Carryout Chinese in Our Neighborhood: New Star

Do you have a favorite place for Chinese takeout in Oak Park?

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By 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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Reader Comments

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Posted: March 4th, 2013 12:17 PM

"Chinese is actually an excellent food for takeout." Who knew?

Chinese foodie  

Posted: March 4th, 2013 12:26 AM

Because it allows us to acknowledge that there is subjectivity involved, and that everyones opinion is valid, while still stating that "I'm right, because I know". LOL

Chinese foodie  

Posted: March 4th, 2013 12:23 AM

I agree that there is more similarity between various regions of Chinese food than Mexican or French, but I think making statements about Chinese food without specifying the region is an over simplification and an inaccurate representation to the point where the statement is largely meaningless other than to the specific person the statement is directed to who knows exactly what that person is talking about. But it's meaningless for public discourse. I share your way of choosing critics.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 1st, 2013 5:53 AM

Criticism is subjective, no doubt, so what I do is find a critic (whether for food or firlm or whatever) who I trust, whose subjectivity is in line with mine, and that's the person I read. Totally with you regarding different types of Chinese, Mexican, French, etc...but, within those broad categories, there are of course similiarities between the regional types, so it's not nonsensical to talk about, say, Chinese food, even though there's a lot of difference between Hong Kong style and Szechuan style. There's more similarities betweeen Hong Kong and Szechuan cooking than there is between either of those styles and Mexican or French cooking, right?

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 11:25 PM

The categories of "Chinese" and "Chinese-American" are even problematic as Chinese food can differ greatly from region to region. Southern Chinese, Northern Chinese, Shanghai, Hong Kong Sichuan, Xinjiang, Hakah, Fujian etc... all have signature dishes that differ greatly, so it's really impossible to lump Chinese food all into one category as if they are similar enough to judge as one.

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 11:17 PM

This brings up the dilemma of subjectivity. How can one even judge anything to be "good" or "not good" without some sort of objective standard, or belief system. We could argue that food that tastes "rotten" could be considered "bad tasting", but there are tribes in Africa who eat veg that tastes "rotten" that are pretty happy. So what does that mean for the food critic or anyone who writes about food? Since we like what we like, and no one is in a position to tell us otherwise.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 28th, 2013 5:52 AM

Chinese foodie, we're in agreement. Just as there's Italian and Italian- American food, there's Chinese and Chinese-American food. Any of these foods can be delicious. Though one may be more "authentic" than the other, authenticity doesn't mean that one will be tastier than the other to any one person.

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 11:15 PM

a McDonalds cheeseburger that's dripping in god knows what, and makes a declarative statement that all American food is disgusting... They haven't even had "American food". I'm bringing this up because I think there really should be 2 clear categories of food, "Chinese" and "American Chinese", so when people start making comparisons as to which eatery is "better", we know that gauge they are using to measure by.

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 11:06 PM

David, absolutely true. I meant no disrespect towards what people like. We like what we like, and if someone like's some small corner Chinese take out, then that's what they like, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I just get annoyed when I hear comments like "I don't like Chinese food because it's sloppy, greasy and full of soy etc..." when what they're tasting is far from the subtlety and wide variety that encompasses all Chinese food. It's like when someone eats cont...

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 9:12 PM

Chinese foodie, don't you think it's probably true that if you grow up in, say, France, or Mexico, or China, that the versions of those "ethnic foods" served in the US will probably usually fall short of what you remember from your childhood? That said, I've been consistently knocked out by the food at Lao Hunan (another Tony Hu restaurant, like Lao Sze Chuan) -- though I cannot say with any authority that it's authentic (not, as you say, it matters much; if it tastes good, that's paramount).

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 7:23 PM

in this region that comes close to Chinese food in China (specifically southern Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese food), and that's "Phoenix" in Chinatown. Even the highly regarded Lao Sichuan is over rated. Saying all that, Oak Park really doesn't have anything notable as far as Chinese food goes, but if I was forced to order I'd probably get some Singapore noodles and double cooked pork from New Star (technically not Oak Park).

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 7:19 PM

So even if the Chinese food here is not "authentic" I understand that it's what people here mostly expect and if it tastes good on their palette, it's all good and that's what matters. Saying that, I don't find any Chinese eatery in Oak Park that good, even as far as westernized Chinese food goes. I go to HuTong and avoid that Chinese food. I don't like it when people discount Chinese food based on what they've tried at some takeout they've had in this region. There is only one place cont...

Chinese foodie  

Posted: February 27th, 2013 7:15 PM

After living a life time in China, I can safely say that the Chinese food in Oak Park, and even in most of Chicago (including Chinatown) is not all that Chinese. The majority of dishes here cannot be found on menus in China, or is some westernized version which shares little in common with it's counterpart in the east. I'm a food snob when it comes to Chinese food, so I like to think I know my Chinese food, however I can understand that people like what they grow up with cont...

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