Best Casual Chinese 2010

Gold: Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen

Silver: Alvin Garden
Bronze: Koon Bo Seafood
Honourable Mention: Ho Yuen Kee
Honourable Mention: Dai Tung

The xiao long bao buns at perennially Gold-winning Chen’s “burst with clean, delicate porky broth.” Save room for perfect Shanghainese desserts like black-sesame pastry and red-bean spring rolls. “The most consistently exciting restaurant over the last year,” enthused one judge of Alvin Garden (Silver), “manages a level of finesse usually beyond the grasp of casual rooms.” Piquant Hunan fare delivers sourness, deep chili heat, and rich smokiness. At packed Koon Bo (Bronze), focused Hong Kong-style cooking amps the sweet and sour of old Chinatown. Must-orders: stir-fried beef with house-made pickles, honey garlic pork in a basket of fried noodles, and (order ahead) crispy chicken. Honourable Mentions: Ho Yuen Kee (try the ethereal dungeness crab) and dim sum mecca Dai Tung (for the salted chicken, and the impressive selection of egg tarts).