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89th And Broke

I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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The Chinese Combination Dinner: An Endangered Species

The Chinese combination dinner is a rare find here in the city.  While these types of takeout dinners – entree, egg roll and rice – run rampant in the ‘burbs, sometimes I feel like its an endangered species.  That’s why when my roommate Al and I pass a restaurant with this special offering, that menu quickly makes it to the top of our delivery menu pile.

This week we finally tried Oriental Kitchen that offers such a phenomenal combination offering, that even my beloved Young Young in Southington, CT can’t beat (side note: In high school, people hung out at Young Young on half-days because of the buffet.  We were that cool).  For about 7 bucks, Oriental Kitchen offers you your choice of entree, with your choice of rice, egg roll or spring roll and wait for it – your choice of soup! In my 25 years, this has been unheard of!

According to Al, ordering was “the most pleasant ordering experience in my whole life” because the man who answered wished him “a good night, sir.” The food arrived quickly and between tax, tip, our two combo dinners and a plate of dumplings, the bill was 22 bucks.

Round 1 was the soup.  I went with the wonton and found it to be pretty standard soup.  My only criticism would have been to add more pork to the broth and take out the seaweed (for a moment I was worried Al ordered me miso).  Still, I would easily order this again.

Next, we ate the fried pork dumplings, because if you are going to eat Chinese, you might as well go all out.  I thought the dumplings were good, but Al, who has well-researched dumps, preferred the size of the dumps at J. East, our typical go-to spot, since those are much larger (ha, Al likes big dumps).  When ordering again, I’d probably try a different appetizer, like the boneless spare ribs, to see how it compares to J. East.

On to the rice.  I love fried rice, partially because of all the bits of pork, carrots and peas tossed into it.  This was simply fried rice with egg.  Maybe I should have read the menu more carefully to see that this was fried rice and not pork fried rice.  It was still good, I was just bummed that my rice was missing bits of pork.  I feel like the theme of this dinner was “where’s the pork?” since I missed it in my soup too.

The egg roll was huge.  This egg roll could have been a meal all by itself.  I think though the restaurant forgot to put in the bag with duck sauce and fortune cookies since they were missing from our order, and let me tell you, I would have loved some duck sauce.  The egg roll was a little too greasy for my liking – I had to blot it like you normally would with a slice of pizza to get the excess grease off of it.  Next time, I’d be willing to try a spring roll just to see how this compares.

My chicken and broccoli though was absolutely phenomenal.  In fact, I would say it was the best chicken and broccoli takeout I’ve ever had.  There was the perfect ratio of chicken to broc, with some nice carrots thrown in there.  The sauce was a nice, dark sauce and it was very light on the chicken.  Sometimes with Chinese I feel like the sauce gets a little funky the next day, but it held up great on day two in the microwave.  The broccoli was still nice and crisp even after being left in the sauce for 24 hours.

If we’re going to put portion size into the equation and compare it to J. East, I was able to make two meals out of this food, while at J. East, I have been known to stretch 4 meals out of my takeout.  Just sayin’.

Overall, you’ll get a great value at Oriental Kitchen – my combination plate was only $6.45.  Still, the fried rice was lacking, and there was so much grease on my egg roll that it soaked through two napkins.  If you live in the Murray Hill/Gramercy area and like all the fixings with your Chinese meal, as well as getting a fortune cookie with your takeout, stick to ordering from J. East.  If you only care about the entree, head to Oriental Kitchen.

The Basics
Name: Oriental Kitchen
Location: 236 E. 23rd St between 2nd and 3rd
Who to Bring:  Takeout
Price: $ Super cheap.
Overall: 3.5 stars.  Liked it, but not my go-to.

Oriental Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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