Ian Froeb's STL 100

Photo by J.B. Forbes (Post-Dispatch)


Private Kitchen and Soup Dumplings STL

Five years after Lawrence and Emily Chen opened Private Kitchen in University City, there is still nothing else like it in St. Louis. Not that you could replicate what the Chens have accomplished here: a reservations-only dinner that Lawrence cooks (from a menu you select when you make a reservation) and artistically plates while Emily looks after the tiny dining room. The cooking, generally drawn from Shanghai and the surrounding region, continues to stagger, whether the creation is new to you — for me, on my most recent visit, it was stupefyingly rich cherries stuffed with foie gras — or the soup dumplings, Peking duck or another of the dishes that, after five years, we can call Private Kitchen classics. Not in the mood for the full Private Kitchen experience? The Chens' Soup Dumplings STL offers its namesake dish in the same shopping strip.

Hours: Private Kitchen: Dinner daily (closed Tuesday); Soup Dumplings STL: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily (closed Tuesday)

Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best

Opened: 2015

Many St. Louis-area restaurants are closed or limiting their dining options during the coronavirus pandemic.