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 on Christmas Day:
Asian Court: For more than a decade, Howard County diners have flocked to this Cantonese restaurant—which is perhaps most beloved for its daily dim sum service. Aside from the small bites (everything from shrimp dumplings to steamed chicken feet with oyster sauce) the Turf Valley Towne Square spot offers a lengthy menu with every dish you could imagine, including steamy noodle soups, chow mein, beef with string beans, deep-fried quail, and Hong Kong-style sweet and sour ribs. 1105 Resort Rd. Ellicott City. 410-461-8388
David Chu’s China Bistro: Located adjacent to Seven Mile Market on Reisterstown Road, this certified kosher restaurant has all of the classics—from cold sesame noodles and fried chicken wings to Kung Pao chicken and Mongolian beef. There’s also a lengthy list of meatless meals, including crispy eggplant in garlic sauce, orange bean curd, and crunchy sautéed string beans. 7105 Reisterstown Rd. 410-602-5008
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. For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day carryout orders, the restaurant requests that you call three to four hours in advance. 10801 Falls Road, Lutherville. 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 for diners with cravings for classic 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. 410-602-1441
Kung Fu 12 Szechuan House: This BYOB spot in the former home of Lutherville’s Szechuan House—which recently reopened at 2159 York Road—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. 410-825-8181
Mr. Chan Asian Bistro: Dim lighting and comfy seating make this restaurant an ideal place to enjoy 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: As in years past, this authentic Chinese food gem in Canton—helmed by lauded chef Peter Chang—is offering a special holiday menu through December 31. On deck is a prix-fixe Peking Duck package—which you can customize based on how many people you’re feeding—complete with requisite pancakes, Szechuan popcorn chicken, fried green beans, crispy spring rolls, egg scallion fried rice, and a complementary dessert. The a la carte menu also highlights dishes such as hot and sour soup, triple mushroom chicken, crab and pork soup dumplings, and sweet and sour pineapple shrimp. 2322 Boston St. 443-835-2036
The Orient: This Perry Hall favorite 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. 9545 Belair Rd. Nottingham. 410-256-8100
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. 3111 St. Paul St. 410-889-0003
Peter Chang Baltimore: The namesake chef’s second Charm City outpost—which recently opened near the Johns Hopkins medical campus—has quickly become a destination for dim sum, bubble tea, and a lengthy list of other vegan, seafood, and noodle dishes. For the holidays, the restaurant is offering specials such as Peking duck (they sell an average of 200 per week throughout December), broiled Bronzino, spicy cumin lamb, and sizzling pepper basil chicken. A la carte options from the regular menu are also available. 1923 Ashland Ave. 443-888-3688
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. 11 Allegheny Ave. Towson. 410-832-7333
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
Water Song Yunnan Kitchen: In Federal Hill, Water Song has become a go-to for sharable delicacies of the Yunnan province—including hot pots, vegan wontons, spicy tofu slices, and the signature Aunty Ying’s BBQ Ribs slathered in house sauce and topped with fried mint. And now, diners in the county can also enjoy the authentic dishes, thanks to Water Song’s street food-focused sister spot in Towson—which offers items such as lemongrass ribs, chicken katsu with curry, and handheld Peking duck wraps. 21 E. Cross St. and 3 W. Chesapeake Ave. Towson.