The search for Madison’s best Chinese food – Orient House

I have been cautiously trying different Chinese food restaurants in Madison for a while now in search of the best place to go for my Chinese food fix. There are some places I will never go back to and some places that I wouldn’t mind making my go-to place. But I continue to solicit suggestions from friends in search of that perfect place. Thanks to Adam Schrager, I was directed to Orient House on Park Street. He said it is a family favorite and I can see why.

Orient House chicken lo mein lunch special
Orient House chicken lo mein lunch special

A friend and I decided to order Chinese food during the Capitol One Bowl to root on our beloved Badgers, so I suggested Orient House. Their menu is pretty common with a good lunch deal where you get an entree, rice, 2 crab rangoons and you can get an egg roll for $1 extra. My go-to entree is chicken lo mein. Our order took almost an hour to be delivered but I’m sure New Year’s Day is a busier day than normal.

My lunch special was definitely enough for two meals with a large portion of the lo mein and a good amount of fried rice all for under $10 including delivery tip! The fried rice was pretty standard, the egg roll was a little greasy but was very good, and the crab rangoons were crispy with very creamy filling (I’ve had dry crab rangoon filling…not sure how it happens but it’s gross!). Most lo mein tastes the same so I look for things that are bad: not enough chicken, undercooked veggies, greasiness. The lo mein from Orient House definitely passed my test! It had a good amount of chicken, perfectly cooked veggies and wasn’t too greasy. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch special lo mein the first day and on the leftover day!

FOODNOTES: They deliver but only to the downtown and near west side so if I want Orient House I’ll have to drive downtown. Because of that it probably won’t be my normal place, but I wish it could be! The prices (especially lunch prices) are very reasonable. Their menu and portions sizes are pretty standard. I very much enjoyed my lo mein. It had good flavor without extra greasiness. Adam’s recommendation is a win in my mind!

The search for perfect chinese food

I’ve lived in Madison for six years now and still haven’t found the perfect place for Chinese food. In college I ate Asian Kitchen because it was cheap, tasted decent and they delivered for free! But now that I live in Middleton and have a car, I don’t eat Asian Kitchen anymore. I’ve tried Tom’s Red Pepper in Middleton, which was fine but seemed a little too expensive.

Where is your go-to place for Chinese food in Madison?

I had been hearing a lot about HyVee’s Chinese food so before my shopping trip I decided to try it out. I got the two-entree meal that comes with rice or noodles, an egg roll or crab rangoon, and a fortune cookie. First off, I was excited that I could substitute lo mein for rice because I never eat the rice. The lo mein was probably the best part of the meal. It was flavorful and not too greasy. I also really liked the large chunks of cabbage in it. The egg roll was nice and crispy but the filling was a little lacking, which led me to dip it in spicy mustard. That was a good combo but I would prefer the egg roll to stand on its own.

For my two entrees I got garlic chicken and Mongolian beef. I usually love mushrooms so the garlic chicken dish that was half mushrooms looked like a good choice. But I actually didn’t like the dish. The chicken was too mushy. The mushrooms had an odd, slightly canned flavor to them. And the sauce wad basically flavorless. The Mongolian beef, on the other hand, was very good. The beef was perfectly cooked with huge chunks of onion and green beans. The sauce was just a tad spicy and had a pretty good, hearty flavor.

For $8 I got a huge portion and had to take half of the lo mein home, which is pretty comparable to Asian Kitchen’s prices. The biggest difference between Asian Kitchen and HyVee was that Asian Kitchen’s fortune cookies tasted like cardboard and HyVee’s had a vanilla-y flavor!

FOODNOTES: Since The Mogolian beef and lo mein will definitely be on my plate again but I will probably opt for something else over the garlic chicken. HyVee is decently close to my job I will probably go back on dinner breaks when I’m craving Chinese food. It’s a very good alternative to ordering food for eight just to get three different dishes and having to eat it for a week.