In Gut Check's experience, there aren't enough Chinese restaurants in the St. Louis area offering sizzling rice soup on their menus, and Hunan and Peking Garden's (1262 Old Orchard Center, Manchester; 636-227-6445) is worth the jaunt to West County. The soup is designed to be shared between two people, and it's offered that way on the menu. Upon arriving at the table, you immediately understand where the soup gets its name: The server places a large crispy rice patty on the top of the hot soup, resulting in a mouthwatering sizzle.
It only gets better from there. Once the soup is cool enough to eat, you're greeted with a wonderfully savory broth that borders on buttery. Hidden underneath a canopy of crispy rice are loads of small shrimp, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, pea pods, carrots and mushrooms. It's hard to stop with one bowl, especially because the serving comes with plenty for seconds and still some for leftovers. However, it's recommended to leave some room for the rest of the menu.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#74: Straw and Hay Pasta at Trattoria Marcella #75: Spaghetti Pomodoro at Babbo's Spaghetteria #76: Shrimp Fajitas at El Matador #77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong #80: Ba-Mee Mhoo Dang at Basil Spice #81: Catfish Platter at the Gumbo Shop #82: Shrimp & Andouille Flatbread at the Shaved Duck #83: Vegetarian Pasta at Terrene #84: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms at Zia's #85: Legend Club at LeGrand's Market & Catering #86: City Coffeehouse & Crêperie's Nutella-Banana Crêpe #87: Raw Vegetable Lasagna at Scape #88: Quesadilla Azteca from Tower Tacos #89: The Perfect Pear at Foundation Grounds #90: Banh Mi Sandwich from Sweet Art #91: Chicken and Dumplings at Yummies Soul Food Cafe #92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau