In our third edition of the area restaurants challenge – in the past we’ve sacrificed Thursday nights to bring you reviews of the best buffalo wings and pizza around CCSU – The Recorder staff present the Chinese food challenge.
In keeping with the same rates of measurement of the past, which include taste, delivery speed, hot/cold quality and quantity, we compiled a list of nine restaurants around the university, gathered a hungry staff last Thursday night and prepared each one with review cards and cell phones.
Of the nine we called, only four managed to take down our orders (all orders shared the common element of sweet and sour chicken, a Chinese food staple) and deliver them. The staff intentionally sought out the average take-out Chinese restaurant, but added a few due to some nearby restaurants with high ratings on Yelp.com, one of the best guides to finding food in any location.
Great Star of Allen Street, New Britain, Jade Lee in the Stop ‘n Shop plaza on Fenn Road in Newington, Imperial Wok of Broad Street in New Britain and Tasty Restaurant from Osgood Ave. in New Britain.
The following restaurants were disqualified because they refused to deliver to CCSU, or at all: Chinatown Express on E. Main Street in New Britain, Great Taste on W. Main Street in New Britain (we had high hopes for this place), Chinese Kitchen on Stanley Street in New Britain, China Pan on S. East Road in Farmington and Hong Kong right near Dunkin Donuts on Stanley Street. To be fair, Hong Kong might very well have delivered to us, but the most we could make of the phone call was someone yelling in the background.
The four succeeded in relatively timely delivery, despite that the Imperial Wok driver got lost, reasonable prices and better than mediocre food. While asserting that these restaurants achieved a steady 6 or 7 in taste and presentation on a scale of one to 10 seems a little discouraging, these restaurants prepared Chinese food that we’re familiar with.
The portions were large. The food was hot. It was (for the most part) everything we imagined Chinese food could be.
Imperial Wok, rated highly on Yelp, weighed in with a 6.8 rating: Chris Boulay, our Sports Editor, went so far as to say that its “pretty damn good.” He and most who tried Imperial Wok’s sweet and sour chicken were fans of the sweet sauce that accompanied it. Most of our reviewers also said they’d order it again. The staff also was fond of the pork-fried rice on the side, also a Chinese food staple, for its satisfactory vegetable to rice ratio.
Sharing the same score at 6.8 was Jade Lee, from which we ordered a sweet and sour chicken meal and a few other appetizer-like items, such as egg rolls (of which we had an abundance of by the end of the night) and wonton soup. Despite good marks, the staff didn’t have too much to say about Jade Lee’s food: “nothing special,” “good, but not great” and “warm, but not hot” remarks were common. One thing working for the restaurant was a speedy, under-20-minutes delivery time. Then again, they are the closest to campus.
Tasty Restaurant cruised in a 6.7. The staff came down pretty hard on the order, citing its lack of sweet dipping sauce with the sweet and sour chicken order, but they did like that wonton soup accompanied it. While Mike Walsh, our Entertainment Editor didn’t really focus on the main order, he helped himself to General Tso’s chicken. So did Boulay – he said that General Tso’s was “solid, but could be a bit spicier.”
The sweet and sour chicken main order from Great Star, rated at 6.6, also did not fully captivate the hungry Recorder staff, but the add-ons did. A vegetarian option at virtually all Chinese restaurants is the side order of broccoli in oyster sauce, or the ever-mysterious “brown sauce.” The veggies were not too soggy – actually the opposite – and the salty sauce was a great addition to some free, fluffy white rice. Both held up exceptionally after being refrigerated overnight.
Assistant Sports editor Carmine Vetrano was a fan of Great Star’s sesame chicken, despite its messy, tin serving container presentation. While presentation is usually not a deciding factor in our Chinese food reviews, the staff agreed that Great Star really needs to step up its plating and container game.
Fortunately, Chinese food is that of comfort and no matter how long the delivery takes, how many times you burn your mouth on re-heated egg rolls or how leaky the combo meal platters end up, this kind of food always has a place on campus late Thursday nights, if the delivery guy can find it.