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Feb 23, 2018
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Best New Restaurant: No. 8 – Private Kitchen

December 14th 10:12am, 2015

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.




A meal at Private Kitchen is equal parts adventure and leisure. Not only is a table at this University City restaurant by reservation only, but chef-owner Lawrence Chen also encourages diners to place their orders for authentic Shanghai cuisine in advance. Head to Private Kitchen’s Facebook page and click through photos of the menu and specific dishes (like the live crab with ginger, pictured below), then make your selection and place your order via email or phone. Consider this a quest, your dragon to slay before entering an enchanted dining kingdom. Your efforts will be well rewarded when that dragon is served to you as spicy lobster with ginger sauce. No, seriously, Chen actually carves the lobster to look like a dragon.

Chen’s fanciful plating of flavorful dishes doesn’t stop there. He breaks down a whole crab for your convenience, but then reassembles the body piled atop the legs to stare (perhaps a bit accusatorily) at you, glossy with ginger sauce. Tender, savory xiao long bao (traditional soup dumplings) arrive plump in a bamboo steamer basket, and a generous mound of sweet-savory kung pao chicken arrives strewn attractively across the plate with edible flower garnishes.

This much advanced planning for a night out may seem inconvenient, but by the time Chen’s wife, Emily Chen, shows you to your table, your work is done. Sit back and enjoy the tranquil little space as your food arrives unbidden and exactly as you wanted it.


Is Private Kitchen your favorite new restaurant of 2015? Click here to vote for this University City Chinese restaurant in the People’s Choice Facebook contest

-photo by Greg Rannells


By Heather Hughes

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