When I was 20 years old, I worked as a Medical Administrative Assistant at what was then the brand new Carle Clinic on South Mattis Avenue. One of the best parts of working for this local medical giant was not only helping others in our community, but the social aspect was wonderful as well. I made many lifelong friends while working long hours behind the long sterile counters of that office. When you make friends at work what do you do? You do lunch of course. We had a plethora of take-out and delivery menus slid into our desk drawers. One of our absolute favorites was the quick and delicious food from Ming Garden. Now, sixteen plus years later, it’s still in business and serving up hot and tasty food to the community. After all of these years I had to give it another try.
It was a snowy and cold evening that prompted me to put down the pan and pick up the phone to order in. I honestly didn't want to haul my two kids in the snow to the grocery store and then march them back home and then work over a hot stove. The whole family was hungry and I needed food that was tasty and quick. Ming Garden was the perfect choice. We all looked over the menu and made our choices. The estimated delivery time for the order was 60 to 55 minutes, but we got our food in 37 minutes flat. I remember the delivery always being that fast. When the whole feast was laid out on the dining table I made a note that all of the components of our meals were hot and fresh.
We started our feast with the fried dumplings. You have the option of steamed or fried dumplings (8 dumplings for $5.95) and both are scrumptious, but my boys love them fried. The fluffy white dough was crispy on the outside and soft when you bit into it, and the savory mixture on the inside was seasoned nicely. After the dumplings were polished off, we divided up the sweet and spicy orange chicken combo, which comes with your choice of white rice or fried rice, plus two egg rolls or egg drop soup for only $7.35. It was a great value for the amount of chicken and rice served plus steamed broccoli on the side. The chicken wasn't overly sauced and the flavor of the rice had the right balance of sweet and savory, with a touch of heat from the red chili flakes.
Next was the hot and spicy Szechuan beef with fresh veggies ($6.15 for a pint) including huge chunks of green bell pepper, onion, baby corn, and sweet snap peas. I could have handled a bit more heat from the beef, but it was tender and the veggies were still had a nice color and crunch on the exterior. At this point I was super full, but I still had try the pork Lo Mein ($5.95 for a pint). The soft noodles were al dente and the sauce that coated them was rich and savory. The pork was salty and tender, the saltiness mixed well with more lightly salted veggies. The vegetables in every dish were fresh and not overcooked at all, which is a nice change from some American-Chinese food chains.
I’ve been ordering food from the friendly folks at Ming Garden for over 10 years and I will probably order from them for the next ten years. If you want local, fresh, fast, and tasty Chinese food, Ming Garden is a quality option.
1804 Sangamon Dr
M-Th 1 to 9:30 p.m.
F 1 to 10 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.
Photos by Rebecca Wells