Chinese Takeout: Can It Be Good?


Long the staple of boozing bachelors and heartbroken chicks in rom-coms, Chinese takeout tends to get more flak for its predictable greasiness, dicey quality — and the fact that it completely bastardizes a highly respected culinary tradition — than critical praise.

But sometimes, you come across a diamond in the rough realm of these eateries — and learn that they don’t have to suck.

A great example: Splendid China (2038 Amsterdam Avenue), which serves up a rather impressive chicken with bean curd and onion.

Don’t be deterred by the cheese sticks and shrimp rings (wtf?) also featured prominently on the menu. The boneless bird chunks have a smooth, soft, moist — almost buttery — texture. They don’t come across fatty, like the “bourbon chicken” you’d encounter at a mall food court. Triangles of expertly braised bean curd have a crinkly skin and hot, silken interior, emphasizing the soy’s mild sourness.

The brown gravy — somewhat of a unifying theme among Americanized Asian dishes — has a warming, meaty, garlicky air without being too salty. Plentiful, sliced white onions also add a rooty edginess, without overpowering the $5 plate.