ATXGuide

The Best Chinese Restaurants In Austin

15 great spots for char siu, dim sum, peking duck, and more.
The Best Chinese Restaurants In Austin image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Austin is home to a wide range of Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants—from Cantonese to Sichuan, and plenty of other regional specialists in between. Because hidden among our many breakfast tacos, margaritas, and sizzling fajitas are giant trays of peking duck, baskets of xiaolongbao, and bowls of braised beef noodles. Whether you want to keep your weekend dim sum tradition alive or numb your mouth (and maybe your mind) with some mala chicken, here are some of Austin’s best Chinese restaurants. 

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photo credit: Richard Casteel

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House Of Three Gorges in North Austin has an extensive menu of classic Sichuan dishes, ranging from popular items like chong qing mala chicken and mapo tofu, to less common specialties like Sichuan fish with pickled mustard greens or Yangtze sauteed pork intestines. Make sure to order the cumin lamb, Sichuan dry stir-fried chicken, the homemade pork wontons in spicy soup, and arguably the best eggplant side dish in town. The space is pretty humble and lo-fi, but if you dine-in, then you can get the large format cast iron hot pot dishes that will more than feed two people. Find it near 183 and Ohlen, in the same shopping center as Din Ho, Julie’s Noodles, and Ramen Tatsu-Ya.


When someone in Austin asks if you want to go grab some barbecue pork or roast duck for dinner, they’re really asking you if you want to go to Din Ho, near 183 and Ohlen. It’s a name that’s become practically synonymous with Chinese barbecue in Austin, and it’s one of our go-tos when the craving strikes. Don’t be surprised to find a line to get in on weekend evenings—just use those few extra minutes to grab a boba tea from CoCo’s next door while you wait. 


While Din Ho might pull a bigger crowd, head just a little further north to Parmer and I-35 to Ho Ho, and you’ll find a very similar menu of Chinese barbecue staples that we like just as much, if not more. And usually, without a wait. Grab an order of crispy salt and pepper shrimp, then order more barbecue pork and roast duck than you think you need—you’ll want to take some home for later. Ho Ho also makes one of our favorite eggplant dishes in town (with shredded pork and garlic) that you should order, even if just to balance out all the meat you’re about to put down. 


There’s a reason why people line up right before Bamboo House in Crestview opens for lunch and dinner: their specialty peking duck. It’s the best version we’ve had in town, with crispy, brittle skin draped over incredibly tender meat. And each order comes served on a duck-shaped plate to remind you what you’re eating—in case those first few bites really take you out of it—and the side of thin flour pancakes really allows you to feel the texture of the brittle skin. The dining room is large, but feels pretty cozy—probably due, in part, to how packed it always is, and the loud “oohs” and “ahhs” of everyone who managed to secure a duck. Grab a six-pack from the corner store next door (it’s BYOB) and show up with a group so that you can secure a full duck of your own.


If you're craving dim sum downtown, head to Qi. It’s from the same people behind Lin Asian Bar and a few other spots in town, and much like all of their concepts, the dumplings here are some of the best in town. During lunch and dinner hours you’ll have access to a handful of options—from scallop caviar sui mai to crab meat fish maw soup dumplings—but show up for brunch on the weekends and you’ll unlock the full dim sum menu, with about three times as many choices. Of course, this isn’t just a dumpling restaurant—there’s a full menu of excellent dinner entrees as well, many of which are made with premium things like lobster, caviar, and Akaushi beef. Qi isn’t really the type of place you casually show up to a crew with on a Saturday morning—it’s a little too pricey for that—but it’s well-suited for a brunch dim sum date, or for turning a casual Tuesday night into a memorable one.


photo credit: Richard Casteel

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The best time to show up to Wu Chow in downtown Austin is during dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, or for brunch on the weekends. Sure, it’s open for lunch during the week, but then you’d be depriving yourself of the weekend dim sum offerings or the large menu of mostly tiki cocktails (unless you’re going for one of those lunches). The food here leans Sichuan, but mostly made with premium farm-to-table ingredients that attracts a blazer-wearing, dressed-up crowd on most nights. But instead of feeling like a restaurant that relies purely on looks and a buzzy vibe, the food here is excellent and worth ordering, even if you’re bringing it home and enjoying it sans-blazer on your couch. There's also a second location in Rosedale on the corner of North Lamar and 38th Street.


Parked in a tiny alleyway in West Campus, Chef Hong is a food trailer dishing out excellent renditions of Xi’an Chinese regional specialties, from chow mein and wonton soup to liangpi and roujiamo. As soon as the temps drop below 85°, we find ourselves craving the beef noodle soup, packed full of thick-cut, handmade noodles and a rich, savory broth that we usually can’t help but drink straight from the take-out container. Just know that this is entirely a to-go situation, so plan to bring this home, or position yourself on a nearby park bench and try not to burn yourself with delicious hot soup, like we have in the past. 


There are two sides to the menu at Hunan Bistro. The first is labeled “Oriental cuisine,” and filled with dishes like walnut shrimp and kung pao chicken, and the other is described as “Hunan Sichuan Style.” Which means that you have access to a lot of different Chinese food styles from one tiny strip mall restaurant in Cedar Park. Most of the time, we find ourselves ordering indiscriminately from both sides of the menu. Start with an order of spicy toothpick lamb for the table, then get the Grandma Braised Pork Belly—a bowl of incredibly tender pork belly swimming in a slightly sweet, sticky sauce that goes great with a bowl of hot rice.


At Xian Sushi And Noodle, the name of the game is, well, sushi and noodles. And while the sushi here is better than your average spot that tries to juggle multiple cuisines, the noodles are what we’re heading to Xian for. They’re hand-pulled—a very entertaining sight to see when you walk in the door—and come in six varying thicknesses on a scale from “vermicelli” to “triangle.” And if you think that’s a lot of options, just wait until you see the different preparations. There are red-braised beef noodles, shoyu ramen, tom yum chicken noodle soup, and more—the red braised beef noodles are especially good. There are a few locations in the Austin area, including Mueller, The Domain, Round Rock, and San Marcos.


There are technically two different menus at Sweet Chive on East Cesar Chavez—a Taiwanese one and a sushi one—and while the nigiri here is perfectly fine, the homemade dumplings and noodle soups are where this place shines. Bring a group, order the entire dumpling menu (we’re split between the boiled and fried versions), then grab some scallion pancakes, flowering chives, and zha jiang mian to accompany it all. There’s also a menu of house-infused sakes you can order to create your own little set of pairings. 


Julie’s Noodles is perhaps best known for their handmade noodles—it’s in their name after all. We’re big fans of the soups here, especially the spicy beef suan tsai noodle soup with pickled greens. While the soup is spicy on its own, make sure to ask for extra homemade chili oil for the full mala experience. The classic dumplings here go a little too heavy on the dough, but the soup dumplings are excellent. Grab an order—because more soup in your life is rarely a bad thing—and a side of refreshing cucumber salad to add a little brightness to your meal. It’s located in the same shopping center as Din Ho, at Ohlen and 183. 


There are a bunch of places to get great dumplings in Austin—including Qi, Lin, Wu Chow, Steamies, House Of Three Gorges—and the newest entrant into this list is Taste Of Home Handmade Dumplings in the Chinatown Center on North Lamar. Airy and bright, the space is rather modest and probably best for a quick meal, but you can see the workers making the dumplings by hand in the glass-walled kitchen. All the dumplings are light and fresh, and there’s a whole bunch of varieties including pork, shrimp, and chives, as well as lamb and cilantro. 


You’re not really coming to Old Thousand for classic Chinese dishes cooked by traditional methods and recipes. You’re coming to Old Thousand on East 11th Street to try dishes like smoked brisket fried rice, five-spice churros, and pecan bubble waffles. And while not all of the menu leans into fusion territory, we think that’s when Old Thousand is at its best, particularly when you’re eating it in a new-school dining room playing old school hip hop on the speakers. It’s Chinese food that grew up in Texas, and it’s food that you probably won’t find anywhere outside of Austin. Old Thousand also has a second location on Burnet that offers an expanded takeout menu. 


When we’re in South Austin and the craving for some mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn strikes, we immediately head to Sichuan River. Because while you can certainly get solid versions of Chinese-American classics like General Tso’s chicken or beef with broccoli, the Sichuan side of the menu is where it shines (it’s in the name, after all). The inside looks exactly how you’d imagine an old school Chinese restaurant—complete with thin plastic tablecloths, linoleum floors, and red hanging lanterns—but you’re not really here for atmosphere. Order the cumin lamb, mapo tofu, eggplant with garlic, chong qing mala chicken, and whatever else catches your eye, and be ready to bring back lots of leftovers, because it’s all just as good the next day. 


Chen’s Noodle House in North Austin may be simple inside and out, but the spicy beef noodle soup is outstanding, the kind of soup that you willingly travel long distances for (or just get it delivered, it travels very well). The broth is rich and spicy, with a tangle of hand-cut noodles and tender beef. You should also think about ordering the leek pie, the lamb skewer, and/or the spicy lamb bun, as you will not regret it.

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