Cullenary #1: Tsingtao


Welcome to a brand new series on The Shield. My name is Ian Cullen ’21, and my series, Cullenary, will be based off food and restaurant reviews.

Ian’s Cullenary Presents: TSINGTAO HOUSE

2831 W Henrietta Rd
Rochester, NY 14623

To my knowledge, this is the best overall Chinese spot in Rochester. Located right down the road from the RIT campus and Marketplace Mall, this place attracts a lot of its guests from the local college, and there were lots of young students sitting together. The restaurant is named after the city of Qingdao, the source of the Tsingtao Brewery‘s name. The food was served hot and was definitely enough in terms of portion size. Our waiter was a tall, extremely kind young man who gave us kind recommendations on what we should order.
Now, the dining room, which is the only place to eat in the restaurant, was rather small. It was about half full, and this was a Saturday at around 7 PM, where most places are at their busiest. I can only assume that this place has been flying under the radar and could use more attention.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the fact that we ordered on tablets! This makes the process a mix of the traditional with the vaguely modern. The online menu did cause some confusion for the family, and we took what seemed like forever to order our food. But, as you might notice from the picture below, the menu was also typed out, full length, in Chinese characters. Between that, the usual Chinese paintings of dragons and landmarks looming over the walls of the dining room, and the statues and large fountain that greet the hungry guests in the lobby, the décor definitely gives the place the feel of an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Of course, you’re here to talk about the food. I ordered the sizzling beef, which is considered one of the favorites. It was served steaming hot, extremely tender, and well-cooked. The spicy lamb with cumin was delicious, considering how spicy it was–well, spicy for me, at least. Just like any Chinese place, the fried pork dumplings are a must-have, and the pork egg rolls are solid as well. All of the entrées come with seasonal vegetables and sides of steaming jasmine rice. The meat was all well-seasoned, and not too dry, either. The flavor for all of these dishes was second to none. Everything on the electronic menu came with a gauge on how spicy that particular plate was, with one being the least spicy and five being the most, and shades of orange and red corresponding with the increasing numbers. The food was served on nice clean plates, sizzling hot, and in portions that were perfectly priced—affordable and abundant enough for leftovers. The authenticity of the food, alongside the look and feel of the restaurant itself, is what really makes this place special. My parents and I have always been big on classic, traditional places that make you original homegrown recipes.

There are a few complaints that I have, but they’re pretty minor. The menu is not super kid-friendly (mainly because there’s lots of spice in the food), and there is nothing gluten-free on the menu, to my recollection. Lastly, there is no delivery. However, I can’t complain too much, as there is take-out and it is at an affordable price. Mind you, this is nothing like Chinese takeout. This is also not comfort food from a buffet. If you’re looking for classic Chinese that makes you feel like you’re in China, and then want to actually go to China, then this is definitely the place for you.

By the Numbers

  • Atmosphere: 4/5.
  • Authenticity: 5/5.
  • Food: 4/5.
  • Price: 4/5.
  • Service: 5/5.
  • Total: 4.4/5.