We all love it. It’s our go-to dinner for those impromptu (or traditional) family get-togethers. It’s simple and tasty and usually leaves with you with enough leftovers for a couple more meals.
I’m, of course, referring to take-out Chinese food.
Here’s the thing: Hamilton has like a million Chinese restaurants and they are all slight variations of the same thing — please note: I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
After much sleuthing and reading an inhumane number of reviews across a number of platforms, and eating an equally inhumane amount of take-out Chinese food, we’ve been able to narrow down the cream of the crop.
Here are the Top 5 places for take-out Chinese food. I think it’s worth noting here that most of these restaurants have been serving our community for decades.
5. South City
This is a lovely little spot on Upper Ottawa. The food is delicious and affordable and the staff are very helpful. The chicken fried rice is pretty run of the mill, as far as take-out fried rice goes (which is delicious!) but their house speciality, the General Chicken, is really spectacular. The sauce is the right amount of sweet, salty and spicy. The chicken, while a little tough (the food had sat for a while before we got around to tasting it) was generously portioned out and crispy. I love me a good General chicken and I will be heading back to South City for more.
4. Amy’s Wok
This Chinese restaurant in East Hamilton, bordering Stoney Creek, is a favourite in my family. I think we started ordering from there on my birthday because I like the name so much. We keep coming back because you can’t beat the quality and deliciousness of the food and the fantastic service. Amy’s Wok has always been my benchmark for chicken fried rice and it never disappoints. Their egg rolls are also incredible, but we didn’t actually try them for this sampling. One of their specialities is the Moo Goo Guy Pan. This has always been one of my favourite menu items because of the big crunchy, chunky veg and juicy chicken. The sauce is nice and salty with a little kick. It’s a really nicely balanced dish and will figure prominently in our future orders form Amy’s Wok.
3. Great Wall
Here’s another classic Hamilton Chinese food restaurant that has been serving the community for a pretty long time. It’s funny, I grew up within walking distance of Great Wall and I’m pretty sure this was my first time ordering it. I have to say, it’s apparent when you taste the food why Hamiltonians keep coming back for more. Their service is very personable and the chicken fried rice is really tasty. We ordered General Tso Chicken because it seems to be a fan favourite. One thing they did here that I found I really appreciated was putting the sauce on the side. It kept the breaded chicken nice and crispy and allowed us to control the amount of sauce — which is indeed a necessity. The sauce is an interesting take on a classic as it’s very gingery and quite spicy (not unpleasantly so unless you don’t like spicy). The Great Wall really is a Hamilton gem.
2. South Sea
Ottawa Street’s South Sea has an incredibly loyal clientele and it’s pretty apparent why that is. Their fried rice was my favourite among those that we tried (which is saying a lot because Amy’s Wok has always been my favourite). it has such a rich flavour and it’s less dry than some of the other places we tried. Their Peking King-To Pork was fantastic with its sweet and sour Asian style sauce and crispy breaded pork with a mild kick and the little morsels of meat are perfect little bites. Everything about South Sea was quite lovely: the quality, quantity and the service. It’s easy to see why they’ve been around so long and why they have a cult-like following. We’ll definitely be back.
1. Banana Leaf
I should preface this by noting: Banana Leaf offers dishes from a number of Asian cultures but they’re known for their Chinese features. Secondly, the food from here was more expensive than the other restaurants we tested but one taste of their fried rice and chicken with black bean sauce was proof that we’d gotten our money’s worth. The chicken was so tender and juicy and the veggies were fresh and crisp and none of was swimming in a pool of sauce: it was all just perfectly dressed. The black bean sauce was perfect with the right amount of sweet and all that delicious saltiness. The fried rice is also a notch above what you’re used to getting from traditional Chinese take-out places: it wasn’t as salty, the chicken pieces were quite large and there were plenty of fresh veggies. There’s clearly a Thai influence at play here but it works nicely and makes Banana Leaf a standout.
What’s your go-to take-out Chinese place in Hamilton?