Chefs
    
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#1
Posted September 8th 2006, 12:45am
LTH,

Orange Garden, preserved in amber, old school, Ozzie and Harriet Chinese, all true, though, like many of us I grew up eating American/Cantonese and occasionally get a craving. When I first moved to Chicago I was an Orange Garden regular it reminded me, both price and style, of Milwaukee Chinese, though the past few years my American/Chinese cravings are well served by Kow Kow or China Chef

It had been 5-6 years since I was at Orange Garden and on my recent visit I found the food and service improved and it seemed they had spiffed the place up. That said, we only hit .500 on main courses, with pressed almond duck* being mediocre, at best.

Orange Garden Pressed Almond Duck
Image

Egg rolls, with a hint of peanut butter, were tasty.
Image
Image

And Chicken Chow Mein, light on the cornstarch gravy please, was verging on very good. The chicken flavorful and tender.
Image

I'm not saying Orange Garden is a substitute for Salt and Pepper Shrimp at 'Little' Three Happiness, Ma Po Tofu at Lao Sze Chuan or Dan dan mien at Katy's Dumpling House, simply a tasty rendition of the American/Chinese many of us grew up eating.

Enjoy,
Gary

*Both Steve Z and Evil Ronnie are on an eternal quest for the ~perfect~ pressed duck.

[Edit to reflect Mr. Nelson's correct name.]

Orange Garden Restaurant
1942 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
773-525-7479

Kow Kow Restaurant
6755 N. Cicero Ave
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
847-677-7717

China Chef
5920 Lincoln Ave
Morton Grove, IL 60053
847-967-6050
Last edited by G Wiv on September 8th 2006, 7:26am, edited 2 times in total.
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#2
Posted September 8th 2006, 12:58am
OG has been thrashed on LTH in the past. Sure, it's Old School to the hilt. But I'm a huge fan. There's nothing like slinking into one of their black leather (?) booths and eating a big fat OG egg roll. (Great pic!)
Avatar
#3
Posted September 8th 2006, 1:08am
reminds me of what for me was long gone new wilson village. same eggrolls. same look.

also, i think it's ozzie.
_______________________________________

"In pursuit of joys untasted"
from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#4
Posted September 8th 2006, 7:19am
jazzfood wrote:also, i think it's ozzie.

Of course this is coming from a guy who spells Jazz with a couple of z's. :)

Thanks, I will edit accordingly.
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#5
Posted September 8th 2006, 7:33am
Paul Tyksins wrote:OG has been thrashed on LTH in the past. Sure, it's Old School to the hilt. But I'm a huge fan. There's nothing like slinking into one of their black leather (?) booths and eating a big fat OG egg roll. (Great pic!)

Paul,

Black Leather it is, good memory.

Orange Garden
Image

Guess the Restaurant material? :)

Image

Enjoy,
Gary
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#6
Posted September 8th 2006, 8:05am
I've always thought that Orange Garden had one of the coolest old-school neon signs in the city. Hasn't made me wander in and try it, but perhaps combined with this post, who knows?

Is there a thread for restaurant signage pictures?
_______________________________________

Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
"You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
Avatar

Site Admin
#7
Posted September 8th 2006, 8:14am
whiskeybent wrote:Is there a thread for restaurant signage pictures?


How about this one? Some of the pictures don't seem to be displaying any more, but there's still a lot of stuff there.
_______________________________________

Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#8
Posted September 8th 2006, 8:30am
whiskeybent wrote:I've always thought that Orange Garden had one of the coolest old-school neon signs in the city.

Image
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#9
Posted September 8th 2006, 8:44am
whiskeybent wrote:I've always thought that Orange Garden had one of the coolest old-school neon signs in the city.

Whiskey,

Just occurred to me this what was you meant, not the smaller window neon.

Image
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#10
Posted September 8th 2006, 9:39am
Gary, as you, Mike, Vital, and I have discussed from time to time here and on CH over the years, Orange Garden is a treasure of mid-century design. I just wish the food were as exemplary, even within the genre of American 50's Chinese. Anything deep fried is a pretty good bet, however (crab rangoon, egg rolls, general tso's). By the way, the renewed discussion led me to look up the menu on menupages, and it seems that some new items have been added: ma po tofu does not seem like it was there before. And I wonder how the $15 lobster special is.

Also, the old timers in the neighborhood say what is pretty obvious: OG is a neighborhood favorite, and it seems like a fairly popular date spot for kids from Lane and Lakeview. The place up on Devon among the Inian and Pakistani businesses looks to be in the same style. What's it called again?
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#11
Posted September 8th 2006, 9:50am
JeffB wrote:And I wonder how the $15 lobster special is.

Jeff,

Steve Z and I bit the bullet on the pressed almond duck, lobster special is on you. ;)

JeffB wrote:The place up on Devon among the Inian and Pakistani businesses looks to be in the same style. What's it called again?

Peking House. I was there about 2 months ago to try, on Steve Z's recommendation, the peanut butter enhanced egg roll. Was pretty good, in a dense/oily love if you grew up eating them sort of way.

Enjoy,
Gary
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#12
Posted September 8th 2006, 10:09am
Thanks for the reminder about this place. I used to go to Jeannies on Belmont for my "jewish/american" Chinese food (egg rolls were near Kow-Kow quality ), but since changing hands two years ago things have not been the same. Other options in my area (Jade East, Mars,Tsang Far East) have been disappointing.
Avatar

Site Admin
#13
Posted September 8th 2006, 10:27am
G Wiv wrote:Peking House. I was there about 2 months ago to try, on Steve Z's recommendation, the peanut butter enhanced egg roll. Was pretty good, in a dense/oily love if you grew up eating them sort of way.


That's Pekin House, not Peking
_______________________________________

Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
Avatar
#14
Posted September 8th 2006, 11:27am
this what was you meant, not the smaller window neon.


That's it! Love that one.
_______________________________________

Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
"You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
Avatar

Charter Member
Web
#15
Posted September 8th 2006, 11:31am
I get Orange Garden once a year, on Thanksgiving Day, so I don't have to fix lunch while making an elaborate dinner, too.

This is my contribution to sustaining one of the city's best surviving examples of commercial deco/streamline (nicer to my mind than the Erickson storefront in Andersonville, which made it into this), while only subjecting myself to pretty mediocre Chinese once a year.
_______________________________________

Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
Avatar
#16
Posted September 8th 2006, 2:53pm
When I lived in the Lakeview area in the nineties, I tried all of the Chinese places in the neighborhood. I tried to like Orange Garden, but the food was consistently sub par (it seems the chef had a thing for celery--big, one inch hunks of it in virtually every entre I tried). As cool as the place looked, I settled on the House of Wah San up on Lincoln (4300 block) as my neighborhood Chinese of choice.
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#17
Posted March 18th 2008, 11:41pm
GAF,

Thanks for arranging an Orange Garden outing.

Orange Garden
Image

This particular evening Orange Garden's classic American Chinese was even better than expected, even by a OG supporter like myself. In particular I enjoyed the barbecue ribs, which had none of the 'false red' and salt flavor of lesser versions about town. I'd guess the meaty spare ribs were made in-house.

Orange Garden, Barbecue Ribs
Image

We brought wine and beer, including a perfect paring of The Bitter End Pale Ale by VitalInfo, and chatted comfortably until they started to close.

LTHers at Orange Garden
Image

Thanks GAF, a very nice evening.

Image

Enjoy,
Gary
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#18
Posted March 19th 2008, 3:59am
And the egg rolls, Gary? The egg rolls?
Avatar

Charter Member
Web
#19
Posted March 19th 2008, 8:28am
Never have I raced to sign up for an LTH event at a restaurant I abhor. Actually I don't abhor the restaurant, I abhor (or had, that's jumping the gun) the food at Orange Garden. As I was explaining to Cathy2 before most people showed up, one does not always need to love the food to have a great restaurant experience. I was especially happy that I had arrived about 15 minutes early, and I just soaked in the atmosphere the way my wife can absorb a Monet painting.

And the food, some of it was not half-bad. I wonder if, to some extent, this was like my experience with Nathan's on the Florida Turnpike. A hot dog on the way down really hit the spot, the one on the return it was just gross. I suspect this was a meal that is best not duplicated for a bit. I came into the night with none of the love GWiv has for this type of food. Growing up, I, well I abhorred Chinese food. When my family did go out for egg foo young, I typically got the fried chicken. I mean last night, I refused to eat the crab rangoon, although it got raves around the table. Still, I wanted to show my support for Orange Garden.

Like Calvin Trillin's daughters who came armed with bagels when their parents schlepped them to some place exotic, I came armed with some emergency rations if my palate suffered completely. I knew that no matter what, the alfahores from Buenos Aires Deli (3100 N. Cicero) would leave me with a pleasant taste in my mouth. The alfahores were good (if the coconut sprinkles did cause at least two people at our table to choke), but there were not even the last thing in my mouth.

Old school to the hilt, Orange Garden provided a stack of almond cookies. Good almond cookies, they went with some other stuff that approached and went just past good too. There is some skill in the kitchen. As JeffB notes upthread, they can fry well. Also, as noted, they can turn a tasty spare rib. Still, they are burdened with their recipes. Because we had to, we had chop suey and we had egg foo young--and the "Chinese chop suey", which in the weird dynamic of this place was the most authentic least authentic thing on the menu. Culinary stalwarts as they may be, these dishes quite sucked. I would abhor the food there if I stuck with the cliches.

On the other hand, I found, at least in its initial glutamate intense bites, the pressed duck to work. It has a weird texture, ground almost, but as the NYTimes taught us a few weeks ago, MSG does make things taste better. The thin vermicelli with beef also came out fine and the more modern, Schaumburg Chinese dish, orange peel chicken benefited from the kitchen's technique.

Great company, great decor, great dessert and...and, and some food that I could stomach. Thanks for organizing this Gary.
_______________________________________

Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.

The Local Beet 2014 Guide to Chicagoland Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
Avatar
#20
Posted March 19th 2008, 8:53am
Vital Information wrote:Old school to the hilt, Orange Garden provided a stack of almond cookies. Good almond cookies, they went with some other stuff that approached and went just past good too. There is some skill in the kitchen. As JeffB notes upthread, they can fry well. Also, as noted, they can turn a tasty spare rib. Still, they are burdened with their recipes. Because we had to, we had chop suey and we had egg foo young--and the "Chinese chop suey", which in the weird dynamic of this place was the most authentic least authentic thing on the menu. Culinary stalwarts as they may be, these dishes quite sucked. I would abhor the food there if I stuck with the cliches.

On the other hand, I found, at least in its initial glutamate intense bites, the pressed duck to work...

Just want to second VI's post in two ways. First, it was a great time with great folks. Second, while I had expected the food experience to be "ironically" pleasurable, I was surprised to discover much about it that was flat-out, unironically good. I agree with VI about the high points, and agree that the chop suey was a low point (not terrible, but not necessary), and only differ in that I liked the egg foo young better than he did. And wasn't as thrilled with the crab rangoon as some. (But as we discussed at the table, crab has a whole different meaning in Baltimore, my home town, than it has anywhere not Baltimore.)

I'd add that the waiter was gracious and helpful. When unknowingly we were about to order two dishes that were somewhat similar, he called that to our attention so that we could alter the plan. And managed to do this in a way that no one felt silly. As we lingered over dessert, second tea pots were brought to the table with no one needing to ask.

I want to go back.
Avatar
#21
Posted March 19th 2008, 7:08pm
G Wiv wrote:LTHers at Orange Garden
Image


This is a great shot. I think it represents LTH and the LTHers that I've met, to this point, so well. Although Orange Garden may not have the greatest Chinese food per se, these folks have gathered nonetheless to experience the vibe, the company, and the social history within the place, its food, the neighborhood and each other. The relative emptiness of the place only reinforces this.

On the other hand - maybe it's just that the egg rolls are good.

I'm sorry to have missed this one.
_______________________________________

Did you know there is an LTHforum Flickr group? I just found it...
Avatar
#22
Posted March 19th 2008, 8:43pm
I was really quite pleased with our meal and delighted by the experience (and the company, of course). One doesn't want to oversell the cuisine, but I found several dishes quite good. The most tasty was the Beef Lo Mein, bits of beef with vermicelli noodles. I also enjoyed our crab Rangoon. Not stuffed with crab, but the pastry was delightfully flaky and not at all greasy. The barbecued ribs were very meaty. I also enjoyed the Pressed Duck, a dish that I haven't had for decades, but maintained all of its nostalgic charm - fried minced duck. The combination egg foo young was a bit of an eggy omlette. And the Sweet and Sour Shrimp reminded me of a Chinese Corn Dog, dipped in orange corn syrup. Good Almond Cookies, too.

Less happily the Orange Peel Chicken had an off-taste (no Chicken Crack here). The weakest dish was the "Chinese" Chop Suey - not watery as the Trib describes it - but gloppy and gray.

As noted, the service was very helpful.

Perhaps most interesting was that - despite the rather unkind words from the Tribune about OG's chop suey - the article was laminated and framed over the counter. Well, it brought us in.
Avatar

Lead Moderator
Web
#23
Posted March 21st 2008, 3:06am
GAF wrote:Perhaps most interesting was that - despite the rather unkind words from the Tribune about OG's chop suey - the article was laminated and framed over the counter. Well, it brought us in.


That is interesting. Possible motivation could be that even though the article did not flatter, it was publicity, and any kind of attention is good. Or perhaps OG is thinking that most people will not bother to stop and read the article; they'll just notice that there's a recent clipping about the place on the wall.
_______________________________________

“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#24
Posted March 21st 2008, 8:49am
GAF wrote:One doesn't want to oversell the cuisine, but I found several dishes quite good. The most tasty was the Beef Lo Mein, bits of beef with vermicelli noodles.

Gary,

Beef Lo Mein was Ellen's favorite dish of the evening, she has even mentioned a Orange Garden return visit just for that one dish.

Beef Lo Mein, bottom left

Image

Enjoy,
Gary
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar

Lead Moderator
#25
Posted March 21st 2008, 9:48am
David Hammond wrote:
GAF wrote:Perhaps most interesting was that - despite the rather unkind words from the Tribune about OG's chop suey - the article was laminated and framed over the counter. Well, it brought us in.


That is interesting. Possible motivation could be that even though the article did not flatter, it was publicity, and any kind of attention is good. Or perhaps OG is thinking that most people will not bother to stop and read the article; they'll just notice that there's a recent clipping about the place on the wall.


I visited a company once that had a multi-page article on the firm mounted on the wall. I was left there for a while with nothing to do, so I read the article. This was not a suitable article to be displayed. It talked about discord amongst the founders, not so great comments about its place in the market and just about nothing to point with pride. Probably 99% of the people camped in the room never read it, though they were impressed by the length article. I was the 1% who was clearly surprised they exposed themselves further. Not surprisingly, they don't exist any longer.

Regards,
_______________________________________

Cathy2

"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
Avatar
#26
Posted September 27th 2009, 9:16am
A recent meal at Orange Garden was more edible than usual, and after days of eating boldly-flavored "high end" food, I thought it hit the spot with its utter blandness.

Wonton soup:
Image
The broth in this soup was basically unseasoned tap water with a hint of onion flavor. The filling inside the wonton tasted like the water formed into the shape of ground pork. The unseasoned pork slices themselves were actually very good. Pleasantly chewy, and though quite mild, bursting with flavor when compared with their surroundings.

Shrimp Lobster Style:
Image
The sauce tasted better than the gloppy mess it appeared to be. Nice flavor from fermented black beans, and silky richness from shredded eggs. The shrimp were well cooked.


Also had a flavorless egg roll that was fried nicely, and some good almond cookies. Orange Garden satisfies when I'm in a certain mood.
_______________________________________

...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

Fuckerberg on Food
Avatar
#27
Posted January 23rd 2010, 1:47pm
We were invited to eat at Orange Garden last night.
This used to be the neighborhood favorite place of a friend of my husband's who has since moved to LA, and was jonesing for their Egg Foo Yung, which apparently the EFY in LA is a very different style than that in NY or Chicago.

After browsing through the posts above, we ordered egg rolls and ribs as an appetizer,
which were both very good.
For mains, of course the LA friend ordered The EFY, his wife Kung Pao Chicken, another friend garlic chicken (I think), I ordered the Shrimp in Lobster sauce, which is one of my favorite dishes, hubby orange chicken, and we ordered a combo fried rice.

My shrimp were absolutely fantastic- sauce velvety smotth, wwith egg and shrimp components perfectly lightly cooked and tender-.
Orange chicken was sweet, but with a nice crunch.
Fried rice was just OK- a little on the dry side, a little heavy handed on the soy-

I wish I could report on everything else, but even though we offered to pass everything around-
it was very strange and un-LTH-like, the friends, didn't take any bites of our food or offer any of their food around...
The friend with the EFY was raving about it, and they brought him extra gravy, and said they had used "fresh oil"? for him.
It was just a little odd, because I understand when people don't swap bites off composed plates, but chinese food of all cuisines, in particular is a family style cuisine....
oh well, whatever...

afterward, we went down the road a bit to a very cool bar called the Ten Cat for drinks and conversation.
Very cool decor, with a fireplace in back.
and they allow dogs-
you really miss places like that in the burbs...
_______________________________________

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
~James Michener
Avatar
#28
Posted August 22nd 2010, 7:25pm
Does anyone have a picture of the cashier station at the Orange Garden showing the old picture - from the 40s, I think - that used to hang there? It showed the OG at that time, and was stolen from their wall last year. I'd really like to be able to find it somewhere on the web and blow it up, print and frame it for them. Thanks.
Avatar

Pitmaster Emeritus
Web
#29
Posted August 22nd 2010, 11:10pm
kitsullivan wrote:I'd really like to be able to find it somewhere on the web and blow it up, print and frame it for them. Thanks.
Nice of you to do, happy to send you the full size image.

Image

Cropped

Image
_______________________________________

Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

Low & Slow
Avatar
#30
Posted August 23rd 2010, 9:29am
Thanks very much! I'll post how it turns out!
The Jim Shoe

Online Information

Users browsing this forum: msandrew25, MSNbot Media, WhyBeeSea and 17 guests