Are you tired of seeing the exact same items on the menu every time you order Chinese food? Well, China Chef may be the answer to your prayers! If your mouth is watering after reading this article, you can find their take out menu at www.chinachef.org.
Founded all the way back in 1977, China Chef has been dishing out delicious delicacies for over 40 years. Located in Morton Grove, IL, just North of downtown Chicago, they are a great choice for different and interesting Chinese food options without having to go all the way to China. The owners, Joyce and Arthur Fong, have an ongoing commitment to their customers, promising to make fresh, delicious, authentic Chinese food with quality ingredients. Though, as you’ll see from their bubble tea selection, sometimes they also serve up cool, unusual flavors, too.
Kang Kong: the king of spinach
Sometimes it can be tough to find something new and unique at a Chinese carry out, but China Chef tickled my fancy with their inclusion of Kang Kong on their menu. In English, this plant is most commonly known as water spinach, though it has a few other names; swamp cabbage is my favorite. It is a fairly popular plant in Asian cooking and grows all over Southeast Asia. This vegetable is semi-aquatic, has beautiful little flowers that remind some people of morning glories, and is partly popular because it requires little to no care to grow. You can eat both the leaves, and the shoots, which are quite tender. It is a vegetable that I have barely seen in Chinese restaurants in the United States, especially not as a carry out option, although it is incredibly common in Southeast Asian cuisine. I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the fact that China Chef offers such a unique vegetable when considering what to order. They have a vegetarian dish featuring Kang Kong sautéed with garlic, yum!
Sesame seed balls: an old favorite you can try for the first time
While sesame seed balls are famous and popular in China, as well as a hand full of other Asian countries, they are less common in the United States and I have never seen them on a take out menu before. This little balls are made of dough, rolled in white and black sesame seeds, deep fried and filled with some kind of tasty filling. Traditionally, the filling is often a bit sweet, maybe a sweet black bean paste. These crispy, chewy, delightful little dough nuggets have actually been around in Chinese cuisine for centuries, since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) so take a trip back to the past by ordering a plate of these historic morsels for your appetizer.
China Chef does offer a pretty amazing selection of fried rice options. They have vegetable, barbecue pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and mushroom to mollify the less adventurous diners. However, that’s when you notice the pineapple fried rice. Whoever heard of fruity fried rice before? I definitely had not until I saw the China Chef menu. This is an interesting addition to the fried rice selection that is becoming increasingly popular among Chinese take out places in the United States. At China Chef, it is also made completely meat-free, so even the vegetarians can enjoy this tasty side dish. So if you want to be able to strut your hipster swag and learn about it “before it was cool,” hurry over to your antique, ivory, rotary phone and call China Chef right away!
Filipino-Cantonese dishes: a regional treat
Not every Chinese restaurant has specific, regional specialties, but China Chef wanted an authentic, home-cooked feel, so they decided to include some traditional dishes from Filipino and Cantonese cuisine. There is a selection of appetizers, including po jo frito, or fried chicken skin. The mains feature a range of different meats, including a lot of seafood options like shrimp and lobster. So if you are in the mood for delicious Chinese, but want to try something just a bit different, scroll down their website to the bottom of the take out page and pick out a dish you have never heard of before.
Bubble tea: straw-fulls of delight
I know what you’re thinking, bubble tea is everywhere. Those tasty beverages with their chewy little tapioca bubbles are delicious, but they’re old news. I can see your point, but China Chef has taken their selection to a whole new level. For anybody who hasn’t tried this treat yet, bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1970s, and has since spread all around the globe. These are tea-based drinks that are mixed with milk, fruit, or even ice cream and served with big “bubbles,” AKA tapioca balls, at the bottom. They come with a signature fat straw for sucking the bubbles up out of your drink. Now, at a typical bubble tea establishment, you would definitely expect to see flavors like green tea, taro, strawberry and mango. However, at China Chef you can also get new creations like green apple milk tea, yogurt slush with rainbow jelly, butter pecan ice cream tea, coffee jelly milk tea and even avocado smoothie made with fresh avocado. If you’re in the mood for an adventure, make sure you order one of these delightful bubble teas to go with your meal.
I hope you’ll consider China Chef the next time you are looking for something a little different in your Chinese take out. With their interesting combinations, unusual ingredients and use of popular Asian dishes that are still new to the United States, you will be sure to find something exciting to try. It’s a great chance to send your mouth on a flavorful adventure of China without the cost of that expensive plane ticket to the other side of the world. I know I certainly can’t wait to be able to say I’ve eaten swamp cabbage!