot outfit Szechuan Mansion opened a Durham location. Broth choices include Sichuan sour radish duck, vegetarian mala (“numbing spicy”), and the traditional beef tallow (literally described as “crazy hot” on the menu). In addition to the usual mix, it has a menu of “specials” like goose intestine, spicy chicken gizzard skewers, Spam, tofu pockets with fish roe, and urchin balls.

Sister Liu's Kitchen

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Want one of the best burgers in Durham? Head to Sister Liu’s Kitchen, where its version of the Northeastern Chinese staple roujiamo was declared the 7th Best Burger in America by Yelp last year. The burgers aren’t the only draw — the staff at Sister Liu’s fold dozens upon dozens of dumplings by hand each day. Dumplings can be steamed and eaten onsite, or purchased frozen by the bag. Go for a pork roujiamo and take home a bag of chicken and cabbage dumplings for later.

With locations on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and 9th Street in Durham, Wheat is clearly aiming to corner the market on college students who love Chinese food. It does an admirable job of that with steaming, massive bowls of braised beef or chongqing soups, Bejing beef “burritos,” and plates of comforting Hainanese chicken. The rice or noodle bowls are really big enough to share, leaving room for the dim sum-esque appetizer menu of shrimp dumplings, scallop pancakes, and condensed milk buns.

Gourmet Kingdom

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Gourmet Kingdom is a Carrboro institution, serving thousands college students, professors, locals, and visitors each year. The extensive menu covers all the classics, but the Sichuan dishes are the star here. Spicy dried beef, Sichuan spicy conch, an excellent version of mapo tofu, and more are sure to impart that perfect ma la tongue tingle. Note: The to-go menu is a watered-down version of the full menu intended to make delivery a bit easier. For the full experience, it’s best to dine in.

Dimsum Asian Bistro

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Dim sum every day, not just on weekends. Dumplings, buns, noodles, chicken feet, turnip cakes, and even congee are just some of the many dishes on the menu at Dimsum Asian Bistro. Mix and match from the dozens of dim sum offerings, choose a few as a starter before moving on to some of the more traditional Chinese entrees. While the vast majority of the dim sum menu is available every day, specialties like rice rolls are weekend treats.

G.58 Cuisine

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This is the place to go for those looking for a fine-dining Chinese food experience. Modern takes on classic dishes include Jade Doornail soup buns (a take on a Beijing-style bun stuffed with onion and braised short rib) and dry pot cauliflower, a vegetarian take on the spicy classic meat version. Additional menu highlights include the tea-smoked salmon appetizer, scallop-dancing lamb, and their signature pork belly. No special reason is needed to opt for the whole roast Beijing duck experience; it’s a whole celebration on its own.

Szechuan Garden

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Another Sichuan mainstay, Szechuan Garden is also one of those restaurants with a bit of a cult following. Chef Zengming Chen was previously at industry-favorite Super Wok down the road. Since opening his own place, Chen has been delighting customers with his expert renditions of Sichuan classics like dumplings, saliva chicken, dan dan noodles, cumin lamb, and more. Keep an eye on the specials board, which may be entirely in Chinese and always worth asking for a translation of.

Chengdu 7 Sichuan Cuisine

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There are a number of superb Sichuan spots in the Triangle, but Chengdu 7 is the one those in the know frequent. It’s not uncommon to bump into chefs and restaurant staff from some of the area’s best restaurants on their off days. Menu standouts include the mapo tofu, dolsot fish with tofu, West Lake beef soup, pepper kidney, Sichuan saliva chicken, and salted egg yolk pumpkin. If there were one Triangle Chinese restaurant to go to with a crowd and order as much of the menu as possible, it would be this one.

Door to Door

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At Door to Door, the tradition of Chinese grilled street foods comes right to the table. Similar to Japanese yakitori, skewers of grilled meats and vegetables like chicken hearts, pork belly, prime rib, Chinese sausage, eggplant, okra, squid, and more can all be ordered a la carte for a choose-your-own-adventure style meal. They also serve Vietnamese pho, but the skewers are truly where it's at.

Located in the same plaza as Korean supermarket H-Mart, So Hot is one of the Triangle’s most popular hot pot restaurants. The concept is simple: choose a broth flavor, select your mix-ins, dip, and dine. So Hot actually has 10 different hot pot flavors, from more traditional pork bone or chicken base to interesting varieties like tom yum and Louisiana cajun.

Taipei101

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Specializing in both Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine, Taepei101 has been a mainstay of the Triangle’s Asian dining scene for years. Start the meal with the jellyfish cucumber carrot salad, alongside the golden and black mushroom soup (which also comes with bamboo shoots). There’s Chongqing chicken, maocai streaky beef, cumin lamb, and more on the Szechuan side. An abbreviated dim sum menu is available for those looking to recreate a Taiwanese dim sum experience. The cold pot fish fillet (a chef’s special) is definitely worth checking out — in China, there are entire restaurants dedicated to this one dish.

Chuan Cafe

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Sure there are classic dishes like General Tso’s chicken and shrimp lo mein, but Chuan Cafe really shines when it comes to the Szechuan specialties. The dan dan noodles, spicy hot pot, and double-cooked pork belly are all standouts. The Chongqing spicy wheat noodles are a step up heat-wise from the dan dan noodles, and the sour soup with beef is the perfect antidote to a cold, rainy day. Vegetarians should look at the dry fried string beans, eggplant in spicy garlic sauce, and stir-fried cabbage for a filling, meat-free meal.

Mofu Shoppe

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Mofu (once a former food truck) does trend a bit more Pan-Asian, but the dumplings are grounded in Chinese tradition and well worth the visit. The pork and chive dumplings are the backbone of the whole menu — order double. The twice-cooked pork belly and bao buns on the small plates menu are also great choices — the buns come with a choice of fried flounder, pork belly, or tofu. Vegans will appreciate the dumplings made with Impossible Meat. The dan dan noodles, also delicious, tweak the classic rendition a bit by using a curried pork sauce instead of the traditional ground pork.

Grand Asia Market

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Yes, it’s a supermarket, but the food court at Grand Asia is worth the visit alone. The menu changes often, but the steamed buns are among the best in the area. They come in both meaty and vegetarian versions, and they often have bulk buying prices (bun party, anyone?). The roast duck is also a good choice, and can usually be ordered as a meal or purchased to bring home. There’s usually some sort of breakfast tofu bowl available, as well as congee, stir-fry dishes, and more.

Miss Chang An

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The cuisine at Miss Chang An hails from Xi’an, the capital of central China’s Shaanxi Province (in fact Xi’an used to be called Chang’an). Scan the menu for roujiamo (often called a Chinese “burger”) and plenty of noodle dishes like hot and sour sweet potato noodles, Qin Town cold rice noodles, and Xi’an flour noodles. Other unique dishes include glutinous rice, date cakes, and tea-flavored boiled eggs. Sample a bit of everything with a combo — most come with a choice of roujiamo or bun along with one of the noodle dishes.

Mr Dumpling

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Mr. Dumpling has a full menu of dishes like orange chicken and kung pao shrimp, but apropos of the name, the dumplings are the real story here. The chicken and cabbage and pork and cabbage dumplings are the backbone, with other flavors like chicken, pork with shrimp, beef and celery, lamb and carrot, or vegetable. All dumplings come in 10 to an order and are available steamed or pan-fried. If a venture off the dumpling menu is required, try the steamed lamb in Sichuan sauce, the sweet corn and minced chicken soup, or the spicy cumin noodles.

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Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant

North Durham’s Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant is best known for its traditional weekend dumpling service. Carts are filled with steaming baskets of dumplings, plates of turnip cakes and egg tarts, and trays of stuffed rice noodle rolls. The Chinese noodle soup menu (with options like beef and vegetable, shredded pork, and Happy Family) is also popular.

Shanghai Restaurant

Open since the late 1980s, Shanghai Restaurant has been Durham’s go-to for Cantonese cuisine for generations. Specialties include sliced beef (or shrimp) with scrambled eggs, salt and pepper squid, garlic yu choy, and pork chop with sweet black vinegar. A large menu of other more common dishes like sha cha chicken, beef with broccoli, and chow mein complements the Cantonese classics.

Szechuan Mansion Hotpot

9th Street got a bit spicier when Cary hot pot outfit Szechuan Mansion opened a Durham location. Broth choices include Sichuan sour radish duck, vegetarian mala (“numbing spicy”), and the traditional beef tallow (literally described as “crazy hot” on the menu). In addition to the usual mix, it has a menu of “specials” like goose intestine, spicy chicken gizzard skewers, Spam, tofu pockets with fish roe, and urchin balls.

Sister Liu's Kitchen

Want one of the best burgers in Durham? Head to Sister Liu’s Kitchen, where its version of the Northeastern Chinese staple roujiamo was declared the 7th Best Burger in America by Yelp last year. The burgers aren’t the only draw — the staff at Sister Liu’s fold dozens upon dozens of dumplings by hand each day. Dumplings can be steamed and eaten onsite, or purchased frozen by the bag. Go for a pork roujiamo and take home a bag of chicken and cabbage dumplings for later.

Wheat

With locations on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and 9th Street in Durham, Wheat is clearly aiming to corner the market on college students who love Chinese food. It does an admirable job of that with steaming, massive bowls of braised beef or chongqing soups, Bejing beef “burritos,” and plates of comforting Hainanese chicken. The rice or noodle bowls are really big enough to share, leaving room for the dim sum-esque appetizer menu of shrimp dumplings, scallop pancakes, and condensed milk buns.

Gourmet Kingdom

Gourmet Kingdom is a Carrboro institution, serving thousands college students, professors, locals, and visitors each year. The extensive menu covers all the classics, but the Sichuan dishes are the star here. Spicy dried beef, Sichuan spicy conch, an excellent version of mapo tofu, and more are sure to impart that perfect ma la tongue tingle. Note: The to-go menu is a watered-down version of the full menu intended to make delivery a bit easier. For the full experience, it’s best to dine in.

Dimsum Asian Bistro

Dim sum every day, not just on weekends. Dumplings, buns, noodles, chicken feet, turnip cakes, and even congee are just some of the many dishes on the menu at Dimsum Asian Bistro. Mix and match from the dozens of dim sum offerings, choose a few as a starter before moving on to some of the more traditional Chinese entrees. While the vast majority of the dim sum menu is available every day, specialties like rice rolls are weekend treats.

G.58 Cuisine

This is the place to go for those looking for a fine-dining Chinese food experience. Modern takes on classic dishes include Jade Doornail soup buns (a take on a Beijing-style bun stuffed with onion and braised short rib) and dry pot cauliflower, a vegetarian take on the spicy classic meat version. Additional menu highlights include the tea-smoked salmon appetizer, scallop-dancing lamb, and their signature pork belly. No special reason is needed to opt for the whole roast Beijing duck experience; it’s a whole celebration on its own.

Szechuan Garden

Another Sichuan mainstay, Szechuan Garden is also one of those restaurants with a bit of a cult following. Chef Zengming Chen was previously at industry-favorite Super Wok down the road. Since opening his own place, Chen has been delighting customers with his expert renditions of Sichuan classics like dumplings, saliva chicken, dan dan noodles, cumin lamb, and more. Keep an eye on the specials board, which may be entirely in Chinese and always worth asking for a translation of.

Chengdu 7 Sichuan Cuisine

There are a number of superb Sichuan spots in the Triangle, but Chengdu 7 is the one those in the know frequent. It’s not uncommon to bump into chefs and restaurant staff from some of the area’s best restaurants on their off days. Menu standouts include the mapo tofu, dolsot fish with tofu, West Lake beef soup, pepper kidney, Sichuan saliva chicken, and salted egg yolk pumpkin. If there were one Triangle Chinese restaurant to go to with a crowd and order as much of the menu as possible, it would be this one.

Door to Door

At Door to Door, the tradition of Chinese grilled street foods comes right to the table. Similar to Japanese yakitori, skewers of grilled meats and vegetables like chicken hearts, pork belly, prime rib, Chinese sausage, eggplant, okra, squid, and more can all be ordered a la carte for a choose-your-own-adventure style meal. They also serve Vietnamese pho, but the skewers are truly where it's at.

So Hot

Located in the same plaza as Korean supermarket H-Mart, So Hot is one of the Triangle’s most popular hot pot restaurants. The concept is simple: choose a broth flavor, select your mix-ins, dip, and dine. So Hot actually has 10 different hot pot flavors, from more traditional pork bone or chicken base to interesting varieties like tom yum and Louisiana cajun.

Taipei101

Specializing in both Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine, Taepei101 has been a mainstay of the Triangle’s Asian dining scene for years. Start the meal with the jellyfish cucumber carrot salad, alongside the golden and black mushroom soup (which also comes with bamboo shoots). There’s Chongqing chicken, maocai streaky beef, cumin lamb, and more on the Szechuan side. An abbreviated dim sum menu is available for those looking to recreate a Taiwanese dim sum experience. The cold pot fish fillet (a chef’s special) is definitely worth checking out — in China, there are entire restaurants dedicated to this one dish.

Chuan Cafe

Sure there are classic dishes like General Tso’s chicken and shrimp lo mein, but Chuan Cafe really shines when it comes to the Szechuan specialties. The dan dan noodles, spicy hot pot, and double-cooked pork belly are all standouts. The Chongqing spicy wheat noodles are a step up heat-wise from the dan dan noodles, and the sour soup with beef is the perfect antidote to a cold, rainy day. Vegetarians should look at the dry fried string beans, eggplant in spicy garlic sauce, and stir-fried cabbage for a filling, meat-free meal.

Mofu Shoppe

Mofu (once a former food truck) does trend a bit more Pan-Asian, but the dumplings are grounded in Chinese tradition and well worth the visit. The pork and chive dumplings are the backbone of the whole menu — order double. The twice-cooked pork belly and bao buns on the small plates menu are also great choices — the buns come with a choice of fried flounder, pork belly, or tofu. Vegans will appreciate the dumplings made with Impossible Meat. The dan dan noodles, also delicious, tweak the classic rendition a bit by using a curried pork sauce instead of the traditional ground pork.

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Grand Asia Market

Yes, it’s a supermarket, but the food court at Grand Asia is worth the visit alone. The menu changes often, but the steamed buns are among the best in the area. They come in both meaty and vegetarian versions, and they often have bulk buying prices (bun party, anyone?). The roast duck is also a good choice, and can usually be ordered as a meal or purchased to bring home. There’s usually some sort of breakfast tofu bowl available, as well as congee, stir-fry dishes, and more.

Miss Chang An

The cuisine at Miss Chang An hails from Xi’an, the capital of central China’s Shaanxi Province (in fact Xi’an used to be called Chang’an). Scan the menu for roujiamo (often called a Chinese “burger”) and plenty of noodle dishes like hot and sour sweet potato noodles, Qin Town cold rice noodles, and Xi’an flour noodles. Other unique dishes include glutinous rice, date cakes, and tea-flavored boiled eggs. Sample a bit of everything with a combo — most come with a choice of roujiamo or bun along with one of the noodle dishes.

Mr Dumpling

Mr. Dumpling has a full menu of dishes like orange chicken and kung pao shrimp, but apropos of the name, the dumplings are the real story here. The chicken and cabbage and pork and cabbage dumplings are the backbone, with other flavors like chicken, pork with shrimp, beef and celery, lamb and carrot, or vegetable. All dumplings come in 10 to an order and are available steamed or pan-fried. If a venture off the dumpling menu is required, try the steamed lamb in Sichuan sauce, the sweet corn and minced chicken soup, or the spicy cumin noodles.

Related Maps