The soup dumplings at RedFarm, a new restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, could not be more authentic. The wrappers are supple and tender, the crab-and-pork filling succulent, the broth luscious and pure. But you can pair them with a Taipei Sparkler—a cocktail made with blanc de blancs Champagne and shochu infused with the sorghum liqueur China Rose—and follow them up with a well-seared prime rib.
With its high-energy room and lively crowd, RedFarm is at the forefront of the dining scene in Manhattan. It is also leading a trend in New York City and Los Angeles toward keeping Chinese cuisine real while broadening its appeal with contemporary decor, polished service, ambitious cocktail programs, and menus that reach beyond regional Chinese fare. The RedFarm menu includes a solid section of classic dim sum and noodles, but it also features such innovations as egg rolls stuffed with the famous pastrami from Katz’s Delicatessen and a genius version of eggplant bruschetta, with thin slices of the vegetable fried crisp and topped with smoked salmon and caviar. At the original RedFarm location in Greenwich Village, the co-owners—Ed Schoenfeld and the dim sum master Joe Ng—have converted the lower level of the restaurant into Decoy, where they serve whole Peking duck and various dishes made with the bird, all paired with custom cocktails.
Not far from Manhattan’s Chinatown, the new China Blue focuses on Shanghai specialties in an outsize dining room that appears to have time-traveled from 1930s Shanghai. The owners are Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang, who hold a Michelin star for their midtown restaurant Café China. At China Blue, they offer traditional dishes such as lion’s head—an oversize meatball—and eel dishes to go with scotch-based cocktails.
In Los Angeles, Wolfgang Puck has opened Nest, a stylish new lounge attached to his modern Chinese restaurant WP24. Diners can take in a sweeping, 24th-floor view of the city while ordering crisp black-pepper pork belly and a Bourbon Buddha, made with Buffalo Trace, Aperol, sage, and lemon. Other standouts on the menu include a shrimp and scallop stir fry with bok choy, golden chives, and scallion, and sambal sea bass with lime, over-easy egg, and coconut rice.
And Hakkasan, the London-based restaurant group, has opened its 12th location, in Beverly Hills. In a dining room heavy on the glitz, it serves updated Cantonese dishes such as wok-fried quail with five-spice seasoning and tea-smoked pork ribs. You also can order duck with caviar or truffles, or a California vegetable salad with ginger-lemongrass vinaigrette. From all reports, Mr. Chow now has competition on both the cuisine and celebrity fronts.