For Asian anything, particularly authentic Vietnamese cuisine, ground zero in Orlando is the Mills 50/Colonialtown area, but it's rife with Chinese options, as well. Locals love unpretentious favorites like Ming's Bistro for dim sum under the watchful eyes of the hanging roasted ducks (most agree this adds to the eatery's street cred) or the tasty fare of Tasty Wok or the carbohydrate-laden delicacies of Noodles & Rice Cafe. Indeed this is a neighborhood where favorites from throughout Asia are well slung, much to the delight of "No Reservations" fans with fewer frequent flyer miles than Anthony Bourdain – but you'll find them elsewhere, as well. While travelers can debate the authenticity of Americanized fare that comes in the form of General Tso's chicken, they'll find some interesting choices in the realm of self-serve innovation in Hotto Potto's DIY hot pot bistro, bold and flavorful cultural integration such as China Hut's authentic "chifa," a Chinese-Peruvian hybrid where lovers of fusion can have their ceviche alongside their sweet and sour pork, and even all-vegetarian offerings – whether infused with faux meats or loaded down with vegetable after crispy vegetable – at Colonial Drive's Garden Cafe. Looking for authentic regional fare with flair? Consider the sizzling Szechuan menu at Chuan Lu Yuan or the delicacies of Teriyaki House, a very Taiwanese eatery with a very Japanese name.
Yes. It's another strip mall offering (if you've been perusing our 10best list, you may notice a pattern emerging) but this one offers a casual elegance the likes of which many don't even dare to dream. Soothing colors along with a murmuring water feature guide diners in the direction of zen-like tranquility while interesting offerings such as Chinese sauteed greens, minced shrimp with pine nuts in lettuce, braised pork belly, spicy fried anchovies with nuts and (if you dare) stinky tofu give more adventurous would-be gourmands some wonderful, flavorful items with which their palates can play. This is a fun one. Check it out. ((407) 522-8688)
The best chefs are resourceful. And so when an influx of Chinese expats emigrated to Peru and many of the ingredients so readily available in their homeland became scarce, they adapted. The resulting cuisine became what is today called "chifa," a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cooking that is among the nation's most popular. China Hut bills itself as Orlando's first Peruvian Chinese restaurant and both those familiar with staple dishes such as Cam-Lou-Wantan and Lomo Saltado (a decadent dish of soy-marinated steak stir-fried with onions and tomatoes and tossed with french fries) and those eager to try something new keep coming back. At China Hut you'll find familiar dishes from both sides of the chifa family – ceviche mixto and egg fu young – but most admit the hybrids are what this place is all about. ((407) 240-0467)
So, you like the DIY sensibility of fondue, but are less than enthused by the massive time and money investment necessary to make it happen. 10Best prescribes Hotto Potto, a fun little concept wherein you begin with a broth base, select from an array of meats and vegetables to create a custom Chinese-style hot pot you may then dress with any number of condiments. It's fun, it's reasonably priced, it's pretty healthy. Heck, it's straight-up vegan if you want it to be. While you won't while away ages during the cooking process, it is still a process, so if you're in a real hurry, come another time when you can relax and enjoy. Portions are impressive. You may find yourself leaving with leftovers. You won't mind a bit. ((407) 930-5366)
Noodles & Rice Cafe
An undeniable carb-ivore's delight, Noodles & Rice Cafe is not strictly Chinese, but rather an Asian fusion favorite that pulls together an array of delightful dishes, from Hong Kong-style barbecue to the steamy fragrant hot pot. Pad Thai and spicy noodles, ramen and won ton and more hold up the "noodles" end of the bargain while other Eastern delights – delicious curry pineapple fried rice, succulent Korean short ribs, crispy-fried samosa – make dieting here nearly impossible. Courteous servers are happy to explain the hot pot process for newbies. You'll find the Chinese selections ample – and the portion sizes, as well. (407-895-8833)
Ming's Bistro is not fancy, but it is real deal. Located in the Mills 50 neck of Orlando's Colonialtown neighborhood, patrons enjoy delicious, fresh, reasonably priced dishes and dim sum as they share space with the very ducks on which they may be dining. For most people, such details only bolster the restaurant's authenticity. Dim sum runs the gamut from more familiar offerings like steamed shrimp dumplings and pork buns to many less familiar to folks accustomed to "Chinese" fare at the mall food court. Shark's fin, chicken feet, sesame balls, shrimp-stuffed eggplant and delicious deep fried taro balls (think of them Chinese croquettes of a sort: crispy on the outside, smooth, rich and flavorful within). In fact, the dim sum menu makes Ming's an ideal place for groups who can partake of wave after savory wave of small plates without coming close to breaking the bank. (407-898-9672)
What's in a (Japanese) name? Not much in this case, but you'll be happy you showed up. This small mom-and-pop � yet another strip-mall gem (Orlando is rotten with them!) is often busy, busy, busy � a testament to its devoted customers who come craving authentic Taiwanese cuisine and often leave with to-go boxes � but never disappointed. You can call ahead, but it's best to come expecting a wait as food is cooked to order. If you're in a rush or super hungry, save this one for when you have a little time � it's worth it. A glass-half-full way of looking at it: more time to consider the ample menu and perhaps ask some questions. ((321) 281-8088)
For authentic Chinese dine-in or delivery, you won't go wrong with Tasty Wok. A long standing favorite in Colonialtown North (the Mills 50 neighborhood is a hotbed of so many Vietnamese gems that other Asian delights are often under-reported) this unpretentious little restaurant is well known for its scallion pancakes, noodle soups, congee, roast duck and chow fun (a dish you don't all that often in the 407), all of which are served up in heaping portions for beyond-reasonable prices. A word to those looking for a plush, upscale venue to impress a date, future in-law or potential client: this ain't it. (407-896-8988)
Kim Wu Chinese Restaurant
Kim Wu's location and atmosphere are inauspicious (truthfully, that's largely the norm for Chinese in Orlando – so many are ensconced in varying degrees of "unassuming strip mall"), but the fare is memorable with some surprising authentic dishes positioned amid the more recognizable American-Chinese fare. Start your meal with fried pork or vegetable dumplings or perhaps one of their soups, then pause to appreciate the artful presentation of dishes like the honey walnut shrimp (one of Kim Wu's most lauded) before digging in. Prices are affordable, particularly during the lunch buffet, and meals come with a small dessert plate and cleansing hot towel at the end. (407-293-0752)
Having risen from the ashes of a former Pizza Hut to new found vegetarian fame, Garden Cafe is oft cited as the vegetarian restaurant most likely to win over your nay-saying carnivore friends. The largely Chinese menu makes use of tofu and other meat substitutes; the orange chicken is a standout, but truly shines in all-veggie offerings in their dumplings, curries and other "purist" plates. As vegetarian options are growing in Orlando, but still somewhat limited, Garden Cafe is a popular go-to for those eating greener and looking to lure loved ones into the joys of a healthier lifestyle without giving up adventurous eating. (407-999-9799)
Chuan Lu Yuan
Sophisticated, spicy and authentic are words you'll often hear associated with Chuan Lu Yuan, a Mills 50-outpost that operates as part of the larger Ginza steakhouse. We'd add colorful, flavorful, aromatic and delicious, though it's likely all been said before. Chuan Lu Yuan serves Szechuan dishes, many of which will seem delightfully new to folks more accustomed to Americanized Chinese fare. Hot pots, hand-pulled noodle soups, an array of dishes for the adventurous culinary explorer. While there are options available for those less interested in straying outside their comfort zones, we recommend you bring several bold dining companions (more people = more dishes to sample!), ask lots of questions and taste, taste, taste. (407-896-8966)
About A.D. Thompson
A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.
A roller coaster enthusiast, A.D. readily admits there is fun to be had amid the madness of the theme parks, but has found there is magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey’s long shadow. She is delighted to share with you the spoils of her adopted city.
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