The Best Chinese Restaurants In Houston

The best restaurants in Houston for Chinese, Shanghainese, Cantonese, and Sichuan food.
The Best Chinese Restaurants In Houston image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Many of Houston’s best Chinese spots—from Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan, and more—line Bellaire Boulevard in Chinatown. But Houston has hitters all over the city. Whether you’re seeking utilitarian take-out, pepper-packed noodles, or a spot to impress someone with your Peking duck wrapper technique, this guide can help.


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Dim Sum


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Fung’s Kitchen in Sharpstown is where to go for dim sum. Functionally the size of a small town, the seafood-tank-lined banquet hall serves Cantonese classics and weekend dim sum cart brunch. Despite Fung’s size, service never falters. Each cart that whizzes by presents an opportunity to make puppy eyes at your friends and say, “Well, one more won’t hurt,” because every bao, bun, and beef-stuffed rice noodle delivers the primordial joy of eating dumplings.

Tiny yet mighty, Shanghainese restaurant One Dragon in Chinatown is known for its xiao long bao. And that makes sense because the soup dumplings here are piping hot and filled with savory consomé. Every night, a long line of people clamor for a table as the staff scrambles to accommodate as many people as it can into the small space. Despite being hectic, One Dragon quickly sends out fresh dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, and sauce-drenched pork belly.

San Dong Noodle House serves one of the best roast beef noodle soups in town. And while the dining room doesn’t have much going on—except plastic lawn furniture and a self-serve plastic to-go silverware station—after that first hit of noodle or pan-fried dumpling, none of it matters. The silky soup, with large cuts of tender beef and fresh greens, makes you want to live in a movie nostalgia montage to replay the first bites over again. Plus, a meal here for two will only set you back about $20 (just know it’s cash-only).

Kind of like highway billboards and humidity, Mala Sichuan Bistro is part of what makes Houston, well, Houston. The classic Sichuan spot has captured hearts and minds with each of their five locations in different neighborhoods. Every dish sees the mala peppercorn influence, especially the water-boiled fish with free-floating peppercorn bombs in a green and chili-swirled broth. Which is a meal we now keep on regular rotation.

Our answer to the question posed by Wanna Bao’s name is, “Yes.” Opened by the One Dragon folks, this Shanghainese spot offers a dumpling oasis to the people of Midtown. Like its predecessor, Wanna Bao specializes in fresh and light xiao long bao, but also adds its own flair with colorful dumplings. Wanna Bao is usually full of young people splitting jasmine tea duck on a first date or people from nearby apartments on a wonton soup and steamer basket dinner quest.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Mian is one of many Sichuan spots in Chinatown, but the handmade noodles and comforting peppercorn-tingle set it apart. This spot is pretty laid back, if not hands-off, because you order everything from your phone. The noodle soups have an ideal beefiness and thick, chewy handmade noodles. The soup, and the red oil-drenched dumplings, are best paired with a rainy day, or any day you feel like pouring your feelings into a giant boil of semi-spicy soup.

Shanghai Restaurant (as the name suggests) serves classic Shanghainese food and the big portions and easy-going atmosphere make it great for a quiet, casual Chinatown meal. A long-time resident of Bellaire Boulevard, Shanghai resembles a ‘90s pastel breakfast nook, and nearly every table hosts a big family quibbling over snow peas leaves and rice. The menu is simple but solid, with sizzling clay pot dishes and sweet and sour sauce-blanketed meats.

photo credit: Chelsea Thomas

Midtown’s Chinese barbecue Siu Lap City has a simple formula: choose a rice, choose a meat, choose a vegetable. But the tiny counter, opened by the folks behind EaDo’s now defunct Long Sing Supermarket (RIP), smacks you in the face with meat. Crispy skin whole ducks, racks of pork belly, and braised beef tendon dangle from behind a steamy service window. Service here is fast, you should be prepared when your turn comes, and sometimes you have to wait for the staff to chop up an entire duck or rack of pork with a massive cleaver. Those efforts result in juicy  breast or barbecue pork with cracker-crisp skin. Get here early, as the favorites like duck, sell out first.

As the name suggests, the Memorial neighborhood restaurant Duck ‘N Bao is best known for Peking duck and fluffy bao buns. This place is teeny—you can probably see what’s going on back in the kitchen from the host stand, but that makes it feel all the more intimate. The pan-fried beef bao are fine but the focus should be on the Peking duck, which comes served with paper-thin pancakes and a sweet duck sauce. The meat is delicate and we’d eat the crackling crispy skin on its own. Come here when you need a quick weeknight dinner, a casual date night, or just want to appreciate some duck.

The Chinatown restaurant Mein might have a mile-long menu, but if you need a shortcut, know that the noodles are king.This Cantonese spot has mountains of noodle options, and is known for their hor fun noodles, so show up early because they will sell out. If you miss the hor fun noodle train, there are still small plates like spicy mashed cucumber salad that’s cooling and heating at the same time and briney shrimp rolls that we’d never leave Mein without eating. Most of the room is filled with the earlybirds slurping noodles to their heart’s content, couples giggling over plates of chili oil dumplings, and solo diners having a bowl of wonton noodle soup at the bar. And at the end of the meal you can get an order of sweet lava toast.  

Trendy Dumpling focuses on dumplings, crispy Beijing duck, and tongue-numbing Sichuan dishes. But silver tins of shrimp shumai and fluffy pork bao buns also line the tables at the Greenway restaurant. And if you’re not afraid of spice, get the boiled beef which comes in a massive pot, bathing in a chili peppercorn broth. Your eyes may water from the heat, but the flavor of the delicate strips of beef might evoke tears of joy, anyway. Trendy Dumpling has a selection of wine, beer, and sake in-house but they’re also BYOB, so you can bring your favorite bottle with you to have with your spicy boiled beef.

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