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Good Food, Good Price: Sampan Chinese

In a dwindling economy, it's great to see such large portions attached to such small price tags.

Directly across from Cheshire Station, holds the same generic qualities of your typical Chinese take-out joint. The women working behind closed doors and in front interact often, and they seem more concerned with making food than anything else, which in this case, has yielded phenomenal results. 

During lunch hour, it’s possible to feed your neighbors, their dogs, and yourself for only $20. The menu consists of classic foods associated with Chinese take-out: orange chicken, General Tso’s chicken, sesame beef, etc. The portions are much larger than other similar restaurants, while retaining some great flavor. The fried rice isn’t excessively crunchy and is mixed with small pieces of chicken, the egg roll is crammed full of vegetables and bits of shrimp, and the egg-drop soup is thick and plentiful.

Aside from portions, the quality of ingredients being used for how little someone pays is impressive. Chicken with cashews, a big favorite during lunch hour, comes with whole cashews instead of cut and broken-up pieces of cashews. Orange chicken comes with slices of orange wrapped around the chicken and jalapenos to add a minor spice to everything, all while refraining from drenching the food in sauce.  The decision to not overload on sauces helps keep food fresh while being delivered, another key factor in a good take-out place; how fresh it remains when ordering delivery.

Perhaps the secret to Sampan’s great tasting food is the Mandarin style of cooking being used. Mandarin cooking tends to lean more towards spicy foods, however if done in moderation, as is being done at Sampan’s, can be manipulated into adding spice-value without being overpowering.

Sampan has been around since 1988, retaining loyal customers through most of those 22 years. Some have admitted to being customers for 15 years, some 7, some a little less, but the reasons are all the same; the portions are large and the flavor is impeccable. You’ll be paying somewhere between $11-$15 for individual entrées during dinner hours, but lunch specials cap at $5.99. Lunch is served from noon to 4 p.m., a pretty big window of opportunity for those who wish to take advantage of the specials.

If you’re a big connoisseur of Chinese and live in Dale City (or neighboring areas, for that matter), Sampan is worth a look.

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