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ISO the best orange chicken and chow mein

  • t
  • Tari Jul 19, 2006 10:24 PM
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I have a friend whose birthday is coming up and he LOVES orange chicken and chow mein. What places would you recommend for this? Preferrable in the LAX, West LA area...but if its worth it, I am willing to drive a bit.
Oh, and the orange chicken is to be mildy spiced. He doesn't like Lotus Cuisine because there's is spicey. Of course, I am sure I could request it mild.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions :)

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  1. Goto the source for orange chicken ... PANDA EXPRESS.

    No joke. If they didn't invent the dish, they sure as hell popularized it for the hoi polloi.

    1. The best place on earth for orange chicken and chow mein is Frontier Wok in Burbank on Hollywood Way I believe.

      1. Try Genghis Cohen on Fairfax.

        1. Some of the best renditions of orange chicken are at the Chinese fast food places in the inner city. The very best I've ever had is at a place in the garment district called Lotus Chinese Dishes, 901 E. 12th St. Note, however, they close before dinnertime because of their location. A notch below, but still very good is a place called Glaze (sic) Donuts and Chinese Food, in South Central L.A.. The address is 5827 S. Figueroa St., essentially at the Slauson Ave. offramp to the Harbor Freeway. Both places make their orange chicken crunchy and sweet, and probably charge under $2 for an order.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chandavkl

            actually, the op said the birthday boy doesn't like lotus because it's too spicy.

            now i ask...really, who doesn't like spicy? :)

          2. I have to be honest, Panda Express does the best if you get it immediately fresh. Otherwise, I love the orange chicken from China Lites on Laurel Canyon and Chandler in NoHo -- but a bit of a drive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Sadly this is much the case. Also, you should grab a portion of Garlic Eggplant with Fried Tofu... this dish is darn tasty too. [Side note... my mother loves the Black Pepper Chicken, and if you ask nicely they'll do a new batch for you, even going light on oil and heavier or lighter on pepper.]

            2. Just ran across another orange chicken contender--Little China, 3813 E. Cesar Chavez in East LA has a thin crust on its orange chicken that is extremely crispy, and the sauce has just the right amount of sweetness.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chelmoon

                I'll second Little China--not as good as Lotus Dishes because the crust isn't as thick, but right up there with Panda Express. Also if you're ever in Bakersfield check out Imperial Chinese Food on Ming Ave. It's not a steam table place, and they have a version that's crunchy but the batter is kind of flaky, too--sort of like cracker meal. Never seen a similar version anywhere.

              2. Mao's Kitchen in Venice.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hrhboo

                  For sure Mao's.

                2. the best orange chicken to be had for $6 will be found at uncle john ham and eggs, located on 8th st. i believe in Downtown.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ns1

                    For some reason, that place creeps me out.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      The ghettoness? The chinese restaurant built into a diner? The wonderfully delicious food that can be had for under 7 bucks but absolutely cannot be put in the fridge to be consumed later?

                      haha. It's pretty different, but I totally dig the food/value.

                      1. re: ns1

                        a. The ghettoness
                        b. Chinese restaurant built into diner
                        c. The "no doggy-bag" rule
                        d. All of the above.

                        Answer: d.

                  2. If you want to go just a little fancy for your friend's birthday, PF Chang does a pretty good rendition of Orange Chicken (called Orange Peel Chicken, heck they have OP Shrimp too) and their Chow Mien is good. They taste different from what you'd get from Monterey Park/Alhambra chow mien but it sounds like your friend prefers the Americanized version anyhow.

                    I agree w/ other posters re: freshly made Orange Chicken from Panda Express.

                    1. The best I've had thus far (and by far) is Chang's on San Vicente. Chow mein is decent, too.

                      PS: Don't order the Cheng Pi orange peel chicken by mistake. You want General Tso's chicken, which is their version of orange chicken.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: a_and_w

                        I second the orange chicken at Chang's in Brentwood. Really good. Don't know of their Chow mein

                      2. The orange chicken at plum tree inn in chinatown was the best i'd had. I tihnk they just know how to to batter really well there.Thier general tsao's chicken their sweet and pungent shrimp and honey walnut shrimp have always been some of the best i've had.

                        1. lately I've been going to New Flavors in West LA on Centinela south of Washington Blvd. and getting their number 6 orange chicken lunch special- 5.50$ and very good, I'm sure they could tone down the spice for you. (they have another orange chicken too but the way they prepare the number six is tastier)

                          1. The Szechuan Chicken at Yang Chow in Chinatown is a tangerine-peel version of orange chicken that is my favorite anywhere. It's loaded with chunks of garlic, ginger and whole chili peppers. The OP's friend might consider it too spicy, but I'm sure the staff can tone it down.

                            1. The best orange chicken hands down is the Cheng Pi Chicken at Hu's in Palms, don't have the address handy but you can google.

                              1. Just had the best Orange Chicken ever. Way better than Panda Express (I don't like the way that Panda drenches the pieces in the gooey sticky sauce - it's still good, but not the best). This Orange Chicken I had from Dragon was so lightly breaded, perfect flavoring, and not drenched in sauce (and not spicy btw). I can't wait to eat it again! Photos:
                                http://www2.snapfish.com/slideshow/Al...

                                I also had the Beef Chow Mein, which was also really good and well-flavored. Only thing I didn't like was that the beef was in huge flat pieces - I like the meat to be more bite-sized.

                                Dragon Express
                                10814 Jefferson Blvd
                                Culver City, CA 90230-4994
                                Phone: (310) 838-9868

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: LisaStitch

                                  Thanks so much for the suggestion! I ordered out for Dommy! and I from here tonight. The menu is an odd conglomerations of things. There are no Egg Rolls but Spring Rolls, plus Bao, Shu Mai and various other appetizers. Though they have some Americanized standards, there are some things missing. For example, Dommy was really jonesing for Jade Chicken, a standard at most quickie chinese shops but it wasn't on the menu. The OP was asking about Chow Mein, which the menu has a qualifier calling it Lo Mein. Mushu and Chop Suey are lumped together but it is not clear whether you can order the Americanized Chow Mein [Chop Suey with Crispy Noodles]. Two things I like about this menu is availability of brown rice and healthy steamed dishes with all of their sauces available on the side.

                                  I went in and the place was mostly dark except the neon Open and Chinese Food sign in the window and a few lights from the kitchen. But Ma was sitting at one of the tables stemming and stringing snow peas. Having called 1/2 hour before the food was bagged and ready to go. When I got home we opened the steaming bag of Orange Chicken, Kung Pao Vegetable and brown rice and served ourselves. Pretty good version though I think the chicken steamed a little bit in the plastic take out container. Otherwise, it was very good, not overly sweet and goopy. A good rendition of the dish, although Dommy will take PF Changs Honey Crispy Chicken over it. I haven't had it so I can't compare. But, I wonder if their General Tso's Chicken might be more to Dommy's taste The Kung Pao was not as spicy as I remember from the east, though there were chilis in the dish, which did bring on some heat when bitten into.

                                  Aside from the brown rice option, Dommy really like that everything was flavorful, but not overly salty or sauced. There was not a heavy MSG punch that is most of the type of neighborhood places. Plus she was impressed that the receipt was even in Chinese.

                                  This was better than Hu's Szechwan which we tried a few weeks ago and found to be greasy and salty. Even though Dragon is around the corner from us, we will head to SGV for our Chinese food needs. But every once in a while when the craving hits, this is a good option for the Chinese food of my youth. [Sort of]

                                  Take Care

                                  - P.

                                  Dragon Express
                                  10814 Jefferson Blvd
                                  Culver City, CA 90230
                                  (310) 838-9868

                                  Dragon Express Menu
                                  http://losangeles.menupages.com/print...

                                  Hunt for Orange Chicken Photos
                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/36456197...

                                  -----
                                  Dragon Express
                                  12940 Foothill Blvd Ste A, Sylmar, CA 91342

                                  1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                    For some reason my place link did not work and I cannot remove it so ignore the San Fernando Dragon Express

                                    1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                      Glad you liked it too. And the brown rice. I agree their Kung Pao leaves much to be desired - usually a favorite of mine, but whenever I order from Dragon, I'll be sticking to the Orange Chicken.

                                2. Why don't you surprise your friend and take him to a REAL Chinese restaurant. Please stop eating American Chinese food (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American...) and try the real thing!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: zzztimbo

                                    Good idea!

                                    1. re: zzztimbo

                                      I have eaten MUCH genuine Chinese food (homemade by Chinese folk, San Gabriel Valley, Vancouver and NYC Chinatowns,...) and I still love a good orange chicken.

                                      Hate the orange, not the chicken!