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Jun 16, 2008 11:14 AM

Best General Tso's Chicken in Manhattan or Brooklyn- HELP?

I know this topic has been covered before, but I haven't found really good info on it: where, pray tell, is the best General Tso's chicken in NYC (Manhattan or Brooklyn)?

(What does "best" mean? Well, sweet and spicy, crispy, with a sauce that tastes so yummy that it itself on white rice could constitute a meal!)

Please weigh in here- there are a gazillion places in NYC that have this dish- but which hit it out of the park? Oh, and by the way- if any of you have ever tried the General Tso's Chicken at Tai Chi on Polk street in San Francisco- that is what I consider to be heaven on a plate. I dream about the dish at that place.

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  1. I haven't tried the General Tso's specifically, but Szechuan Gourmet did the best fried dishes of any Chinese restaurant I found in Manhattan. Another place I liked was Home's Kitchen, which flavored the sauce with actual fruit. Avoid Grand Sichuan's version, which is never crisp.

    9 Replies
    1. re: a_and_w

      Szechuan Gourmet's version isn't very good.

      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

        Thanks for the replies, people. I wish more posters were interested in this subject- I know it's not as glamorous a topic as "what should I order at Babbo"? but it's still important.

        We're talking about General Tso's, here- let's get our priorities straight!

        1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

          D'oh! Try the crispy chicken with spicy garlic sauce. Like a spicier, more garlicky, less sweet version of General Tso's.

          1. re: a_and_w

            Tried this dish today. Bleccch. Usually "...with spicy garlic sauce" at SG means the meat item is evenly and thoroughly coated in a tasty,greasy and spicy sauce laden with slices of garlic. This was basically just hot sauce poured on top of some refried chicken chunks. They completely missed one side of the dish so i had some pieces of chicken that were completely uncoated. The chicken chunks themselves were way overcooked, some of the pieces were actually hard. They were dark meat pieces too which was why I was so surprised. I guess they were refried because I don't think enough time elapsed for a fresh batch of chicken to be ruined like that. My order was picked up within 10 minutes of it being placed.
            I also tried the Stir Fried Intestines w/ Chili & Snakes beans. Absolutely delicious. The outside was perfectly crispy, almost crunchy in texture (it reminded me of pork rinds) while the inside was soft and creamy. Initially I wondered why this dish was unsauced and very dry but once I got about halfway through it I figured out why. The pieces of intestine were still crispy and not soggy like they would've been with sauce. If it wasn't 14.95 I'd eat this every day.

            1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

              Sounds like you got a bad batch. The chicken should be fried twice, which keeps it crisp in sauce -- yours was obviously overcooked. The sauce should come in a separate container and have lots of minced garlic. I'm curious, did you have this experience at dinner or lunch?

              1. re: a_and_w

                It was lunch. I've had coworkers (who didn't believe me about the dish) order the same thing and end up with the same result. it's just really really deep fried pieces of chicken with their chili oil poured into a corner. I haven't seen any bits of garlic.

                1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                  Weird. I'm not dismissing your experience, but I have ordered this dish many times. For years, it was part of my weekly dinner rotation. Unless the recipe has changed, or it's different for lunch, the sauce is not just chili oil (at a minimum, there's also cornstarch), there should be lots of minced garlic, and everything should be packed separately. When you say your coworkers were surprised, was this because they'd ordered it before and expected something different? Sorry for all the questions -- I'm just trying to figure out the reason for our disconnect.

                  PS: When you say the sauce was just chili oil, do you mean like the mapo tofu?

                  PPS: I was just looking at the menu. Do they no longer offer the deep fried diced chicken (bone-in) with chili?

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Hang on...I was just looking at an old menu...I may be thinking of the Amazing Spicy Chicken, which was "fried chunk chicken, broccoli, fried potato in chef's special sauce." Looks like that and the deep-fried diced chicken (with bone) with chilis are no longer on the menu. Sorry for any confusion.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      im confused... we were talking about L23 Crispy Chicken with Spicy Garlic Sauce right? My coworkers and I were surprised that it was just pieces of chicken with chili oil drizzled on top. No garlic to be found anywhere.

                      I don't think I've had a deep fried bone in chicken with chili dish.

        2. Sounds unlikely: it's at Vynl on 8th Ave in Hell's Kitchen. No mystery parts, the sauce is great and has a touch of sesame oil, and it's served with some nice broccoli. It was a special for a long time and they recently added it as a permanent menu item.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jakew8

            Vynl is on 9th Ave at 51st. I haven't ever dared to sample this dish there. Overall I've found the food quality has gone way downhill since their rapid expansion.

          2. My partner and I visit The Nice Green Bo (formerly The New Green Bo) on Bayard Street weekly for their General Tso's chicken. We order the all-white meat version and request it extra-spicy (I'm usually a dark meat guy, but the white-meat version is more crispy).

            If you're there with a group, also try the salt & pepper squid and the eggplant with garlic sauce. We also get the pork soup dumplings from time to time, but have to admit that Joe's Shanghai's version is much tastier.

            1. White meat General Tso's is most certainly heretical in my book. Also, my hunch is the best General Tso's (at least as far as this thread is concerned) is not going to be found in Chinatown, but somewhere that caters to non-Chinese clientèle.

              Twan, I'm glad you asked the question, it's a good one and I wish I had a worthy answer for you. Unfortunately I've not found a General Tso's in the city that really stands out. I think one probably exists, but I haven't heard of it.

              It's probably worth giving Yummy House a try. I haven't had their General Tso's, but I think they're a cut above most neighborhood Chinese joints (I'm a big fan of their Chicken and Eggplant).

              5 Replies
              1. re: zEli173

                kind of funny that im this post since im pretty anti-americanized chinese food, but i believe shun lee invented the dish in the 70s, you should try it there

                there is an article (might be NYT) about it, its based off a dish from a taiwanese chef, which is in turn based of a hunan dish i believe...shun lee and another restaurant in turn created an americanized version of the dish which was nothing like the chinese or taiwanese dish

                1. re: Lau

                  Yes, Jennifer 8 Lee of the New York Times explains all this in her book, Fortune Cookie Chronicles, which establishes the early 1970s New York city roots of this dish at Shun Lee and Hunam restaurants.

                2. re: zEli173

                  I think it's amazing that I've gotten so few answers to this (great) question! I'm just looking for that one kick-ass General Tso place! Where oh where is it? I know it exists! Anyway, thanks to all who responded.

                  1. re: twan55

                    My hunch is that Chowhounds tend to be a bit too selective (ok, pretentious) about their Chinese food to order General Tso's when there are so many other enticing options on the menu at most destination-worthy establishments.

                    I'm counting approximately 7 recommendations that have been halfheartedly tossed around so far, but you'll likely have a tough time finding any sort of consensus on such a stigmatized dish around these parts.

                    If you don't mind all white meat, I'd second JimJohn's recommendation of New/Nice Green Bo. I've had the dish forced upon me unwillingly by unimaginative out-of-towners, and it was quite pleasant. They also offer an equal-opportunity version, if you're staunchly opposed to meat racism.

                    1. re: CalJack

                      I don't know why this has to be a food snob issue. Yes, there are more expensive/more esoteric topics, but hell, General Tso's chicken- WHEN DONE RIGHT- is one of the most delicious "cheap eats" around. There are countless chefs at high-end establishments who LOVE to eat dishes like General Tso's chicken (again- when done right!) during their off time. It's a delicious guilty pleasure, not something to eat every day, but certainly not something to be ashamed of! After all, this is an eating site, not a high-end eating site. Anyway, thanks for the tip about Nice Green Bo. I'll try it out.

                  1. re: kcijones001

                    Thanks for the recommendation- I'll try Panda out too. I'll report back on how I found it to be, for those Phillistines interested in such a lowbrow topic.

                    1. re: twan55

                      You probably should post on the Outer Boroughs Board for Brooklyn. I think the outer boroughs are more known for the "old school' Chinese that you're looking for. Here's a thread with some suggestions but they are not in Brooklyn. I remember going to one place in Brooklyn near Ave. R and Nostrand that was supposedly famous, but it was absolutely nasty. I'll bet that Panda Express is probably better.


                      I'm not sure why you think that the Chowhounders have this General Tso's bias. True, it's probably not on the radar of most posters on this board, but nobody ever condemned your choice (unless there were nasty posts here that were deleted). I think you've received a few places to try on this thread. Good luck finding your chicken!

                      1. re: twan55

                        I'll weigh in with a couple of diverse options. I happen to love General Tso's chicken, even if I'm more likely to rave about a meal at Little Pepper or street food in C'Town or Flushing. I don't see why you can't have the best of both worlds.

                        My two favorites are, in no particular order, the General Tso's at Dinersty (not a typo), which is a fast-food place on 8th Avenue between 30th and 31st. The meat is fatty and crispy, the sauce is very good, and they also have pretty good hot and sour soup (you get combo plates here). I always ask them to make it extra spicy, but they rarely do. When they do make it spicy...even better.

                        The second place is Joe's Shanghai. I've only had this dish in Flushing, but my experience has been that they make really good versions of the standardized American-Chinese food, and their General Tso's has always been pretty close to perfect.

                        Let us know what you come across on your (admirable) quest.