Chinese food carries with it a loaded cultural understanding. It is considered cheap, ubiquitous and by many, best right out of the carton. And while I agree with most of this, there are clear delineations between good and bad Chinese takeout.
First, I think it only fair to point out that what we know to be Chinese food is in fact, NOT what you would find in China. (A point made very clear to me by one Mr. Steven Margitan, world traveler extraordinar and recent China ex-patriot). However, having grown up in the great Northwest, I believe that I was exposed to the finest of American Chinese Take-Out, and thus settle for little less then excellence when it comes to this Styrofoam packaged cuisine.
There is little question that the best Chinese take-out in Seattle is Black Pearl, and I would guess that our family ordered pork fried rice, garlic green beans, and sesame chicken at least once a month. When we moved out of their delivery zone, we quite literally, mourned.
I was unimpressed by the Chinese take-out options in Texas, and often settled for Chains such as Panda Express (wholly dissatisfying), and thus upon moving, was determined to find the best Chinese food in Mankato. And while Matt and I sampled a few of the Chinese buffets here in town (which featured Texas style Chinese complete with fried Chicken), I quickly realized that in order to find this Mecca of inexpensive cuisine I would need to ask a local. Kelli, my trusty co-worker responded without hesitation, "Yu's."
Yu's Chinese is located on Monk's avenue and offers a Lunch time buffet for an incredible $8 and evening take-out seven days a week. Their menu is printed in black and white on a simple 8 1/2 by a 11 sheet of paper. They always give you a free container of rice. And sometimes I can't understand them on the phone. To me, these are signs of Chinese take-out excellence.
And while everything we've ordered is good, the fried rice rivals Heaven. I've never had better. And although I worry about what it is that makes it so delectable, it remains something I crave. After we've ordered for dinner, I get giddy, knowing the leftovers will make a fine breakfast the next day. A little egg, veg, and rice? Superb. Yes, I eat them cold. Don't judge.
While Mankato is lacking in many food arenas, thanks to Yu's, Chinese take-out is not one of them.
P.S. Don't tell Steve. He will judge.