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Best Orange Chicken/Chinese Food
updated: Jul 18, 2014, 1:59 PM

Recommendation. What Chinese restaurant in Santa Barbara has the best orange chicken and best Chinese food?

 COMMENT 536705P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:07 PM

Not Panda. Last time I eat there they served processed chicken. Gross.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:11 PM

NOT China Bowl either..Screwed me outta 32 bucks!

 

 COMMENT 536710 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:13 PM

I like Empress Palace but I don't know if they have Orange Chicken.

 

 COMMENT 536711 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:17 PM

I love China Pavilion (on Chapala) for Chinese food. It's pricey though!

 

 COMMENT 536712 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:23 PM

Red Pepper in Old Town Goleta!

 

 COMMENT 536713 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:25 PM

Empress Palace

 

 COMMENT 536715 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:27 PM

China Palace in Montecito has the freshest and best chinese food in the area IMO. I also love the Red Pepper as mentioned before, but it's in a crappy area.

 

 COMMENT 536718 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:29 PM

Ming Dynasty in Goleta; Madam Lu on upper State.

 

 COMMENT 536720 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:36 PM

Empress Palace is truly the yardstick by which truly awful Chinese food is measured. Never mind being the worst Chinese restaurant in SB, the Empress Palace is perhaps the worst Chinese restaurant in the county. You know the food is bad when your dog won't eat the leftovers you've brought home. I'm not kidding. Not only that, but it's expensive.

Panda Express offers a nice food product, but it's in no way related to "real" Chinese food--kind of like Franco-American spaghetti tasting nice, but you'd never in a million years consider it "real" spaghetti.

Sadly, since the demise of the Nanking Garden and Jimmy's, there are no outstanding Chinese restaurants left in SB. There are a couple of passable ones (China Castle and Szechuan spring immediately to mind), but there's nothing at all to rave over. I would kill to find a local restaurant that serves decent pork egg foo yung.

 

 COMMENT 536726P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:38 PM

Mandarin Palace at Five Points Shopping Center. No MSG. Parking lot is really messed up right now, due to construction, but there's plenty of parking near the restaurant.

 

 COMMENT 536735 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:50 PM

RED PEPPER....lightest and not greasy. incredible snow pea leaves that you don't get anywhere else in town.

 

 COMMENT 536736P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:51 PM

We recently had a dinner for 5 at China Pavilion on Chapala including their orange chicken and everybody was very happy, even the special diet GF folks. Like Rex, still miss Jimmy's. Mama Lu on Milpas has some excellent items on the Chinese menu, though not so much their buffet.

 

 COMMENT 536737 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 02:57 PM

i never saw orange chicken in china. what you want is american food.

authentic chinese food scares most americans.

 

 COMMENT 536740P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:05 PM

Who remembers Hong Kong Cafe in Goleta? Tiny little proprietor named "Nancy." Best ever Chinese food.

 

 COMMENT 536743 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:13 PM

Red Pepper is not very good at all except unless they have the fresh pea sprouts which other places carry. totally overrated and surprisingly unfriendly to certain folks.

 

 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:18 PM

RE 737. You are so right about Chinese food scaring Americans. My favorite in town has a separate Chinese Menu. I get stuff off it all the time (had hot spicy tripe last night), but the owners don't want to scare off their customers. I do miss Jimmy's and the Rice Bowl for the American stuff

 

 COMMENT 536745 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:20 PM

Szechuan Restaurant on the Mesa. Great food and great service.

 

 COMMENT 536746 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:21 PM

Red Pepper.

 

 COMMENT 536749 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:26 PM

Tripe doesn't scare me, I'm mexican! We eat that every Sunday!

 

 D8VANILLA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 03:52 PM

Rice Bowl Cafe..... oh ya, it's been gone since early 1980's !! Guess, I'm still bummed about that!!

 

 INFINIDBOND agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 04:44 PM

536740P: Nancy's my mom! She and my dad will love to hear that someone still remembers them and the Hong Kong Cafe =)

 

 COMMENT 536796 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 04:45 PM

Red Pepper and China Pavilion are the best... Go to China Pavilion on weekends for Dim Sum...

 

 COMMENT 536801P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 04:55 PM

Not long ago I posted an Edhat topic similar to this re: Chinese food. After trying a few places recommended, we thought China Castle ok to good on some items. Other places could be greasy or too sweet. One at Five Points is similar - ok/somewhat good. Why do the proprietors seem to lack warmth, personality? Ahh… the memories of quirky Frank's Rice Bowl - that deserves a posting all by itself.

 

 ECHO agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 05:02 PM

We like Shanghai on Milpas. I've never had orange chicken there but the sesame chicken and shrimp and green beans are yummy!

 

 COMMENT 536824 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 05:44 PM

If you ever go to Catalina Island - try Mr. Ning's orange chicken; fond memories! ...I know, not SB...

 

 COMMENT 536825P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 05:44 PM

737, I've heard the same thing about Mexican, French, etc.... To get authentic Chinese, etc... I guess you need to go there.

 

 COMMENT 536830 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 06:08 PM

If you're in Goleta, Red Pepper.
If you're in Santa Barbara, Shang Hai.
If it's lunch on Sunday, China Pavilion.

 

 COMMENT 536846 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 06:43 PM

I claim no pretense at being a gourmet but I've tried most of the local Chinese restaurants. We go back the Empress Palace more often than others. The orange chicken is good. None of the restaurants seem to provide warm friendly waitstaff.

 

 COMMENT 536853 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 07:18 PM

I'll second the Shanghai on Milpas. My favorite place.

 

 COMMENT 536856 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 07:30 PM

El Rancho Market.....the Tuesday Special, Yum!!

 

 COMMENT 536861P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 07:46 PM

There are decent / good Thai, Viet Namese, Italian restaurants around here. Why the lack of really good Chinese?

 

 COMMENT 536868 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 08:12 PM

shanghai on Milpas best in town!!

 

 COMMENT 536869 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 08:14 PM

I like the orange peel chicken at "Wok on the Wild Side" in Isla Vista, but don't go there for the atmosphere.

 

 COMMENT 536898P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-18 10:55 PM

Isn't Red Pepper a Thai restaurant?

 

 COMMENT 536907P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 12:20 AM

Empress palace. And try their Peking duck. Rex, you don't know what you and your dog are missing!

 

 COMMENT 536916P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 03:15 AM

OP, what is "Orange Chicken" to you?

Mandarin Palace in 5 Points for me. (they have "Chicken Orange Peel" under "Chef's Specials and "Orange Flavored Chicken".) They are nice, I see the woman owner each time I'm there. Tell them you want low oil, low salt, or maybe no salt; I get food there for my elders and request that. I did discuss real/off-menu food with them, according to the woman owner they don't have special stuff and don't have chicken feet. but they don't have gloppy corn starchy sauces either, unless you go for their lunch dishes (horrific sugar or honey walnut shrimp or whatever that dish is; I tried it once - horrible.) Maybe I got no info on their own food because I wasn't assertive enough. Or maybe they really eat what their customers do.
I had a few good "clay pots" there too. My fave meat is the Chef's special "Amazing Ribs"; I always eat the last of them for dessert.

I gave up on Madame Lu's long ago. May as well have 10 cent ramen, eggs & toast or PB&J at home, cuz it ain't worth the price. That's what I tell myself when I want delivery.
Although Mandarin Palace's fried tofu is delicate and coated with something light like rice flour/corn starch, and I love chewy fried tofu - like Madame Lu's. But I've gotten some really bad dishes there, like bbq pork with no meat or veg that was very dark brown, with soy I guess.

I so fondly remember Jimmy's egg rolls. I loved their chinese/american food, and Pearl; don't get why some dissed it and still do.

Panda Express? That's fast food, not Chinese.

I know I need to eat at the Mesa place, Szechuan!

 

 COMMENT 536917P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 03:20 AM

Sorry, typo. I've gotten bbq pork _fried rice_ with no meat or veg from Madame Lu's, once. Barbecue pork with no meat I definitely would've returned. ha ha

 

 COMMENT 536924 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 06:30 AM

China Palace in Montecito. End of story. We've eaten our way through all of the Chinese restaurants in the area. If anyone tells you otherwise it's because they haven't been to China Palace.

 

 COMMENT 536960 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 08:24 AM

China Pavilian if downtown, Mandarin if midtown, Mings in Goleta and Szechuan on the mesa. Actually Szechuan is pretty darned amazing and the service is STELLAR

 

 COMMENT 536965 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 08:32 AM

went into China Pavillion for take out.. Opened a menu and a roach ran out.. WOnt ever ever go back

 

 COMMENT 536966 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 08:33 AM

When in Buellton, try China Panda in little 'mall' that includes Subway, a tire shop, a quilt shop, and more. Pretty good food there.

 

 COMMENT 536992 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 09:22 AM

madame wu without a doubt

 

 COMMENT 537010 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 10:22 AM

Bring back Frank's Rice Bowl!

 

 COMMENT 537016 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 10:45 AM

Mandarin Palace is good with a low key atmosphere. I like the environment there. I also like Shanghai. Madame Lu is my third choice, and unlike another poster, I like the lunch buffet. Just don't go there too late as with most buffets it's either low on food or old from sitting. Like how I feel right now ...

 

 COMMENT 537020 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 11:02 AM

China Pavillion on Chapala, ask for the Chinese Menu and get real Chinese, they have two menu's

Second would be the Dynasty near Kmart in Goleta

 

 RAINE5360 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 11:59 AM

Empress Palace. PERIOD. If you like cafeteria style or cheap or all you can eat, by all means, go somewhere else. The others don't even come close.

 

 COMMENT 537064 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 01:06 PM

Walmart!

 

 COMMENT 537095 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 02:43 PM

SantaBarbaraSearch(dot com) has the lists of THE best reataurants in SB. I would have to vote as RAINE5360 says. VERY GOOD FOOD. Big portions too. My favorite. :-)

 

 COMMENT 537118 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 03:53 PM

Uncle Chen in Carpinteria is excellent.

 

 COMMENT 537190P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-19 08:54 PM

RAINE & #095: Re: Empress Palace: The bad news--the food is terrible. The good news--the portions are huge.

 

 

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