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Best Orange Flavored Chicken???

Fellow Chowhounds, I need your help:

Where can I get the BEST Orange Flavored Chicken in the city?

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  1. The best I've had is an unusual version served at the alas defunct Szechuan Taste on the corner of Chatham Square.

    It had big chunks of boneless thighs, very lightly fried without a crust, large pieces (1" square) of dried orange peel, and big chunks of nearly raw white onions. It had only a little orange juice and no gloppy sweet sauce. What it did have was a few fermented black beans, a small amount of hoisin, a bit of ginger and garlic and Szechuan peppercorns. Absolutely delectable.

    Does anyone know of a similar version, or where the Szechuan Taste chef is now?

    1. Malaysia in the arcade (Bowery-Elizabeth)

      1. That is more or less the proper/original dish. That place in the arcade makes it that way? Good to know.

        1. Hopefully Panda Express will open up in Manhattan one of these days. While they didn't invent orange chicken, they've mastered the formula, at a fraction of the price you'd pay at a sit-down restaurant.

          1. Which sort? The Americanized version or the original one?

            1. The description that "KRS" gave was what I was thinking of. Anymore places in the city where I can find this?

              1. Malaysia's version has a slight crust and comes in smaller pieces. Very light sauce with lots of flavor.

                1. KRS -- yes, yes, yes! I remember it too. Everywhere else seems to make the sweet, gloppy breaded version, Wu Liang Ye and Grand Sichuan included.

                  Szechuan Taste closed a long time ago. It's possible the chef is in a nursing home.

                  Is Panda Express the place at all the airports? If so, Chandavki, are you saying that with a straight face?


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                    Panda Express may have a handful of airport locations out of their 800 stores, but they really haven't tapped into the airport market yet. They're more into shopping mall food courts and locations like that and I'm kind of surprised they haven't moved into Manhattan yet. I presume it's just a matter of time. While Chowhounds don't take Panda Express particularly seriously, if you're talking about Americanized Chinese orange chicken, theirs is difficult to beat.

                    1. re: Mickey Blue

                      Unfortunately, the closest Panda Express is in the Jersey City Newport Center. Given that they have 800 locations nationwide, I would think they would be targeting Manhattan fairly soon.

                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                          I know it's hard to believe, but if orange chicken is what you're looking for this really sets the standard.


                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            Panda's orange chicken is like crack but I don't think it's quite what the OP is looking for. Sounds like he wants something slightly more authentic. Unfortunately, orange chicken gets categorized as Americanized chinese at a place like Grand Sichuan, which does an awful version of the dish.

                    2. Why, with no less than 3 Chinatowns to choose from, would NYC need or want a shopping mall Chinese food chain?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Woodside Al

                        4 if you include Avenue U. But don't forget that Domino's is in New York City.

                      2. Yeah, true. And Subway. But I still have no idea who orders from them around here or why. I'll freely admit to being a curmudgeon when it comes to the malling and Americanizing of NYC. If I wanted to eat that stuff I could've saved myself the trouble of moving here.

                        I too remember the old original Szechuan versions of this dish from way back that were like what KRS describes. That version was also available in Toronto and other Chinese communities in Canada back then, but I'm not sure if you'd find it anymore. Much superior IMO to the sugary gloppy version that all places, even the more "authentic" Szechuan ones as you point out, seem to serve now. Not something I would order these days.

                        1. I think there's something of a Gresham's Law with Chinese food. If there's a bad version of a dish that appeals to tourists, it drives out the good. I've had an incredible version of sweet and sour pork in China -- roast, not breaded, pork served with a clear sauce -- but have given up hope of finding it here.

                          I dont know where to find the orange flavor here; if I had to guess, I'd suggest Wu Liang Ye (tangerine beef) or Joe's Shanghai.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Brian S

                            What's the tangerine beef at WLY like?

                            1. re: Peter Cherches

                              I never tried it, though I read a glowing account on an old eGullet thresd, that's why I wrote "if I had to guess" I've being slowly eating my way through the menu at Xiao La Jiao in Flushing, that's been my only Sichuan experience lately.

                          2. Doesn't everything at Panda Express come off a steam table, like that execrable Yip's place on W 48th St.?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MikeG

                              Yes, it's either heat lamp or steam table. However with the volume and turnover they have, that's not an issue during peak eating hours.

                            2. The horrid Yip's is on 52nd. The place on 48th is actually decent for Chinatown sytle takeout.

                              1. We'll have to agree to disagree about that. Just the thought that there could be a place worse than the one on 48th St is kind of horrifying. The only worse Chinese food I've ever seen in that neighborhood (I left, didn't order anything) was another steam table place that used to be upstairs not far east of Sixth, but it's been gone for at least a few years now. I won't say worse doesn't exist, but I haven't found it over many years of eating Chinese all over the city...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MikeG

                                  you mean the chinese place that turned into a jewish deli that was a few doors down on 48th? i thought that place was pretty good too. they had whole steamed fish and whole fried fish.

                                  as for hing won, u dont have eat the premade stuff. They do a salted fish/chicken fried rice, which u dont see in many takeout places. They have 2 varieties of 3-bo rice, one with roast meats and the other with chinese sausages/chinese bacon/vermicelli.

                                2. A few doors down from where? I don't recall a "Jewish" deli anywhere between 7th and 5th Aves. on 48th St. The gross steam table place I mentioned was between 6th & 5th, upstairs from a mediocre pizza place, right next door to where Weber's was (or maybe still is?)

                                  Neither it nor Yip's (which is in the street level space in the 1221 Sixth Ave bldg) has ever had anything remotely like whole fish on their menus. They're fast-food, lunchtime, steam table joints that serve poor versions of Americanized Chinese after letting them sit on a steam table for however long it takes them to sell out of the particular item. And apart from everything else that was wrong with it, the food at Yip's always tasted affirmatively sweet. Not sure I even want to know how they make beef with broccoli "sweet", but I certainly don't want to eat it. Since it was right there in the lobby, I did try to on several occasions for convenience's sake, but finally just couldn't anymore. (And when it comes to lunch in Midtown, I'm really not that picky.)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MikeG

                                    I don't like Yip's either.

                                    i can't tell if were talking about the place same for the place on 48th. It was betw 5 and 6th closer to sixth, past hing won and the otb. If i wasn't so lazy i'd walk over there to find out what its next to. you had to go up a flight of stairs, it had a bunch of premade stuff on a counter and like 10 tables to sit at. That place definitely had fried and steamed fish and other random dishes that you could order. I had the fried one once and saw someone else eating the steamed and decided it was too messy to try.

                                  2. Maybe it is the same place, I never got further than the steam table though apparently I was wrong to judge them only by that. But in my defense I'll say it's bizarre that a place that has good food anywhere on the menu would serve that other stuff too!

                                    Exactly where the OTB was/is is getting fuzzy, but this was much closer to 6th than 5th; almost across the street from Shaan, when it was there.

                                    1. "However with the volume and turnover they have, that's not an issue during peak eating hours."

                                      Do you mean at Yip's? I still disagree - I think the steam table is just the coup de grace. When push comes to shove I'll eat almost anything, but I could rarely finish anything I got from Yip's. Not because it "offended my palate," but because it was so unenjoyable that I didn't see the point. There may be a thing or two on the menu that're "safer" than others, but I never found it. Either that or, defying the odds, the place has gotten a lot better than it was a few years ago.

                                      1. I think he means Panda Express, which is equally excerable, just in a white-bread suburban shopping mall food court kind of way. Their orange chicken tastes as sweet as Captain Crunch.

                                        1. I'm from southern California and I confess that I have made the trip to Jersey City for the yummy orange chicken.

                                          Actually, I really like the orange chicken at Mama Buddha on Hudson. It has a really palpable orange kick---sort of like what the second poster described.