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Chen's Gourmet, Palisades


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I have been driving past Chen's Gourmet, on MacArthur Blvd, almost daily for about 14 years. I finally ordered take-out yesterday, as my "whasian" family (as my kids call it, mingling "white asian") always celebrates the new year with a take-out feast. Putting aside the fact that i relied on an ancient version of their menu I found online on another website and ended up spending way more than I thought, it was very good Chinese and the portions are more than generous (they offer regular and large sizes). We had 3 veggie dishes - General Tso's " vegi chicken" - a bit sweet, but my daugher almost refused to eat it because she thought it was really chicken; sesame tofu - was supposed to be sesame chicken but a welcome mistake and about our favorite dish. We also had sweet and sour (orange) tofu, beef and broccoli, steamed dumplings, angel hair noodles with curry (singapore noodles?),shrimp fried rice and pineapple fried rice. We were not disappointed with any of the dishes. We will be eating Chinese all week, but it was a pleasant surprise on a fun day. I will definitely order from them again - especially given the sizeable vegetarian menu they offer. Note however that this is exclusively a take-out business, not a sit-down restaurant.

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Note however that this is exclusively a take-out business, not a sit-down restaurant.

There are a few tables on the porch suitable for clement weather, not nowadays. Their hot and sour soup is worth a try. I also like their sliced pork appetizer. This hole-in-the-wall take-out place actually owns the fancier, less worthy, BambĂș, down the street on the corner of MacArthur and Dana.

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I just finished reading a fascinating book, *The Fortune Cookie Chronicles* by Jennifer 8. Lee, about the origins and evolution of American Chinese food. The dishes on the menu at Chen's Gourmet are exactly the same as the ones found at just about any "Mom and Pop" Chinese carry-out restaurant anywhere in the U.S. And there are more of these carry-outs than there are McDonald's. Chen's is in my neighborhood and I am so bored by their food that it is my last choice option for an inexpensive meal when I don't feel like cooking.

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Which could be a reason we liked it so much - we too were quite bored with our local mom and pop place in Arlington. That said, generally if we are getting Chinese take out, we are looking for what is essentially comfort food - dishes with which we are at least somewhat familiar. On a school night when we get take-out, my kids are not looking for any surprises - just something satisfying for dinner. The veggie choices at Chen's are a big plus. There are more really bad Chinese carryouts than there are decent ones, at least in our local area, and in our experience from the one visit, we were all happy with the quality of the food from Chen's.

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