Ian Froeb's STL 100 (2018 archive)

Photo by Laurie Skrivan (Post-Dispatch)

Cate Zone Chinese Cafe

If you want to understand the recent growth of regional-Chinese restaurants in St. Louis in a single dish, order Cate Zone Chinese Cafe’s traditional sweet-and-sour pork. Instead of the treacly sauce you might associate with “sweet and sour,” this dish dresses crisp fried pork cutlets in a light sauce snapping with ginger. This is one of many dishes highlighting Dongbei cuisine from China’s northeast at Daniel Ma and Quincy Lin’s restaurant. The menu isn’t restricted to Dongbei fare, but more familiar Szechuan dishes aren’t as memorable as a hearty soup of beef and enoki mushrooms or a sour, funky broth with glass noodles, cabbage and pork.

Hours: Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday (closed Monday)

Last year's ranking: New this year

Opened: 2016

Must order: Traditional sweet-and-sour pork ($12.99)