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Cantonese food in Vienna - REALLY!

This is a bit of an odd recommendation, because when you're in Austria you're totally thinking of Chinese food right? Surprisingly, there are some really great restaurants in Austria and Bavaria, comparable to the foods i grew up eating in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Anyway, if you're looking for a break from traditional Austrian fare, i highly recommend Restaurant Grillhaus Hong Kong in Vienna. The food here is really on point, and my Chinese relatives who live in Vienna love this place. I've recommended it to friends visiting from California and they love it too (they said they went back twice on their one-week trip).

Link: https://www.tripadvisor.at/Restaurant_Review-g190454-d3902732-Reviews-Restaurant_Grillhaus_Hong_Kong-Vienna.html

Posted by
516 posts

In my early days of travel I would have avoided any food that isn't "local" to that place and being Chinese myself, the last thing I want to do is seek out Chinese food on my travels through Europe. Interestingly, in more recent years I've been doing just that, trying Chinese restaurants in every city I visit, just to see how it's different or the same. Some places have done such I good job with not just the food but their ambiance that if I walked in and didn't look back out the window I could swear I'm in San Francisco Chinatown. Another interesting thing is seeing how the menus are in three languages (the local language, Chinese, and English) but that the translations aren't always the same. For example, a Chinese restaurant in Rome called won-tons "raviolis" which was kind of funny.

Posted by
102 posts

Thanks awesome! I am going to do the same on my travels. I also love poking my head into McDonald's and other American chains while traveling abroad to see what special items they have on their menu (I still need to try the McNürnburger).

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516 posts

Yep, exactly... I check McD's as well as Starbucks. At a Starbucks in Istanbul they offered table service! Ha ha! And if you've been to Hong Kong, you know that the Pizza Huts there are treated as formal restaurants with white table cloths, silverware, etc.

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12084 posts

Every town/city I have ever been to in Germany has a Chinese restaurant or several. Whether you find them acceptable is up to you, although it is claimed that most are tailored to German taste (eingedeutscht). That's valid. . Only once did I find the Chinese food terrible, a restaurant in Berlin near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which no longer exists. I have no problems with Chinese food in Germany, authentic or tailored to German taste. In Berlin in the last 15 years the Chinese restaurants have gotten more specialised, offering not only northern Chinese cuisine but Shanghai cuisine, which you can tell from the restaurant's name. A number of these are located on Kantstrasse (always well attended with Germans) and in Prenzlauer Berg.

I know of one Cantonese restaurant in Vienna, at Westbahnhof across from the Post Office when you enter the station from Mariahilferstrasse, ate there once, not bad but it wasn't great, never went back. I've had better in Germany.

Posted by
5448 posts

Maarten Troost's book "Lost on Planet China" starts with:

There are two kinds of people roaming the far fringes of the world:
Mormon missionaries and Chinese businessmen.
http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Planet-China-Understand-Mystifying/dp/0767922018

The corollary to that line about Chinese businessmen is there are Chinese restaurants all over the world serving Chinese style cuisine.

More interesting than eating one of my better meals in Paris at a Chinese restaurant are the Chinese restaurants on the east coast of the US that serve a mix of Asian cuisines -- Chinese restaurants in Philly serving Korean ribs and Japanese sushi.

And then there are the western oriented Chinese hotels serving lox and herring for breakfasts that would match any up scale Scandinavian hotel.

We're living in a multicultural world. Enjoy.

Posted by
516 posts

Yes, that is one thing I noticed quite a bit in Paris, are Chinese restaurants that serve multiple Asian cuisines under one roof: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese... Here in the San Francisco Bay Area that's a bit hard to come across, what with our actual ethnic towns (Japantown, Chinatown, Korea Town, etc.) that offer exactly that particular cuisine. The other thing I noticed about Chinese restaurants abroad are the obvious Chinese decor, i.e., red lanterns hanging outside, red color motifs. Ironically, when we see that same decor on a restaurant around here, we tend to avoid them as tourist traps.

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102 posts

@Fred Agree that a lot of the Chinese food places we had in Germany and Vienna were terrible and catered to western tastes. That's the case everywhere though, here in the States we have P.F. Chang's and Olive Garden for Italian food. Hence the suggestion to ask the server what off fresh items/off the menu dishes are other than the usual orange chicken, fried wontons, random Japanese food item, etc.

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12084 posts

@ Angella....Well, I would not say "terrible," a bit strong. Only one place I felt deserved that description, the one mentioned above in Berlin which is gone now. I would say most of the ones in Germany in the various cities were good, a few mediocre. Chinese restaurants tailored to American tastes and those to German tastes I have not problem with, as long as you know that. Traveling in Germany through the years you do notice that in Germany they have proliferated. In Berlin there is one that offers both versions of Chinese food, the "genuine" version and the Germanised (eingedeutscht) version. How can you tell? Not necessarily by the prices but by the color of the pages in their menu, say, gray pages for one version and orange pages for the other. This restaurant is on Kantstrasse, near Savignyplatz, on the corner, called "Good Friends."

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5448 posts

We dined at a surprisingly good Chinese restaurant in the resort town of McCall, ID (Pop 3000) some 2 hours drive north of Boise. We enjoyed a vegetable dish of Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lon) and a tofu dish with Chinese black mushroomed. Asking where they got these exotic ingredients for a remote Idaho town, the waiter said Sysco (North American food distribution company). It's a smaller world these days.

And I enjoyed one of the better Chinese dinners in Oslo, Norway at the "Dinner Restaurant" at Stortingsgata 22. We had returned to Oslo from a week long pre-Easter ski and Oslo restaurants were fully booked. The Dinner Restaurant was willing to squeeze us in at about if we promised to be finished and out before the the 7PM or 7:30 PM seating with the reservation. (Oslo dinners get the table until closing time). http://dinner.no/nb/

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102 posts

@ Fred - good question. I think it's easier for me to tell which dishes are catered to local tastes and which more traditional because I grew up eating Chinese food in Asia and southern California (San Gabriel Valley). I realize not everyone has this background! If the staff looks trustworthy, personally I would ask the server what their best dishes are or what the chefs recommends. Sometimes even the more cliche dishes like hot and sour soup is wonderful when done right. Side note: I still don't know what "egg foo young" is supposed to be.

Another side note: The first time I went to Europe in the early 90s my relatives put us on this Chinese bus tour of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France. Worst idea ever! They kept feeding us at Chinese restaurants the tour group had partnerships with and some of it was truly terrible. I remember one place everything they served us was deep fried and covered in the pink sweet and sour sauce. We also got soup that was basically chicken broth and corn starch with some frozen peas. I snuck out and got a sandwich at a nearby train station!

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2353 posts

The one that surprised me was burritos in Berlin! They were pretty good too!

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12084 posts

@ Angella...In Berlin at the "Good Friends" the staff inform the customers why the difference in page colour, ie, one for more genuine, authentic dishes, the other tailored for Germans. That is the only one restaurant I've seen that distinguishes the authentic from the Germanised (eingedeutscht )tastes. In France in general the taste is also different from that in Germany when you compare like with like. Try different Chinese restaurants in France, do the same in Germany, you'll concluded the similarity lies in the same country.

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2855 posts

A surprise for us on our recent trip was to see Thai restaurants in Austria, the Czech Republic and small town France. Being from the S.F, Bay Area, and eating great Thai all the time, we gave them a pass. I was curious, however. Also, speaking of adapting to local taste, when we lived in London in the '90's. the Chinese restaurants almost always included "chips" with their dishes.

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12084 posts

I would say in terms of comparing Chinese food with regard to authenticity , at least Cantonese, (don't know about the others..Mandarin, Szechuan, Shanghai, etc) not that catering to American or German taste, ie, neither Americanised or Germanised versions, the Chinese food in London's Chinatown is closest or similar to that in the SF Bay Area. Even when it says "piquant" or "scharf" in German, the taste of that dish is not.

Posted by
102 posts

@Fred, that's a really great idea and hopefully more restaurants will categorize their menus instead of just by poultry, seafood, vegetables, etc. Jitlada (of Food Network fame) in Hollywood does this, but it's much more obvious: All the dishes in the front with glossy pictures, then there's a section of just tiny text in Thai and English.

Also, agree that Cantonese food in London is the bomb! It's so authentic and they have such fresh ingredients. Plus when I was a broke student it was one of the more affordable places to go out and eat.