Carryout Chinese, courtesy David Hammond

Dining at Scratch Kitchen + Lounge last week, I chatted with a woman sitting next to us at the bar. She said her other favorite local restaurant was New Star, a place I’d never been and about which I harbored some suspicion based on nothing more than appearances.  The nice woman at the Scratch bar said she especially liked the beef, which she said “wasn’t like a lot of the yucky soft beef you get at Chinese places.”

Thing is, the “yucky soft beef you get at Chinese places” has that almost-off-putting-to-Westerners texture by design. In Chinese, it’s referred to as “velvety beef,” and it’s created by marinating the beef in egg white, corn starch and rice wine. The result is a beef that lacks any tooth, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

But that’s not the way the beef seems to be done at New Star. We tried the curry chicken, shrimp with black bean sauce, Szechuan broccoli with bean curd, and a few other items. But the beef chow mein was probably the best thing we had.

Chinese is actually an excellent food for takeout. Unlike pizza, there’s no crust to get soggy on the way home, and because most of the dishes are like types of stew, there’s not much that affects the character of Chinese food as it travels from restaurant kitchen to home table.

Do you have a favorite place for Chinese takeout in Oak Park? If so, we’d love to hear about it…and what, specifically, you like to order from that favorite place.



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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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