Chinese takeout food can be so satisfying, convenient and speedy. But it hasn't changed in a long time and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. But for the most part, you can go to different places and still get the reliable General Tao chicken, chicken balls or chow mein.
But I wanted to shake things up a bit. I asked for some of the most popular cheap eats from each restaurant. There's nothing like ol' faithfuls, but change is good too!
Here's a top 5 with variety.
The window of opportunity to get delivery presented itself and I took it! I forgot how awesome it was and it made me more excited to get my honey garlic chicken and egg roll. The delivery came in around 40 minutes even during rush hour and I don't live nearby. The food was just as you'd expect for Chinese takeout. A massive styrofoam container split in half with big pieces of chicken and fried rice sprinkled with peas, corn (surprisingly!) and small bits of chicken. I wished the chicken had a sauce to go with it. It was a little dry but the rice redeemed it. I am not the biggest fan of the side but it was not dry at all, which is not uncommon for rice. On a side note, delivery occurs after 4 p.m. and there are different delivery charges depending on how much you spend.
What you need to try: Honey Garlic chicken with egg roll: $9.50+tax
This restaurant is situated in an interesting location. It's not easy to find, but when you know where it is you'll never forget it. It's attached to the Marigold Hotel on the intersection of Queen Street and Kennedy Road. And once you go inside, you won't forget the aromas permeating throughout the restaurant. I went in a different direction and ordered the Mixed Chow Mein. I am a sucker for noodles and I wasn't disappointed. The service was immediate and friendly and the sit-down restaurant is nicely decorated. I was in and out in 15 minutes and even had staff to talk to throughout that time. Definitely a nice touch! Then the main event arrived and I kid you not, Singapore Garden could barely close the container because there was that much food. I finished half of it with a friend and by the time we were done, there was enough leftover that would constitute for a full portion anywhere else. The chow mein had a mixture of shrimp, chicken, beef and bean sprouts. And even better, there was a killer spice to the noodles. They weren't too hard to handle but it makes noses runny. I was happy to eat the leftovers the next day too.
What you need to try: Mixed Chow Mein dinner: $12 with tax
Now here is something you don't see everyday: a sports bar that serves Hakka Chinese food. Just imagine bouncing between multiple screens with the big game, throwing darts, shooting pool at $1 a game and scarfing down some Chili Chicken, fried rice and a cold one. The Chili Chicken with gravy, a house favourite, was what I ordered to take out and it was delish. I got the container with steaming food made fresh and I couldn't help myself and had to try a bite before I hit the road; it looked that good. Oh it was good. And the rice was my favourite part (total shocker). The hearty pieces of chicken and onions were tender, no sogginess whatsoever, and the gravy was something to talk about. It has a kick and some tang to it and it's not quite like the familiar General Tao sauce. And the rice had a different look to traditional rice. Big pieces of fresh looking egg, plus the usual peas and carrots, but the rice grains didn't look like they were coloured. That was a plus. Come here to satisfy the takeout craving and enjoy a chill night out with friends.
What you need to try: Chili Chicken with Hakka noodles lunch: $9 with tax
Oh baby, I could not stop eating my meal even when I felt like I was about to burst. This is the place to go if you want a different experience with your takeout but still want access to the classics. Meet Island Wok, the Chinese and Caribbean fusion cuisine. The menu is mainly Chinese inspired but vamped up with the main Caribbean fixings of jerk chicken and pork. I ordered the jerk pork and lo mein noodles, which have more sauce than chow mein. The portion was just as large as the other restaurants but supreme in flavour. The jerk seasoning is not as intense as most would believe. The aim with the jerk was to add flavour, not kick. That's what the extra hot sauce is for. But the slices of pork were so incredibly tender and paired well with noodles and its sauce. This is something that needs to be tried in person to get the idea, not put into words.
What you need to try: Jerk Pork on top of Low Mein noodles: $11+tax
Here is a fresher and lighter spin on the regular Chinese takeout. That's what I enjoyed the most. Hakka Delight has been reviewed highly online and it delivered. I ordered the General Tao chicken from the lunch menu and upgraded to the Hakka noodles. That move was completely worthwhile. The noodles are not as thick as Shanghai noodles but are thicker than chow mein noodles. The meal itself was a great lunch special for the portion because it comes with an egg roll and the choice between pop and sweet and sour soup. The soup wasn't to my palate, but the chicken sure was. The chicken was meaty and substantial and it wasn't covered in that unnaturally red General Tao sauce.The Hakka noodles are a specialty to the restaurant and I was in heaven. You can find Hakka Delight in the plaza at Hurontario and Ray Lawson.
What you need to try: General Tao Chicken, Hakka noodle upgrade, egg roll and Hot and Sour soup lunch combo: $10.70 with tax