Ok China Restaurant

Interior

Exterior

Boneless spare ribs with beef fried rice

Bourbon chicken with pork fried rice

Pork lo mein with pork fried rice

Curry chicken and onion with shrimp fried rice

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been looking for good Chinese takeout in Orlando for a while, and this place is the first really good one I’ve found.

All four dishes I tried were excellent. Bourbon chicken was probably my favorite, with big, meaty chunk of chicken, and not super sweet, just right. Boneless spareribs were meaty, and not over-sauced. The lo mein in the pork lo mein was a bit overcooked by the time I got home, but it was a long drive, and it was still very hot, so that’s not their fault. Curry chicken and onion was an interesting non-Chinese dish.

The fried rice that came with each was excellent, and the protein–whether beef, pork or shrimp–was plentiful.

Each lunch was huge, so at about $5 each, they’re an amazing deal. There is literally 2 pounds of entree and rice in each meal.

Because my order came to $20 I got two free eggrolls. These were easily the best eggrolls I have ever tasted, including in Hong Kong. They were extremely savory and flavorful, and the wrapper was delicate and crispy without being oily.

It’s just counter service with very little seating, so it’s mainly a takeout place. I don’t think they really started fixing my Internet order until I arrived, but it was pretty quick, and that guaranteed freshness.

Ok China Restaurant
7359 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32818
(407) 299-8955
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ok-china-restaurant-orlando

Kim Wu Chinese

Buffet

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This place has been in business a long time, and has a loyal following. I remember eating here long ago, and it seems they’ve expanded since then. But unlike some old restaurants, this one still seems fresh and clean.

Lunch is a buffet, and there are many dishes to choose from, including nearly all the American Chinese restaurant standards. They did a nice job of keeping the items on the buffet fresh and well-stocked.

When I eat at American Chinese restaurants I always find the food a lot heavier and oilier than those in Asia, and this one is no exception, but I can’t fault them for it since it seems to be the accepted style.

My lunch included hot tea, my choice of soup, and even an eggroll from the buffet, so for $10 it was a good deal. My server was fast and friendly.

Kim Wu Chinese
4904 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 293-0752
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kim-wu-chinese-orlando

Kome Japanese Chinese and Sushi Bar

Soup and salad

Salmon teriyaki box

Interior

Exterior

*** (3 stars)

This area of Metrowest needs a Chinese restaurant, so I was surprised when the one that previously occupied this space went out of business. This one has potential, but so far is not as good.

We tried it for lunch, and the service was friendly, and the kitchen was very fast. The lunch boxes are a good deal because most include soup, salad and a bento box with sushi, rice, three large wonton triangles stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried, and your entree.

The salad with ginger dressing was the best item. Salmon teriyaki was a bit fishy, as was the California roll. Overall the meal had that heavy oily sense you sometimes get from Chinese food.

There are five tables, but most of the business is probably “to go” or perhaps delivery. The price was reasonable for the large amount of food.

Kome Japanese Chinese and Sushi Bar
2407 S Hiawassee Rd
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 299-8687
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kome-japanese-chinese-and-sushi-bar-orlando

Beijing & Tokyo

Polly roll and spicy salmon roll

Pad Thai

Yellowtail jalapeno (seared)

Exterior

Interior

Menu

Lunch menu

**** (4 stars)

This small mall-based restaurant offers sushi, Chinese, Thai and other Asian cuisines. Although it describes itself as Fusion cuisine, there aren’t actually any blendings of cuisines, just a variety.

The quality of the sushi we had was very good, and the Pad Thai was also nicely done, although it could have used lime instead of the small slice of lemon.

The place is very clean, and the service was friendly.

Beijing & Tokyo
16112 Marsh Rd
Ste 413
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-3800
https://www.yelp.com/biz/beijing-and-tokyo-winter-garden

India House Restaurant

*** (3 stars)

This is a very nicely decorated restaurant with about 150 different dishes on the menu. Unfortunately the staff isn’t very good, and the food is just average.

It’s odd browsing through the menu, because it seems to have little organization with multiple sections devoted the similar categories, and very few of the standbys like korma, saag, and so on.

We tried Papdi Chat as an appetizer, and the flavors were good, but it wasn’t enhanced by the sturdy wafers mixed into it.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tikka was good fish, but the seasoning on the fish skin wasn’t my favorite flavor.

Bhuni Gobi was extremely overcooked cauliflower; it resembled something that had been sitting on a buffet for hours.

The best dish was Channa Palak, chick peas in a garlic, onion and spinach sauce. Garlic naan bread was also okay.

The service staff seems to be mostly Russian, and wasn’t strong on communication. They were out of all the juices, and couldn’t produce a beer list.

There aren’t many Indian restaurants in River North, but even so, I wouldn’t bother to return here.

India House Restaurant
59 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 645-9500
http://www.yelp.com/biz/india-house-restaurant-chicago-2

Duck Duck Goat

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*** (3 stars)

I’m a huge fan of The Girl and the Goat, so I was really looking forward to Stephanie Izzard’s take on Chinese cuisine.

The place is absolutely gorgeous, with every room decorated in a uniquely elaborate way. Unfortunately the decor was pretty much the only noteworthy thing about the meal. We tried four items from the dim sum list, plus a noodle dish and an entree, and none of them were different or better than what you’d get at any high-quality Chinese restaurant.

The dim sum was all fine, the best item being the ribs.

The slap noodles were the worst thing we had, very heavy wide noodles that were quite durable despite seeming overcooked. The accompanying mixture of vegetables and sauce was better than the noodles, but we both barely tasted this dish.

The special fish dish was a whole snapper, which was very good. If having the head and tail on a fish doesn’t put you off, I recommend this.

Cocktails were excellent. There is a limited selection of wines by the glass or bottle.

Service was pleasant, and the dishes, although all ordered at once, came out in an orderly fashion.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this experience, but at $200 including tip for two, it was probably about double what comparably good Chinese food might cost elsewhere. In short, a decent experience, but not one I’d repeat.

Duck Duck Goat
857 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 902-3825
http://www.yelp.com/biz/duck-duck-goat-chicago

P.F. Chang’s

**** (4 stars)

This P.F. Chang’s is a big improvement over the Chili’s that occupied this space for many years. The menu is a reduced version of the real P.F. Chang’s menu, and is sadly missing our favorite rib appetizer. But the superb tuna tartare starter made up for it. This was the best thing I’ve had at a P.F. Chang’s.

Service was friendly and efficient, so we were in and out in time to easily make our connection.

P.F Chang’s
Concourse A
8700 Spine Rd
Atlanta, GA 30320
(404) 481-2146
http://www.yelp.com/biz/p-f-changs-atlanta-2

Tabla

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***** (5 stars)

Years ago we liked to go to Tabla for the amazing food and spectacular desserts. Despite what was at the time a very decrepit building, the food was the draw. But then they changed lunch to a buffet and we stopped going.

I’m pleased to report that full lunch service is back, and the food is better than ever. In addition, the formerly dingy space has now been completely remodeled, and is one of Orlando’s most stylish restaurants.

The three course lunch must be one of the best deals in town. It begins with soup or salad, then your choice of many Indian and a few Thai dishes incorporating the protein of your choice, served on a very attractive platter along with rice, naan bread, and either a samosa or spring roll. Finally there is a choice of desserts.

Our favorites were the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Saag Paneer. The banana roll was a nice way to finish up. It’s a lot of food for a very reasonable price.

Service was friendly and fairly quick, so this will definitely go onto our regular lunch circuit. I’d also like to visit for dinner and further explore the menu. Tabla is back and better than ever!

Tabla
5827 Caravan Ct
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tabla-orlando-4

Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago

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***** (5 stars)

The combination of restful setting, superb food and faultless service make this Chicago’s best Chinese restaurant, and one of its top restaurants overall. It’s particularly delightful when it’s warm enough to eat on the terrace, a surprisingly serene environment considering it’s just a half dozen or so floors above Michigan Avenue.

We put ourselves in our waiter’s hands, and he assembled a delightful multi-course meal for us.

We began with an assortment of six pieces of dim sum, individually plated for each of us. This item is not listed on the menu (nor is any form of dim sum sampler) so it is worth asking about. Although I am not a huge dim sum fan, this was clearly the best I have ever had; each was light and flavorful, and even the crab rangoon managed to be delicate and appealing.

Next we shared a split serving of hot and sour soup, also the best I’ve had, with less vinegar and more broth flavor. Plenty of tender lobster chunks made it special.

Peking duck is available in a full or half portion, and the half is perfect for sharing as an appetizer. It’s served with the traditional cucumber, scallions, pancakes and sauces, but the duck was so perfect we ate most of it by itself. Crispy skin and no layer of fat at all made it among the best duck dishes I’ve had. Next time I might try the five spice duck to compare it.

For entrees we shared scallops in black truffle sauce, and a spicy shrimp dish. Both were good, and were different from anything else we’d had, but I felt the preceding courses were better.

Perhaps the highlight of the meal was an amazing red rice dish that I didn’t see on the menu. It was vegetarian, and included various nuts, broccoli and other tidbits, and had a rich, mouth-filling flavor that was remarkable. I would definitely ask for this again.

Finally we finished with a fruit and sorbet plate. Our waiter added a bit of coconut sorbet, which turned out to be the highlight.

A well-conceived wine list offers many selections designed to accompany the food, including a small half bottle section. Wine prices are erratic, with some barely above retail, and others sky high, so careful browsing is required, but will be rewarded.

This was a great meal, and I’m sure we will return often to this surprising oasis in the midst of the city.

Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago
108 E Superior St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 573-6695
http://www.yelp.com/biz/shanghai-terrace-at-the-peninsula-chicago-chicago

Big Bowl

**** (4 stars)

It’s easy to classify Big Bowl as another fast casual chain, but that really understates how nice this location is, with its elaborate and beautiful interior design and hands-on management and staff.

The concept is a mix of Chinese, Thai and Mongolian barbecue, so there’s likely to be something for most people. I enjoyed the very fresh tasting spring rolls, which were cut up like a sushi roll rather than served as a log; great idea.

Pad Thai was tasty, heavy on the lime and cilantro. I had the shrimp version, but the chicken version might be a bit more traditional.

There’s a reasonable list of alcoholic beverages that match the food. House-made ginger ale is a good non-alcoholic choice.

Service was fast and friendly. The manager visited and even comped me a cucumber amuse bouche as a first time visitor.

Big Bowl
60 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 951-1888
http://www.yelp.com/biz/big-bowl-chicago