Indy’s Best Chinese Takeout

Stir fry noodles with vegetables and shrimps

Courtesy Getty Images

In the Midwest, Chinese takeout is as traditional as the strip mall, and the two often converge this time of year. Some celebrate Christmas with Peking duck as A Christmas Story tribute, while others just love the nostalgia. Any reason to swing by your local suburban Chinese restaurant is a good one, so here are the best places for strip mall (or strip-mall-adjacent) takeout.

Tian Fu Asian Bistro

Along with a full sushi and Japanese menu, Tian Fu has a robust catalogue of traditional regional preparations. Get your favorites—Kung Pao chicken, Hunan, garlic sauce—but save room for the house-recommended Spicy Crispy Chicken. It’s best when you order it in-house and can get it right out of the wok at maximum crispy-meets-sticky sublime heaven, or for a quick lunch stop, but it’s still great out of the takeout box. 3508 W. 86th St., 317-872-6888

Egg Roll #1

Southsiders know that ER1 turns and burns tables all day until close with a line that often pokes out the door. Patience is rewarded like nowhere else, as their fat, ultra-crisp, cabbage-packed egg rolls don’t spend hardly any time under hot lamps. Order some pho—the dish Egg Roll #1 is most famous for—and don’t be embarrassed to hop back in line to grab one more egg roll for the road. 4540 S. Emerson Ave., 317-787-2225

Food King

Three cheers for Food King, which has busy people in mind with every option on a menu that couldn’t be more simple. When you’ve cooked for a houseful of guests and just can’t make another choice, they’re there for you with dinners for two to six that include a scaling number of crab rangoon, lo mein, and a variety of mains that come out to less than $10 a plate. It’s as easy as counting your guests. 1472 E. 86th St., 317-843-1066

Taiwan Tea House

Taiwanese food shares culinary roots with the Fujian and Hakka regions of China, known for incorporating fresh ingredients, just as Indiana has always done farm-to-table before it was trendy. Boba tea is what brings them in, but the spicy wontons and mapo tofu are what keep them in their seats. They’ll also buzz up a delicious fruit smoothie for way less than you’d pay at the mall. 3746 E 82nd St., 317-598-9733

Asian Snack

Located across from the produce inside Saraga International Grocery, you’ll find Asian Snack teaming with patrons. When you’re ready to leave the basics behind, stop by and ask for the Chinese menu, then go hard with the authentic appetizers: cold noodle salad, stir-fried pancake, and a pie with chive filling. 3605 Commercial Dr., 317-297-1072

Indy Asian Cuisine

If you love fresh pasta, Indy Asian Cuisine should be your next stop. The noodles are handmade from scratch at this place and cut with a knife. They retain a sublime chewiness and bounce both stir-fried and in broth, made thin by slicing with a flat-edge knife. Word to the wise: ask for the Chinese menu. They also offer an “American” menu with basics like General Tso’s, but that’s not where the good stuff is. 9516 Haver Way, 317-848-8802

China Garden

Sure, play the hits, but don’t miss out on two easy-to-miss menu items, both listed as a soup for two guests: chicken corn soup and sizzling rice soup. All of the soup-for-two items are rich and full of meat and vegetables, like a family-style winter stew. Chicken and corn is sweet, velvety, and packed with protein, while its sizzling sibling is topped with crunchy rice for a memorable texture contrast in the thin broth, and both are great options for cold season. Of the many locations, the Madison Avenue location reigns. 7015 Madison Ave., 317-781-0943

Oriental Inn

Perfectly situated between a liquor store and a hardware store, Oriental Inn is the utilitarian Chinese takeout of choice for Irvingtonians. It’s scratch-made, stir-fried to order, and it’s in one of those wonderfully ornate storefronts painted in technicolor and gold leaf that feels nostalgic. The most comforting choice on the menu is the lo-mein, which also doubles as a satisfying vegetarian option. 1421 N. Arlington Ave., 317-352-0398

House of Cheung

Open since 1979, House of Cheung is a northside institution. Though it is technically freestanding, it’s sandwiched between two strip malls, and it’s a reputable takeout powerhouse. Vegetarians take note: House of Cheung gives tofu the General Tso’s treatment to crispy, sweet perfection if you’ve been missing the chicken version. 2460 E 71st St., 317-253-9696

Yen Ching

Treat yourself to the best interpretation of one of Indiana’s largest exports: delicious, fatty duck. You can get it prepared a few ways, but the best by far is the Smoked Tea Duck, which is marinated, then steam-smoked and finally deep fried. The result is a crisp skin atop dark, juicy meat that pairs perfectly with the black bean garlic sauce its served with. 8512 E. Washington St., 317-899-3270

Foon Ying

Foon Ying is one of those places where there is nearly always a line, so stop strategizing and just go when you’re hungry. And when you get there, get an egg roll. These are not your average, wimpy rolls in a flimsy wrapper. Foon Ying’s egg rolls are the size of a middle schooler’s forearm, in a shell that fries up like golden brown bubble wrap and stays crunchy for over an hour, and with no residual frying oil clinging to the bottom. 3770 Shadeland Ave., 317-547-2285