Authentic Chinese food in Amherst
A happy byproduct of UB’s Asian student body is a growing number of authentic Chinese restaurants near the Amherst campus. Here’s a
Uncle John’s No. 1 Kitchen / 267 Grover Cleveland Highway / Amherst / 836-0826
On the road between the University at Buffalo’s campuses, many students have graduated without ever knowing that this homely storefront is home to a real Chinese chef. Good news: This guy knows what he’s doing on both the American and Chinese sides of his menu. Bad news: there are approximately eight seats in the place, and in the kitchen he’s a one-man show. Try the crispy fried bean curd, chicken with spicy peppers or squid in spicy pepper salt.
Wok & Roll / 5467 Sheridan Drive / Williamsville / 631-8880, www.thewokandroll.com
Cantonese, the subtler cousin of Chinese cuisine, is the specialty here. Try a casserole, pork chops Peking Style, shrimp with chewy udon noodles, or the whole steamed fish. Generally an all-around pleaser for quality Chinese food; precise cooking in a cookie-cutter storefront setting. There’s also dim sum, small dishes and dumplings, every day, like mini juicy pork buns and salt and pepper fried squid.
China Star / 4001 Sheridan Drive / Amherst / 631-7198
This Sichuan regional specialist can be uneven, but when it’s on the kitchen delivers a heat skillfully modulated from a chile oil tickle to numbing Sichuan peppercorn better than anybody in town. Try the ma po tofu, braised sliced beef or fish with chili sauce or ching qing spicy chicken. If you feel frisky, you can ask for Sichuan hotpot, which you might notice the Chinese students enjoying even though it’s not on the “menu.
Gin Gin / 3381 Sheridan Drive / Amherst / 836-2600
A block north from Miss Hot Café, Gin Gin was there first, offering an incredibly long menu of Chinese and American style dishes. Service can be slow and it’s a family outfit, where dish outcomes vary between cooks. But there’s bubble tea, and good, mild stick-to-your-ribs “on rice” dishes like “house special chicken chop” – fried chicken covered in a five-spice flavored pork sauce, and beef curry.
Miss Hot Café / 3311 Sheridan Drive / Amherst / 832-3188, www.misshotcafe.com
Shanghainese cold appetizers and a broad menu of regional specialties, in a nicer setting. Prices are a few dollars higher, but worth it for dishes like the confusingly named, cumin-dusted “crispy lamb." (The crackers are crispy, not the meat.) Shanghai style chefs are measured by their cold appetizers; for sweet, try the marinated sliced beef or gluten with peanuts (a vegan dish); spicy standouts include the ox tongue and tripe, tendon, or sliced beef in hot oil.
Peking Quick One / 359 Somerville Ave. / Tonawanda / 381-8730
Authentic Northern Chinese specialties at rock-bottom prices in a homely room with worn tables and self-service water. Try vegetable-centered homestyle dishes like hot and sour shredded potatoes, zucchini with shrimp, celery with beef, or leek with egg, all under $7. Thrill seekers should try the “poached spicy slices of pork” Sichuan cauldron, or the double cooked pork, a pork belly flavor bomb. Or whole steamed flounder with ginger and scallions.