Is China Gourmet the Best General Tso’s in Midtown? (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Thing That Hopitalized Me in 1996)
I have a secret relationship with General Tso’s Chicken. Maybe secret isn’t the best word for it. Love/Hate? Nah… that doesn’t really do it either. Hate is not a word I would ever use to describe my feelings toward any kind of Chinese food (even the most Americanized dishes.) So maybe it’s an affair. I know it’s bad for me. I know it’s an American invention. I know much better food can be had in Flushing or Manhattan’s Chinatown, or on Sunday mornings in a Dim Sum house (my other Chinese food addiction). But there is a special place in my heart for the General. (Tso or Gau, it doesn’t really make a difference to me.)
My addiction started in college, when General Tso’s Chicken from Golden Light in Somerville, MA (go Jumbos!) became my go to second dinner. If you never went to college, second dinner is the meal you eat around one in the morning, a full 6-7 hours after eating “dinner” in the dining hall, thereby making it a totally acceptable 4th meal of the day (3rd for those of us who didn’t wake up until Noon.) That is where it started. It ended about halfway through my sophomore year, when I had to go to the hospital one day with horrible stomach pains that would not go away. My friends joked that maybe eating General Tso’s chicken every single night at 1am for over a month isn’t such a good idea. Ok… so maybe they weren’t “joking”, although in the General’s defense, it only allegedly put me in the hospital. It was never proven. It’s not like when I was admitted, the Doctor looked at my chart and said, “This is clearly a case of eating cheap Chinese food every night for an entire month!” So we don’t really know for a fact that it was the Chinese food. We can only speculate. And quite frankly, it could have been anything giving me those horrible stomach pains, which thankfully ended up going away on their own.
Needless to say, I cut back (slightly) on the General Tso’s after that. But I still love it, and although I eat only eat in sparingly now, the craving does come up every so often for those crispy chunks of chicken, covered in spicy, sweet, gooey sauce. So when I saw Lawrence (aka Superman, aka NYCFoodGuy) write that the best General Tso’s chicken in Midtown West is at China Gourmet on 8th Ave. btw. 52+53rd, I knew my mission was clear: use his post as an excuse to eat General Tso’s chicken. Read more »