Since emigrating from Taiwan in 1978, Chinese Noodle Cafe owner, Peggy Hou, has cultivated a welcoming restaurant atmosphere brimming with Hunan-style Chinese fare that claimed Readers' Choice awards in the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Riverfront Times. A compendium of fresh ingredients and an absence of MSG keeps the focus on healthy fare throughout an array of traditional dishes such as general tso's chicken, steamed vegetables, and beaver-friendly items such as wooden chopsticks. Noodle soups outfit an already popular menu with spicy, seafood, and meaty discoveries to broaden diners' horizons.
Though it sits squarely in St. Louis, Broadway Oyster Bar might as well inhabit New Orleans. Even from the outside, the 150-year-old building exudes the revelry of the French Quarter, as an art-deco neon sign emblazoned with music notes joins colorful string lanterns to form an illuminated invitation for patrons to come in and live a little. Of course, inside is where the Cajun atmosphere is most apparent, especially in whiffs of dishes named the favorite Cajun/creole cuisine of the Sauce Magazine readers? poll every year since 2003. Chef Brad Hagen's acclaimed recipes include marinated alligator with homemade tartar sauce, shucked oysters topped with spinach cream sauce, and fresh-baked Gambino's bread filled with traditional po' boy fixings, such as fried catfish and shrimp. Feasts unfold in a cozy dining room or an open-air patio enclosed and heated in winter. There, local and national musicians grace the stage seven nights a week to play funk and blues tunes, just like Mom used to.
Chefs put their sizzling woks to work at New St. Louis Wok, churning out Chinese takeout classics such as general tso’s chicken and beef with broccoli. Since 1996, the small eatery has ensured that the local community has mouthwateringly easy access to noodles, crab rangoon, and combination plates served with fried rice and an appetizer. Customers can choose to dine-in, carryout, or have their meal delivered by a bear trained not to steal chow mein.
On weekends between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., a cart laden with plated dim sum rolls through Lu Lu Seafood, delivering handcrafted treats such as pork shu mai or spare ribs in black bean sauce. Patrons can also dine on regional Chinese seafood such as live lobsters with ginger and scallions or hot pots simmering with fresh scallops, washing it all back with cocktails, smoothies, and milk tea laden with pearls of tapioca. The opulent crimson-and-gold eatery also houses private karaoke rooms with bottle service where guests can sing in English, Chinese, or Korean.
At The Rice House, owner Kenny Truong fuses Asian cuisine with Midwestern tastes concocting dishes such as crispy philly cheesesteak wontons and St. Louis-style fried rice. Pots of specialty gumbo simmer with turkey and collard greens, and thick slices of texas toast hold together St. Paul sandwiches such as the Angry Bird with chicken, jalapeños, pickles, and onions topped with melting muenster cheese. Patrons can also find quintessential Chinese-American staples such as lo mein, egg foo young, or sweet-and-sour pork.
At unassuming eatery The HotPot, most made-to-order meals begin with noodle, brown rice, or sweet potato, then a protein such as spicy beef, chicken, tofu, or char siu pork. Each meal can be customized for gluten-free, paleo, and vegan customers. Finally, fresh local veggies and a made-from-scratch sauce such as spicy miso add some crunch and kick to the bowl. The restaurant, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, also offers fresh juicing and whole-fruit smoothies.