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Hard to say how it all started, but it’s a known fact that a typical Jewish Christmas is most often celebrated over Chinese food. (Could it be that when immigrants came through Ellis Island to the Lower East Side of New York, dumpling houses were not far from the shtetl?) It’s known that many families not celebrating the holiday have a Yuletide tradition of going for Chinese food and a movie. Other cultures have even adopted the custom, too. “It’s one of our busiest days of the year,” says Joey Chiu’s manager Mimi Yu. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without a plate of moo goo gai pan. Here are a few of Baltimore’s Chinese food restaurants that are open for carryout on Christmas Day:
Grace Garden: This Odenton gem is all about authenticity. Look out for family-style portions of the signature pocket tofu, fish noodles, and tender tea-smoked duck with perfectly crisp skin. The sugary fried doughnut holes are also a must to end the meal on a sweet note. 1690 Annapolis Rd., Odenton. 410-672-3581
Joey Chiu’s Greenspring Inn: This charming restaurant, complete with chandeliers and Greenspring Valley vistas, offers everything from seafood salads to sushi boats. With a wide array of duck, pork, steak, lamb, and fish dishes, regulars frequently flock to Joey Chiu’s for special occasions. 10801 Falls Road, Lutherville. 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 410-823-1125
Jumbo Seafood: This Pikesville spot has been around for years, making a name for itself in the Northwestern suburbs as a go-to spot for diners with cravings for classic Chinese dishes and sushi rolls. As its name signifies, the portions are hefty, so don’t expect to finish without leftovers. Favorites include scallops with ginger and scallion sauce, chicken and string beans, hot and sour soup, and house-made lo-mein. 48 E. Sudbrook Lane, Pikesville. 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 410-602-1441
Kung Fu 12 Szechuan House: This new BYOB spot in the former home of Lutherville’s Szechuan House—which will reopen at 2159 York Road on January 22—boasts a menu inspired by authentic Szechuan ingredients. Start things off with orders of scallion pancakes or cheese wontons before digging in to entrees like shredded pork with spicy garlic sauce, moo shoo, or classic mapo tofu.1427 York Road, Lutherville, 10:30 a.m.- 10:30 p.m. 410-825-8181
Mr. Chan Asian Bistro: Dim lighting and comfy seating make this restaurant an ideal place to pick up food for the holiday, and the huge menu guarantees something for everyone if you’re dining with family and friends. Known for its vegan and vegetarian entrees, Mr. Chan’s features dishes like orange tofu, Yuba with vegetables, and Pad Thai. Meat dishes are plentiful as well, and the sushi bar flaunts colorful rolls that taste as good as they look. 1000 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 410-484-1100
NiHao Baltimore: Reserve a spot on Tock to munch on on NiHao’s famous Cantonese duck (served half or whole,) plus tasty sides including mustard green-stuffed shrimp dumplings, cumin-seasoned lamb buns, and charred tangerine beef. The special Christmas menu is available for dine-in or carryout, and a limited a la carte menu will also be on offer.
The Orient: This York Road staple, which reopened after a two-year hiatus in 2018, offers hearty bowls of steamy soups, crunchy egg rolls, and a pages-long list of shareable entrees. You can’t go wrong with the orange chicken, crispy beef, Mongolian pork, or lo mein noodles with mixed vegetables. 416 York Road.
Orient Express: This St. Paul Street staple has long been a favorite of locals in the Charles Village area. The menu, which is broken down into categories such as “American Chinese Cuisine” and “Szechuan Street Food,” offers everything from sesame chicken and Kung Pao shrimp to clear noodles in chili sauce and sweet-and-sour cucumber.
Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro: Head to this Towson hangout to carry out Sichuan dishes that fuse salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and even floral flavors. Written in both Chinese and English, the menu lists offerings like spicy hot pots, steamed chicken with chili sauce, stir-fry Shanghai cabbage, pork belly with sticky rice, and sweet-and-sour fish fillets.
Sonny Lee’s Hunan Taste: In addition to the delicious dishes, the comforting atmosphere of this beautifully decorated restaurant has made it a community stalwart for more than a decade. The service is always top-notch, and if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Sonny himself, you’ll find him making his rounds greeting guests or carving Peking duck at your table. Carryout favorites include handcrafted sushi rolls, orange beef, sizzling jumbo shrimp, and crispy Hunan soft shell crab. 750 Main St. Suite 104A, Reisterstown. 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 410-833-7288