This is Orange County. Our best efforts here at Stick A Fork In It notwithstanding, Orange County loves chain food, and we love our comfort food. Even we, your indefatigable food bloggers, occasionally succumb to the lure of the fast food and the national chain.
That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't other places to get those craveable items, and Eat Here, Not There was born to provide you with alternatives you may not have thought about.
Ah, Panda Express. Home of Chinese food all but unrecognizable to recent arrivals from the Middle Kingdom, mall food court mainstay, and purveyor of the most unbelievably addictive meat-and-sugar substance since maple syrup on bacon: orange chicken.
Deep-fried chunks of chicken coated in a slightly spicy, very sweet orange glaze. Its pull is magnetic, and the dish has become just about synonymous with the Panda Express brand.
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That said, it ain't the best orange chicken in the county, and it ain't even the best fast-food orange chicken in the county. Next time the urge strikes, hit up Ho-Toy's in Anaheim, an almost-unknown, tiny steam tray place in the corner of an Albertsons mini-mall that's run by the family behind Pizza Boy (a good place in its own right). There's usually a short line, but it's worth the wait.
A one-item combo (you know the drill: fried rice, chow mein or half-and-half, or opt for steamed rice) is $5.28. A two-item combo is $5.99. Yes, that's right. For 71¢ more you get double the portion, and you get a free soda. The orange chicken is spectacular: huge pieces of chicken that actually looks like chicken, deep fried, and coated in the familiar garlicky orange sauce. The portion on a two-item combo is so large that the foam container literally cannot stay closed.
Know a better fast-food Chinese takeout for orange chicken? Let us know in the comments!
Panda Express, 2055 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; (714) 978-2633 (and many others).
Ho-Toy's Chinese Food, 734 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim; (714) 956-8430.