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I grew up near LaGrange and there was a Chinese place in downtown LaGrange that did almond chicken. Basically it was a breaded and fried chicken breast on top of lettuce with gravy and chopped up almonds on top. Here is what it looked like:
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Anyone know of anyplace in the western burbs(or anywhere else) that does it? Does it go by another name on menus? :?:
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oh man- that is what I grew up with, in West Michigan, as Almond Chicken. When I moved here, I was disappointed to not see it around. Hope you find some leads, I have fond memories of it. I imagine my grown-up palate will not be as pleased, but you never know!
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I'm not too surprised you didn't get any suggestions of places in Chicago for War Sue Gai (one of many spellings). It's a real regional specialty of Cantonese-American cuisine, found mostly around Detroit MI and Columbus OH. There must be some around here though. You asked for suggestions "anywhere else" so here's my recommendation: Ding Ho in Columbus. They've been featuring War Sue Gai for over 50 years and make a truly excellent version.

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They start with a whole boned chicken that's seasoned, coated with water chestnut flour and expertly deep fried. That orange sauce looks like it could be a gloppy nightmare but it actually enhances the dish (no need for that extra bowl of the stuff however). Ding Ho beds the chicken on iceberg lettuce and accompanies it with fried rice and fresh-baked bread (!) as they have done forever. It's easy to make fun of this style of cooking but I was surprised how good this dish can be when prepared with skill and care.

Ding Ho
120 Phillipi Rd
Columbus OH
614-272-9234
http://dingho.net/
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This is also not going to help the poster but I vividly remember my favorite Sunday night Chinese dinner order growing up in Tampa--Wor Sue Opp--pretty sure it's the same dish you all are talking about except with pressed duck instead of chicken. Mine featured a savory, corn starch laden sauce, not orange--but I just loved that dish and it looked pretty darned close to ReneG's pic. I believe I had the dish at several places in NOLA as well (during college Sunday night chinese dinners--it's a tribal thing :)) Hadn't thought about that in years but definitely a happy memory!
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boudreaulicious wrote:This is also not going to help the poster but I vividly remember my favorite Sunday night Chinese dinner order growing up in Tampa--Wor Sue Opp--pretty sure it's the same dish you all are talking about except with pressed duck instead of chicken. Mine featured a savory, corn starch laden sauce, not orange--but I just loved that dish and it looked pretty darned close to ReneG's pic. I believe I had the dish at several places in NOLA as well (during college Sunday night chinese dinners--it's a tribal thing :)) Hadn't thought about that in years but definitely a happy memory!

Thanks for bringing that up. The duck version clearly is very closely related to War Sue Gai and it's not terribly hard to find in Chicago. Have a look at G Wiv's old photo from Orange Garden. There are at least half a dozen Chicago restaurants that have it on the menu (often listed as almond pressed duck). The question is, does the duck version completely outnumber its chicken counterpart on Chicago menus or (as stated in the original post) does War Sue Gai simply go by another name here?
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Ha!! Guess what I'm getting for dinner tomorrow night :)
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"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
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Thanks for the info and location, my mouth is watering just looking at that. Also I'll look for pressed duck as well! The search continues...

Rene G wrote:I'm not too surprised you didn't get any suggestions of places in Chicago for War Sue Gai (one of many spellings). It's a real regional specialty of Cantonese-American cuisine, found mostly around Detroit MI and Columbus OH. There must be some around here though. You asked for suggestions "anywhere else" so here's my recommendation: Ding Ho in Columbus. They've been featuring War Sue Gai for over 50 years and make a truly excellent version.

Image

They start with a whole boned chicken that's seasoned, coated with water chestnut flour and expertly deep fried. That orange sauce looks like it could be a gloppy nightmare but it actually enhances the dish (no need for that extra bowl of the stuff however). Ding Ho beds the chicken on iceberg lettuce and accompanies it with fried rice and fresh-baked bread (!) as they have done forever. It's easy to make fun of this style of cooking but I was surprised how good this dish can be when prepared with skill and care.

Ding Ho
120 Phillipi Rd
Columbus OH
614-272-9234
http://dingho.net/
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The pressed duck version is available at both Kow Kow and China Chef. Given the choice of the two, I'd go for China Chef's version in a NY minute.

Kow Kow
6755 North Cicero
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
(847) 677-7717

China Chef
5920 Lincoln Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
(847) 967-6050
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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I definitely remember having the duck version of this in Philadelphia, for sure in a Cantonese place.
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stevez wrote:Given the choice of the two, I'd go for China Chef's version in a NY minute.

China Chef
5920 Lincoln Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
(847) 967-6050


I NEED to do this--anyone up for a trip there? I read the on line reviews for Orange Garden and can't bring myself to potentially destroy my memories of this dish by risking a meal there :cry:
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boudreaulicious wrote:
stevez wrote:Given the choice of the two, I'd go for China Chef's version in a NY minute.

China Chef
5920 Lincoln Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
(847) 967-6050


I NEED to do this--anyone up for a trip there? I read the on line reviews for Orange Garden and can't bring myself to potentially destroy my memories of this dish by risking a meal there :cry:


Any time. I love China Chef.

P.S. The Orange Garden version pales in comparison to China Chef's versions (of which there are two)
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Steve Z.

"Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?" - Dan Janssen
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cjchaps wrote:I grew up near LaGrange and there was a Chinese place in downtown LaGrange that did almond chicken. Basically it was a breaded and fried chicken breast on top of lettuce with gravy and chopped up almonds on top. Here is what it looked like:
Image

Anyone know of anyplace in the western burbs(or anywhere else) that does it? Does it go by another name on menus? :?:


LTH,

Why did you guys have to start discussing Almond Pressed Duck? I let it go 6-7 years ago after numerous disappointing stabs in the dark. But the recent discussion led us to China Chef this evening.

Our meal started with an egg roll, which was tasty. Slight peanut butter flavor and light in texture.

Next, egg drop and hot/sour soup, both of which were tasty.

I enjoyed the shrimp lo mein and Donna liked the General Tso's chicken.

But the almond pressed duck was horrid IMO. I was shocked when the waiter put this dish in front of me. I couldn't tell exactly what it looked like, but the following came to mind:
A. Deep fried duck scrapple (minus the liver flavor)
B. Deep fried Wyler's beef bouillion cubes on oriental vegetables
C. Deep fried chocolate brownies on oriental vegetables
D. Deep fried date nut bars

It was the complete polar opposite of what is pictured in Rene G's photo. boudreaulicious...I'm not sure this version is the dish you had back home.

The waiter asked if we enjoyed everything, and I told him that my dog wouldn't eat the dish.

I will give the owner credit...he gave me an $8 gift certificate good for our next visit.

There is a sizeable Philipino section on the menu and there appeared to be numerous people enjoying those dishes, like crispy pata type stuff.

I would go back...just not for the Almond Pressed Duck.

I'm afraid that dish is dead and buried.


Not your Mama's Almond Pressed Duck

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Nope--that ain't it. The dish I remember (Wor Shu Opp) was layers of duck meat with a crispy coating (in other words, you could tell the duck was duck--it wasn't morphed into a duckloaf type substance like in Ronnie's picture). Also, the sauce was similar to the chicken dish pictured above--perhaps a bit browner but definitely a shade of beige--so not a plum sauce, sweet & sour or oyster sauce like I've seen in some of the pictures and recipes now that I've been googling around about this. There was nothing sweet about this dish. It was topped with bits of almond (although what I remember seemed more like peanut but I'm sure I wouldn't have known the difference back then) and served over iceberg lettuce. I have found it on a few menus in Tampa--and it's still called Wor Shu Opp--not "pressed duck" or "almond duck" like I'm seeing on the Chicago menus. So guessing it's definitely not the same thing, though the translation may lead one to think it is.
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"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
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It's fate. Orange Garden has your Tampa-style pressed duck with almonds and brown gravy. I've wondered about it on the menu for years, and last night finally pulled the trigger (I have a daughter who loves OG's pan fried noodles, no accounting for taste). I support OG mainly beacuse the place is so damn cool and old, and the owners are swell and really respect the institution and the sign, which they work hard to keep up. And the hot and sour soup is really very good. Anyway, the duck is as you describe and non unlike something I might have eaten at Mai King on Hillsborough Ave. in 1985. My kid (the noodler) actually liked it a lot. Breaded and fried meat loaf was clearly duck, but the lady on the phone noted some pork is in there too as a binder. She also volunteered that they keep it on the menu for the old timers, and that it's a very nostalgic dish that goes way back with Orange Garden.

Warning: your memories might be more delicious than reality.

NB: I recognize that Rene of course noted Gary's documentation of the dish at OG some time back. But I wanted to verify that the OG product fits your description to a T. It's not unlike the Ohio species pictured by Rene above, same chestnut flour and almonds, same iceberg bed, but it's duck loaf inside and it's covered with a savory (and not bad) brown sauce with vegetables and not sweet/sour.
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As I peruse this thread, I can't help but think of the chicken chow won ton served at some strip mall Chinese place in Northbrook (in Sanders Court) in the 70s and 80s (and maybe early 90s). My mom was in love with the stuff, and so as a teenager, if I ever wanted to go out for Chinese food, I just had to mention those four words and my mom was running for her car keys.

It was one of those Americanized Cantonese dishes, clear sauce, kind of gloppy, but the real star were the fried won tons, which were largely crispy, but thanks to sitting in the sauce, partially soft too - ingenious without thought or effort I think. But I have to say I kind of liked it too. Then it closed and I haven't had the dish since. I've seen it listed on a couple of online menus of local Chinese spots (Palace Cantonese, New China), but I haven't had it in years. You people have me craving stuff I shouldn't be craving . . . or should I?
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JeffB wrote:It's fate. Orange Garden has your Tampa-style pressed duck with almonds and brown gravy. I've wondered about it on the menu for years, and last night finally pulled the trigger (I have a daughter who loves OG's pan fried noodles, no accounting for taste). I support OG mainly beacuse the place is so damn cool and old, and the owners are swell and really respect the institution and the sign, which they work hard to keep up. And the hot and sour soup is really very good. Anyway, the duck is as you describe and non unlike something I might have eaten at Mai King on Hillsborough Ave. in 1985. My kid (the noodler) actually liked it a lot. Breaded and fried meat loaf was clearly duck, but the lady on the phone noted some pork is in there too as a binder. She also volunteered that they keep it on the menu for the old timers, and that it's a very nostalgic dish that goes way back with Orange Garden.

Warning: your memories might be more delicious than reality.

NB: I recognize that Rene of course noted Gary's documentation of the dish at OG some time back. But I wanted to verify that the OG product fits your description to a T. It's not unlike the Ohio species pictured by Rene above, same chestnut flour and almonds, same iceberg bed, but it's duck loaf inside and it's covered with a savory (and not bad) brown sauce with vegetables and not sweet/sour.


Jeff, we were probably sitting next to you--Mai King IS the place--just couldn't remember the name. I left for college in 82 so not sure when, exactly, my last trip to Mai King might have been but definitely still possible that our paths crossed. Thanks for the info!!!!
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Happy to help. I was about 5 years behind you, but my tenure at Mai King and the nearby CDB's pizza would have started around '79 when I was still single-digits.
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I was researching more and it looks like Shangai Inn has almond duck.
http://www.shanghaiinnrestaurant.com/index.asp?cnt=menuContent

Anyone tried it there?
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I was near Shangai Inn and was able to order take out. I ordered the Almond duck and was pretty impressed with it. As seen below it's pretty close to what I was looking for. It's basically shredded duck meat, breaded and deep fried, with almonds and gravy on top. It got a little soggy on my trip home so I would definitely recommend that it be ordered inside and eaten fresh. Here is what it looks like:

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cjchaps wrote:I was researching more and it looks like Shangai Inn has almond duck.
http://www.shanghaiinnrestaurant.com/index.asp?cnt=menuContent

Anyone tried it there?
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I know they used to (probably still do) serve “Pressed Chicken” just as pictured/described, at Ming Ling in Miller (566 S Lake St., Gary), Indiana; another old-school place that’s been around for 50+ years. This used to be our go-to family outing place in the 1970s-80s. Granted, I haven’t been there in some 20+ years, but I think the appeal of this place has always been its time-capsule quality.
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boudreaulicious wrote:I NEED to do this

How was the duck? Or did you go back on your hash after looking at Evil Ronnie's pics?

I see that Mei Shung offers what they call Crispy Duck: half a duck marinated in aromatic spices, steamed, then deep-fried to semi-crispiness. I've had some pretty good dishes at Mei Shung so that could be worth a try.

SCUBAchef wrote:I know they used to (probably still do) serve “Pressed Chicken” just as pictured/described, at Ming Ling in Miller (566 S Lake St., Gary), Indiana; another old-school place that’s been around for 50+ years. This used to be our go-to family outing place in the 1970s-80s. Granted, I haven’t been there in some 20+ years, but I think the appeal of this place has always been its time-capsule quality.

I'm afraid Ming Ling went out of business about a year ago. The place opened in 1961 and I think they managed to hit the half-century mark. Even though there are no closed signs and the building looks unchanged, the phone has been disconnected (but it sounds like they closed temporarily before so I wouldn't give up all hope). I'm sorry I missed eating there.

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Fans of 1960s Hoosier faux-Asian won't want to miss the Ishi Yama Apartments, a mile north on Lake Street, in a pretty part of the Miller Beach neighborhood.

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Heck, if you've driven that far you really ought to continue on another mile or so and admire the newly-restored Gary Aquatorium.

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Mei Shung
5511 N Broadway
Chicago
773-728-5778

Ming Ling (closed)
566 S Lake St
Gary (Miller) IN
219-938-6617

Ishi Yama Apartments
Lake St & Forest Av
Gary (Miller) IN

Gary Aquatorium
6918 Oak Av (in Marquette Park)
Gary (Miller) IN
219-938-1986
http://aquatorium.org/
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I've been out of Chicago for much of the last few months so, sadly, I still haven't been able to indulge my wor sue opp nostalgia. Bummed about the demise of Ming Ling--that looked promising. Hoping to try a few of these suggestions soon and maybe even Mai King in Tampa on my next trip in January. Wondering if the OP had any new intel...
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Nope, nothing new in my quest to report unfortunately.

boudreaulicious wrote:I've been out of Chicago for much of the last few months so, sadly, I still haven't been able to indulge my wor sue opp nostalgia. Bummed about the demise of Ming Ling--that looked promising. Hoping to try a few of these suggestions soon and maybe even Mai King in Tampa on my next trip in January. Wondering if the OP had any new intel...
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New China on Dempster in Skokie has fairly decent Almond Pressed Duck.
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War Sue Chicken is a favorite from my childhood. There was a chinese restaurant in Mokena during the 80's that served it and I have looked for it on every single chinese menu since. I recall it looking similar to Rene G's pic from Ding Ho. It was a whole boneless skinless fried chicken breast sliced on a bed of lettuce with brown gravy over the top.

The chinese restaurant is now Nick's Steak House on Lagrange Rd.
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I remember this dish from a Chinese place in Lisle. definitely a lunch special. I think they only have a few Chinese places in Lisle, and it had to be near my office near the train station. I am thinking off Chicago Ave? I haven't driven out that way in years, but it was near Granny's. It was in a strip mall there. Maybe the Great Wall, I think it was called crispy chicken or almond chicken. Sorry, I can't remember the name, but if you're ever in Lisle, may be worth a phone call to see if they have it. Served just like the OP picture on lettuce and everything.
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I am also looking for War Sue Opp. My dad (who was not Chinese, but had cooked in a Chinese restaurant back in the '40's in Omaha) made this dish and I did not get the recipe before he passed away. He used to say that most of the Cantonese restaurants around here had gotten lazy and cheap with their "pressed duck" and made them into the current pressed duck scrapple that we see. It was a lengthy process to make the dish as it involved cooking the whole duck, deboning it, assembling the pieces into a patty, refrigerating it to firm it up, then frying it up. I don't remember if the duck was boiled or roasted and what was used as a binder (other than flour) to keep it all together.
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I had my first Orange Garden experience a couple of weeks back when two friends joined me for dinner there, all looking for some nostalgic Ameri-Chinese food. But the food was pretty bad. It started with nicely fried egg rolls that were filled almost exclusively with cabbage and had little flavor (barely any pork, and no shrimp). Combination fried rice was dark, yet amazingly lacked any smoky flavor - in fact, it was amazingly tasteless despite its dark color. Moo Shu Pork perhaps should have been called Moo Shu Cabbage (once again, the predominant ingredient), and was again amazingly bland. Finally, sweet and sour chicken which tasted more like candy with hardly a hint of sour (although I have to admit, I'm rarely a fan of sweet and sour items).

On the plus side, there was soy sauce, hoisin and mustard which partially rescued the otherwise bland food. And there were quality fortune cookies at the end of the meal. But there's no way I will return to Orange Garden the next time I seek a return to my childhood "Chinese" food.
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Bland is the name of the game at these places. That said, if you are careful and heed hard-learned advice, you can still do OK. Hot and sour is a decent rendition; chow fun pretty solid; egg foo young not terribly bad (gravy on the side, definitely); and most improbably, the lobster special. They also do a decent job with pan fried egg noodles, the only reason I know anything about the food at OG -- my kids claim their pan fried noodles are the best.
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Anyone else from Louisville, KY reading this thread and jonesing for the War Sue Gai from Hoe Kow? That was the first Chinese food I ever tried, circa age seven. I always avoided it because my parents would order "egg rolls" and I disliked eggs, but with encouragement and explanation, I tried and loved it. That was probably the extent of ethnic food availability in Louisville in the 70s, until Por Que No opened and I tried Mexican food on a field trip lunch, then after I raved about it my family went for dinner the same night.
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