It's been a long day, you're tired, it's 100 degrees outside, and you don't feel like whipping up a gourmet dinner -- instead, might we suggest getting out of your stuffy house and going for some Chinese? That's right, Gut Check has once again diligently compiled a helpful guide to our city's finest culinary delights. Listed below are some of our favorite spots to grab some delicious Chinese cuisine. So take the night off, and let Gut Check be your guide.
Famous Szechuan Pavilion (8615 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-685-0888)
If you haven't visited Famous Szechuan Pavilion and tried the incredible dishes there, then you haven't experienced the full range of culinary delights that St. Louis has to offer. Owner and chef Xin Cin is a native of China's Szechuan province, and at her University City restaurant (relocated from its original home inside a former snow-cone hut in Brentwood) she showcases that region's fabled cuisine. The chile and the Szechuan peppercorn are the touchstones here, but while many dishes feature ferocious heat (try the yu shan pork), the peppercorn's floral flavor and the numbing sensation it imparts, the flavors are incredibly complex, as in the earthy ma po tofu, or the dan dan noodles with chicken or pork. Xin Cin runs her restaurant with only a very small staff, so be patient. It's worth waiting for. See also: - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup - Chew on This: Ten Best St. Louis Dishes of 2112
Hsu's Hunan Yu (11539 Gravois Road, Crestwood; 314-843-1256)
Like many of the best Chinese joints, Hsu's Hunan Yu is a hole-in-the-wall storefront tucked into a strip mall. There's not much seating, and the walls are covered in novelty money, newspaper clippings and memorabilia. It's very much a family establishment -- the owner, Mrs. Hsu herself, is behind the counter 99 out of 100 times you walk in the door, and Mr. Hsu is nearly always in the kitchen. Special care is given to every takeout order and every dish is perfect, which is why it isn't the menu that makes Hunan Yu special. It's the execution. The special fried rice is the best in town, the sesame chicken dark and glossy and intense. There are no surprises here, unless you count the unexpected joy of familiar perfection.
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