Finding a "secret" Chinese restaurant in Madrid


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Signs of a good restaurant:
Popular with people from the region where the food comes from. Check.
Despite being hard to find and unadvertised, it’s always full, based on word of mouth alone. Check.
Yeah, that looks like a good restaurant.
I have a fondness for unassuming, authentic hole-in-the-wall places because they’re good bets. I need to do some rigorous testing though. Lots and lots of testing.


"The Underground."



I love how non-Chinese are always ‘foreigners’ to Chinese people, no matter what country they happen to be in.


I don’t think this is quite as reliable as we’d all hope. Probably because all regions/cultures have plenty of people who are perfectly happy with mediocre restaurants.

I would think it’s an especially dubious yardstick when it comes to Chinese restaurants in touristy parts of Europe, because there is a whole category of Chinese restaurants that exist almost entirely to serve Chinese tour groups.

When this New Yorker article about said tour groups came out, I did a little sleuthing of my own on some of the restaurants described and didn’t find any really enthusiastic reports about any of them – they’re not entirely unknown to non-Chinese, and they’re generally said to be mediocre. And yet they thrive because to many Chinese tourists, even mediocre Chinese food is preferable to European food.

And indeed in my hometown (in Canada) I know of at least one big, popular and distinctly middling Chinese restaurant that does a booming lunch business with Chinese package tours. You’d be ill-advised to sit down just because it’s jammed with Chinese people.


It’s the same with a lot of English ex-pats too.


I think I’ll stop by after work tomorrow and give it a try. Nos vemos mañana.


You mean if a lot of Americans living in, say, Madrid, like to eat at the local McDonalds, that doesn’t make McDonalds a great restaurant?


You’re being pretty generous there, insinuating that McDonald’s achieves mediocrity.


‘Dim Sum’ (the name of the restaurant) in Glasgow is always full of Chinese people and, from what I’ve tasted, the food is amazing. Well worth checking out if you can avoid the gangs. Only joking. Glasgow is full of hipsters like everywhere else.


True, but the opposite is a pretty good indicator of quality going the opposite way - if you go into a Chinese restaurant and there are no Chinese people eating there, that says something… really, a restaurant that’s popular with people from that region isn’t guaranteed to be good so much that it’s an indicator that it’s better than the restaurants that aren’t.
Restaurants full of tourists on package deals, on the other hand, are reliable contra-indicators of quality; also, as you say, tourist traps aren’t “popular” - they’re just crowded.

There’s nothing “regional” about McDonalds, though.


have lived in Madrid for years. plaza de españa is far from hidden. it is one of the biggest plazas on the main tourist strip. this place is really well known and definitely good but most locals check out a number of gems in the Usera neighbourhood to the south side of the river.


True, but I’m betting your average Madridian (Madridite?) doesn’t appreciate that distinction.


Yes. They must first aspire to mediocrity.


There are some Chinese dishes that are a bit too much of an acquired taste, but I guess they would steer you away from those.
Used to go to a dim sum that served from carts - some would go right past non-Chinese tables and if you tried to wave them down, they would tell you you don’t like it.


“Aquired tastes” are the best kinds. I hate restaurants that try to wave you away from things they’ve decided you don’t want. With me at least, they’re always wrong.

I can’t believe anyone from a developed country would mistake McD’s for anything other than global pap.


Madrileño, I think it is.


Mandarin and Cantonese have several formal and informal words for non-Chinese. Foreigner is an English word. Translations are imperfect. Just something to bear in mind.




There’s nothing “regional” about McDonalds, though.

There is nothing regional about Chinese food either.
More than one and a half billion(!) people eat it every day.
In my little town, much closer to Madrid than to Peking, there are at least five times more China restaurants than McD’s.