Skip to main content

This NYC restaurant’s $518, 19-course tasting menu of Chinese cuisine is amazing

Chef Guo in New York is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a feast for the senses and the palate

Chef Guo food.
Butterfly Falls in Love with the Flower.

Step inside the restaurant Chef Guo, and the first thing you’ll be greeted with is a majestic model of a ginko tree, the national tree of China, complete with brightly colored golden leaves. The tree cascades over the dining room, a space filled with Chinese calligraphy on the walls and regal Indonesian Zi Tan rosewood chairs. Soft and pleasant Chinese instrumental music plays in the background, an oasis in an otherwise hectic Midtown Manhattan.

Chef Guo is a one-of-a-kind Chinese restaurant serving a particular style of Chinese cuisine that is still relatively hard to find in America: Imperial Chinese cuisine. With its thousands of years of history and culture, it should come as no surprise that Chinese cuisine is endlessly diverse. While there has been an increase in the diversity of Chinese restaurants in America, this style of Chinese cuisine is hard to find even among the plethora of Chinese food in NYC. With 30 years of culinary experience and a pedigree that’s served world leaders at state banquets, Chef Guo Wen Jun is a culinary master with a unique story to tell.

Related Videos

Imperial Chinese cuisine

Dining room at Chef Guo.
Chef Guo dining room. chefguorestaurant/Instagram

Simply put, imperial Chinese cuisine is, as the name suggets, a style of cooking originally designed to grace the table of the emperor of China. Some of the most popular Chinese dishes, such as Peking duck, have origins in this culinary arts style. Since the fall of China’s imperial dynasties, this style is now generally enjoyed at formal occasions, particularly state banquets and other high-end dining events.

Dishes at imperial-style banquets are carefully crafted, focusing on flavor and presentation. Even the choice of color for the plates at Chef Guo has been carefully curated. When guests arrive at Chef Guo, their first dish is already on the table, covered in a yellow domed food plate. This specific yellow color was historically reserved only for the emperor, giving diners at Chef Guo a taste of food fit for a royal setting.

The Chef Guo menu

Chef Guo foie gras plate.
Pan-fried Foie Gras.

To start, dining at Chef Guo is not cheap. The 19-course tasting menu is currently priced at $518 for one. From a pricing standpoint, this is on par with other fine dining restaurants. While the price tag might be eye-catching, it’s not that far-fetched for fine dining in NYC, especially when several sushi omakases in the city run north of $500 per person.

At first, 19 courses seems overwhelming to the stomach, but the tasting menu is surprisingly light. A key aspect of achieving this balance is Chef Guo’s emphasis on tea pairings. Three rare teas are served at different stages of the meal: White Pekoe Silver Needle Tea from Fujian Province, Big Red Robe Tea, and earthy Pu’er tea. The result is that these teas act as a palate cleanser and pair well with the luxury of the many food courses.

Each of the courses is presented beautifully and with an artistic flair. While all of the courses are delicious, two items stand out: The first dish, Butterfly Falls in Love with the Flower, made with edible rice paper “butterflies,” and the Sea Bass with Fried Noodles. The sea bass is delicate yet rich, covered in a sweet and sour sauce that’s perfect with the crispness of the thin noodles on top. Wash it down with a sip of the fruity Red Robe tea, and the bite will be perfection.

Editors' Recommendations

How to reheat tamales: Learn the secret to every method
Enjoy tamales just as much the second time around
Our Place tamales.

Tamales are one of the tastiest and most popular dishes for a night out on the town, complete with a few frosty margaritas. A traditional Mesoamerican dish, tamales are stuffed with meats or beans and cheese and wrapped in a banana leaf or a corn husk. Steamed and served with pico de gallo and rice, they make for a delightful dish that's easy to make and packed with flavor and spice.

Tamales are easy to prepare and a great option to make ahead of time and reheat for a quick meal on the go. Whether homemade or store-bought, there are a few tips you'll want to know when reheating them so that you can savor all the goodness these little flavor pouches have to offer. Whether you want to use a steamer, microwave, stove, oven, or air fryer, here are the best ways to make sure you get the perfect hot tamale.

Read more
This fish cooking trick gives you perfect crispy skin without messing up the pan
How to cook fish: The secret is something you probably already have in your pantry
parchment paper tip for cooking fish salmon

Fish is one of those foods that a lot of us don't often cook at home. It's finicky, sometimes tricky to get just right, and often sticks in a way that makes you want to just throw the damned pan in the garbage can instead of the sink for two days of soaking. If these frustrations are familiar to you, take a deep breath. We're here with a solution.

This clever little hack from ChefSteps is here to save your cookware and your sanity with just one quick and easy addition to your fish cooking process — parchment paper. Parchment paper, that humble little sheet that helps your cookies bake perfectly, can also save your pans from a sticky fish fiasco.
How to cook fish with perfectly crispy skin and zero frustrating clean-up

Read more
Study: Which fast food restaurant gives you the worst bang for your buck?
Fast-casual restaurants: Where customers say they get the most value for their money
fast food and casual restarants with worst bang for buck burgers on grill

Whether we care to admit it or not, we all have our favorite fast-food restaurants. For all the bad rap they get, there's really just no comparing their convenience or ability to satisfy that insane, so-bad-it's-good, otherworldy craving for a greasy brown bagged burger and fries. Say what you will about the extra fat and calories, overly processed ingredients, and insane levels of sodium and cholesterol. At the end of the day, sometimes you've just got to give in and be bad.

And while we all have our favorites, from McDonald's to Jimmy John's, in a recent study, some fast-casual restaurants fared better than others when it came down to the best bang for your buck.

Read more