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The best Chinese take-out $20 can buy

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(Graphic by Miho Watabe)

What’s the best Chinese food you can have delivered to your door here at Drew University? After two years of college, I just about have a minor in Chinese Take-Out. And for the new freshmen, there’s no point wasting valuable food dollars on mediocre take-out (unless it’s a midnight calorie run – then go by the price alone).

Most people order from one of four places: Hunan Wok in Morristown, Madison Wok in town, Good Taste in Chatham and Panda, where you can also get Thai dishes and sushi. We’ll do a little review of each and find out which place best deserves your 20 bucks at 11 p.m.

Hunan Wok has average prices for central Jersey, and the food is very good, as well as light on the grease. There’s not much to say because everything is tasty, except the fried rice: it’s mostly yellow rice with pork bits, free of all the little extra vegetables that make fried rice so good. And, since it’s in Morristown, you can easily wait close to an hour, or longer, on a busy night. So if time’s an issue, look elsewhere. Otherwise, go for it.

Madison Wok is the cheapest of the four, it’s greasier, and it’s damn good. The wait time is not short, but since this one’s down the road it’s an improvement over Hunan Wok. Anything that involves frying here, like fried wontons, fried rice or General Tso’s chicken, is greasy and delicious. It’s up to you whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Not for the health-conscious, but the food here is among the tastiest.

I’ll jump to Panda now, which is my all-time least favorite joint. Because the menu is so large, nothing is particularly good. Do you like Lo mein in a soup of greasy brown sauce? Sushi with lots of rice and little bits of fish? Having to buy a full quart of everything so it all costs at least $10? Neither do I. The food at Panda is uniformly mediocre, if not outright bad. It’s a larger place so I’ve occasionally ordered it from a group and the delivery time was good. However, I can’t recommend this place at all. Just ignore the ubiquitous Panda menus in every hall.

Finally, there’s Good Taste. This is my particular favorite for several reasons. First, it’s the only Chinese restaurant that’s in reasonable walking distance. It’s nice to walk there and back so you can save on a delivery tip, and it’s about 15 minutes each way. That way when I miss the gym, I get my exercise and my take-out at the same time. The cooking speed here is also lightning fast. I’ve had an order finished in five minutes before, and delivered in about 35. And most importantly, the food is excellent. Not greasy or dry, it’s just right, and everything is always the right consistency – crispy carrots, firm broccoli, meaty shrimp.

So my verdict? The best food and convenience in one place is Good Taste. Get delivery if it’s a late study snack. But walk if you get the fried wontons.