If I had a dime for every time someone asked me where to find the best Chinese food in Tampa, I’d probably have enough money to run VIP in the Skyway 10K (which, by the way, you can do here).
The problem with that question, though, is that I’ve never really known the answer. For one, I’m from New York—it’s hard to compete with Flushing’s Chinatown. And, from another perspective, there are simply so many different kinds of Chinese food. I mean, foodies could be looking for anything from a hole-in-the-wall Peking duck house to a family-style restaurant with hearty dishes spinning on lazy susans. Heck, they could even want Panda Express.
Recently, however, I discovered Fletcher Ave’s Beijing House, and—no matter what type of Chinese food diners may be looking for—that is officially the place I will be sending them to.
High-end, yet comforting, Asian fare
Now, if I had to categorize the genre of Chinese restaurant that Beijing House falls into, I’d classify it as that upscale, yet authentic, place that you might take your wealthy in-laws or business clients to flex your refined, cultured taste while still indulging in dishes that are somewhat familiar. Becoming “high-end,” though, was not originally part of the restaurant’s plan.
“When my husband Jason and I came here from China ten years ago,” Beijing House owner Alice Zhang said, “We noticed there were a lot of Asian students at USF. Many of them were homesick, so we started cooking for them. We wanted to help them overcome the homesickness.”
The local student community loved the Zhang’s comfort food and encouraged the pair to open their own restaurant. Alice, with ten years of restaurant experience, and Jason, whose father was a top chef in Beijing, jumped at the opportunity. In 2017, Beijing House was born.
Handmade dishes with imported ingredients
So what accounts for Beijing House’s shift from a homestyle, comforting mom-and-pop to a semi-upscale culinary destination? After a visit to the imperial hot spot, I’d attribute it to the quality of the food and ingredients. The spices used in the kitchen are imported directly from China, and every dish in the restaurant—down to its component parts—is handmade. When the entrées finally arrive on the table, they do so artistically plated on blue and white ceramic.
Whether or not this is the exact type of Chinese food Tampa locals have been looking for, my visit to Beijing House has me convinced I’ve found the Chinese food they need.
Don’t believe me? Then stick around.
The spicy Szechuan menu highlights should do the trick.
Spicy Wontons in Chili Oil
Szechuan cuisine is known for being spicy, and these handmade, pork-filled dumplings certainly bring the heat.
Hailing from Beijing House’s appetizer menu, an order of these is a great way to get your palate ready for the kickin’ meal to come.
Homemade Crab Rangoon
Crab Rangoon is a late-night Chinese delivery classic. All too often, though, this party snack favorite is flash-fried and served straight from a freezer.
That’s not the case at Beijing House. Folded geometrically by hand, Alice and Jason’s Crab Rangoon is homemade daily with fresh wonton paper and a creamy seafood filling.
Chong Qing Spicy Chicken
The Beijing House team describes this dish as a “classic Chinese delicacy not to be missed.” Only problem with that? It’s a special.
So, if you’re a fan of spicy fried chicken (Chik-fil-A sandwich club raise your hands), hurry in and order this plate before it’s gone.
Tea Smoked Duck
The best-selling entrée on Alice and Jason’s menu, the tea smoked half duck is tender, juicy and served with a 10-spice blend that I highly recommend sprinkling generously over the meat.
And if you’re more into dipping and dunking? It also comes with a house-made duck sauce that tastes delicious on a crispy drumstick.
Handmade Noodles with Ginger and Scallion
Beijing House has a few different scratch-made noodle options on the menu, but the best one—in my opinion—is the Ginger and Scallion.
When the team cooks this dish, they steam the noodles with minced garlic (as well as the ingredients above), which infuses every strand with rich, dynamic flavor.
Griddle Cooked Spare Ribs
I don’t know if it was the tender meat, almost crunchy breading, or umami layer of sauce and seasoning that covers them, but the Griddle Cooked Spare Ribs were hands down the best thing I ate at Beijing House.
Presented over leeks, veggies, and a fire lit at your table, this dish is an exciting (and Instagram worthy) must-try.
Satisfying your Szechuan cravings
If Beijing House sounds like the Chinese restaurant you’ve been looking for (trust me, it is), then hurry down to 1441 E Fletcher Ave to satisfy your cravings.
And while you’re there, make sure to request some of Alice’s handmade Suanmeitang plum juice to sip throughout your meal. Szechuan food can get spicy—but that’s why we love it.
Beijing House is open for dine-in and take-out all days except Wednesday. To further explore the menu, foodies can visit the restaurant’s official website, or follow the spot on Instagram and Facebook.
What to read next:
- Bay Rocket Launches in downtown Tampa
- Epicurean to host Feast of the Seven Fishes
- Experience Shadrack’s 1 mile of Christmas Lights
- Large Rodin masterpieces arrive at Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete