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Dec 6, 2009 08:15 AM

Searching for the best Chinese cuisine in New Jersey

Good morning.

I travel every week around the garden state and have been keeping track of every place that I have visited. I have made it a point to always try a new kosher restaurant and support every community's local restaurants. I was encouraged by friends to share my findings on Chowhound. So I have kept notes of every visit. The criteria that I looked at were the following:

1. Value - Price paid versus portion size.
2. Taste - No explanation needed.
3. Location - Vicinity to other kosher shops, major roadways and parking.
4. Ambiance - Was it a nice place to sit down, enjoy a meal.
5. Overall - The overall score when averaging the other four numbers.

The only way that this ranking could be fair is if I ordered the same dish from each place every time that I went. The dish in this case was chicken with broccoli and white rice. Here are the results (in no specific order):

Chan's Glatt (Teaneck, New Jersey)
Value - 5
Taste - 2
Location - 4
Ambiance - 5
The restaurant is located on Cedar Lane making it accessible from Route 4 as well as Interstate 80 and 95. Being on Cedar Lane means that it is near other kosher restaurants and the is a parking lot down the block. The location is new and in good condition. I ordered the lunch special which came with what was the best won ton soup that I have ever had, but we are really reviewing the chicken with broccoli. Once I received the chicken with broccoli (which came before I finished my won ton soup) it was piping hot and I was satisfied with the portion size after having the soup. The broccoli though was too hard for liking and the chicken was not appetizing. It was such a let down after the fantastic soup. Fortunately for Chan's Glatt the other criteria boosted its overall score.
Overall - 4

Chang Mao Sakura (Oakhurst, New Jersey)
Value - 2
Taste - 3.5
Location - 4
Ambiance - 4
I think that this was the most expensive chicken with broccoli that I have ever eaten outside of New York. The prices were very high for the portion sizes. The taste was extremely reminiscent of Chopstix in Teaneck, New Jersey with the exception that Chang Mao Sakura puts baby corn in their chicken and broccoli dish. It was a pleasant surprise. There were plenty of tables and ample parking available which helped to boost its score after the oily dinner. The taste was fine, it just was too oily and I would have needed more white rice to soak up the rest of the oil.
Overall - 3.38

Chopstix (Teaneck, New Jersey)
Value - 3
Taste - 3
Location - 5
Essentially Chopstix is just a take out place with two locations. One in Teaneck and the other in West Orange, New Jersey. The location is extremely convenient with a large parking lot nearby at Glatt Express as well as other kosher eateries in the area. Additionally, it is a few hundred feet from Route 4 and a mile from Interstate 80 and 95. The food at Chopstix is extremely oily. Both the chicken and broccoli were good but it was too heavy on the sauce and oil. Even when combined with the white rice it was a bit too much. The value score went down when I noticed that Chopstix tries to save money by giving customers one large white rice instead of two separate containers of small white rice for two separate orders. It isn't fair because you run out of white rice faster. Points were also taken off for ambiance since all they have are a couple of stools but you might not be in the need for ambiance.
Overall - 3.25

Jin (Passaic, New Jersey)
Value - 5
Ambiance - 3
Taste - 2
Location - 3
Located between kosher bakeries and eateries, Jin actually left the worst taste in my mouth. I found that the food was terrible. The only way it made up for the terrible taste was the value factor as well as the ambiance and location. They actually have tables inside to sit down so I had to give it higher marks than Chopstix in Teaneck in that regard. The lunch special comes with a won ton soup and some Chinese noodles which are extremely oily. But the chicken and broccoli had a terrible sauce on it. I ended up dipping Chinese noodles in duck sauce for the rest of the meal. There wasn't a lot of white rice.
Overall - 3.25

New Kosher Special (Elizabeth, New Jersey)
Value - 3
Taste - 5
Ambiance - 3
Location - 5
Situated on Elmora Avenue close to the other kosher eateries and shops New Kosher Special is the best chicken with broccoli hands down. The sauce to oil to chicken ratio is perfect. So why did it lose out on the overall rating? Well, if you get a lunch special or even a regular dinner, the portions are tiny. I mean really small. The ambiance is the same as Jin in Passaic, New Jersey. Just a few tables to sit down with your food. If you are there in the winter, don't sit near the door because you will get a gust of cold wind hitting you in the face when someone walks in.
Overall - 4

Prime Wok (Lakewood, New Jersey)
Value - 5
Taste - 4
Ambiance - 4
Location - 3
This is a rather new establishment in Lakewood. It is a couple of blocks off of Madison Avenue and one block off of Clifton Avenue but it is not convenient for parking or walking from other kosher establishments. They offer a "bochurim" special which is essentially the lunch special just at any hour of the day. The lunch special was great in terms of portion size and bang for buck. The prices were terrific. The taste was very good and the sauce to oil to chicken ratio was proportional to the amount of white rice needed. The reason why I gave it a higher rank than Jin and New Kosher Special for ambiance is because the place is new and comfortable. This might be the best kosher chicken with broccoli in Ocean County though I haven't tried them all yet.
Overall - 4

Currently, the standings are as follows:
1. New Kosher Special (Elizabeth, New Jersey)
2. Prime Wok (Lakewood, New Jersey)
3. Chan's Glatt (Teaneck, New Jersey)
4. Chang Mao Sakura (Oakhurst, New Jersey)
5. Chopstix (Teaneck, New Jersey)
6. Jin (Passaic, New Jersey)

Soon to be added to the rankings:
Kosher Chinese Express (South Manalapan, New Jersey)
Lin's Kosher Chinese (Manville, New Jersey)

I could have also put Ta'am China in Brookline, Massachusetts but I wanted to keep this about my favorite state, New Jersey.

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  1. Thanks for this very informative post. I used to live in Elizabeth, NJ and couldn't agree more with your ratings on New Kosher Special. Despite the appearances of the place, absolutely fantastic kosher chinese. In fact, when my husband or I are passing by on the NJ Turnpike, we still make an effort to stop by and pick up some takeout, despite now living in NYC, where there is no shortage of Kosher options. I am also a big fan of Kosher Chinese Express, in Manapan, and look forward to the review.

    1. I hope to see Lin's (Manville's) results. I prefer them over New Kosher Special. Their all you can eat buffet nights are fantastic and a great deal too!

      1. The value score went down when I noticed that Chopstix tries to save money by giving customers one large white rice instead of two separate containers of small white rice for two separate orders. It isn't fair because you run out of white rice faster.
        It's only a separate order if packed in two different bags, not if packed in one. You receive rice for your total order, not the dish. Let's say the standard is a cup of rice for each item ordered and you order three dishes.....this by your perception would require three separate containers of rice to be packed for each dish.....however, I would be willing to wager every restaurant or take-out place would simply give you a quart of rice in one container as a matter of policy. If you want separate containers of rice for each dish ordered, I'm also sure all you need to do is request it.

        Your value deduction based on this is silly and the green police have you in their sights..

        1 Reply
        1. re: fourunder

          Being that I am resident of North Jersey, I have many experiences with Chopstix. Even when you ask for separate white rice containers and explain to them that they are for individual orders for an office (people eat at their cubicles and don't share white rice) they still don't do it.

        2. chang mao sakura has been there forever, which is a good sign. kosher restaurants in deal don't usually last more than one summer season!

          1 Reply
          1. re: kosherfoodies

            That is very good for Oakhurst and the surrounding communities. Another customer (from the area) waiting for an order told me that many people go to either Lakewood or Manalapan for better prices and better taste.

          2. Minor quibble. Prime Wok in Lakewood is located two or three doors down from a driveway. That driveway leads to a free municipal parking lot which can hold over 100 vehicles. I appreciate that there is no sign stating this and the driveway is on an incline which means the parking lot is completely invisible from 5th St.- it's one of those things that only the locals know about.

            That aside, I have to thank you for this very informative and scientific post.

            2 Replies
            1. re: The Cameraman

              Thanks for the tip, I will look for the parking lot next time.

              1. re: NYC2TLV

                Google doesn't have Streetview for Fifth St yet, but here's a view of the parking lot entrance on Clifton Avenue (it's right next to Gelbstein's):