It’s been that bad.
I’ve been warned by family members that it’s not healthy. Yet these same family members eat my Chinese food. Maybe why I keep going back, I’m still hungry.
None of these places are fancy dining. They are the fast food equivalent for Chinese fare. All of these restaurants are local joints in and near the great neighborhood of Irving Park in Chicago. If you’re from Chicago and happen to live on the northwest side of the city, you’ll probably know of these places. But if you’re not and you want a taste of the eats that a Chicagoan would enjoy, keep reading!
1. Eat First (5/5 Schmo Stars)
Best place. They cook in vegetable oil maybe that’s why. The sauces are just right and there’s always a perfect balance of veggies. Their fried rice is really good too. I can tell they actually use eggs. Some places skimp out on the eggs! (like Wok Chinese on Kedzie).
- Happy Delight: combination of beef, chicken, shrimp and scallop.
- Anything off their lunch/dinner menu.
- Yu Shan Beef/ Chicken
- Broccoli Beef
- Shrimp with Vegetables
- Sweet & Sour Chicken
- Egg Drop Soup (lots of egg and scallions!)
- Avocado Smoothie with Tapioca
2. Chen’s (4/5 Schmo Stars)
Nice place run by couple. The lady can be a bit abrasive but she’s nice in her own way. Gave me a bamboo calendar for the holidays. I appreciated that since the other place I frequented so much never did even though I asked. Their Wonton soup is decent and made with chicken stock. Sometimes their sauce is too brown and rich. Depending on what you get, you’ll find too many onions in some dishes. Fried rice is solid. Still haven’t tried their bubble smoothies.
- Kung Pao Chicken (sometimes spelled Kung Po).
Pictured below is Yu Shan Beef. In contrast to the above, this one has too much brown sauce and an abundance of onions. Takes away from the taste of the dish.
3. Lo’s China Kitchen (3.5/5 Schmo Stars)
Only thing good is Orange Beef. Well not really. Their Pot Stickers and Wonton soup have comforted me many a winter’s night. Wonton soup is best. The broth isn’t chicken-based but clear so the flavors of the veggies and dumplings comes through.
This is the only place that offers Orange Beef. They don’t make it with broccoli so I usually have to order it on the side. Make sure to check the totals sometimes they add up stuff just to add up. And everybody is usually very grabby with money as if they’re on the verge of grabbing it out of your wallet.
- Orange Beef
- Wonton Soup
- Pot Stickers
4. #1 Chop Suey (3/5 Schmo Stars)
Changed ownership. Two brothers used to run the joint. Now there’s somebody else there; maybe relations to them? Not sure. But the odd thing about this place is that you can’t reheat the food up. It’s only good the day you get it. Which is why I like my number one pick. I can actually reheat the food and it still tastes good.
Although I have to give them points on their Orange Chicken. It’s very tasty and has some broccoli. For me that’s a good sign. You have to have a bit of broccoli with your Orange Chicken.
Their fried rice is subpar. I wasn’t impressed. Too dry. I wound up trying their Shrimp Chop Suey which was light, non-greasy and full of veggies but drowning with bean sprouts! They didn’t have Shrimp with Vegetables which is another mix that doesn’t have bean sprouts. I also found it weird that their Kung Pao dish had a sign on it that said it didn’t come with pea pods.
Also the neighborhood this place is located in, has been experiencing an increase in crime. A hobo entered in when I was there and harassed the woman taking orders.
5. New China 2 Kitchen by Lane Tech (Schmo Stars pending)
Still in exploratory phase. They are under new management from what I can tell. A portion of the menu is dedicated to noodles dishes with some Thai offerings. My first order I got free Egg Drop soup. It was mostly broth with very little egg.
No recommendations at this point. I’d have to trek out there and right now I prefer Eat First. I’m sure the students at Lane all probably know this place. 😀
Honorable Mention: Panda Express (4/5 Schmo Stars)
While this is not authentic Chinese, Panda does have a consistent taste with their food. You know what you’re going to get.
My choice is always the platter with Chow Mein followed by choices of 2 entrees.
- String Bean Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Broccoli Beef
- Beijing Beef (sweetly spicy)
- SweetFire Chicken Breast
- Milk Teas with Tapioca
That’s about all. Come spring I’ll have to start a Sushi diet to get ready for summer!