Chefs' Picks: Chinese Takeout
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
For some, ordering Chinese food is a time-honored Christmas Day tradition. For those who plan to dive into a bowl of noodles tomorrow, follow the lead of these chefs who’ve shared their preferred takeout plates, including Americanized favorites and regional classics.
Chefs Salil and Stacey Mehta brought the traditional Chinese fare of India to Brooklyn earlier this year when they opened the Chinese Club, which honors Stacey’s Indian-Chinese heritage. Given the hectic pace of running two restaurants (they’re also owners of LAUT in New York City) while raising a family, the husband-and-wife duo are fans of ordering in when they need a bit of a break. Stacey’s takeout picks are Kung Pao Chicken, Chinese corn soup and Singapore Mai Fun, while Salil opts for crab rangoon, General Tso’s Chicken and roast pork fried rice. “We love these dishes as our lazy day food, especially after a long day of working at both restaurants and also looking after children: dropping them off at school, picking them up, spending time with them and playing with them,” says Salil.
At his Denver post, Lucky Cat, Executive Sous Chef Brent Calley creates new spins on time-honored Chinese takeout dishes, but he also has an affinity for delivery. His top picks are Mongolian Beef and Ma Po Tofu, which not only satisfy Calley, but also stir up nostalgia for him. "If I am ordering takeout, these are my go-to dishes,” says Calley, appreciating that they remind him of childhood. “Every time we went for Chinese, I would order these dishes extra spicy!"
Whereas some folks prefer to order delivery after a long day, Chef Sunny Oh opts for morning takeout, a tradition that carries over from his younger days. "In my twenties after a late night of partying on the weekends, I would wake up in the morning and reach for the phone and order Chinese take-out," says Oh, who is chef and partner at Juvia and Sushi Garage in Miami Beach, Florida. His number one option is a Sunday dim sum staple known as Beef Chow Fun. "Since the dish travels well for takeout, I love that the noodles don't lose texture or flavor, making the dish great for leftovers as well," Oh says. Another of his favorites is General Tso’s Chicken, which also works well as a delivery dish. "The breading on the outside is perfect and holds the flavor of the sauce. Love a good spicy dish!"
Chef Simpson Wong’s highly lauded Singaporean hawker restaurant Chomp Chomp has drawn crowds since opening in New York City in 2015. The well-versed chef of Malaysian-Chinese descent has three criteria for his top takeout picks: They must travel well, pair nicely together and still taste good after a night in the fridge. Wong’s favorite takeout meal skews Sichuan, as it brings together boiled sliced beef with hot and spicy chile sauce. He describes the dish as "super comforting, very beefy and chewy." Other regional dishes in Wong’s takeout repertoire include Sichuan dan dan noodles, cold chicken with chile sauce, pork wontons in sesame oil and braised fish filet with tofu in chile sauce. "There is a ritual I follow. I usually place my Chinese food order on the way back from the airport after a trip to the Caribbean or Europe," Wong says, explaining that travels to those regions of the world means he’s often tired of Western-style food upon his return. "The minute I land, I am craving Chinese food, and I need my fix."