From a "pie house" specializing in Frisbee-sized xian bing meat pies in California to a Peking duck stall in Flushing, Queens, the U.S. is chock full of life-changing Chinese restaurants, and the vast majority of them will let you take your food to go. So cancel your dinner plans, because we're rounding up the 15 best Chinese take-out spots in America.
#5) Corner 28 Peking Duck Stall, Flushing, New York
Hand-carved to order Peking duck for $1 — cheap eats this good rarely come cheaper. This stall attached to Corner 28 restaurant in Flushing, N.Y., is reason enough to visit this vibrant Queens neighborhood. The skin is crisp, the meat moist, and those familiar accompaniments of hoisin sauce and scallions work in harmony just as they have for more than 600 years. As it's a street stall, you’ll have no option but to order takeout, which gives you more time to explore the many gems dotted throughout the area.
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#4) Xi’An Famous Foods, NYC
With several no-frills locations in New York, including Flushing, Chinatown, and the East Village, Xi’An is one of the only places in the country to get your fix of the traditional foods of the Chinese city Xi’An, and you’ll be glad you did: go for any of the hand-pulled noodle dishes, like the spicy cumin lamb, or try the $2 lamb ‘burgers,’ which are more like spiced meat patties. The flavors you’ll try will be unlike any you’ve ever had, and we suggest getting your order to go so you can experience them in the comfort of your own home.
Photo Credit: Xi'An Famous Foods
#3) San Tung Restaurant, San Francisco
This perennially packed restaurant serves an array of dough-based items like dumplings and fresh-cut noodles (try the shrimp and leek dumplings or dry black bean sauce noodles), but the dish that has most people lined up out the door nearly every night are the dry-fried chicken wings. With a shatter-crisp exterior, they’re about as far from Buffalo as you can get and come slicked with spicy garlic sauce bolstered by even more red chile heat. Forego the rice and snag some garlic string beans to counteract all that heat.
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#2) Koi Palace, Daly City, Calif.
The secret to this perpetually-crowded Hong Kong-style restaurant’s success? Sending their staff to Asia on occasion to learn about the newest dining trends and then incorporating them into the menu. This sprawling restaurant/ event space opened in 1996 and has been one of the Bay Area’s top Chinese spots since Day 1. World-class dim sum is the name of the game during lunchtime, but once dinner rolls around it becomes a seafood destination, with entire menu sections dedicated to abalone, crab, shrimp, and lobster. While these preparations are spot-on authentic, there’s plenty of room to be daring: goose intestine chow fun, anyone? We’ll stick with the whole suckling pig, selling for $190, or their legendary Shanghai crab dumplings.
Photo Credit: Flickr / Bryce Edwards
#1) Lao Sze Chuan, Chicago
If you live near Chicago and haven’t been to Lao Sze Chuan, here’s a word of advice: Go. Now. You can consider yourself fortunate to be living in a city that’s home to a Chinese restaurant of this caliber, run by Tony Hu, dubbed the mayor of Chinatown and proprietor of a handful of restaurants throughout the city. The Chinatown original is the best, though, and folks are lining up every night to get in. The Szechuan fare served here is spicy and intensely flavorful, and it’s racked up accolades including three forks from the Chicago Tribune and a designated ‘bib gourmand’ in the Michelin Guide. Classics like ma po tofu, cumin lamb, dry chili chicken, and twice-cooked pork are flawless, and the house specialties — like Tony’s Three Chili Chicken: sweet, crispy, moist, and not too spicy — will keep you coming back (or ordering delivery) again and again.
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Travel to just about any city in America and odds are there'll be a Chinese restaurant nearby. Convenient, inexpensive and full of flavor, Chinese food is one of the country's great adopted cuisines. But for many, trying to replicate the flavors of Chinese cuisine in your own kitchen can present a challenge -- even to the more skilled gastronomes among us. Even if you know how to wok-fry and double-steam with the best of them, ordering Chinese remains one of the most popular takeout and delivery options around, right up there with pizza (but with far more variety).
From Sichuan and Canton to Shandong and Beijing, we're a fortunate nation to have so many provincial Chinese cuisines represented not just in the larger metropolises but throughout the lower 48 and beyond. Whether you're sampling San Tung's addictive chicken wings on the run in San Francisco or tucking into some insanely delicious hand-pulled noodles from New York's Xi'An Famous Foods, the restaurants on our list are certainly worth writing home about.
The Daily Meal searched America to seek out the best Chinese takeout, from strip mall nooks and holes-in-the-wall to bustling Chinatown institutions and bold new kids on the block. We consulted our own group of chefs and city experts, James Beard Award-winning and nominated chefs like Ken Oringer and Anita Lo and both nationally and locally trusted sources online and in print in cities across the country. Some great places didn't make the list, but after qualifying the food based on authenticity to regional cuisine, speed and of course, flavor, the food from these 15 places emerged as the clear winners.
For those with a coastal bias -- don't despair. There's many a specialized delicacy to be found all over the country. So brush up on your chopsticks skills, it's time to get down to business.