Amid traditional Chinese imagery of twisting dragons and carp, splashes of bright red bring Uncle Wing’s casual interior to life—and perhaps serve as a visual warning to diners who are about to dip into meals speckled with fiery peppers. The restaurant’s chefs specialize in seafood and duck entrees, which come stewed in a range of spicy, chili-filled sauces as well as curries as complex as a Rubik's Cube during its teen years. While they primarily cook Mandarin and Szechuan dishes, chefs channel the cuisine of various regions with plates such as Shanghai’s egg foo young; Shandong’s mu-shu meats, served inside thin, Chinese pancakes; and the small portions of dim sum popular in Hong Kong.
Praised by reviewers from the Contra Costa Times and Diabolo Magazine for its freshness, skillfully assembled flavors, and perfectly cooked seafood and duck, Zen Restaurant has been making a splash since it opened. Chefs are adept at fusing a variety of culinary influences culled from across Asia, resulting in dishes such as Vietnamese shrimp-avocado rolls, Thai red curry sauce, Mongolian beef, Chinese crispy pork, and Singapore noodles. Diners enjoy their food in a warmly lit space, featuring hardwood floors, a bright red accent wall, and contemporary furnishings.
Since 1989, the chefs at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant have prepared an unexpected menu of authentic Chinese cuisine. The surprise lies along the pages of the menu, where the vast majority of dishes are strictly vegetarian?even those listed as "chicken" contain a faux-meat version. Dotted with little chiles to indicate a fiery level of spiciness, the menu lists favorites such as vegetarian "pork" with spicy garlic sauce, and Szechuan-style mapo tofu.
The aromas of classic Asian cooking fill the air at Lily Kai Chinese Cuisine, providing diners with a hint of what to expect before they even crack a menu. Learn even more about what to expect by reading our list of pre-meal tips:
Five Tips for Your Visit to Lily Kai
With the simple motto “excellent Chinese cuisine,” the skilled chefs at Hai Sun Restaurant rev up appetites with an expansive menu, leading off with crispy fried appetizers such as wontons and egg rolls. Across the menu’s pages, entrees flock into categories including lamb, pork, and vegetables alongside seafood morsels such as sautéed scallops and cod. Dishes come laden with a fresh garden medley of veggies of baby corn and snow peas, in spicy ginger, curry, and Sichuan sauce. With pop available by the can or six pack, patrons can enjoy a soda rush without the hassle of going over Niagara Falls in a root-beer barrel.
Inside the Kitchen: Chef Kent Rathbun began his lifelong love affair with food at the tender age of 9, eventually earning an apprenticeship at a five-star French restaurant in Kansas City a few years later. When he finally became a full-blown chef, he honed his skills at a number of acclaimed restaurants in the United States and began traveling to Thailand every year to research ingredients and study new cooking techniques. He would later draw upon this eclectic, globe-spanning education when crafting Abacus's international-style cuisine, which takes influences from the American Southwest, Louisiana, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Rim. Since beginning his celebrated career, he's been nominated several times for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest, defeated Chef Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and cooked at President George W. Bush's 2001 inaugural ball.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse local artists' contemporary pieces, as well as vintage furniture and handmade jewelry, at consignment shop Art Is Art (2811 N. Henderson Avenue).
After: Grab an afterdinner drink at Terreli's (2815 Greenville Avenue) and enjoy the live music that spans jazz, piano, and latin genres.
If You Can't Make It, Try This: Chef Rathburn operates a few other restaurants, including Rathburn's Blue Plate Kitchen, which serves upscale comfort food.