Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good Chinese food in Stockholm

Unfortunately it is difficult to find good Chinese food in Sweden. I have read that there is actually a reclusive Swedish-Chinese millionaire who lends money to families who want to start restaurants, providing they follow his guidelines. In other words, many restaurants are parts of a franchise just like McDonalds, which may explain why so many of them look the same, have the same muzak, the same price range, and the food at them is so similar and tastes so bland.... To me they fill the price and quality niche between fast food joints and "real" restaurants.

The "Asian restaurant" syndrome is another pet peeve of mine by the way.... Instead of interesting fusions of kitchens with new crossover dishes being invented like in Australia for instance, in Sweden we get generic "Asian" restaurants where sushi restaurants have started to include a few standard Thai dishes on the menu, Chinese restaurants always have some bad sushi, and so on. You get a lot to choose from but very little that has been cooked with any passion or finesse.

Enough negativity. Here are few tips for some better Chinese restaurants in Stockholm:
  • Lao Wai is a small vegetarian restaurant and definitely number one on my list. They always use authentic and fresh ingredients, for instance Chinese rice wine instead of sherry, never canned products or powders. They import Oolong tea from their own plantation and so on. They cook and serve orders to the table one at a time to be eaten immediately, so you will get the best experience if you share dishes with your friends the traditional way. They have tofu that tastes just like smoked sausages or chicken, so even meat eaters who normally don't like vegetarian food should enjoy it.
  • Formosa is the best one in Gamla Stan (Old Town) that I know of. Very crowded with Chinese tourists who come by the busload. Noodle soup with meat, shrimp and pak soi is my favourite.
  • Ming, just next door to the Crystal Plaza hotel used be really good, but I haven't eaten there in a while and I read in the papers that their star chef from China didn't get a renewed visa despite protests from the management of the restaurant and the hotel, so I'm not sure if it is still as good as it used to be.
  • Dragon House at Hornstull. This is a restaurant that gets very varied online reviews, from full marks to none, so either a competitor is trying to discredit them with a smear campaign or they have different chef teams with wildly varying skills. I have never been disappointed, but I always order from the special "traditional Chinese" menu and stay away from the buffet, the Thai food and the sushi. I recommend the small spicy chickens (beware of sharp bones though as they don't fillet the chickens, they just chop them up traditional style bones and all with a big meat cleaver) and the seafood pots with Chinese mushrooms (Seven Thunder Seafood I believe one is called). For the brave, they also have dishes like pigs stomach or crispy fried tripe with szechuan peppers (I don't know why so many are queasy about it though, the same people happily eat sausages after all). This is another restaurant where you should go as a big group and share the dishes with one another.


小熊五郎 said...

any chinese restaurant with good xiao long bao that you know of? =)

Reina said...
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Vladimir Chen said...

Hi Lars,

Thanks for the list of good Chinese restaurants. Just visited Lao Wai's website, Chinese-vegetarian restaurant sounds interesting.

Next time when I am in Stockholm I will check that out.

There are some other good restaurants in Stockholm listed here http://www.bookatable.com/se/stockholm/restaurants.en-GB.aspx

Riya Singh said...

Chinese foods are very spicy and tasty, thanks for sharing....!
Chinese Food

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