The best Chinese restaurants in the world: Where to find the best Chinese food outside China

Traditional yet innovative, award-winning, and full of character are the words that describe the most celebrated Chinese restaurants outside China. Unless you know where to look, they may seem hard to find, but know that more often than not, all you have to do is seek out each city’s Chinatown or even stop and look at them hiding in plain sight. Let go of your preconceptions about Chinese food acquired from your local takeaway and allow yourself to dive deep into the varied world of Chinese cooking – pleasant surprises are guaranteed! In the following list, you’ll find some of the finest Chinese restaurants – some even Michelin star-awarded – outside China that proudly display the best culinary inspirations from one of the greatest countries and cultures in history.

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Chinese cuisine

Chinese cuisine is one of the most varied and influential in the world, consisting of the many regional cuisines within the world’s most populous country. What most westerners associate with Chinese food often differs greatly from what is found in China. Rice, wheat products, and noodles are popular staples often paired with meat, vegetables, and tofu, but depending on the region, there can be ingredients that are as foreign to the rest of the world as the Chinese culture itself – shark fins, snake meat, and other animal parts to name a few. And while dairy products may be popular across the globe, historically they were rarely found in Chinese cooking. The main thing to know about food in China is that most things are regional and can be influenced by religious and ethnic aspects. Nowadays, there are eight cuisines of China recognized worldwide – Anhui, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang.

Shang Palace, Paris | Photo: Bernhard Winkelmann

Chinese cuisine outside China

Throughout history, there have been waves of emigration from China, bringing centuries-long cooking traditions to new places. Cities like Vancouver in Canada, New York City in the USA, and Melbourne in Australia are boasting some of the largest Chinese communities outside China, and this, of course, means that some of the best Chinese restaurants are also located there, gaining recognition from locals and foreigners alike. Europe is no exception, and if you know where to look, you’ll find remarkable fine dining and street food-style Chinese restaurants across the continent – even in places you wouldn’t normally expect, like Milan and Prague. It’s worth noting that wherever you go, Chinese food outside Chine will almost always be “inspired by…” and “influenced by…” meaning that even the most authentic dishes will often be tailored to fit their new home country and the respective audience. In most cases, traditional flavours and ingredients are paired with more modern cooking techniques resulting in innovative combinations that end up winning the appreciation of the renowned Michelin guide.

Chinatown, San Francisco | Photo: Fern M Lomibao

Chinatown, London | Photo: Samuel Regan Asante

1. Michael Wan’s Mandarin - Blackpool, England

Michael Wan’s Mandarin name echoes worldwide, and diners arrive here from far and wide to feast on Cantonese dishes often called “the best in Europe”. For over six decades, this authentic Cantonese restaurant has pleased guests in its Blackpool location with delicately crafted dishes that are consistently excellent. Serving traditional dishes, you’ll find everything from potstickers and barbecued spare ribs to Szechuan chilli beef and Nasi Goreng on the menu. Pick your favourites, let the staff recommend the best options, or go with one of the banquet options with pre-set starters and the main course. What keeps diners coming back is the care and attention put into every aspect. The sustainably rope-grown scallops are sourced locally from the waters near the Isle of Man, the spare ribs are marinated overnight to achieve the best flavour and texture, and the famous aromatic crispy duck is prepared using locally-grown Lincolnshire high-welfare ducks. In fact, this restaurant remains one of the very few places in the UK that still prepares this dish in-house using the traditional 3-day method consisting of marination, roasting, and leaving to rest and air dry.

Photo: Hanxiao

2. Bao Bei - Vancouver, Canada

Visiting Bao Bei, the famed Chinese brasserie in Vancouver’s Chinatown, is a must-have experience as soon as you arrive in this British Columbia metropolis. Lauded as one of the best places to have Chinese – though not the most traditional – outside China, this place is known for its intimate yet buzzing dining atmosphere, sharing plates, inventive spins on classic dishes, and dizzyingly good drinks. Heavily influenced by flavours and cooking techniques found in Taiwan, Shanghai, and Sichuan, Bao Bei doesn’t stop there – you’ll also see international touches here and there. While the portions are slightly smaller than in traditional Chinese restaurants, the quality and attention to detail make up for it. Make sure to try the beef tartare with wagyu beef, burnt scallion oil, and taro root chips!

3. Shang Palace - Paris, France

Located in the luxurious 5-star Shangri-La Paris hotel, Shang Palace restaurant originated this internationally-renowned chain in 2011. Just a year later the restaurant became the first Chinese restaurant in France to receive the prestigious Michelin recognition and was awarded one Michelin star – understandably so because chef Samuel Lee has gathered a skilful team from Hong Kong to guarantee the best execution of dishes where traditional flavours merge with local influences thus creating a one-of-a-kind experience in this celebrated restaurant with an interior that fully mirrors the restaurant’s palatial name. The way each dish is presented, you can truly appreciate the delicate and masterful cooking techniques resulting in an exquisite culinary journey. The à la carte menu is jam-packed with options, each as alluring as the next, but you can also opt for a set Emerald dinner menu or the Discover menu. A must-try here is the famous dim sum, as well as the Peking duck, served in three styles.

Shangri-La Paris | Photo: Marcelo Barbosa

Shang Palace | Photo: Charlotte Chateau

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New York boasts the largest Chinese population outside of Asia, meaning you don’t have to go far to find fantastic Chinese restaurants offering authentic flavours and traditional dishes

4. Nom Wah Tea Parlor - New York City, US

New York City has always been a melting pot of cultures, and the city’s abundant restaurant scene is a brilliant display of that. In fact, New York boasts the largest Chinese population outside of Asia, meaning you don’t have to go far to find fantastic Chinese restaurants offering authentic flavours and traditional dishes. Nom Wah Tea Parlor is one that’s particularly worth noting. This famous dim sum parlour dates back to the 1920s, making it the oldest dim sum restaurant in the city. For decades it has been a neighbourhood staple known for its dim sum and steamed buns, and the name of the restaurant echoes beyond the city’s borders, attracting eager diners from all over the world. The menu is as generous as the portions, and you may have to come back more than once to try everything that catches your eye.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor | Photo: Paul Wagtouicz

Nom Wah Tea Parlor | Photo: Barbara Leung

5. Palais du Bonheur - Paris, France

Family-style cooking paired with excellent service and a traditional interior makes Palais du Bonheur in Paris a favourite choice for Chinese dining in the capital of France. The restaurant opened its doors to customers nearly 50 years ago and has offered the highest quality Chinese dining experience to customers ever since. The staff take pride in the authentic cooking techniques and ingredients used to make each dish as good as it could possibly be. Whether you feast on the famous Peking duck, spare ribs, dim sum, or any of the other dishes from the extensive menu, you can expect the highest quality that will leave you dreaming of your next visit.

6. Chinatown BBQ - Vancouver, Canada

One of the best places to satisfy meat cravings in Vancouver is the Chinatown BBQ serving fantastic barbecued meat dishes and other Chinese cuisine specialities. Each meat dish arrives perfectly tender, succulent, and bursting with flavour – unpretentious food showcasing the best of Cantonese dining. The restaurant resembles a classic diner with its checked floors and red chairs, perfectly fitting the always buzzing atmosphere in the restaurant. While spacious, you may sometimes need to wait for a table as this restaurant is highly in-demand. A must-try dish is their award-winning beef brisket curry.

Photo: Aditya Romansa

7. Hakkasan - Mayfair, London, UK

Michelin star-awarded Chinese fine dining in the heart of London belongs to Hakkasan Mayfair. This highly seductive restaurant will quickly impress you not only with the beguiling interiors, but also with the elevated menu marrying Cantonese flavours, textures, and cooking methods to create impressive dishes with a delicate taste. The restaurant’s approach is to blend original Cantonese recipes with modern influences. As expected, the food is exquisite, with the perfect condiments to suit. Highlights include the silver cod with champagne and honey and black truffle-roasted duck.

Hakkasan - Mayfair | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

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El Buda Feliz 1974 is now a highly stylish place still serving authentic Chinese street food that offers a new taste experience to European diners

8. El Buda Feliz 1974 - Madrid, Spain

El Buda Feliz 1974 is a trendy Chinese street food restaurant in the Malasaña neighbourhood in Madrid. While it first opened its doors nearly 50 years ago, the restaurant underwent a full refurbishment five years ago. Now it’s a highly stylish place still serving authentic Chinese street food that offers a new taste experience to European diners. With two floors to welcome guests, the restaurant is known for its relaxed and warm atmosphere. If by the time you arrive, all the tables are already gone, you’ll be able to enjoy a lovely drink at the funky lower-floor bar while you wait for a table.

El Buda Feliz 1974 | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

El Buda Feliz 1974 | Photo: Yasmina Rodríguez

9. Sense - Tokyo, Japan

Japan and Chinese food may seem like an odd combination at first, but in fact, Tokyo is home to one of the best Chinese restaurants not only in Japan but also in the world. Praised by numerous food experts and reviewers, Sense restaurant takes traditional home-style cooking and elevates it to new heights, making it a Michelin star-worthy experience. The restaurant is located on the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, offering world-class panoramic views of the buzzing city below. The upscale atmosphere makes the time stop, and this creates the perfect setting for enjoying the most wonderful Cantonese cuisine you could imagine. Visionary chefs Takeshi Suzuki and Toshiyuki Nakama are behind the impeccable menu full of award-winning dishes like the barbecued platinum pork with a honey glaze and barbecued Kyoto duck served in two ways.

10. Yam’Tcha - Paris, France

You may not immediately associate Paris with Chinese food, but what the French capital is known for are the many fine dining and Michelin-star restaurants. Yam’Tcha, in the heart of the city’s 1st arrondissement, ticks all the boxes – a Michelin star-awarded Chinese fine dining restaurant led by chef Adeline Grattard, who mastered the art of Chinese cooking for several years in Hong Kong. You’ll find that the food has the perfect balance between Chinese and French influences, resulting in delicate flavour combinations and beautifully presented dishes. What’s interesting, the tasting menu comes with tea pairings – another unique touch you won’t find elsewhere.

11. FuLu Mandarijn - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

FuLu Mandarijn in the heart of Amsterdam dates back over forty years serving authentic Sichuan cuisine to European diners in a beautifully designed space. A famous lunch spot that’s also buzzing during the dinner service, the restaurant is known for combining a variety of flavours to create the most exquisite result. From delicate to spicy, the range of dishes will suit anyone’s taste. Try the famous Sichuan hot and sour soup with chicken, egg, and Shiitake mushrooms, the boiled pork belly slices with garlic sauce, and the signature stewed trotters with spicy sauce.

Photo: Cottonbro

12. Mott 32 - Vancouver, Canada

The chefs at Mott 32 employ the most cutting-edge, creative, and sophisticated cooking methods from across the globe to create Cantonese dishes inspired by age-old family traditions. What makes Mott 32 incredibly distinctive is the degree of modernity mixed with the reverence for tradition. A trendy atmosphere and the most attentive staff guarantee an experience unequalled in Vancouver. Signature dishes to try include the 42-day applewood-smoked Peking duck and the selection of handmade dim sum.

13. Xi’an Famous Foods, - New York, US

Xi’an Famous Foods in New York easily lives up to the name – saying that this chain of casual Chinese restaurants is famous would be an understatement. This mega-successful family-run business was established in 2005 and since then has expanded to have several locations across the city. On top of that, it has been prominently featured in various media outlets. This fame and glory wouldn’t come easy in the Big Apple unless the food truly lived up to expectations – New Yorkers are famously picky about food (and who can blame them in a city with so many excellent options around every corner). All this fame results in long wait times but if any place is worth the wait, it’s this one – make sure to try the lamb burgers and hand-pulled noodles!

Photo: Debbie Tea

Chinatown, New York | Photo: Wes Hicks

14. Maoji Street Food - Milan, Italy

Maoji Street Food in Milan is the place to go when you’re in Italy but start craving Chinese. What makes this place among the best Chinese in Europe is the exceptional service, consistent quality, and old-time-inspired decor. Guests who have been here before swear that each time the food is as good as the time before. Street food-style dishes with heavy influences from the Hunan region make dining here so interesting when compared to other restaurants in the city. Make sure to try the nan rolls, taro with bacon, and the Cantonese salami, but do book in advance to secure a table at this busy restaurant.

15. Sia Restaurant - Prague, Czech Republic

While most travellers go to Prague to see the historic architecture and sample traditional Czech cuisine and beer, the city is actually quite famous for its diverse world cuisine, including Asian. Sia restaurant (the name is short for “Asia”) is an upscale Asian restaurant where among Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Indian dishes, you will also find phenomenal Chinese. The rather centrally-located restaurant near the city’s Old Town is spread across three floors and ready to welcome over 200 guests, who can see chefs at work in the open-plan space. The head chef’s signature Chinese dish that everyone should try is his traditional crispy Peking duck.

Photo: Ben Mahon

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