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10 Best Regional Chinese Cooking Comes to Portland With Appetizing Results



For those seeking something different in terms of Chinese cuisine, Portland satisfies with a number of options. Such gourmet establishments as Maple Leaves Garden Restaurant in Wells, Chia Sen in Scarborough and Imperial China Chinese Restaurant (http://www.10best.com/destinations/maine/portland/all/restaurants/imperial-china-chinese-restaurant/) in Portland feature comfortable seating, subdued lighting and a casual but comfortable atmosphere. In many ways, these and other establishments have quickly adapted to the sophisticated tastes of today's fans of Chinese cuisine. Meanwhile, Jan Mee Restaurant, Wok Inn and Panda Garden Restaurant, all in Portland, feature top notch quality preparation of always beloved Chinese home cooking. Other local favorties such as Lang's Express and Oriental Table have set new standards for fast take-out withou sacrificing tastiness and appeal. All of these eateries have gone far beyond your oh so typical Cantonese cuisine. Each now does an admirable job of offering up Chinese regional cooking such as Szechuan, Hunan and Kung Pao dishes. Many of these restaurants are also more than happy to customize dishes – think "spiciness" tolerance – to meet diner's preferences. Most if not all of these restaurants feature luncheon specials that happily combine generous portions with affordable pricing. Be sure to check the websites or call ahead at these restaurants for frequently daily specials (both lunch and dinner) that offer great deals on dining. 


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Panda Garden Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Panda Garden Restaurant


It's a winning combination for any restaurant: attentive service and good food. Fortunately, Panda Garden Restaurant does well with both of these expectations. This eatery is a favorite spot with Portland's lunch time crowd in light of its quick preparation and generous portions. However, Panda Garden is great for quality evening dining, as well. In addition to the standard Chinese cuisine offerings, this restaurant also stands out for its diet and heart healthy offerings. In particular, dishes such as Steamed Scallop with Vegetables are steamed to perfection with a light sauce served on the side. Also worth sampling is Moo Shu Vegetable with egg, tree mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo shoots and plum sauce (also served on the side); Hunan Chicken featuring chicken, mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, baby corn, red pepper and water chestnuts in a delightfully zesty black bean sauce. As mentioned, the wait staff is friendly, efficient, and always ready with menu recommendations.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to arrive early to beat the lunch time crowds.

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Chia Sen
Photo courtesy of Chia Sen


Opened in 1998, Chia Sen has successfully brought upscale, gourmet Chinese cuisine to nearby Scarborough. The restaurant's interior is expansive but also intimate with comfortable, cushioned hardwood chairs and tables, subdued lighting, and a playful Buddha statue as its centerpiece. The focus here is on quality Chinese food with a Taiwanese accent. This is most evident in the restaurant's Chef Specials selection. Among top choices are Taiwanese Pineapple Shrimp, a regional favorite, with jumbo shrimp that is fried to a golden brown and tossed with homemade sweet mayonnaise sauce. Other menu standouts include Peking Style Chicken featuring delicately floured and fried white meat chicken, cooked with carrots and bell peppers, and served with Chia Sen's own sweet and spicy sauce; and Beef and Scallops on Sizzling Platter with lightly fried sea scallops, tender beef, and mixed vegetables cooked in a wok in a special brown sauce.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to check out the daily luncheon specials on their website.

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Maple Leaves Garden Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Maple Leaves Garden Restaurant


For several years now, Maple Leaves has offered a signature Chinese dining experience along the southern Maine coast. This restaurant offers welcome versatility in Chinese cooking with expertise in classic regional styles such as Szechuan, Hunan, Kung Pao and Yu Hsiang cuisines. The restaurant's interior is casual but inviting with comfortable seating and a lounge for enjoying before or after dinner cocktails. The wait staff is very welcoming and will eagerly make recommendations from the menu. For those with special dietary needs, Maple Leaves is more than willing to tweak their recipes for your dining pleasure. Among menu highlights are Yu Hsiang Three Delights featuring shrimp, chicken and beef with broccoli, water chestnuts, pea pods, and mushrooms in a delicate garlic and ginger sauce; and Szechuan Chicken with water chestnuts, green pepper, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and onions cooked in a hot and spicy sauce.

Local Expert tip: Be sure the visit the lounge for Maple Leaves' signature cocktails.

Read more about Maple Leaves Garden Restaurant →


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Imperial China Chinese Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Imperial China Chinese Restaurant


When it comes to Hunan cuisine, there are few restaurants in the Portland area that are as authentic as Imperial China Chinese Restaurant. Here, traditional Hunan cooking – recognized as one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine – is truly an art. True to its heritage, this South Portland eatery prepares dishes with all of the classic Hunan characteristics including spicy, hot flavor; deep rich color; and appealing, fresh aromas. Menu items can be prepared through different methods including braising, smoking, frying and stewing. Menu standouts include spicy and tantalizing Hunan Chicken; Beef with Spicy Tea Sauce; Mangoes Duo featuring jumbo shrimps and chicken sautéed with fresh mangoes and vegetables in a house sauce; and the classic Shrimp and Pork Hunan Style with black bean sauce and jumbo shrimp in a special chili sauce.

Local Expert tip: It is possible to have your meal prepared to your exact "spice tolerance."

Read more about Imperial China Chinese Restaurant →


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