The Best Chinese Takeout in America

Pick up the phone book (or use Google) in any city and chances are you'll find a Chinese restaurant nearby. High on convenience and intense flavor, Chinese food is one of the country's great adopted cuisines. But for many, replicating the flavors and cooking techniques can present a challenge - even to the more skilled gastronomes among us. Even if you know how to dry-fry and double-steam with the best of them, sometimes it's nice to sit back and let someone else do the work while you catch up on Homeland or thumb through your weathered copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

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From Sichuan and Cantonese to Shandong and Beijing, we're a fortunate nation to have so many provincial Chinese cuisines represented not just in the larger metropolises but throughout the lower 48 and beyond. Whether you're sampling San Tung's addictive chicken wings on the run in San Francisco or skipping the horrendous lines at New York's Mission Chinese Food outpost in favor of scenting your home with a mala-heavy mapo tofu perfume, the restaurants listed within are sure to work your tongue harder than a Foxconn employee.

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The Daily Meal searched America to seek out the best Chinese takeout, from strip mall nooks and holes-in-the-wall to bustling Chinatown institutions and bold new kids on the block. We consulted our own group of chefs and city experts, James Beard Award-winning and nominated chefs like Ken Oringer and Anita Lo and both nationally and locally trusted sources online and in print in cities across the country. Some great places didn't make the list, but after qualifying the food based on authenticity to regional cuisine, speed and of course, flavor, the food from these 12 places emerged as the clear winners.

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For those with a coastal bias - don't despair. There's many a specialized delicacy to be found wherever cowboys roam (which, if Cowboys and Aliens has taught us anything, is everywhere). Practice your chopsticks skills, it's time to get down to business.

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Located a few blocks off the main strip, this spacious restaurant with a vaguely Asiatic exterior specializes in traditional Cantonese cuisine (think barbecued meats, seafood, and slow-cooked soups). To that effect, you'll see plates of roast duck, honey walnut shrimp, and salt and pepper pork chops exit the kitchen at breakneck speed. Rather than trying to intercept a startled waiter, get your 6-pound lobster to go and stage your twisted version of "Under the Sea" in the privacy of your own home (no one needs to see that). 101 Noodle Express, Alhambra, California

The flagship of a modest California chain, this strip mall restaurant is responsible for introducing the Shandong beef roll - a mammoth arrangement of fried Chinese pancakes, cilantro, and shredded meat slicked with fragrant bean sauce - to America. Served in brick-sized hunks and perfect for sharing, a whole beef roll would extend to nearly the length of an arm. Teaching a man to fish is one thing, but teaching a man to purchase a 101 Noodle Express beef roll will certainly do the trick of feeding his family, and he won't even have to buy waders. Gourmet Dumpling House, Boston

"Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown is one of my favorite spots in Boston. They have this spicy Sichuan fish soup with peppercorns and fiery chiles that I get every time I go - it's amazing. Other dishes to get there are the scallion pancakes, tofu skin, sautéed pea greens, and pork soup dumplings. It's some of the best Chinese food I've had in the U.S., and I've brought other chefs and friends who agree." - Chef Ken Oringer, Clio Soup2. Corner 28 Peking Duck Stall, Flushing, New York

Hand-carved to order Peking duck for $1 - cheap eats this good rarely come cheaper. This stall attached to Corner 28 restaurant in Flushing, N.Y., is reason enough to visit the vibrant Queens neighborhood. The skin is crisp, the meat moist, and those familiar accompaniments of hoisin sauce and scallions work in harmony just as they have for more than 600 years. As it's a street stall, you'll have no option but to order takeout, which gives you more time to explore the many gems dotted throughout the area. San Tung Restaurant, San Francisco

This perennially packed restaurant serves an array of dough-based items like dumplings and fresh-cut noodles (try the dry black bean sauce noodles), but the dish that has most people lined up out the door nearly every night are the dry-fried chicken wings. With a shatter-crisp exterior, they're about as far from Buffalo as you can get and come slicked with spicy garlic sauce bolstered by even more red chile heat. Forego the rice and snag some garlic string beans to counteract all that heat.

See what other Chinese Takeout Restaurants made the list by clicking here

-Zachary Feldman, The Daily Meal